Tue 7 Apr 2020

Tell us about your congregation

RDB Richard D. Bartlett Public Seen by 100

In my dreams this Microsolidarity Loomio group includes one thread per congregation, with very occasional updates from someone in the core team, like a kind of diary sharing work in progress and creating a minimal baseline awareness of what our peers are up to.

If you are organising something congregation-like, and you feel moved to start such a thread, that would be rad because you'll be making my dreams come true!

Congregation diaries:

Do you have one to add?


Victor Vorski Tue 7 Apr 2020

How does one start a congregation? What makes a good congregation?


Richard D. Bartlett Tue 7 Apr 2020

We don't know yet!


Josh Fairhead Fri 17 Apr 2020

@Richard D. Bartlett - I've been thinking about the ternary recommend above, I wonder if it's people, place, purpose? Start with any two and the third becomes apparent.


Josef Davies-Coates Sat 18 Apr 2020

@Josh Fairhead as @Richard D. Bartlett says there:

> I think it is important for a community to be aligned at the abstract level: having shared values, principles and purposes. However, I don’t think it is very interesting to create that alignment by talking about it. Instead, the focus is on finding alignment by doing stuff together.

So I think he's not included purpose in the "three concrete elements" to avoid the risk of getting stuck talking about what the group or congregations' purpose is?


Josh Fairhead Sat 18 Apr 2020

Ahhh thank you, yes it's been a while since I read the article. I couldn't agree more then, espoused beliefs are usually incongruent with action. Thanks for flagging :)


Richard D. Bartlett Sat 18 Apr 2020

Ya these are just my reckons and biases though, time will tell what works in practice,.


Toni Blanco Sun 19 Apr 2020

I have been lurking this Loomio for a couple of weeks and this particular conversation triggered my participation. I just published a post where I discuss the trap in which I see falling very well-intentioned people again and again. But there are other lessons I learned when participating in purpose-driven organizations like Ouishare. I participated there after being involved with libertarian-alternative organizations (for my PhD dissertation) that excel in what we understand as microsolidarirty and thrive economically but struggling in replicating/scaling. The result of that research, among others, was the creation of a pod (one year ago). 

I learned that Ouishare replicates and scale, but struggles in mutual support and nurturing "their commons". It is not that I saw plenty of things that, according to my research, I thought caused that, but my intellectual humility put that suspicion in the hold... until experience proved me right. I guess I will develop further in future posts, but here are some lessons that come to mind right now, for what it worths. 

1) Fuck Purpose and Values with capital P and V. We want to grow beautiful gardens of purposes and values. Find alignment in concrete practices and objectives in which those gardens can flourish. 

2) Regarding those practices:

  • Make your organizational practices fractal (consistency/coherence between internal and external relations).

  • Do not act as you know how others have to live their lives or run their business because you think you have higher moral standards. That leads to poor results, most of the time. Listen and be humble. Focus on adding value for both the one that pays you and the ecosystem. 

  • Think together the relational dimension of the community, the business dimension and the material conditions needed to make it sustainable.

  • Do not optimize. Think about redundancy and abundance as a must for surviving.

  • Prevent people with a scarcity mentality to occupy a relevant responsibility by organizational design (your set of practices). You will see folks that defend your purpose and values, sure. That certainly contribute a lot to the purpose and the organization, sure. But what you want to check is that they do not: a) only are generous with people with greater influence or resource access than them b) same with acknowledgment and attribution c) Barely participate in activities that put their flesh (not their financial contribution) in the game. 

  • Support asymmetrically the ones that prove to make the effort to jump in the wagon. Manage correctly expectations of reciprocity and mutual support in general (yours' and others'). Start micro, and then escalate. 

Sure we can discuss and improve the list above together. I have observed also a strong gender dimension here that I do not want to elaborate on now. 

I am currently busy as hell, but I'll try to join the conversation, and sharing the experience with my pod. I am really happy with it (so far).


Ria Baeck Tue 21 Apr 2020

I would love to hear/read more on each of the topics you raise here!
Yes about shared practices! Also nice: 'make the practices fractal'! I would like to have some more 'flesh to the bones' on some of your next points. Maybe a blog article??? would be nice. thanks anyway! (as I read you are busy)


Toni Blanco Tue 5 May 2020

Hi, Ria. I am sorry for not getting to you sooner. Never been this busy in my life! A lot of care work (toddlers, mum) and also that work that pays the bills.

The fractal idea goes further than what I summarized. And it does practically, not theoretically.

We had a plan to release consolidated knowledge and tools, and a beta tester call before releasing some materials (are they clear/complete enough?), but all this Covid19 mess is slowing us down. Look, I am catching up here at 2 AM! I am going to rethink that part of our planning and keep you updated. Explaining the fractal idea would be a fun post, I guess. It goes in two directions. a) We found that every practice we introduce includes, to some extent, the rest. That is why the more of them you adopt, the more effective and powerful they become, but also the easier is to adopt them. b) The way (the rules by) imagination works at the individual level, dyad, triad, crew/pod, congregation, and societal level is the same. And that is a clue to interpreting why the same practices (and their tensions) work, producing different outcomes, at any level. But I prevent myself to write about these things unless I clearly see how that would help to orient people into the adoption of practices. I guess that they do for researchers/experimenters, like the ones gathered here!


Ria Baeck Tue 5 May 2020

Hello @Toni Blanco - thanks for answering; but you never need to have not enough sleep to answer me!


Toni Blanco Tue 5 May 2020

No problem Ria. It was for all the gang. I do want to share about my microsolidarity crew and learn from yours. And I do not want to look like that guy that promoted one day his LinkedIn profile and disappeared. I find that kind of behavior very disrespectful.


Ria Baeck Wed 6 May 2020

Thanks Toni! appreciated!


Tibor Katelbach Tue 12 May 2020

our congregation is called Open Atlas , in reunion Island but the people are all over France and Europe, we try to think society in a way that corresponds to an approach respecting humans, nature and the finite planet, we only build opensource, digital tools and animation methods for collective intelligence like communecter.org, whihch in french means connecting the commons. We build tools to help communities in many different way , with a territorial, local and geographical approach, a sort of territorial wikipedia. The same engine allows us to build no brand interfaces for communities with innovative approaches.

We set up a third place model that we experiment, adapt and apply here in Reunion Island called KiltirLab (multi locations localy) where we coCreate, coWork, Collaborate and interconnect with many other Third places here and all over Europe. We help Third places interconnect.
The KiltirLab is also a wholesale distribution point where we experiment tools and processes for autonomy, with farmers and consumer, to optimise short circuits. We tried to write a utopic society program called Smarterre, that creates smartTerritories with a community creating sectorial approach and lot's of interoperability. We build territorial thematic observatories that in turn produces communities.
We are currently building OCECO (Open Collab Tools for a cooperative economy), a ressource and proposal (project) management interface, integrating reciprocity rules for Organization, it's based on a new tech stack called COForms (Collaborative Open Forms) which allows us to translate any workflow or process magically , we working with ValueFlows and REA semantics.
We strat the POC, and manage to find financing and currently connecting partners to think, build, use and experiment the tool and the processes.

When we talk about our congregation, we talk about little boats with crews, collaborating on moving ports , we go from port to port , the congregation or ecosystem is like a bigger boat, and all this in the open ocean ready to meet many more boats !!!


Toni Blanco Thu 4 Jun 2020

I am involved in a dynamic that "looks like" a congregation formation, so I guess I can put it here.

Le'ts call it the Uncongregation Congregation. It is based in Barcelona. It has no name nor explicit purpose to become a congregation, which at this stage I think that -paradoxically- is important to let that door open.

I tried to start a congregation in the local chapter of an open collective of purposeful freelancers, but it did not work. Great learning. In short, the problem as I see it was the scarcity mentality of the group that prevented open sharing and collaboration (derived from the precarious income situation in which the members were), and the panic of any kind of commitment and mutualization that could make them less "free" (lots to say about that). I was told that my leaving was a wake-up call for the group so things are changing since then in the right direction.

Paying attention to what I learned (and I learned a lot) from my dearest friends of Las Indias Electronicas, I have taken a completely different approach. First I co-created a livelihood pot called Pantheon. After a year, it has been a terrific experience at all levels. Now I have contacted 3 micro-companies (2-3 people in each) participated by people I loved work with in the past, be it in the same company, be it in a collaborative project. I acted as the "source", sharing a "commons" (a very simple workshop I created that works really well) and offered them to freely sell it and run it, alone or together, and then make this commons grow with the learnings and contributions of everyone. It has been for a month now, we had two meetings, the first workshops have been sold in a new improved version. Also, we got emotional support during this crazy times (meeting friendly faces, speak openly and relax has been one of the most expressed gains), business opportunities emerged from being in the radar of each other and sharing ideas, and also a conversation of mutualization of costs of on-line collaboration tools.

I'll keep you posted about its organic evolution.


Ria Baeck Fri 5 Jun 2020

Thanks for your story @Toni Blanco - sharing, and in that way building trust, is what it is all about! building the net of open, trusted relationships... can seem to catch some paid projects.