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Drutopia Leadership Team Retreat Reportback

April 20, 2017
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On April 9 – 10, 2017, four of the six members of the Drutopia leadership team held an in-person retreat in Vancouver, Canada. Participants were Clayton Dewey, Rosemary Mann, Benjamin Melançon, and Nedjo Rogers. (The remaining leadership team members were unable to join the retreat due to other commitments and/or travel costs.)

As well as getting to know each other better and enjoying Vancouver’s east side, we used the retreat to dig into key questions of strategy and structure. The result is a proposed set of blueprints to guide our work as we carry the project forward.

Drutopia centres on building cooperatively owned platforms for online engagement and action. When we started the project, we created a project leadership team. But this team was only an interim, caretaker structure. From the outset, we made a commitment to empower both users and producers of Drutopia as owners in a democratic, cooperative structure.

We’ve placed Drutopia within the emerging platform cooperativism movement. Platform cooperatives are online platforms that are “collectively owned and democratically governed”. An example is Stocksy, a stock photo platform by and for artists.

But if platform cooperativism provides a theoretical basis and real world examples, it also poses challenges for a project like Drutopia. We’re not aiming to build a single platform—we want to support many. Available materials on platform cooperatives are long on ideas, short on practical recipes.

In the year and a half of Drutopia work so far, we’ve generated a wealth of research and proposals on strategy and structure. In our Vancouver retreat, we aimed to draw these into a solid proposal that addresses the project vision and needs.

In this report back, we present our findings and recommendations. These include:

  • Two linked cooperative types
    • First, a single cooperative for the software as a whole. This has a low barrier to entry and a broad membership. This cooperative does not provide any services but serves as the owner of the software.
    • Second, one or more platform cooperatives, beginning with one focused on the Solidarity distribution. Each platform cooperative will provide software as a service (SASS) to owner members. By building this structure from the start, we lay the groundwork for new platform cooperatives to be founded in future on the same model and on the same technical and organizational infrastructure.
  • Incubator
    • As an interim step, request the US-based nonprofit People Who Give A Damn to serve as an incubator, providing institutional support such as fiscal sponsorship while we finalize organizational details.
  • Initial startup phase
    • For an initial startup phase, we put in place one or more key member NGOs who will participate in planning and overseeing the new distribution. Resources to build out the initial versions of Drutopia Base and Solidarity distributions will draw on in kind contributions from Drupal contributors and shops as well as financial sponsorship.

You can see the more detailed notes from our meetings at https://gitlab.com/drutopia/drutopia-organization/wikis/vancouver-2017

And as always, all are welcome to join our open Tuesday calls to hear what we are working on and connect with us directly. Please note, we’re meeting one hour earlier than in the past. Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 EST.

You’ll need Zoom. https://zoom.us/j/5148320453
Or join by phone: +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll) or +1 415 762 9988 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 514 832 0453