I’m just going to keep a list here of the tech/workflow related problems that I’ve observed. No proposals yet but it may turn into one. Feel free to add more or ask me for more details.
#1 Random documents abound
Having random Google docs, One drive docs, spreadsheets, protocols floating around is very confusing. There is not central list of them. They are only mentioned in passing in chats and difficult to find again.
Perhaps we could use a wiki on the forum to list the public info and a private wiki for the private info. We have to observe data protection with this though. People’s personal info should be locked down to only those who need it.
One solution is to use one single that would store Google docs if that is the system we are settling. Then we would have a folder structure where all the docs would be stored. Where possible non-sensitive data such as protocols should be publicly released on the website.
#2 A deluge of chats
Currently our real time chats are spread across Signal and WhatsApp. People are added to chats add-hoc and there no way to join a chat without being an admin.
Also, some of these chats are busy and difficult to keep up with. They also mix the organising of the kitchen/coop with personal chats with family and friends contributes to message fatigue. I don’t necessarily want to be available to be messaged by the coop chat at any time of the day/night. It contributes to burnout.
One possible solution is to use Rocketchat hosted by Autonomic (like this forum). This would allow different channels for different topics. Sign ups could be open so volunteers can create an account themselves and choose what channels they are interested in and are free to move between different working groups.
This would also mean that you don’t need to have a smartphone or the proprietary WhatsApp to access the chat as it can also be done in the web browser. There are workable mobile apps for Android and iOS.
There would be an open channel for each working group and then operational channels for various tasks in the organisation.
#3 Decision making is synchronous and non-transparent
Near the start of co-op brum, a decision was made that decisions would be made in open meetings on Jitsi Meet conferencing software.
In my opinion this contribute to a lack of transparency and reversibility to decisions. Because of the need for regular meetings to evaluate the kitchen project, only the most dedicated cadre are making the meetings.
Decisions are being made without a standardised way and the results of decisions are buried in meeting minutes of varying formats. There isn’t one place to see which decisions have been made and by whom they were made. Therefore there isn’t a way for people to propose to reverse a decision which places even more power into the cadre who attend meetings.
With this reality, however unintentional, we are not recreating the assemblies of the people or the tekmil’s of Rojava but instead the backroom pub conversation, behind closed doors with only the word of those who there to define what was discussed.
This contributes to lack of engagement with democratic decision making process. We are creating a hierarchy of power being placed into the hands of those that are the most dedicated rather than expanding democratic franchise to all of those involved in the project where possible.
I am thinking of proposing that we use the forum for voting. Discussing proposals can still be done in the meeting but the actual decision should made are recorded using the polls feature on the forum and the actual laying out of the proposal needs to happen there for those unable to make meetings.
For complex decisions, a period of 5 days days could be set. For quick decisions, the time before the poll closes can be set to a short period like 24 hours. For urgent decisions, they can just be made and then recorded on the forum (which opens up the option of them being reversed later).
It wouldn’t be completely majority voting as there could be a third option on polls that reads “More discussion needed” which implore the proposers to justify the proposal more and invite discussion in that thread itself. After this discussion, a new poll could be created on the thread to solidify the proposal once more.
During these times of social distancing, I believe this online decision making process is necessary and appropriate to our situation.
#4 Move towards monthly financial sustainers
Our fundraising drive was based on GoFundme which is for one off donations. We should also create an option for people to give a little bit of money monthly rather than making a one off donation.