When: Sunday, December 13 2020, 5-6pm Eastern US Time
Where: Bloom Network’s Discord, in the Video Chat channel: https://discord.gg/AmgxJuQkas (Discord is a chat program built by/for gaming communities.)
What: Learn how to use Ethereum and cryptocurrency, by donating any amount large or small to Bloom Network’s grant on Gitcoin. Bloom’s community team will help you get set up with a digital wallet and exchanging crypto. And help answer basic questions you have.
Wait, what are all those things? Cryptocurrency is digital or virtual currency secured by cryptography. Ethereum is a global decentralized platform for digital money and distributed applications. Gitcoin is a website for developers to learn, earn money through doing tasks for various projects, and to network with projects and communities. Gitcoin grants is a platform for people to fundraise for open source projects for public benefit, with donations multipled through matching grants sponsored by donors in the Ethereum ecosystem.
With a basic ability to interact with the Ethereum blockchain, you can participate in digital organizations and begin to gain a deeper sense of what these technological breakthroughs mean for autonomy and collaboration. We know our community has a hard time knowing how to filter signal from noise in this area, so this workshop is intended to help you gain a practical foothold to start with.
This workshop is inspired by Gitcoin’s grants program, and the local workshop that Bloom Diamante in Costa Rica did. Check out Bloom’s grant and many more beautiful impact-oriented open source projects here: https://gitcoin.co/grants/?keyword=bloom%20network
An example of the kinds of things we can be doing to transform narratives around climate change, is helping design “how-to” guides for our local communities, on putting into practise hands-on regenerative practises that will help the bio-region. In this way, the public become more informed in a way that allows them to take practical action in their own backyard.
There are often local funding sources you can tap into to help alleviate the costs in making these kinds of things.
Here is an example of an application I submitted earlier in the year, a proposal around Urban Soil Regeneration.
“Sharing soil wisdom to regenerate the health of urban soils, creating quality soils for growing, and contributing to flood mitigation and carbon sequestration in urban areas.”
Bloom Network is about sharing this kind of ideas, information and applications with each other, so that we can learn faster about the possibilities of installing regenerative projects into our bio-regions.
Bloom Network’s governance whitepaper summarizes ten years of R&D across eleven countries. Throughout, we describe social and technical practices we have found effective for bioregional governance and rebalancing unjust power dynamics of today’s centralized governance and finance systems. These are shared as modular governance pieces that networks can adopt or plug in with. This paper includes an outline of the first three phases of our technical DAO.
This Christmas we are initiating an art exchange, on the theme of Mushrooms! Merry Christmush to everyone! The idea is for people around the world to make mushroom art, and send them to other Bloomers as Christmas presents. In a way we are activating our own mycelial networks by creating a worldwide mushroom art exchange. To add your name to the art exchange, email your postal address and your name (if you want to), to email@example.com (we figure this is better than setting up a google form). Make your art, and we will send you others’ addresses to send the art to.
On December 21st we’ll host an interactive video call to share our appreciation, wonder, and nerding about these magical lifeforms. Register for that here.
THE ORGINS OF MERRY CHRISTMUSH
Merry Christmush was an art project initiated by Australian Bloom newcomer Lumi Ricardi (they/them) after learning about the influences of Christmas from a Scandinavian perspective.
“I found the story of the Sami noaidi (shamans) and what they did over the winter solstice period fascinating. They dressed in red and white like the Amanita muscaria mushrooms found in that area, and went to visit the World Tree, a large old pine tree. There they would eat mushrooms and gain wisdom to take back as gifts to their people, as well as blessings and gifts for the coming year.”
I created Merry Christmush to help people connect people to what Christmas time is about, and where the origins of our traditions have come from.”
Last year Lumi made 30 mushrooms from sun-dried clay and painted them all different colours of the rainbow. These were then given out to both friends and strangers, and conversations initiated about Christmas and people’s thoughts about this time of year.
“A fun part of the story is that reindeers would ingest the mushrooms as well. This would give them a lot of energy and they would leap and jump about the forest, giving the illusion that they were flying. People were quite amused to hear the stories from Scandinavia and most people didn’t have any idea of where the origins of Christmas come from.
I think it’s a beautiful thing to encourage people to contemplate where we are now and where we have come from. It’s important to think about how meanings and symbolism changes through the ages, and pieces of the original symbols still remain, like the reindeer, the tree and the red and white colors of Christmas.”
Finally, Lumi invites everyone to enjoy the opportunity to be creative with Merry Christmush, and encourages people to hand make their christmushes. This way each one can be unique, made with care from their own hands and created with the intention of gifting it to someone else.
“A great part about Merry Christmush is that you are creating the christmushes yourself. This ties into the idea of the World Tree and the gifts that the shaman brings back to his community, and to reflect and enjoy the gifts we give and receive from others. It’s important to acknowledge the interconnectivity of our communities. It’s the mushroom thing to do.”
Bloom Network has strong links with mushrooms via Mushroom City Arts Festival, an annual festival about mushrooms in Baltimore, which has been running for 8 years. This year, Robin Gunkel lead of Bloom Baltimore, convened the arts festival online, which featured a number of mushroom inspired artists. If you want inspiration for your mushroom art head to check out the following artists.
What if your community had a way to organize itself, so that it better represented ALL the work that was happening? Not just which is deemed “economic value” but inclusive of commons care work and mutual value exchange, within a tight group of trusted friends.
DisCOs are Distributed Cooperative Organizations, a framework that stems from the peer-to-peer movement and work of the Guerrilla Translation Collective. DisCOs are a playful, artful feminist alternative to the patriarchal and top-down economies we are familiar with. Going beyond time-banking and DAOs, DisCOs are a way to organize and create communities that recognize and support the importance of labor that nurtures people and the commons alongside any particular mission or product the group is producing.
Centralisation and trust have been growing issues as networks grow, and layers of tech have evolved to try and solve some of these problems. However, the “solutions” usually do not include all the layers of care, that as women, we know we are fully immersed in.
“We need a cooperative, feminist, commons-oriented alternative to DAO (decentralised autonomous organizations)… DAOs are based on blockchain technology where there is a techno-optimistic idea that if we can program things correctly, we can create zero-trust situations where we don’t have to trust each other as humans. The problem is though, those algorithms are created by humans. The trust issue doesn’t disappear.” – Lisha Sterling
Bloom Network is a DisCO!
Bloom Network rests in-between the spaces of a nonprofit – a corporation – and a grassroots decentralized effort. Because Bloom has a different perspective for how organizing needs to happen, preferring decentralized ways of caring for community, it has made it difficult to plug in with the existing institutional structures to raise money and apply for grants. Discovering the DisCO model has been a revelation, and this model has been articulated well and in a fun way. We hope to work with and refine this model of working over the coming years so that Bloom is a living, dancing example of a DisCO.
Introducing our guest – Lisha Sterling
Lisha Sterling is the executive director at Geeks Without Bounds, a USA, non-profit, humanitarian organization of technologists, first responders, policymakers, and volunteers who work toward improving access to communication and technology. The aim of Geeks Without Bounds is to help people transform their bright ideas for civic and humanitarian technology into sustainable living projects using open source technology.
The Guerrilla Media Collective asked Geeks Without Borders to help develop software for DisCOs. GOB is deeply interested in this work, because like Bloom Network, GOB is in that in-between space, listed as a non-profit (which cannot be called a cooperative under legal definition in many states in the USA), and using a cooperative model internally.
The Origins of the DisCO
The Guerrilla Translation Collective developed the DisCO concept via lived experience which began in 2013. Literally a translation volunteer collective (working for activist causes) they needed a way to organise the workers and work involved, while trying to address imbalance between paid labour and the invisible work required to keep the project healthy. Maintaining relationships with allies and customers, time-consuming background work and maintaining good internal communication are all important to an organisation, but do not directly bring in monetary value. In 2018, the collective reviewed lessons learned and established a more explicit governance model. Thus the DisCO was born.
“If I Only Had a Heart” – Organisations and networks that value all types of works
Self organising systems that meet human needs and leverage the power of networks.
Connecting with open source and commons principles within cooperative and social solidarity movements.
Enabling value sovereignty by rewarding meaningful contributions to projects rather than just wage labour.
Challenging ordinary economic abstractions that devalue or outright ignore reproductive and care work.
“Not only can we trust other humans, but we actually need to trust other humans.” – Lisha Sterling
The picture below shows the evolving nature of cooperative and distributed design.
Platform cooperatives are cooperatively owned, democratically governed businesses that are established with a computing platform. It is a cooperative organization with a digital layer that facilitates the sale of their goods and services. Nathan Schneider who spoke on Bloom’s first Future Economies call is part of a successful platform cooperative.
DisCOs are similar because software is used as a layer to help with trade, managing value flows within and between DisCOs.
What kind of a revolution would it be without a disco ball?” – Lisha Sterling
Three Core Types of Work
Guerrilla Media Collective has established three core types of work/credits, to ensure that everybody gets paid for all of their hours:
Livelihood Work – Agency work that pays in monetary value.
Care Work – work that holds the organisation together, administrative work, taking time for people care, including mental and physical health.
Love Work – Pro-bono work that adds value to the commons (eg translating something with permission for free and making it freely and publicly available). This gets GMC noticed and often generates Livelihood work.
GMC has an equation that works out how many hours people have given each month. The model tracks the value whether it be commons oriented pro bono work, ethical market livelihood work, or reproductive work to create a fair distribution of income. If your work is unevenly distributed, you can top up the other types the following month.
The Seven DisCO Principles
The seven DisCO principles are adapted from the seven principles of cooperatives, which have been statutorily oriented towards the common good, multi-stakeholder in nature, which is tied into a locally oriented global network (eg GMC coordinates with different printers in different parts of the world, so that things can be printed locally and shipped a shorter distance instead of shipping from a centralised location). Head to https://disco.coop/ to read in more detail.
DisCOs dancing together
Each individual DisCO is a group of anywhere from two to 20 people, but preferably not more than 20 people. By working with small trusted groups it is easier to wield the organisation because you are working together every day. You have a way to manage the income and the values you have together.
When DisCOs then want to work with other DisCOs, this is where technology like a DAO can be useful. Trade, or working on larger cooperative projects together means that the trust levels are different so DisCOs might choose to put more into using digital contracts.
Trading does not have to be in monetary terms either. You might choose to trade based on the value of something else, bananas, or an hour of massage therapy.
“One of the ideas is that we can create different types of economy or tap into the many different types of economies that already exist for these different cooperative partnerships. And we’re primed for Federation, with your local disco, and also being connected with all of these other groups that are also discos and being able to do exchanges and work collaboration”.
– Lisha Sterling
Questionsfrom the audience
Outside of the initial organization, have there been other organizational use cases that you might be able to describe?
There are projects just starting and piloting this concept, but there is no project going longer than 2 years, because that’s how new this concept is.
Two pilot programs are Cooperation Jackson working with Mondragon University, in Spain. And in Zimbabwe, there is a hackerspace called Multi-talented Maker Space, which is in the early stages of establishment, and are starting right from the beginning as a DisCO.
In the last month both GMC and Geeks Without Bounds have received grants to run a number of pilot projects, with GMC developing training materials, and writing a research paper about how these pilots are developing, and Geeks Without Bounds to build more software.
What software are you developing?
The main part is an accounting software that is very specifically tailored to DisCOs, built in a distributed manner on top of something called Commons Pub, which if you’re familiar with Activity Pub, Commons Pub is built on top of Activity Pub.
We’re using Commons Pub together with Interledger, to create an accounting software that also can move value around. So that within a single DisCO you can manage both units of value, whether that’s widgets that have been made, or man hours worked, or whatever your widgets of value are, with whatever the exchange for that is, whether you’re paying in bananas, or Bitcoin, or Euro, or dollars, or whatever. That software needs to be something other than ‘off the shelf’ existing software, because it allows the individual DisCO to define its governance, and its value equations.
Using that DisCO’s value equations, the money is divided, and percentages of your wages every months is split between love work, care work and livelihood work.
And if your work that month does not achieve the percentage the DisCO values are set at, the the software adjusts so that the extra love work you did this month goes into future credits. If I did all love work one month, then livelihood work the next month, and the month after that I’m doing all care work, the software understands what the split is and makes sure that across a period of time things get evened out out according to their equation.
There are other parts of the software that are not part of this grant, but we’re also working on an open source tool that will help teams to do their collaborative work. We’re building it on top of Next Cloud, which gives you something kind of like the Google Apps environment where you’ve got email and shared documents. Think of it like an open source replacement combo for Trello, Whiteboarding software and Google Drive.
by Flávia Gonçalves Macêdo reposted from Bloom’s member forum
Dear all, I would like to ask a little space and support to share two projects I am involved in and really proud of and also to share a bit of my story.
I am Flávia, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I am the co-founder of an NGO called Educar+. I first joined it in 2017 when it was just a social project where we gathered a bunch of books, volunteers, and kids from favelas. I was driven there by my intention to make a difference in the lives of children of color like me but who did not have the opportunities I had; and also because I did not grow up in a favela so I knew nothing about the reality of their experiences to judge or propose any solution, I needed to know it up close.
So I did, I went there and expanded my bubble. I came to know a childhood completely different from mine, with harsh and violent realities, with many ‘I can’t’ and ‘I don’t want to’ but with a lot of cleverness, joy, and rhythm. It was all very physical, precocious, and real, there was little room for fantasy and imagination.
That’s why I started as a volunteer reading books, then I came back with my own stories, then I created the elephant Tobias and the magical world of Elefantópolis, then I gave an audiovisual workshop and encouraged them to create their own stories, and more recently, during the pandemics, we’ve developed a Game with virtual pedagogical support. Here are some photos of me during this journey ( https://www.instagram.com/p/CFqHmQAJcO0/?utm_sou… ).
Last week we registered as an NGO, it was a great achievement as we are a group of young women with a lot of willingness to give our best to our communities and presenting other perspectives of future for our kids, but with no business background. Our fundraising has been always punctual with donations of goods and services by our volunteer network. And to change that we are doing our first crowdfunding to support the work of two of our women leaders, they also live at the favela and are more actively working with the kids, and also to support the completion of the Game with have developed.
The proposal of this Game is to develop self-directed learning tracks as we go through four main topics (self-knowledge, citizenship, environmental consciousness, and futurism). So each kid has their own tutor, who presents content and challenges around the topic, then kids are rewarded in a social currency as they complete the challenges. They are introduced to a monetary system that is abundant to them and circulates only within the community, and through it, they can have access to goods and services from local entrepreneurs. The main goal of the Game is to provoke questioning ( who they are, how they behave as a community, how their community is interacting with Gaia, and how are we designing our future) and to tricker their curiosity and encourage self-learning practices.
That’s why I am here, to request support in our Game’s crowdfunding ( benfeitoria.com/GameEducarMais ). There are only 2 DAYS LEFT until the end of the campaign so I am currently talking to everybody about it on a last attempt to get closer to our goal. And as an international community, your contribution may have a multiplication power as our Brazilian currency is so devalued.
Besides the beauty of the work we’ve been doing in Educar+, this crowdfunding is additionally special because the contribution made can be reimbursed in a social currency called MUDA. It’s also the currency that is rewarded to the kids and circulates in their local community and a project I am also part of.
Muda is a network created by a group of artists, teachers, hackers, and dreamers that has it’s own non-convertible social currency and seeks to encourage cultural, educational, and socio-environmental actions (such as Educar+) by experimenting with alternative economies based on joy and abundance. We have more than 700 users in our blockchain platform and more than 100 offerings from various places in Brazil.
Here are both projects’ Instagram, which is our main communication platform.
Unfortunately, most of our communication is in Portuguese. I am really starting now to communicate these projects throughout the globe.
But if anyone is interested in knowing more about any of the projects I would love to talk about them and clarify any question. I am already grateful for the attention and any support that might come from this post.