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Archive for 'Activism'

Critique of political economy of water and the collaborative alternative

photo of Vasilis Kostakis

Vasilis Kostakis
27th August 2014


 

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.10.27

An thought-provoking critique on the political economy of water  along with a collaborative, Commons-oriented proposal have been published at the European Water Movement website, by Kostas Nikolaou, member of the initiative K136. Kostas begins his article criticizing the current practices regarding the water management and the recent efforts to privatize another Commons so to maximize capital accumulation. Then he deals with two critical questions: i) “who made and who makes the privatization of water everywhere in the world?” and ii) “saying no to privatization and ultimately preventing the privatization, say yes to what?”. Through the case of the collaborative alternative from Thessaloniki, Greece, i.e., the initiative K136, and other historical successes of the movement, Kostas makes concrete proposals for a cooperative alternative. If you are interested in the Commons (since you are here, certainly you are!), you should definitely read the essay in full here.

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Posted in Activism, Commons, Cooperatives, Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Featured Essay, Open Models, P2P Collaboration, Peer Property, Politics, Sharing | No Comments »

How Tech-Savvy Podemos Became One of Spain’s Most Popular Parties in 100 Days

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
25th August 2014


The Podemos banner asks, “When is the last time you voted with hope?” (Podemos Uvieu/flickr)

Originally published in Techpresident, this recent report by Carola Friedani details the unstoppable rise of Podemos and the participatory tools that have enabled it. We’re especially happy to see our friends at Loomio mentioned as one of Podemos’ go-to tools.


It has been called “a radical left sensation”; a “fledgling party” born out of the ashes of the Indignados (“the outraged”) or 15-M movement; and “the new-kid-on-the-block” whose success is yet another example of modern technopolitics or, as some experts have put it, “the power of the connected multitudes.”

Podemos (“We Can”), a new Spanish party established in March 2014, disrupted their nation’s political scene when it swept up five seats out of 54 and 1.2 million votes (8% of the total) in the European elections in May even though it was only 100-days-old. With 704,585 likes on Facebookand 321,000 followers on Twitter, it has more online fans than any other Spanish political party.

Founded by left-wing academics, and led by a 35-year-old political science lecturer, Pablo Iglesias, Podemos’ platform strongly advocates for anti-corruption and transparency measures, is supportive of participatory democracy and critical of the two main parties – the PP (the center-right People’s Party) and the PSOE (the Socialist Party) – as well as the government’s austerity measures. As Iglesias told the Guardian, Podemos is about “citizens doing politics.”

Iñigo Errejón, a researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid, and the coordinator of Podemos’ electoral campaign, tells techPresident, “The rise of Podemos is about their new way of reading and articulating widespread citizen discontent, which had previously surfaced within the 15-M movement.”

Podemos is considered an offshoot of 15-M, a tech-savvy group that from 2011 to 2012 protested against the country’s political inefficacy, high unemployment and other political and economic woes.According to Cristina Flesher Fominay, founder and co-chair of the Council for European Studies Social Movement and a professor at the University of Aberdeen, Podemos’ popularity was made possible in part by its roots in 15-M as well as the charismatic and media-savvy leadership of Iglesias and the party’s ability to mobilize the youth, unemployed and voters that tend to abstain.

The party’s success also came from deep changes to the way politics has been done, says Errejón, a combination of bold reforms and use of technology to make the decision-making process as inclusive and transparent as possible.

Crowdfunding

Compared to a standard campaign, which in Spain can cost more than 2 million euros per party, Podemos succeeded with hardly any money, initially raising 100,000 euros (US$133,650) through crowdfunding.

Podemos’ charismatic leader Pablo Iglesias speaks at a rally (credit: CyberFrancis/flickr)

“Since the beginning, we believed that we needed to be financially independent from banks and corporations, and for this reason we asked for citizen funding,” Eric Labuske, 26, and Miguel Ardanuy, 23, who are members of Podemos, wrote in a joint e-mail to techPresident. “We have used crowdfunding for specific projects, such as building servers for our web platforms and materials for our political campaigns. We also use a monthly donation system to cover all our expenses.” Labuske coordinates citizen participation activities within the party and Ardanuy is part of a working group that is organizing Podemos’ Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Ciudadana) in October 2014 when members will debate and vote on proposals for an agenda, as well as the future trajectory of the party.

Not only is crowdfunding important in distancing themselves from the sway of corporate funding, according to Labuske and Ardanuy, it also enables citizens to get involved politically and, as a result, forces the party to be as transparent as possible. “As our funding depends on small donations from citizens, we have the obligation of being accountable and transparent, by publishing our accounts and balances online,” they explain. Podemos also documents its crowdsourcing process online.

Even now, crowdfunding is Podemos’ main source of funding, making up more than half of all its resources with the rest coming from regular donations. The party has collected more than 150,000 euros (US$200,450) since March 2014 through more than 10,000 funders.

Some of the money is used for specific projects; for example, when the PP accused Iglesias of associations with the Basque terrorist group, ETA, Podemos raised more than 16,000 euros(US$21,380) in three hours to defend themselves against libelous attacks.

Podemos also met their 23,000 euros (US$30,735) goal for organizing its Constituent Assembly. Any member can participate and anyone can become a member by filling out an online form.

Podemos’ lean crowdfunding model is also reflected in their bold reforms for public spending. It aims to set MEP salaries at 1,930 euros (US$2,580), or triple the national minimum wage, as opposed to the standard 8,000 euros (US$10,690) a month, and use the extra income towards building the party or towards a particular cause. Podemos also hopes to set a minimum guaranteed income and reform financial regulation.

Online voting and decision making

A large part of Podemos’ digital strategy is turning decision-making into an inclusive, citizen-driven process. It used an online platform, Agora Voting, to select their Euro-MPs during the primaries, attracting 33,000 voters who were verified through SMS. While those votes only account for 3 percent of their actual voter base, Podemos was the only party aside from Partido X, a 15-M spin-off founded over a year before them, that used open primaries, which allowed any voter regardless of party affiliation to throw in their support. Podemos also used Agora to select their executive coordination team, a group of 26 in charge of organizing the Constituent Party Assembly.

So far the platform has been used to vote directly for candidates, but in the long run Podemos may use some of the other voting models supported by the platform, such as liquid delegation. This form of voting allows a participant to delegate his or her vote to someone else they feel has more expertise, but the delegation can also be revoked. Agora also supports single transferable voting, a system that seeks to create proportional representation through the ranking of candidates in order of preference on a ballot.

Currently, Podemos is working on an even more ambitious project. LaboDemo (Laboratorio Democrático), a techno-political consulting and researching organization that is focused on how to use Internet tools to optimize democratic processes, began to collaborate with Podemos in June on testing new apps that would allow for instant mass polling.

“We started to test a number of tools after a national meeting of all the ‘Circulos’ on 14th June,” Yago Bermejo Abati, the coordinator of LaboDemo, tells techPresident. The ‘Circulos’ or Circles are local, offline places for citizen participation that are open to all, launched by Podemos in order to fulfil its ambition of being a real citizens’ party. The Circulos have been one of the key factors of Podemos’ success. Today there are around 800 Circles scattered throughout the country. During meetings, members discuss policy issues, such as debating the proposals that will be brought to Podemos’ National Party Assembly. They often use Titanpad, a tool that allows many people to edit one document. “That means that everyone can take part in the building of Podemos. This is democracy,”says a post on one of the local Circulos’ Facebook page.

A screenshot of Podemos’ Circulos map

Podemos also uses the Circulos as a place to test new apps. “Appgree was first tested at the national meeting,” says Bermejo Abati. Appgree is a mobile app that filters proposals by type and can quickly poll thousands of people simultaneously. More than 9,000 participated during the national Circulos meeting in June and more than 5,000 were on the app simultaneously. A number of questions were proposed, for example, like suggesting a collective tweet to the president of Spain.

“We think Appgree will be useful in the future to allow very fast feedback regarding proposals or polls,” explains Bermejo Abati.

Another online platform Podemos just began to use in order to maximise participation is Reddit. “We believe that everyone needs to be part of the construction of Podemos,” say Labuske and Ardanay. “And unlike the other political parties in Spain, we want to use [Reddit] to enforce democracy in our country. We think that transparency and direct contact between politicians and citizens are vital to reach the level of democracy we want.” After LaboDemo suggested it, Podemos decided to use Reddit’s “ask me anything” feature to enable the party’s political candidates to debate with citizens.

“We wanted to create a massive national debate. We have chosen Reddit as our platform and we call it Plaza Podemos,” adds Bermejo Abati.

Plaza Podemos received more than 80,000 unique visits and more than 400,000 page visits since its launch about one month ago. During this time the party also hosted four Reddit interviews with Podemos Euro-MPs Pablo Echenique, Lola SànchezCarlos Jiménez and Teresa Rodrìguez, each of them answering hundreds of questions posed by users.

“We conceive Plaza Podemos as a virtual square to deliberate, discuss and visualize all the issues that concern Podemos’ followers,” says Bermejo Abati. “Since these interviews are done directly by the people, they produce truly interesting questions. It is also a great way for the MPs to explain some of their actions in the European Parliament.” Plaza Podemos is also enabling the offline Circulos to connect to each other virtually.

Podemos intends to utilize Reddit to debate the ethical, political and organizational principles that are going to be voted on at their National Citizen Assembly in October. The Reddit debates provide a new way of interacting with a political party and Bermejo Abati believes it will develop into a “new kind of politics.”

Another participatory platform that Podemos is currently experimenting with is Loomio, a collaborative and open source decision-making platform that allows groups of people to discuss issues, propose actions, gauge group opinion and are given a set deadline to vote. It aims to encourage consensus-making rather than the polarization of an issue.

“After Podemos adopted our platform, several thousand Podemos folk have now started 396 groups within the last month,” Ben Knight, co-founder of Loomio, tells techPresident. Some of them are local groups, like Podemos Toledo. Others are thematic, like Podemos Economistas, which as its name suggests, debates the party’s economic policy. “[Loomio’s] user-base and total activity have almost doubled as a result,” adds Knight.

A screenshot of Plaza Podemos on Reddit.

The problem with “e-democracy”

Despite Podemos’ success, it is not without its critics, especially those who pursue similar goals of using online participation to create a more inclusive democratic process.

“[The party] has been very efficient on social networks,” Simona Levi, a prominent former 15-M activist and a co-founder of Partido X, says to techPresident. “However it still hasn’t addressed some problems, such as the risk of clicktivism, of implementing a fallacious idea of participation.” She wonders how Podemos will prevent decisions being made primarily by those with the time to participate or whether people who vote online are really informed before they cast their ballot, especially when it comes to complicated policy issues like political or economic reform.

Levi explains that Partido X tried to address these problems with their own version of online political participation based on the idea that online participation by itself is not enough and that people don’t need to express an opinion on everything, especially if they are not informed enough.

“Our methodology seeks to go beyond clicktivism, introducing the idea of responsibility, competence and scalability in the participatory decision-making process,” she says. For instance, Partido X tried to implement a decision-making process based less on majority voting and more on consensus, less on opinion and more on expertise.

However noble Partido X’s attempt at creating a more meaningful platform for political engagement, it was less effective at communicating its vision to the public. While Partido X was often considered the main heir to 15-M, it was unable to win any seats in the last election while Podemos has become the fourth largest national political force and the third largest in many regions, including Madrid.

Podemos’ founders do realize its methods are far from perfect. “We are always looking to improve our participation systems and looking to find new ones,” say Labuske and Ardanuy. “Improving democracy is one of our main objectives, and we believe that technology is very important in reaching that goal.” And despite its flaws, Podemos is leading the way in online politics in Spain.

Carola Frediani is an Italian journalist and co-founder of the media agency, Effecinque.org. She writes on new technology, digital culture and hacking for a variety of Italian publications, including L’Espresso, Wired.it, Corriere della Sera, Sky.it. She is the author of Inside Anonymous: A Journey into the World of Cyberactivism.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident’s WeGov section.

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Posted in Activism, Collective Intelligence, Commons, Culture & Ideas, Featured Content, Featured Essay, Networks, Open Government, Open Models, P2P Collaboration, P2P Public Policy, Politics | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Against the Smart City

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hartsellml
25th August 2014


Against the smart city (The city is here for you to use). Andrew Greenfield

Description

“From the smartphones in our pockets and the cameras on the lampposts to sensors in the sewers, the sidewalks and the bike-sharing stations, the contemporary city is permeated with networked information technology.

As promoted by enterprises like IBM, Siemens and Cisco Systems, the vision of the “smart city” proposes that this technology can be harnessed by municipal administrators to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency,security, convenience and sustainability. But a closer look at what this body of ideas actually consists of suggests that such a city will not, and cannot, serve the interests of the people who live in it.

In this pamphlet, Everyware author Adam Greenfield explores the ways in which this discourse treats the city as an abstraction, misunderstands (or even undermines) the processes that truly do generate meaning and value — and winds up making many of the same blunders that doomed the High Modernist urban planning of the twentieth century. “Against the smart city” provides an intellectual toolkit for those of us interested in resisting this sterile and unappealing vision, and lays important groundwork for the far more fruitful alternatives to come.”

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Posted in Activism, Featured Book, P2P Architecture and Urbanism | No Comments »

Video: The occupation of Teatro Valle in Rome, 3 years on

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
19th August 2014


A short documentary on the occupied theatre from the Collaborative Cities project.

Watch the video here:

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Posted in Activism, Culture & Ideas, P2P Art and Culture, P2P Movements, Videos | No Comments »

Algorithms have consequences: What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
16th August 2014


Excerpted from Zeynep Tufekci:

“No Ferguson on Facebook last night. I scrolled. Refreshed.

This morning, though, my Facebook feed is also very heavily dominated by discussion of Ferguson. Many of those posts seem to have been written last night, but I didn’t see them then. Overnight, “edgerank” –or whatever Facebook’s filtering algorithm is called now?—?seems to have bubbled them up, probably as people engaged them more.
\
But I wonder: what if Ferguson had started to bubble, but there was no Twitter to catch on nationally? Would it ever make it through the algorithmic filtering on Facebook? Maybe, but with no transparency to the decisions, I cannot be sure.

Would Ferguson be buried in algorithmic censorship?

This isn’t about Facebook per se—maybe it will do a good job, maybe not—but the fact that algorithmic filtering, as a layer, controls what you see on the Internet. Net neutrality (or lack thereof) will be yet another layer determining this. This will come on top of existing inequalities in attention, coverage and control.

Twitter was also affected by algorithmic filtering. “Ferguson” did not trend in the US on Twitter but it did trend locally. [I’ve since learned from @gilgul that that it *briefly* trended but mostly trended at localities.] So, there were fewer chances for people not already following the news to see it on their “trending” bar. Why? Almost certainly because there was already national, simmering discussion for many days and Twitter’s trending algorithm (said to be based on a method called “term frequency inverse document frequency”) rewards spikes… So, as people in localities who had not been talking a lot about Ferguson started to mention it, it trended there though the national build-up in the last five days penalized Ferguson.
Algorithms have consequences.

I’m not quite sure that without the neutral side of the Internet—the livestreams whose “packets” were fast as commercial, corporate and moneyed speech that travels on our networks, Twitter feeds which are not determined by an opaque corporate algorithms but my own choices,—we’d be having this conversation.

So, I hope that in the coming days, there will be a lot written about race in America, about militarization of police departments, lack of living wage jobs in large geographic swaths of the country.

But keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue. It’s also an algorithmic filtering issue. How the internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.

And despite a lot of dismal developments, this fight is far from over, and its enemy is cynicism and dismissal of this reality.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What happens to #Ferguson affects what happens to Ferguson.

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Posted in Activism, Anti-P2P, Media, Open Standards, P2P Rights, P2P Technology | No Comments »

Video of the Day: Hong Kong’s “Occupy” Movement for Democracy

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
7th August 2014


Reposted from Films for Action’s website, don’t miss this short video on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

The Chinese government is facing what may be the most organized democratic movement in its history as more than 20 percent of Hong Kong’s 3.5 million eligible voters cast a ballot in the past week in an unofficial referendum to make this Special Administrative Region of China significantly more democratic. The huge participation came right before unprecedented July 1st protests, which saw hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers take to the streets.

The central government in Beijing has shown some willingness to compromise, promising to allow the people of Hong Kong – starting in 2017 – to choose their chief executive through universal suffrage. But Beijing has no plans to allow them the right to nominate the candidates for whom they’ll be voting for.

These protests could be a key turning-point for the largest non-democratic nation left in the world if the people of Hong Kong are able to provide a successful road map for other pro-democracy advocates in the rest of China to follow.

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Posted in Activism, Collective Intelligence, Culture & Ideas, Empire, Featured Content, Featured Video, Politics | No Comments »

Lessons of DIY Urbanism in a Syrian Refugee Camp

photo of David Bollier

David Bollier
3rd August 2014


UNDP-supported projects in Jordan

Governments are so accustomed to dictating their will, through coercion if necessary, that they find it unimaginable that people might willingly – and with creativity and enthusiasm – self-organize themselves to take care of urgent needs.  So pause a moment to behold the remarkable Zaatari Refugee camp in Jordan.  This settlement of 85,000 displaced Syrians is showing how even desperate, resource-poor people can show enormous creativity and self-organization, and turn their “camp” into a “city.”

In many respects, Zaatari bears an uncanny resemblance to the DIY dynamics of the Burning Man encampment in the Nevada desert – an annual gathering that attracts more than 65,000 people for a week.  Both eschew “government” in favor of self-organized governance.  Both confer opportunities and responsibilities and individuals, and facilitate bottom-up initiatives through lightweight infrastructures.

As the New York Times reported on July 4, the Zaatari camp has “neighborhoods, gentrification, a growing economy and, under the circumstances, something approaching normalcy, though every refugee longs to return home. There is even a travel agency that will provide a pickup service at the airport, and pizza delivery, with an address system for the refugees that camp officials are scrambling to copy.”  Times’ urbanist/architecture critic Michel Kimmelman declares that “Zaatari’s evolution points more broadly to a whole new way of thinking about one of the most pressing crises on the planet.”

Historically, most refugee camps are seen as impermanent camps whose desperate, wretched populations need “service delivery” of all sorts.  The “professionals” must orchestrate and administer everything.  The role assigned to the sad, needy hordes of refugees is to queue up in lines for food and to idle away their hours and days.

In Azraq, a refugee camp of 11,000 Syrians in the middle of nowhere, the “city” is “strictly policed, with fixed, corrugated metal shelters in military order, dirt floors and shameful public toilets, and it has no electricity.”  Refugees there are “terrified at night without electricity to light the shelters, unprotected against the scorpions, mice and snakes, say they escaped one nightmare to arrive at another.”

But what if you conceive a refugee camp not as an impermanent waystation (which often endures for years) to be “administered” from the top down, but as a project in self-organized, participatory, bottom-up city-building?

Kimmelman notes that the oldest parts of Zaatari “have streets, one or two paved, some lined with electric poles, the most elaborate houses cobbled together from shelters, tents, cinder blocks and shipping containers, with interior courtyards, private toilets and jerry-built sewers.  Clusters of satellite dishes and water tanks on the skyline can bring to mind favelas in Rio de Janeiro or slums in Cairo.  Like favelas, the camp has grown according to its own ad hoc, populist urban logic, which includes a degree of social mobility.”

The Zaatari experience illustrates “a basic push toward urbanization that happens even in desperate places – people leaving their stamp wherever they live, making the spaces they occupy their own.”

A German relief agency official describes Zaatari as “a complex ecosystem that you could call a city or a slum.  Either way, it’s a dynamic place, unforeseen by the humanitarian actors running it, which is giving refugees a sense of ownership and dignity.”

Kilian Kleinschmidt, the United Nations official in charge of Zaatari, describes the city as having “14,000 households, 10,000 sewage pots and private toilets, 3,000 washing machines, 150 private gardens, 3,500 new businesses and shops.”  It has barbershop, a pet store, a flower shop and a homemade ice cream business. Its main drag is called the Champs-Élysées. The owner of a bridal shop on the Champs-Élysées bought his property in the black market for 7,000 Jordanian dinars, or about US$10,000, which he may re-sell at a profit in the future.

To be sure, there have been some important top-down administration and leadership decisions making all of this bottom-up self-organization possible.  As the camp’s administrator, Kleinschmidt had to engage with and neutralize the organized crime bodies that were more or less running the camp, and he had to support and encourage grassroots projects.  But his critical realization was seeing his challenge not as UN management of a refugee camp, but as enabling refugees to build their own city:  a critical shift of perspective.

To be sure, Zaatari is a squalid place with lots of problems.  But it is surely a big advance when the management strategy recognizes the agency, imagination and dignity of refugees themselves, and tries to leverage those energies to improve everyone’s circumstances.  This strikes me as the essence of commoning.

Kleinschmidt is now exploring ways to get wifi for the camp and obtain 10,000 bicycles from an urban planning office in Amsterdam.  This, reports Kimmelman, “prompted a few canny Syrian refugees to open bike repair shops even before the bikes arrived.”

Perhaps DIY refugee camps like Zaatari will eventually teach municipal governments around the world a few things about unleashing the cooperative capacities of people and making their cities more robust, productive and liveable.  Zaatari should perhaps be considered a charter member of the Maker City movement.


This post originally appeared at bollier.org

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Posted in Activism, Commons, Ethical Economy, P2P Movements, Sharing | 1 Comment »

The P2P Foundation joins the Post-Growth Alliance

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
2nd August 2014


PGA

Image Credit: Films for Action

The P2P Foundation is glad to announce its participation in the Post Growth Alliance. The Alliance, created by our friends at the Post Growth Institute, has initiated dialogues among a growing number of collectives spanning 14 countries and with a commonly agreed-on set of values. The groups involved work tirelessly on behalf of ecological and social justice, post-growth strategies, stewardship of the Commons and, of course, P2P. The Alliance aims to mutualise our social media reach by cross-posting curated content on subjects that matter.

Given our informed choice to use netarchical platforms to spread our message (and, incidentally, criticise netarchical platforms and their biases) the Alliance’s combined social media reach of over 2 million followers is not a bad thing.  To be precise, as of July 7th there were 2, 269, 659 followers (Facebook: 2,021,404; Twitter: 248, 255). The combined figure is increasing daily by about 4,000. Over time, we would like to see the incorporation of more decentralised social media channels into that equation.

To give an example of its current reach, Share the World’s Resources’ recent FB post on worldwide economic sharing, republished by the Alliance, has received over 20,000 views on the Post Growth Institute’s page alone. If you want to follow all the groups involved in the PGA on Facebook, you can add them quickly through this list. If you want to follow them on Twitter, click here.

Amongst other things, the PGA organized a record-breaking Silent Skype Meeting with representatives from most of the collectives. We’ve benefited in other ways aside from the social media reach the Alliance offers us, including very constructive dialogues with the Sustainable Economies Law Center on the subject of Open Coops and with Share the World’s Resources on strategies for a Partner State. We really want to thank Donnie Maclurcan, Becky Hollender and the rest of the team for organising such a great initiative. Please read more about the Post Growth Alliance in the material below.

Post Growth Alliance

Together let’s shape the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible!

In a groundbreaking development, 50 organizations have come together to form the Post Growth Alliance. These groups will selectively cross-post the very best content that is helping to motivate systemic change and reshape our world(views).

As of July 7th, the PGA’s combined social media reach is a staggering: 2, 269, 659! (Facebook: 2,021,404; Twitter: 248, 255). The combined figure is increasing daily by 3,856.

Post Growth Alliance – Overview

What is it?

A low-key alliance of like-minded groups, using a simple strategy to harness collective reach in order to enhance the individual impacts of each group and grow the broader Post Growth movement.

How does it work?

The group does two, simple things:

1. Updating – at an annual, 1-3hr typed Skype meeting we keep each other updated of each organization’s plans, offers and needs

2. Sharing – via a ‘blind’ group email, we receive a limited amount of high-quality content from alliance group members, which we agree to consider reposting via our social media and other marketing channels.

How does the updating process work?

Once a year we hold a fast-paced, online, silent (typed) meeting, via Skype (for more about how such a process works, read here). Every group has a representative present who will share pre-prepared information with the group (i.e., copy and pasting information into the chat). Groups will be encouraged to submit their content through an existing form in advance of the meeting, in case, for any reason, their representative is unable to make the meeting for technical, scheduling or other reasons. The meeting’s format is as follows:

  1. Welcome by the chair and explanation of process (10 min.)
  2. Groups then present dot point, pre-prepared organizational updates (organizations present in alphabetical order, at the chair’s prompting) (100 min.).

The chair will then open the floor for all groups to comment/ask questions of the presenting group. In order to keep the meeting fast, members are encouraged to follow-up any matching of offers/needs outside the meeting

  1. Nomination of new members (any alliance member may nominate another group. Acceptance will be by group majority, with the Post Growth Institute holding the right to veto) (10 min.)
  2. Reflections on process/appreciations (10 min.)
  3. Any other business (5 min.)
  4. Close

How does the sharing process work?

Each alliance member organization has a representative who agrees to be on the alliance email list. Each member organization may send a maximum of four items per year (links to articles, campaigns, videos or images – they don’t even have to be your own, or original, work) to the group, using a set template (currently under design, possibly a Google Form) for Facebook, Twitter and newsletter messages. Each alliance member is encouraged to repost (either as a copy/paste function or a retweet/share) all content from other members, but the decision to repost is always voluntary, with each group able to use discretion. The Post Growth Institute will moderate/curate the content.

How is the alliance intellectually/philosophically like-minded?

Alliance members have been selected on the expectation of agreement with the Post Growth Institute’s Starting Positions, as well as their anticipated interest in cross-promoting content from other alliance members. These positions are:

1: All people can live one-planet lifestyles in ways that bring increased peace and prosperity from the personal to the global scale

There are a myriad of inspiring and empowering initiatives occurring worldwide that serve as examples of what our world can look like if we move beyond current trends that focus on personal gain, private profit, materialism and economic growth. By highlighting, connecting and supporting these initiatives we can help accelerate our global transition towards sustainable and resilient prosperity.

2. One-planet lifestyles acknowledge physical limits to economic growth on a planet with finite resources

Economies exist within the physical environment. Their existence relies upon the continued use of natural resources like water, forests and agricultural land. These natural resources are either non-renewable (limited in total amount) or are produced at a rate that is limited by the environment’s ability to regenerate them. The other side of this is nature’s ability to absorb the wastes that we produce.  If economies produce waste faster than nature can absorb that waste, we undermine the planet’s ability to sustain human existence.

We are already using natural resources at a rate higher than that at which they are naturally renewed and creating wastes faster than nature can absorb them (known as ecological overshoot).  Continued economic growth will only worsen this predicament. One-planet living acknowledges that we can, and must, mould our economies to fit within the limits imposed by our physical environment.

3. One-planet lifestyles acknowledge the pressures a growing human population, with highly inequitable patterns of production and consumption, place on a planet with finite physical resources.

Every human on Earth must consume natural resources to live.  If we are to survive and thrive into the future, we must together consume within natural boundaries and produce less waste than nature can absorb. Some of us are consuming far more than our fair share of resources and producing excessive waste, while the total population is growing. We need to address inequalities and find ways to maintain a better balance.

4. One-planet lifestyles also acknowledge that advances in technology do not mean we can keep growing indefinitely

Technology cannot create something from nothing. For example, technology can’t change the fact that there is a limited amount of oil; it can only squeeze a little more use from existing reserves. In a world with more people and higher rates of consumption, increases in technological efficiency can, at best, buy us more time before such gains are cancelled out by further growth.

Globally, improvements in the efficiency of technologies, or even leaps to other substitutes, have not been able to offset overall increases in resource consumption and waste.  In fact, these improvements in efficiency have, in many cases, driven more wasteful attitudes and increased overall consumption (see “Jevons Paradox”).  Rather than relying on technology alone, we must challenge the obsession with infinite growth on a finite planet.

 

 

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Posted in Activism, Campaigns, Collective Intelligence, Commons, Crowdsourcing, Culture & Ideas, Featured Content, Networks, Original Content, P2P Collaboration, P2P Foundation, Sharing | No Comments »

Improve Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde’s prison conditions immediately

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
27th July 2014


Improve Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde's prison conditions immediately

Peter Sunde

Our friend Nadia EL-Imam, from Edgeryders has alerted us to this important campaign. Please read the article below and  add your signature to the petition.


Improve Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde’s prison conditions immediately

I am suffering tremendously – socially, physically, as well as psychologically – by the shortcomings of [the prison,] Västervik.” ~ Peter Sunde, aka Brokep

Peter is most famous as Brokep, co-founder and spokesperson of the Pirate Bay. But his impact extends far beyond file-sharing. He also worked tirelessly to support creators through the payment system/social site, Flattr, and is bringing encrypted messaging to the masses through the app, Hemlis.

But now he is suffering in the restrictive conditions of Västervik prison, poorly suited to a non-violent offender accused only of “crimes” related to copyright infringement and fighting for a free and open internet. 

Peter requested a transfer to a lower security class prison, specifically Tygelsjö, that would be more appropriate for his situation and would also allow him to be closer to his family, hopefully making his imprisonment more bearable. But weeks later, the Swedish authorities have not made any move to accommodate his request.

Peter has also requested access to food that he can actually eat. Prisons are required by law to provide a diet that respects prisoners’ beliefs, however the prison diet at Västervik is so severely lacking in vegetarian and vegan meals that Peter has lost at least 7 kilos (~15 pounds) in just a few weeks. Healthy vegetables and plant-based meals are a very simple request, but there has been no effort to accommodate his dietary needs. Peter is clearly suffering serious physical and psychological stress because of the lack of nutrition available to him.

This is no way for the prison authorities to treat any person in their care. The excessive restrictions are especially shameful for a non-violent offender like Peter Sunde. The Swedish Ministry of Justice, which oversees the Prison and Probation services, must act immediately to lift the disgraceful conditions he is being kept in and to relieve his suffering by:

  1. Transferring him to a lower class prison and
  2. Providing sufficient nutrition for a plant-based diet.


More information, descriptions of prison conditions, and Peter’s request for transfer:
https://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article19207648.ab (Swedish)
http://torrentfreak.com/losing-weight-pirate-bay-founder-requests-security-downgrade-140703/

And more on Peter’s other projects:
Hemlis – https://heml.is/

Flattr – https://flattr.com/

Photo Credit: Simon Klose

Click here to sign the petition

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Posted in Activism, Anti-P2P, Campaigns, Copyright/IP, Culture & Ideas, Empire, Events, Open Calls, Politics, Sharing | No Comments »

Enric Duran on shared and disobedient crowdfunding platform networks

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
25th July 2014


We’ve recently featured Coopfunding, an Open-Sourced crowdfunding platform designed to “…promote the financing of projects with a social, self managed and cooperative nature.”  Today we present a guest article by Enric Duran, one of the developers behind Coopfunding and its parent-project, the Catalan Integral Cooperative, explaining the reasons that led to the creation of Coopfunding. This article was originally published in Radi.MS


The expansion of crowdfunding in the last few years has been quite vertiginous.

Hundreds of projects have been able to get off the ground around the world coming from very different backgrounds but united in the aim of creating a link between donors and the projects they sponsor.

Crowdfunding, for its practicality and usefulness, has expanded without any ideological limitation and while it served to finance many social projects it has also supported more conventional initiatives based on consumerism and business as meant in the capitalist system.

In this way, more traditional fund raising events like benefit gigs and have been overlooked, and we should take in to account that with the crowdfunding model we are at risk of leaving the financing of social initiative in the hands of unscrupulous business which, through the management of crowdfunding platforms, are making the same profit that any middle man would make in an ordinary business transaction, through the charge of commissions which range between 5% and 10% of the donations received. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indygogo have already made profits in the millions region.

we are at risk of leaving the financing of social initiative in the hands of third party business

Also, there are several projects which are managed by cooperatives which nevertheless still charge a 5% fee on donations in order to support themselves, like Goteo.org, managed on mainland Spain by a foundation dedicated to the expansion of common good, funditaly.it, a recent cooperative project and also a foundation in Veezuela calledwww.causasolidaria.com.

Another interesting project, which promotes the decentralization of its supporter, is Awesome Foundation, where donors from all over the world can network by theme or territory, pool their savings together and choose a project to which donate $1000 every month. Although it isn’t a micro-financing platform, it is still a project without intermediaries.

Still, there are some projects around the world that avoid supporting themselves through fee charging, like for instancehttp://www.microgenius.org.uk/, managed as a public service by http://www.communityshares.org.uk/ with the aim of facilitating the selling of shares in cooperative projects. Also without commission are Mymoneyhelp.fr, born in Lille, which is financed by social enterprise sponsoring and http://crowdfunding-italia.com, which is operating through voluntary work.

The majority of platforms impose an “all or nothing” clause with a limited term of not many days to accomplish the target

Another obstacle is that the majority of platforms impose an “all or nothing” clause with a limited term of not many days to accomplish the target (40 days is the usual). It’s a mechanism which benefits the intermediaries, since generally it is asked that promoters use their own funds or funds they had already secured through other means to start the campaign, of which they will have to loose the 5% commission fee in order to reach their target and secure the donations.

Furthermore, it seems to benefit the donors by guaranteeing the success of the projects they sponsor, whilst, in a sort of paternalistic way, denying them the choice to fund the projects regardless of it success in reaching the target.

Probably this does not affect the projects which have a strong human capital and who are well connected to social networks, since they will be able to fulfill the terms imposed, but this dynamic definitely puts smaller projects at a disadvantage, since they may not have the capacity to mobilize support in such a short amount of time. In this way then, a sort of social darwinism is created, where only the strong projects are likely to succeed, where as the smaller ones are lost on the way to oblivion. Evidently, this competitive and pressure are typical of the system in which we live, and not of the one most social movements are trying to create.

The fact is that a lot of projects which may need self financing can survive whether they reach their target or not, since that’s always been the case: many self managed projects have survived through the determination and creativity of their promoters. Many projects then, may need to receive on going financial support, or at particular times of the year, something that platforms such as crowdfunding do not take in to account.

Coopfunding.net re invents the concept of crowdfunding and adapts it to the real needs of the social projects that make use of it.

For this reason, it is necessary that we re invent the concept of crowdfunding and adapt it to the real needs of the social projects that make use of it. This is what the project coopfunding.net is trying to do, having become operative after many months of gestation.

Some of you may remember that Coopfunding already had a pilot appearance in the Spring of 20013, when a crowdfunding platform decided to cut our campaign due to the legal risks that it might have posed.

The campaign was collecting funds in order that Radi, which is not in operation at radi.ms, could become an alternative communication media through which we could still organize our activities despite my forced clandestineness since 2013.

This then, is another thing to bear in mind. 99% of crowdfunding platforms abide by the rules chosen by the 1% of the population, within the legal boundaries decided by different countries. Therefore, if we want to enjoy a crowdfunding platform which is coherent with the principles of projects which propose disobedience and revolution, we have to build one ourselves since we cannot depend on those which, despite their best intentions, are still bound by the legality of their policies.

http://www.coopfunding.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/coopfundingBarra.jpg

Coopfunding is a crowdfunding platform, newly released, without commissions or mediation, where each project can choose their terms according to their needs. With or without dedlines, rewards, with total flexibility and with the objective of being a tool for supporting social change projects.

The financial sustainability of the project is envisaged to be relying on the donations of social activists, through varied payment options and through the inclusion of local currencies, barter and criptomoney, whatever each project decides.

Coopfunding is a cooperative project open to the participation of whoever may want to contribute to make it possible, within a framework of disobedience towards the current system and a vision of integrated revolution. Furthermore, Coopfunding is a shared ownership projects, since it relies ultimately on the open consensus process of the Cooperativa Integral Catalana.

The tools which we use to access such support should be shared and communal too

I think it is important that, if we want a society where the tools we need are shared and communal, we might as well start with the ones where we can already apply this principle. Since financial support is a key factor in the success of many projects who are building alternatives, the tools which we use to access such support should be shared and communal too.

It would be very interesting if we could create a network of cooperative initiatives so that they may collaborate and support each other and gain public visibility, something very important in order to reach all the people that are necessary to have an effective fund raising campaign.

We are hoping and wishing that soon many other projects of this nature will spring up around the world, if you know of any please share the information!

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Posted in Activism, Campaigns, Collective Intelligence, Commons, Cooperatives, Crowdfunding, Economy and Business, Ethical Economy, Featured Content, Featured Essay, Guest Post, Open Models, P2P Collaboration, P2P Foundation, Politics, Sharing | No Comments »