I’m pleased to announce that we’ll all have an opportunity to meet this summer. Save the date for Karrot days: July 16th & 17th 2022!
Karrot days is a free and open online-event, one weekend with various sessions to get to know each other, have a look at upcoming Karrot features and discuss about them together, chat about the funding we got and of course have a good time.
Here we go! Checkout the schedule we’ve came up with so far. Hope you like it!
We will keep this post up-to-date, if anythings changes you’ll have the latest version here. It’s still in the making and we welcome your feedback!
Day 1 Saturday 16th July
11:00 - 11:30
Say hello, arrive in the space, look at schedule, check-in with each other, any ideas welcome
11:30 - 13:00
Short presentations from different karrot groups and chat
13:00 - 14:00
14:00 - 15:30
Sociocracy for groups
Intro workshop into sociocracy, beginners level
15:30 - 16:30
Karrot as a general community organising tool
What is Karrot actually good for? How does it work beyond foodsaving groups and for more general community organising? How is it different from other tools?
16:30 - 18:00
18:00 - 20:00
Karrot quiz & socialising
We’ll start with a little fun quiz on Karrot! No special knowledge required. There is time to hang out together afterwards.
Day 2 Sunday 17th July
Focus & Reflect
11:00 - 11:30
Starting the day
arrive in the space, check-in with each other, ideas welcome
11:30 - 13:00
Community Design: Breaking the silo
We’ll go through the main ideas collected for features that will break the silo of groups, that is, facilitate interactions between a group and their public. In this session we expect to gather reactions, feedback and ideas from groups
13:00 - 14:00
14:00 - 15:00
Community Design: Improving conflict resolution
A long discussed feature, we will start discussing ideas and planning the design for the next iteration of the conflict resolution feature
15:00 - 16:00
Possibilty to meet people involved in karrot, ask questions, talk about funding, see how it works to contribute. Topic based discussion circles. Optional: Speed Networking for karrot Enthusiasts, you’ll be paired with a partner every 7 min.
How does it work? You’re invited to join any session you like Come and have fun! Where do we meet? We’re using BigBlueButton as a video conference tool. Join the meeting: Karrot Do I need to register? We encourage you to join the Karrot days 2022 group where we will co-ordinate the event and hang out, but you can also just show up to a session.
Foodsharing Points by Foodsharing Luxembourg Karrot
association with a vision that all edible food is consumed
values of respect, reliability, sense of responsiblity
used a value collection process
formed an association in 2019
558 members, not all active
part of global movement against food waste, through karrot forums and other ways
projects: awareness, foodsaving, foodsharing points, distribution days, political work
awareness: information stands, disco soups with saved food, workshops. if someone has an idea it’s done.
foodsaving: most popular project, go to shops rescue food then distribute it
foodsharing points: more for private usage, public fridges usually with a shelf, everybody can drop or collect what they want, has some problems with health authorities but luckily so far it’s ok
distribution days: usually 1h, at 4 different locations, can collect food rescued from bigger super markets, so share it at cultural centre, people queue up and choose what to take, like a free market, open for everyone, 3/4 of the people have some social problems, can be frightening
political work: working on creating political demands, as part of climate movement (created around the time of XR and connected)
platforms and tools:
wordpress website with membership form and group agreement
mattermost communication platform
karrot with two groups
foodsaving, 260 members
foodsharing points, organising cleaning points, 27 members
pass generator tool for karrot to create physical passes
shared google drive
outlook for next year, 2023
collaborating with foodsharing akademie in germany
creating a foodsharing festival, creating one somewhere between belgium, germany, luxembourg, want to bring karrot into that somehow
foodsharing.lu has more info, and facebook, instagram
formal association, being regulated, health and safety, quality of food…: public foodsharing point are quite public so some issues, traceability for distribution events, need to record exactly what they take (barcodes, etc…), national/european rules apply. but for the foodsaving, when it goes from supermarket to private houses that’s ok. association is for protection incase something did go wrong.
also rescue food, also some dumpster food with cargo bikes, prepare the food if they have time
go to environmental events, and street demonstrations, and present food at these places
create buffets and give it to people
do upcycle, building kitchens on bikes
vision is to spread out with cargo bikes, give food to the people, gardening in the city, fruit trees
don’t always want to go in the trash
cargo rides, 3-5 people with trailers rescue a lot of food, then distributing near metro stations
platform, in karrot
robin foods group, with official co-operations, and working with another org, picking up from supermarkets, schools, etc
use a buro/office “place” in karrot with a lot of information for finding people for doing things
also distribute some money on a donation basis
also use karrot for a gardening group, with a few gardens, although group is less active
and another garden group using karrot to organise the different aspects of the project, using places for conversations
and another group for bike demonstration organising
harder to get people so active in those other karrot groups.
questions: where? vienna in austria.
how to engage people? missing some step by step clicks on how to get active
groups are struggling how to organise themselves, a lot of stuff coming from outside, government/political input
organising with one platform would be great for a lot of people if it gives them orientation to act, people are really motivated and interested
community fridge in the centre of copenhagen, name ties together community and fridge
inspired from a dumpster diving cafe in auhaus (sp?), was a soup kitchen, then created a permanent space, now have a whole area, stopped dumpster diving for legal reasons and now have access to other food sources
located in diverse/hip neighbourhood in copenhagen, 50-100 people/day come past the fridge on the edge of a park
started in 2020, not so much interest in foodsharing copenhagen to do the fridge, created together with someone with background in food science
has been a challenge, but still running 8-9 donors, 20 or so active volunteers
based on unconditional sharing
auhaus have been told danish rules have changed, so might kill the project, waiting for next inspection… operating in a relative greyzone, rules tightening up now… e.g. requiring constant presence to be open have to see how strict they are, lot of variation across the country about how rules are implemented
start in 2016, started by group of activists in an anarchist collective, with goal of unconditional sharing. inspired by stuff in germany. most of the founders are no longer there.
organisation has undergone many transitions.
at it’s peak, providing food to over 300 people. collected from a range of donors, gathered it in one place, gave it out unconditionally.
volunteer-based, no gov support. people get tired after a while and leave. high turnover of leadership.
during pandemic a lot of people left.
current leadership is lacking some leadership skills. people wanted a break… needs a lot of effort to build it back up again, rather than just turn it on again. start small, and slowly build up community.
community fridge continued by keeping small.
managers are free in a particular supermarket to give out their waste, they go every day.
cleaning shifts for fridge, often people don’t sign up to the shifts though…
used karrot since the beginning, very useful platform. open source and without resitrctions.
used volunteer local before, but a nightmare to use. easy for volunteers, hard for managers to co-ordinate.
foodsharing copenhagen also using karrot, but not particularly well managed in there. would have been useful to have it before.
also a bread collection group as a separate group. bread is supposed to go to events, but doesn’t co-ordinate very well… a lot goes to communtiy fridge.
also working to supply food to other groups supporting in-need people.
some complexities with co-ordinating with some of the bakeries, difference between management and staff
org structures, both are volunteer associations, have to be registered as something to handle food, registering with food authorities. foodsharing cophengan registered in 2019, were aware for some time, then told them to register. fridge registered from the start.
foodsharing copehagen has a board, but meetings are inactive now, used to be quite active. at peak had 50-70 core volunteers. fridge project doesn’t have a board. 4-5 closer core-volunteers, friends. not so much to do there.
possible methods to re-egnage community: go back to roots, just started as a bunch of activisits, dumpster diving taking it back home, then made a deal with wholesale market, went with cargo bikes collected when they felt like it, lots of community events, community dinners… bringing people together without all the requirements… part of what killed it, was it became like a business with overworked people with no money…
in the northen part of belgium, university town with around 100k population
small town with small inner diameter 3km
progressive and liberal because it’s a university town, not difficult to convince supermarkets to support them
around 40 active members
student town means a lot of inflow/outflow of members depending on exams, time availability
around 10 supermarkets with collaborations, but corona killed some of it, so about 6 nice, and increasing
toogootogo has made it difficult, not for or against it, but more willingness before
3 active hubs where rescued food is dropped off for other people to collect
hard to know how much food was saved, as reliant on volunteers to register amount
rough guess of 1.7 tonnes, or 835kg in 2021
operate with word of mouth, connected to masters course in sustainable development, a lot people come from there
other source is from facebook group
then request them to join karrot, which is where all the logistics happen
do pickups via karrot, consume what they need, then excess is dropped off at the hubs, then post a picture on facebook so people around can come and pick it up
nice pictures of the hubs, in private spaces, e.g. spaces outside residents places, or student study place.
no dedicated fridge, but asking city and university to support them there, don’t have their own budget to fund and manage it.
behind the scenes, have been operating very horizontally without hierarchy, but finding it hard to grow like that.
so forming a hierarchy of some sort with accountability.
formed 4 groups:
outreach: connect with supermarkets/companies, find new hubs (3 hubs not enough)
communication: use social media to attract volunteers, a lot of distractions for students
internal affairs: realised this need during corona as enthusiasm went down, so this is to keep people hapy, support people, ensure cohesion, bring people together, organising events
networks: more structural collaborations with the city and the university, e.g. food hubs with fridges, and more structural projects
this structure is new! hopefully it’ll help it to grow
had another slide with suggestions from challenges on karrot.
activity history, after they’ve passed you can’t see them → a lot of times volunteers sign up but don’t turn up, managing that is important, need to take some action, as they’ve promised to the supermarkets, which can get upset
easier way to record quantity of food saved → extract records. so which kind of food is being wasted on which days. which would add a lot of value for the supermarkets. specifying in kg’s only is hard (e.g. 1kg of fruit is different to 1kg of bread)
difficult to update the activities: seems to only update a few hours later, and current activities not modified, and then see the same shop twice… so changing times for activity series I think!
why to post the food on facebook? … bigger membership on facebook who belong to community, but not able to share their time for co-ordinating/picking up food. so 40 people in karrot group, but over 1000 on facebook. and on facebook get notifications when there is food, but not sure about notifications on karrot (could be a possiblity to get emails)
(another?) facebook page dedicated to people in need. “without hunger to bed” → Redirecting...
around 1/3 food wasted globally
in poland 4.8m tonnes/year wasted (probably a low estimate)
60% from household waste
32% in food processing and agriculture
8% in retail and gastronomy
actions to mitigate that, removing sigmitation that foodsharing is only for poor people, trying convince everybody that it’s for everyone
starting to collaborate with the city for opening foodsharing spots, and various initiatives
started in 2016, inititive started by students
in 2021 saved over 91 tonnes of food in warsaw
more than 200 members actively working, doing pickups
have other initiatives in other cities in poland, although not using karrot, but might join karrot in the future
creating new foodsharing spots, and try to educate people about the initiative
around 23 spots in the city, also share about other initiatives relating to foodsaving
mission is to save food products from being waste, encourage to share food products by everyone with everyone. support feeling responsible for reducing of food waste.
organisation structure, flat structure with 3 types of members:
spot keeper, responsible for a spot, co-ordinate pickups
rescuer: pick up food and deliver to spots, inform communities, responsible to clean spots
trainee: makes 3 trial pickups with rescuer or spot keeper, can join team with positive evaluation
have quite extensive list of rules to follow to become a member.
also have other groups for general co-ordination of the project, and people for recruiting new people, gathering applications for newcomers and media contact people, social media people, and messaging/email communications.
did have a group for resovling internal conflicts, due to pandemic and rotation of the people and not enough time, this group was suspended, so trying to handle conflicts within teams more openly, or co-ordination group trying to pick it up.
focus about saving food, but not only that… trying to meet, hang out, meetings in the form of socialing events, to keep the spirits high for the group.
also a facebook internal group, people like to get notifications through facebook, rather than checking karrot or emails.
struggles with karrot, some slowness and limitations due to large number of activities. interesting to see how the future will be as still growing
conflict resolution feature, was complicated for some of the new members, to understand how the voting was working. discussion around each conflict is quite good, a lot of people joining the conversations.
pandemic slowed down a bit, but still growing.
karrot very helpful for organising group of >100 people, would be impossible otherwise
visited Berlin and saw how they are working at really big markets, smaller amount in warsaw, but a lot of pickups. a few dozens of spots.
question about other towns, is it a network, potential? before pandemic having regular meetings with other cities for network discussions, but pandemic limited that. maybe resume again this year… looking for more connection there, best way to improve work and exchange ideas. not sure how other cities are right now. some initiatives and collaboration happening.
means solidarity fridge, started in 2016, like many other projects. inspired by foodsharing.de.
started with dumpster diving, and putting a fridge in a public place.
it changed a lot since then, so less storing the food, but collecting and distributing as quickly as possible, good way to avoid food spoiling.
did events, awareness raising.
2nd fridge in a library. have tried to keep everything car-free, but not possible now, so use a car.
now pickups are mostly from shops, a lot of bakeries, stores, big food bank.
also use the places in karrot to co-ordinate/chat, e.g. off-topic, board chats.
started as a flat, non-hierarchy, then started facing issues and introduced rules, a legal entity, and a board.
creates some kind of hierarchy, trying to keep it accountable.
have shop co-ordinator, sharing point co-ordinators. so you know who to contact.
have had a lot of challenges, conflict, governance stuff, keen to create a conflict resolution / wellbeing kind of group.
had various interactions with the authorities. if they had begun following the rulebook they would not have accomplished anything. so good to start under the rader. legistration is not very adapted to grassroots communities, it’s about shops and community culture. should adapt to reality of grassroots organising and foodsharing.
growth is going well, but should also take a step back to work on themselves as a group.
measured 2.5 tonnes/week.
introduction to sociocracy
power over vs power with
who gets to make decisions, governance comes up everywhere
we can think about structures and change them to be more inclusive
decision making styles, popcorn input:
majority vote, tendency to polarise the people. one side or the other.
usually “boss decides”, sometimes majority vote experiences, and some of us experience consensus.
consensus sometimes exists in families, etc…
negative experience of consensus with vetos
consensus takes patience, and more time, needs really good communication and understanding more than in the other two
sometimes people not ready for what it requires to do consensus, need to learn to unlearn what it takes to make decisions… can have a consensus frame, but without having the tools/experiences, it might actually turn into majority or boss deciding…
negative associations with sitting around all day discussing things
effeciency vs progress
how to balance: things we want to get done vs connection, listening, and community
socio- → those who associate together
-cracy → govern together
consent: can be similar to consensus, a decision is made when there is no objection, trying to integrate objections, so we have something to work on, doesn’t have to be the best, but something to improve on. shift in mindset from consensus.
circles: organising in circles, 4-10 in one circle, can have many cirlces linked to together, with
double link: 2 link people
selections by consent: every time there is a role … consent giving positions to people. rather than voting. (not entirely clear on this bit)
continuous evolution: influenced by cybernetics. plan, do, measure, then back to plan. iterative approach.
feedback on exercise: doing a task without feedback is challenging! might not be clear what is needed to be done. rebel spirit emerged for some.
exercise can show that everybodies action follows on from a previous one. need a shared purpose in the group to work in the longer term, a vision or whatever. so a sense of co-operation in moving towards a certain goal. still in this case without a real purpose, there was still a thriving to create something! got a lot more fun after not having to follow the step by step.
idea - every circle has an aim. if whole org is one circle, then org aim is circle aim. but with more circles, whole org can have one aim, and other circles with other aims to acehive common mission. aim and domain.
decisions → “do you think this proposal will work?”
personal preference, range of tolerance } consent
if you think proposal will harm the aim then raise objection, then work with faciliator to integrate objection
not about getting everyones preference, but working within the range of tolerance. personal preference isn’t a reason to object.
difference from consensus, which can focus on the preference bit.
present proposal and clarifying questions (answer one by one or after the round)
quick reactions round, time to give reaction (“this is good”, …etc)
consent round and integrate objections (hear all objections first, then integrate), every objection has interesting thoughts and information behind it
faciliator guides the process. do another round once having integrated the objections.
based on trust, need to feel safe to raise objections and share opinions.
usually faciliator is also part of the group.
we did the exercise to get consent to a proposal.
was maybe new for the group, takes time to get flowing.
difference between consent round and reactions.
reaction part can sound critical, but consent part might accept it (as they can tolerate it). fine for now emphasis, not to stretch process forever.
divided into circles have their own aims and domains.
general circle in the middle. starts with all the tasks/oeprations. then decentralizing power.
divide the cake into pieces, and take care where to cut, and how the authority is divided.
e.g. outrearch circle might have aim to share knowledge to external orgs.
always linked by 2 people, so information flows around org.
sub circle might create subsubcircles.
within a circle there are roles. leader and delegate ensure linking. leaders of the subcircle are members of the general circle. delegates are other link person.
everytime you change membership, the circle needs to consent. the links are full members. delegate is a bottom-up link, leader more like a top down one. so both directions represented.
one moving information higher → lower, and one moving it the other way.
with many subcircles, more central ones end up with co-ordination operations.
also faciliator and secretary roles in each circle.
secretary, taking notes, review policy
plus operational roles. e.g. store manager, not for governance for the work that is done by the circle.
question: what if a more controversial decision gets made by a subcircle… if one of the subcircles is dysfunctional it should show up, a lot of people want to input on lots of decisions, it can be effective to just trust that 5 people that go deep into a topic make a better decision than 20 people…
question: should it split when it reaches a certain size? no… no hard rule.
question: how to decide which subgroups to make to support sociocratic org. can just have one circle… a big task to define all the circles and roles. or growing naturally, grows bigger and then it might feel like time to create a subcricle.
mission circle. aim to steward the mission. like the “highest” level circle. e.g. like a board if it’s an organisational form.
define role and term, gather qualifications, consent qualifications
note down nomination, nomination round, change round, you can nominate yourself
propose candidate, consent round and integrate objections
very different compared to elections.
comments: quakers have a similar structure. use of silence, and waiting. keeping a calm, deliberate pacing.
“i like the role model part. i konw this model under holacracy… instead of leaders they say coordination… i like the model: because i can be in a group that is focused in a topic and can have my role their… and i dont have to participate in every session, bc we have the coordinator who gives the info further”
“I’m just thinking about the aspects of informal organisation in groups, and esp. thinking what David in copenhagen was saying to get back group energy through doing community events, and maybe less structured things…”
“I am not sure I got the leader’s role and why we need both a leader and a delegator. trying to think through the example we did with the camera on/off for this sessio and I m trying to think of the leader role in this example…”
context of design process.
agreement feature was the first feature we used a design process for.
much longer then, several months. based on the google design sprint method. adapting it for community software. https://www.thesprintbook.com/ is the book.
defining the challenge…
looking at the map on karrot, the groups look close, but actually hard to connect between them.
we’ve been contacting different groups on karrot, doing interviews/chats/discussions. but also hard to reach out to the groups.
breaking the silo / breaking the silence.
today and yesterday at karrot days is also a practise of breaking the silo.
during one of our late night calls, we made a map of what we think of breaking the silo is.
karrot as an ecosystem, we put a karrot group in the centre, and then made nodes from there. and used “How might we…” notes on that map.
before we made the map, we had already chatted with people from 6 groups, that we used to input into the map. also we guess/use our own judgement.
so one part how we might help groups learn from each other.
people wanting to set up new initiatives reach out to us in the karrot team. but we’re not the most capable people of writing back to them. maybe new initiatives connecting to existing initiatives is a better way.
relationship between groups and karrot team. how to build relationship and make it easier for contributions.
other projects similar to karrot, within a co-operative ecosystem.
also relrationship with academics/contributors/other external things, maybe gov. so how might we bringing in this external parts, but avoiding extractivism. e.g. students jump in contribute code for uni assignment, but not deeper participation.
often there is a barrier between people distributing food and those receiving it. how might we disolve that barrier, and how karrot as a tool can support that.
supermarkets are main source of food for foodsaving groups, whether official or dumpster diving. currently the supermarkets are not on karrot, so maybe there is scope there.
the dots on the map are the questions we found more interesting to focus on.
top left corner, how a group relates to it’s wider local public/network. karrot is used in a more internal way, then for reaching out to wider public, would use more mainstream social media (facebook, twitter, linked in, etc…). groups also use other tools, telegram, facebook.
so a few how might we’s…
to help people on the peripheryt to take on responsiblitiies
not overwhelm people with tools
encounter consumer mindset
support groups general outreach and advocacy
reach more people when we have more to share
engaging people who want to participate in positive change
moving from consumer culture to participatory culture.
mainstream culture is present in mainstream tools.
nudging people to establishing relationships between each other.
people find out about local intiatives using the normal tools.
people come to sharing points with a consumer mindset, interactions on facebook can be quite consumerist, focusing on wanting to take, as if a service or charity. trying to support estbalishment of different kind of relationships, through how they contact they group and interact.
moving from mainstream social media of constant scrolling. to move into a more focused space. so it’s not just posts all mixed together like on mainstream social media. context in which content is portrayed has a big impact.
supporting people to establish better connection with group, even if not becoming part of the karrot group.
round of reactions/reflections:
daniel (luxembourg): nice graph! shows the relationships nicely with other entities, not only the karrot group, nice questions in there. wondering how we came up with the questions? (input from interviews was included), a lot of interesting directions to go, wonder which way would be the most fruitful direction, for fs luxembourg, … karrot won’t replace social media, but maybe things like mattermost can be replaced, if those needs can be covered by karrot. another very interesting part is connection to other groups, e.g. organising a foodsharing festival, would be nice to contact other groups, but not clear/possible right now, to at least reach one person that’s active. nice to have a communal way, so can see somebody is trying to reach us, kind of like application works… can answer collectively.
dave (vienna): really like the breaking the silo idea, for robin foods, all these people in chat groups/facebook, people who want to get active, in their case to have a few clicks to get people into the activity, really like the direction where it’s going, to open the karrot structure to other groups, idea to support each other in other cities, can help people in other countries too to get active, really like this direction.
tomek (warsaw): it all makes sense! good that you wrote it down in this way. we can help out with testing. making some mock ups of what we would be looking after. open for any kind of help! might provide some suggestions, have also seen how foodsharing in berlin works. some very useful things there that would be great to have. aware of a lot of work related with it. contact with people outside the karrot groups, a form of portal, people can click and see without logging in, … in berlin can go to pages for each foodsharing spot where rescuers inside the group can update the content, uploading photos and descriptions. good for people to know there is food showing up they can collect. e.g. foodsharing | Fairteiler Wenceslaigasse … and possibility to request some pickups, or volunteering for one-time pickups…
nathalie (karrot): not so involved in a local group, personal interest is more about connections between different karrot groups, and between karrot team and groups, nice how karrot days is already doing a lot here. culture of allowing. opening doors and communication/feedback, but also allowing people to stay in this outer sphere. not always needing to have expectations to bring people inside, can have connections and more fluent ways. allowing different ways of interacting, can be just picking up or giving feedback. everything has it’s place in the ecosystem. getting inner peace with these different parts, everybody is necersary in their position.
nick (karrot): how to empower groups to do parts of the design process themselves, also how to collaborate with other projects, not only tech ones.
breaking the silo solutions are not always about new karrot features. or simple features, e.g. writing a banner message in karrot.
would be nice to have many features, but we also don’t have a lot of developer power, so good to focus on particular areas, and focus on simplest implementation to have greatest impact.
one for contacting the group from outside it. a contact form on the groups public page. for people who don’t have a karrot account. in the group settings you choose a contact email.
sms/email update notifications. people who are not part of the group to get updates. to be informed about which type of updates they want. then inside the group can choose to send out notifications of a particular type.
public activity link. activity that shows up to public, via a specific secret link. maybe also show up on public preview page? can sign up without creating an account, input email address so there is contact.
contacting the group from public page, open question whether you need karrot account. could have a public wall/blog…
mockup of fs luxembourg with public activities and wall.
seamlessly be able to post content publically, or only within group. non members can write messages, people in the group can see clearly that it comes from outside the group.
nice mockup of public group page.
round of reactions:
dave: more evolved than expected, amazing what we thought about, really like sms idea as it’s effective to reach out to people, email and social media notifications are already overwhelming. really like where it’s going.
Ah, good, I’m excited that there’s energy around thinking about public activity links! In my mind that is low-hanging fruit for allowing very easy public engagement with a particular Karrot group.
This makes me wonder about general experiences in other software with transparent mirroring of communications in other channels (for example how Discourse allows responding to topics by email, like the Karrot sketches here)
For public activities, I would like to make email optional, so that people can sign up even with no way to contact them (just to let activity organizers know that a person is available for that position).
daniel: like the idea to reach people through sms, as have some troubles with people on the go, getting some kind of notification, esp. elderly people who have trouble with the app, and apps in general. iphone users always complain as there is no ios app (would be good to find an ios developer). sms could be an easy solution to fill a gap of being notified. group email address idea? like the idea, wonder how it could be enforced in the groups, if it’s optional field in the settings, groups don’t look into the settings… and some groups don’t have a public email address. maybe a checkbox to actively say “we don’t have a public email address” (causes groups to at least think about it). public activities, nice idea in general. maybe a connection to mobilizon (activitypub). there are a few instances running, could be an idea to push public events to this? aims to replace facebook groups/events. for more general events. astonished to see the work already done here
tomek: looks very nice! making activity for public events makes a lot of sense, would be great. whether it would be a separate place for creating these public activities, or a toggle? make sure to confirm the user understands they are making a public event. e.g. like when you sign up it has a confirmation modal. will go into details of the slides too.
nick: happy for general enthusiasm on these ideas, nice to incorporate activitypub stuff in,
john: Cool, yeah, I’m curious about ActivityPub possibilities as well.
nathalie: also amazed what we did in the late night sessions, and enjoyed the storyboards. at first looked a lot, but was very clear going through the steps. wondering if there can be a nicer domain for the group landing page, e.g. it has a number at the moment. esp. if it’s more of a landing page. nice for contact form to reach the whole group. and liked sms/email ideas. keep in mind from foodsharing, the biggest the groups get, different backgrounds of technology, so things like sms can be easier for some people. wasn’t entirely clear how it works inside the group, especially if it’s big. if the contact form goes to the main wall and everybody gets an email… how will this work? might be better to have a more specific place for it, especially for bigger groups. and for updates… should be clear awareness that it’s happening. how it works and who takes care of it. needs people to maintain and take care of these channels, so needs willingness to do that… where does it land, who sees it, who takes care of responses.
bruno: could also have [groupname]@karrot.world email addresses set up…
vasilis: depends on structure of the group. … might vary how much they want to open up communications with theoutside. dedicated perosn vs everyone.
nick: how to surface features in karrot… and help groups set up the group.
daniel: notices when everyone gets logged out, and that’s an update! so look at changelog…
in ideal world, would be able to implement everything.
wondering how people announce more public activities, currently. whether people register.
in luxembourg, when cleaning public fridge, have people who are notpart of group who help cleaning. one group uses a google spreadsheet, but public activity would make that go away, easier to have on one platform.
other case, onboarding events. you don’t have to sign up, people are interested to know when they happen next, public events + notifiying for updates.
mostly don’t require signing up, but interesting to think about.
a few people are only members because they want to cook, but don’t want to do anything else. if there is an easier way to get into it, can activate more people, and can show need for cooking on that day.
using webpage/facebook/instagram for onboarding events. and email notifications to people who signed up on registration form.
tomek: at the moment contact form to reach out to whole group would be nice, avoiding having additional channel is nice. page for nonmembers is nice, general wall, public activities.
How do we set up the design process
8. priorities (low hanging fruit to begin with)
at the beginning of the design process for this feature, previous breaking the silo one already had a lot of prior work.
aim for a lighter design process than our previous ones, to navigate us to a next step.
wondering what the view from the “target” person is? they get to fully participate.
reflections from the ground.
katie: have not had to use the conflict resolution feature. had some conflicts within the group but they resolved themselves. people wanted to move on. lucky to not need to have to use it. nice to know it’s there.
daniel: have a conflict resolution policy, but have not included the conflict resolution feature as part of that, partly because not all the activities are on karrot, so wanted a process that is more general. people do actually use the tool though… so wondering what happens there. was used, and a few participated. when you create an issue you can see the background information about the process, but as a participate you don’t get to see that information. wonder why only 4 people participate.
… shows conflict resolution policy, as an attempt to resolve them, not to avoid or ignore them. everybodies responsiblity. non-violent communication. an escalating approach from face-to-face meeting, to a well being manager. whole group process at the end, but hasn’t occured.
… people expect there is a kind of “police” active, that observes and does stuff.
tomek: since feature introduced, used it 8 times. have strict rules in rules of membership for what actions get a warning (e.g. problem contacting member for pickup), for bigger issues (e.g. being late for pickup) a yellow card, and for not showing up with no reason get a red card. only the group responsible for solving conflicts starts the Issue in karrot, after discussing with the people involved first. usually the place where most of the discussion occurs. facing more situations with vacant spots for pickups, but people not so active in doing the pickups… but people very eager to leave comments on the issues. way of voting wasn’t clear enough, although others find it very straightforward. tried out conflict resolution as a voting mechanism, struggled in finding a proper tool for voting which can include all the members and not allow voting multiple times. got a result from that, but not very satisfied with it… too difficult for some members to understand how it works.
concern, when voting with serious cases that the user the issue is about can still sign up for activities during that time, and others thoughts they should be blocked from that during it.
some people are signing up to the same spots over and over, so used conflict resolution feature for voting system to come up with a tool.
created some guides to help people understand the voting
other than that very good tool!
gothenburg: had to use the conflict tool quite a bit, quite big group 140/150 members, using the feature is seen as very drastic, makes people upset when it’s used towards a person. added another stage to the process, have to discuss the conflict with one mutual person through mail or meetings for 1 week before you can start a conflict resolution process on karrot. hasn’t really worked perfectly so far. had the situation that the board suspended a person, and they refused to leave, which is different from trying to resolve a conflict. felt like something else was needed there. didn’t work as well as it should have.
feedback over last few years of using it:
voting system can be confusing, score voting
one change we agreed already, don’t add everyone to the chat directly
two main ideas for improving:
softer sanctions (e.g. temporary block for activities, or signing in)
escalating model of conflict resolution, so doesn’t blow out to whole group, but start on smaller scale
people could agree on a mediator
if it doesn’t work, go further, eventually involving whole group
conflicts are inevitable, bigger the group more likely that they will show up. natural part of organising a community.
wondering how NVC might come into it?
naming, conflict resolution feature is actually user removing feature.
so how would it be to actually focus on the resolution of a conflict? could it guide people through an NVC process? basically, more guidance on conflict solving.
one of the unique parts of karrot is that there isn’t one person that can just remove people.
if the group is only 5 people, it might make sense to include everyone. like 1 circle in sociocracy. but with 200 people the feature still asks for whole group decision. structural point. wondering how sociocracy would address this. tension for whole group decisions.
some resolutions could be to ensure people in conflict keep to separate parts of the group.
bruno: can relate, thinking of creating subgroup to take care of conflicts, relates to idea to start conflict process in a small way. other groups have probably created these groups to resolve this.
daniel: had discussions about less severe actions, e.g. blocked features, or only activities, and how long. could be an alternative to kicking out. having a guided resolution process could be nice. could start the process as private between two people, and if they can’t find solution after some days, could include more people.
tomek: on notificataions, understand it might be exposing for some members, e.g. one concluded that it might be more about personal tpics between people, so one-to-one might help. but thinking again about engagement, 25%-30% of community participated in voting. often have the discussion about how to activate members. so if notifications don’t come to people, there would be even less participation. maybe make it clearer that there is a conflict going on more visibly.
nick: maybe keep the little notification number visible on the left sidenav, to always show how many active issues are open.
vasilis: how do people find a neutral person? joakim: both people agree on the person. not clear whether meeting with a neutral person is helpful always, didn’t work out in one time.
proposal/idea to wrap it up? how to move on… usually we set a time for a design call,
design process is take us from the stage of uncertainty, doubts, and challenges, to become more focused and concrete. then choose something we can actually build.
idea for session to listen to miki kashtan talking about NVC and then have a discussion about it.
cri: I’m leaving and I cant participate to the next session. but thank for the previous. I’m evaluating the tool karrot for our group to “maybe share the vegetables”. here an our presentation Talk on infra CA I’m also active in the comunity of hackmeeting, so if someone will find the time to come, maybe we can meet About || HackIT 2022 last info, only because is another comunity tool writen in vue, starting from HM https://gancio.org/
tomek: application accepting is currently open to everyone, but in warsaw they have a subteam to manage those applications. so random people accept people in. they like to check people have filled in their profiles properly.
vasilis idea: quick idea to include a note for members of the group within the application questions.
bruno: also happens in gothenburg, group of people is in charge of those things, but still sometimes other people do it. could have a description for the applications page to explain things.
The full report about our community event: Karrot days, July 2022 This text was written by Vasilis, Bruno, Nathalie and Nick during August of 2022.
To begin with it serves as a big thank you to all people that joined Karrot days and contributed in one way or another and as an extensive summary of what happened during those two days. We also believe that it serves as an introduction to people not yet familiar with Karrot who would be interested to learn more about the values of the project, the communities behind it but also learn about the potential uses of the tool.
Karrot in a nutshell
For those not already familiar with Karrot, Karrot is an open-source and collaboratively designed digital tool that came into life some years ago by a group of people thinking of ways that technology can be designed to support communities to share all sorts of resources in a non-commercial way.
Karrot is an ever-evolving ‘construction site’ supported by various contributors coming from different fields and backgrounds. Karrot is not an NGO, it’s not a start-up, there are no CEOs or company offices. Through the years it has been supported by numerous contributors who have put time, effort, care and commitment and occasionally by small monetary donations coming directly from either groups using Karrot, external institutions or indirectly by some universities- since a few university funded researchers have contributed to Karrot in various ways.
Karrot’s first iteration was a basic, lo-fi tool that could support foodsaving and foodsharing initiatives and through the years new features have been added that allow small hacks and appropriations, so Karrot can be used by other sharing and collaborative economy projects or grassroots initiatives that look for digital tools outside the mainstream extractive social media to support their (or some of their) activities. Today though, the majority of communities using Karrot are one way or another related to food.
Karrot’s welcome page
Karrot’s Playground group which serves as a test group to try out Karrot’s features
In Karrot, open as in open-source does not only refer to Karrot’s code as something non-proprietary that people (with the appropriate skills) can check, investigate, copy and fork. Open, also refers to the open processes in place that make Karrot a community-supported project where everyone, believing that people should have a say about the infrastructures they use, is welcome to share ideas, concerns, designs and mockups but also share spontaneous feelings, emotions, dreams, griefs, lazy moments etc.
In our calls/meetings which are the backbone of this other form of openness we don’t have to keep our cameras on, it is nice to see our faces and facial expressions but sometimes a turned-off cameras session can be also important. And it is totally ok if sometimes we slip away from what we have planned on discussing (e.g. new features, mundane tasks that we should care of etc) and just go in deep or deeper waters about the so-called ‘big’ life issues. It has happened more than a few times and feels equally ‘productive’ to sketching a new Karrot feature that can support other uses of Karrot.
It is hard to pin down who is behind Karrot as there are no employees and employers, hierarchies, structures or working shifts in place. Various people have joined for longer or shorter periods and shared bigger or smaller ideas.
At the time of writing this text (August 2022), there is a small group of people who somehow gradually and organically have shaped a team of contributors -we call ourselves the ‘Karrot team’- who meet 2-4 times a week and collaborate for the sustainment and further designing of Karrot as a tool. Since there are no boundaries and clear structures, it is again not easy to say who is a ‘Karrot-team member’ and who is not. We do not measure contributions per hour, there are no badges and we do not count how many meetings one person has joined vs another one.
Nick demonstrating their holding the/a moon abilities
Vasilis checking who is joining the ‘late night, slow and sometimes drunk Tuesday’ design call
We, this fluid and quite versatile team of people are trying to build a stronger and more resilient community and ecology and we advocate for a participatory culture around the technologies we use in general. In this effort and more specifically as far as Karrot is concerned which can be seen as the bonding material that brings us together, we have been recently focusing on drilling through existing walls and opening up (occasionally makeshift) doors through which new relationships can be created, more voices can be heard and ideas can be shared and implemented.
Bruno’s tomato plants that he is growing for the first time this year
Nick in our late Tuesday’s call while on a camping trip in Whales.
In this text/article we focus on the 1st Karrot Days event that took place on July 2022 which serves (we think at least) as a good example of the general approach to designing and thinking together (doors not walls) that we are trying to adopt in Karrot and as a brief introduction to Karrot as a tool for those not aware of its existence and potential uses and possible adaptations in different contexts.
Karrot days (not a just a hackathon)
Paving the way towards Karrot days
Karrot’s forum running on discourse has always been a door and a place of interaction where people from various groups can participate in an existing thread or create a new one. On Karrot’s forum there are tens of threads related to features, bugs, ideas, meetings etc. But we have to admit that joining the forum through Karrot at the moment can be a bit tricky for some at least and the way in does not feel that intuitive. It takes a couple of clicks, creating another account and some exploration. So yeah, it is a door but one that needs some effort to find.
In our general effort thus to foster designing with (vs designing for) and coming together we decided that we need more doors. Doors that lead, metaphorically speaking, to cosy rooms or permaculture community gardens (it seems that we like the metaphor of the community garden a lot) where we can sit together (foodsavers using Karrot daily, developers, ‘activitists’, Karrot carers, members of other non-food-related groups etc) meet each other, learn from each other practices and experiences, collaborate and think together of Karrot’s future tinkering and possible extensions.
In that direction beyond our casual Tuesday’s General call which is a bit more structured (we have an agenda and always some discussion points) some months ago we decided to run what we then called community-cafes. We only managed to run them twice. It was fun and we now think of running them again soon. In a community-cafe we simply meet around this x time on jitsi once per month, we do a check in, we share news, ideas about Karrot or not, about technology or not, about life, aspirations, politics, the weather! etc.
(Except for our casual Tuesday’s General call, we do co-working sessions once per week and some few months ago we started what we call the ‘Late night, slow drunk Tuesday’s Design Call’ we mainly focus on creating mockups and prototypes for the upcoming Karrot features)
Since on Karrot there are groups from different locales, different cultures that have different tactics and visions we knew that Karrot is not a one size fits all tool, meaning it’s not a tool that all communities are using in the same ways as they might have different needs and daily activities that need to be supported. And we have not been thinking of designing Karrot as such, but we have been trying to think of ways that Karrot can be a general purpose tools that is quite adjustable or malleable (another fancy term we came up with at some point) in different contexts. And to do so we understood that we need to learn about those different contexts. And what would be simpler than reaching out to groups on Karrot and having a chat with them. And so it happened.
By ‘hacking’ Karrot to connect with people from different groups we openly invited groups to meet and have a casual chat/discussion/’interview’. Since we had to somehow hack the tool we are taking care of to reach out to the groups on Karrot we accordingly noticed that more doors and communication channels should be opened towards that direction.
Within a timespan of 3-4 months we met with various people online from different groups. Sometimes we would agree on a certain time and on other occasions we would just join an online meeting a group has planned, as observers and then at the end we would get some to also ask some questions and have a chat. Our interest was not to drive the conversation on Karrot only but get the bigger picture somehow and ask about the different groups’ history, activities, non-digital infrastructures, potential problems and concerns etc. We always knew that at the end of the day Karrot is one part of the groups’ rich ecosystem and we felt that learning more about those broader ecosystems can be extremely valuable for Karrot’s further development.
Those engagements have been a small first step, we then decided to take forward. So then we said what if now we would invite people from different groups but also people outside Karrot to meet all together, have fun maybe, exchange ideas and experiences? And how do we organise something like that? And how do we describe it, what do we call it?
At the beginning and since we have also been going through a ‘programmers’ dry season’, we thought of calling it the Karrot Hackathon which could be a week-long event where different people come together to dream, conceptualise and run some code together. But we then agreed in one of our casual meetings that Hackathon might not be the right term we are looking for since hackathon speaks mainly to the more tech-savvy people and thus might not be the most inviting and inclusive name for what we have been thinking of. Someone then, (was it Nick maybe?) suggested Karrot days and only a few days later Dave from Wien shared a couple of possible posters/banners that had the title Karrot days 2022.
We run a couple of meetings dedicated to Karrot days and how we plan this event, we changed the dates a couple of times and around early Spring of 2022 (and thanks to one ‘karrot-team’ member; Nathalie, who jumped in around this time and acted as an energy booster) we finally made a decision on dates: the weekend of the 16-17 of July. We slowly started spreading the news around, writing invitations and making posters that we can use online.
So to test Karrot in other contexts/uses, we also decided to create a more temporal Karrot group which we called Karrot Days 2022 and so to use it as a coordinating tool for the sessions/gatherings. It is not the first time we are doing something like this. It is almost a year now that we switched from other communication tools that we have been using and created our own Karrot group (Karrot Team and Feedback) where we coordinate all our activities and we use it as another open space for communication among Karrot-ers. We recently created a lo-fi banner which distinctively appears on top of Karrot via which we announced Karrot days with a link to the forum where somebody could read more about the gathering. It was again the first time we used a banner which we thought of as another door, one more communication route.
Karrot Days 2022 Karrot group
Karrot Team and Feedback group
The banner was used again some days ag after a recent Karrot’s outage to report back to the community about the incident
Put simply, the idea is that we meet online both days during the weekend. We are using BigBlueButton, a tool that we found convenient for what we have planned. Everyone from Karrot team has been quite stressed and curious to see if people will show up. As one of us put it, it was Nick, we had to do some pestering (sorry for those we pestered) with invitations and reminders.
Karrot Days: day 1
Session 1: Lightning talks
Saturday morning and people slowly started to join. Natalhie gave us an introduction to Karrot days and briefly mentioned the activities planned for this 2-day event. We did a check in in smaller groups (break out rooms) and after that and for the next hour or so people from different groups we have invited to join, gave us a short presentation about the group they are involved. We technically invited all groups on Karrot through the forum but we also tried to reach the majority of groups via personal messages since we have already established some relationships with members of some groups through the years.
Daniel from Luxemburg volunteered to go first. Then Dave from Robin Foods in Vienna took the floor followed by David who is active in Copenhagen foodsharing, Kranti in Leuven, Tomek in Foodsharing Warsaw and Bruno in Solikyl, Gothenburg. After each presentation there was some time for questions and short discussions.
Overall, the attendees representing groups on Karrot gave us a brief presentation (5-10mins each) about the group they are involved with. Some information on the history of the group, the group’s activities and vision, the group’s vision and future plans etc. Some of the presenters shared concerns and problems/issues they are currently facing and some talked also about the digital tools they have been using throughout the years.
A few highlights from the lightning talks
(trying to decipher the notes Nick was mainly jotting down throughout the 2day event
Daniel from Luxemburg referred to the digital tools used among the members of the group he is involved: a wordpress page https://www.foodsharing.lu/ where one can find information about the group and how one can start the application to join process through filling in a membership form, Mattermost used to exchange messages, Karrot where the Luxemburg initiative runs two groups (Foodsharing Points by Foodsharing Luxembourg used to coordinate management of public distribution points and Foodsaving by Foodsharing Luxembourg which is the main group used for organising pickups). Foodsharing Luxembourg is also on FB and instagram, mediums mainly used for reaching out to the broader community e.g. by sharing details about future, open to the broader public events.
Foodsharing Luxemburg is at the moment co-organising a foodsharing festival under ‘foodsharing Akademie’ which will bring together foodsharing initiatives from Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, and which will be open to everybody.
After Daniel’s presentation, a short discussion was initiated around the status of different groups since some do have some sort of legal status and others operate within a more grey zone.
Daniel describing the different digital tools Foodsaving Luxemburg members have been using to organise as a group
Then Dave from Vienna gave us a short presentation of the groups he is involved in which also use Karrot: Robin-Foods and Gärten für Alle!. Gärten für Alle! uses Karrot to coordinate activities among people involved in some urban gardens in Vienna. Cargo bikes as Dave described them are a big part of the Robin-Foods initiative as they are the basic ‘eco-neutral’ means of transferring food and cooking equipment around places (e.g. distribution points, demonstrations etc).
Dave stated that a big issue that the group he is involved in is facing, is finding out ways to engage more people in more activities and while talking about the various digital tools used so far to coordinate various activities mentioned that a more inclusive and versatile digital tool could possibly contribute towards that direction.
Dave presenting a slideshow from different actions Robin Food had participate in
David from Copenhagen also involved in three groups that use Karrot, Foodsharing Copenhagen (General), Foodsharing Copenhagen (Bread collection) and Fællesskabet KBH - Free Fridge Copenhagen described how they along with another person with a background in food science started the initiative (Fællesskabet KBH) and how the project gradually moved from dumpster diving to other forms of collecting food otherwise to be wasted. While talking about Foodsharing Copenhagen a group created in 2016 which at some point would provide food to more than 300 people referred to the current difficulties of involving people who can dedicate to the project for longer periods.
Fællesskabet KBH - Free Fridge Copenhagen has been using Karrot from its very beginning for organising food pickups and the management of the fridges’ infrastructure.
The topic of (legal) status came up again. Fællesskabet KBH - Free Fridge Copenhagen has been from the beginning registered as an organisation connected to food management and by 2019 Foodsharing Copenhagen had also to do so. Daniel referred to the need of re-engaging/rebuilding/reinvigorating the community since Foodsharing Copenhagen is at the moment going through a period of low participation and commented that going back to its roots and lowering requirements that overwhelmed people in the past could be one way forward.
David talking about the Foodsharing Copenhagen, possibly the first foodsharing initiative in the city
Kranti ‘reporting’ from Leuven, a small university town in Belgium described the context of the city as a progressive one saying that it has been easy to convince food stores to pass on the food to the group members, food that would otherwise would be wasted. On the other hand she commented on the fact that students come and go so having a critical stable mass is not easy. Kranti also commented about toogoodtogo and how its increasing usage from foodstores has affected the amount of food resources available to the group members she is involved. While talking about the possible ways to participate in the group, she mentioned that WOM plays a big role and that a lot of students from a masters programme in Sustainable Development have joined the group through the years. According to Kranti, usually people learn about the group through its FB page and they are then then introduced to Karrot on which a lot of group activities are organised. Kranti also referred to the group’s new structure - not tested yet- and the few roles they have designed so as to better support the group (i.e. outreach, communication, internal affairs, networks).
Kranti describing how Karrot is combined with FB to organise pick-ups and drop-offs of saved food
A small discussion went on afterwards about FB and how and why FB is also used by the Leuven group to share on the spot information about available food to be saved which also indicated the two-level community, the more active ones doing pickups via Karrot and the broader community of savers who are less involved in the group’s activities. Kranti referred to the promptness of FB which makes it a ‘better’ tool at the moment to share information on the spot with a broader community of people.
Tomek from foodsharing Warsaw a group where more than 200 people are active in doing pickups and running 23 distribution points around the city referred to the group’s 3 types of membership: spot keepers who are responsible for co-ordinating pickups and distribution points, rescuers who do the pick ups and deliver to points, trainees who have to go through a series of trial pickups supported by a rescuer or spot keeper and can then join team. Tomak also referred to other roles that people undertake within the group for example general coordination of the project, recruiting new people, gathering applications of newcomers, media contact people, social media people etc. He also referred to a group that was created to support resolution of conflicts, which however has been suspended after corona.
Tomek referred to the social events the group is organising that can be the means to build up deeper relationships that might not be easy to be created via pickups only and while referring to the digital, he mentioned that beyond Karrot who has been a great tool to organise a big group like the warsaw one, members have a facebook group which they also use for internal communication.
He also referred to the conflict resolution feature on Karrot and pointed to some cases where people found it difficult to participate, especially referring to how the voting system in place works.
Tomek referred also to the beyond-food-saving and sharing activities (e.g. awareness events and community gatherings) that Foodsharing Warsaw members are organising
Finally, Bruno from Gothenburg walked us through the group he is involved in, Solikyl which was created back in 2016. Similarly to other projects dumpster diving has been initially the main source of food and through the years collaborations with stores have been established. Bruno referred to the use of Karrot as the main coordinating tool and also commented on the conflict resolution process. Bruno mentioned that in Solikyl they are lately working towards creating a conflict resolution/wellbeing group that can possibly operate as a more ‘human’ add-on to the existing conflict resolution feature on Karrot. He also referred to the structure of the group which now has a board which creates some sort of hierarchy and finally commented on the inadequate current legislation and the need to be adapted and become friendlier towards grassroots organisations like Soliky for example.
Bruno shared a screenshot of the very first iteration of Karrot. Solikyl has been one of the older groups using Karrot
Lightning talks was a nice ice breaking activity and a nice step to create some sort of an intergroup exchange of information. Most of the presenters coming from different contexts have never met each other before and perhaps only knew of the existence of other groups by browsing around the Karrot groups’ map. Despite the groups looking so close on the digital map on Karrot, in reality Karrot does not yet have the adequate features to support intergroup exchange.
Different groups on Karrot’s map scattered around Europe. So close on the map, not well connected on Karrot though.
Karrot days have been one small step towards that direction but of course more doors should be opened. Since Karrot is mostly used by groups related to food most of the presenters focus on foodsaving and sharing. However, some of the attendees in Karrot days are related with communities of other kinds.
Session 2: Sociocracy for groups (?!)
After a short break we jumped into the topic of sociocracy. The session was facilitated by Nathalie who has been exploring sociocacy as a way of community organising since some time now. We thought of running an intro session on sociocracy since decision making is always a big part of community organising and since a lot of groups and initiatives are looking for models/processes that can better support their decision making processes.
A few ‘highlights’ from the session
Sociocracy refers to an inclusive process of community governance and decision making. One of the main tenets “is moving from power over to power with” as Nathalie put it. Sociocracy is not another majority vote wins, way of decision making but consent, consensus through including all voices and taking into account all disagreements is the core.
Nathalie describing consensus vs majority vote and top-down decision making processes
Sociocracy as a concept was tried for the first time in the 80s’ within a business environment by Gerard Endenburg and it has since then been practised within various other contexts. More information about the first sociocracy attempts can be found here.
After a round of comments/thoughts the participants shared about different decision making models we have experienced in various contexts (e.g. family, communities, workplace etc) Nathalie pinned down some of the sociocracy’s principles.
Consent is the core of decision making in sociocracy. Consent is not always the same with consensus as in sociocracy consent implies that one does not disagree with something rather than fully agrees.
A community (e.g. a foodsaving community) is divided in small groups which have specific aims (e.g. spot keepers, ppl communicating with stores etc). Those groups are called circles.
Each circle is connected to its ‘parent’ or related circle in a double-linking way. Double linking means that two people from each circle also participate in the ‘parent’ circle. One of those two persons is the delegate and the other one the leader. The delegate is the person that shares the information in a bottom up way while the leader shares the information the other way around.
Nathalie presenting the different roles that can be found within a circle of a community organised based on sociocratic principles
More about the principles of sociocracy can be found here and here one can watch an introductory yet quite detailed video about this model of collective decision making. Sociocracy can be tried out in small communities where only a few circles (or even just one) are needed or in bigger communities/organisations where multiple circles are operating.
Nathalie stated the centrality of sharing feedback among members of a circle and how rounds of giving feedback pave the way towards a state where all members of a circle consent on a decision to be made. To explore the topic of continuous feedback Nathalie invited us to participate in a game/exercise where we were asked to simultaneously (one by one in rounds) on a collaborative sketching tool try and write some letters. Every input on the sketch can be seen as a form of feedback that informs/affects the next input.
Screenshot of our collective effort on Excalidraw to draw a series of letters
Taking about consent and consensus which within sociocracy are not always the same, Nathalie pointed to a sketch (found below) which visualises that consent can be reached when all members of a circle agree on something but also when members do not disagree: “I do not agree with that but I can work with this, I can tolerate it”. When members object then another round of shaping a proposal goes on so as to reach consent.
Nathalie pointing to what consent means within sociocracy and talking about the differences to consensus
Within a circle after a proposal is shared other members of a circle pose clarifying questions. Then a reaction round takes place where members comment on the shared proposal. Next step is the consent round where all members either consent or object. When there are objections it is the facilitator’s role to integrate objections in the proposal and initiate another consent round.
To better understand how such a decision making process can work, Nathalie shared with us a proposal ‘to ensure a sense of connection in this session, everyone needs to have their camera on’ and after following a series of rounds of feedback, reactions, objections, integrations we reshaped the initial proposal and reached consent.
At the end of the session we participated in a fruitful discussion while sharing ideas and concerns and posing questions towards Nathalie. For example about a scenario where a controversial decision is taken by a subcircle, about the size of circles and if there is any golden number of participants per circle, about the process of creating new circles within a community/organisation, the mission circle to which Nathalie referred to resemble a board etc.
Sociocaryforall.org is a great resource for people who would like to read and learn more about sociocracy and possibly introduce sociocracy in a community they are involved in as a more inclusive and diffused-power decision making process.
Session 3: Karrot as a general community organising tool
For the last session of the day Nick gave us a quick hands on presentation of Karrot while sharing their screen. Beyond presenting the basic features of Karrot that more or less work for initiatives related to foodsaving and sharing Nick went through the newly added features on Karrot which can make Karrot a more adaptable/appopriatable tool for other projects/communities. We are soon to create a step by step manual/guide (there are different ideas for its possible format) that can work as an introduction to new groups created on Karrot and the possible uses/adaptations of the tool.
Nick walked us through the new features we plan on developing in the next months (maybe)
Nick prepared a 4 quadrant thingy on which we tried to place various tools. The attributes we had to think related to the use of a tool (specific/general purpose) and the values/ideas behind a tool (commercial vs not, proprietary or not, community-based or top down etc)
Day 1 finished with a chilled check out among those who made it till the end of the day!
Karrot Days day 2
Second day started with a check in round.
Two thinking-together sessions have been planned for the day. One focusing on what we started to call some months ago as ‘Breaking the silo’ and one focusing on the conflict resolution feature on Karrot and how we can improve it taking into account the comments members of different Karrot groups have already shared with us through the years.
Session 1: Breaking the silo
Breaking the silo refers to a process that includes design interventions which can create more ways of information flow and interactions among the people and groups that can be found in a rich and versatile ecosystem of which Karrot is also a part of. In very simple terms the general idea of breaking the silo is ‘doors not walls’. We, meaning those people active in the so-called ‘Karrot-team’ have spent quite a lot of time trying to map the existing walls and thinking of ways towards opening up new doors and passages. So at some point during a co-working/thinking-together session we had our first attempt to map some of the compartments of this ecosystem mentioned above
As an introduction to the concept of ‘breaking the silo’ we thus presented our first mapping attempt.
An initiative using Karrot, meaning running a Karrot group was the first to put on the map. We then started sketching other groups/people/organisations that relate to a Karrot group one way or another. Karrot-team, mainstream social media, supermarkets, academia, broader community etc are only a few of those other groups/people/organisations that we put on the map. By visualising a rich and versatile ecosystem we then started by using a ‘How might we….’ approach pondering how existing walls that make this ecosystem fragmented can be toppled down in order to open up room for interactions.
Through the mapping process we identified multiple walls that can be toppled down or walls that we can drill through. However since we are a small team of people collaborating in that process it is impossible to work in every direction and we thus decided to keep the initial map as an open sketch (more things have been added) that we can visit again and again in the future.
After some discussions we thus decided to focus on one form of ‘breaking the silo’ for now: how groups on Karrot can reach directly via Karrot a bigger audience, the broader community as a lot of groups call the people less active in groups yet interested to get involved in different ways. We created the map based on our experiences and knowledge but also reflecting on what groups have already shared with us in the past during the interviews/chats we organised this year.
After walking through the map, we (Vasilis and Bruno) presented to the rest in the room the design process we have gone through so far. The very first rough sketches we made, the scenario boards we have prepared and a series of mockups.
One of the very first sketches: except applying to become a member of a group which is the current situation on Karrot an additional process is added via which someone can contact the members of a group via Karrot as an outsider
A more sophisticated mockup where on a group’s landing page someone can apply but can also have access to the public wall and the public activities of a group. The idea is that members of a group can decide if an activity or a wall post is only for members or is public. When public non-members can see this information and possibly interact with.
After presenting the map we went on a reaction round.
Daniel from FSLuxemburg commented positively on the map suggesting that Karrot most probably cannot replace mainstream social media but a set of new features could replace other tools that groups tend to use alongside Karrot. Daniel also commented on the multiple possible directions to work towards as depicted on the map and also suggested that we prioritised some design interventions for now. He commented on intergroup communication that can possibly lead to organising transnational events and knowledge/experience exchange.
Dave similarly commented in a positive way and stated the importance of reaching out to the broader community through Karrot in simple (not involving a lot of clicks) ways.
Tomek said that the map and the way the different parts are portrayed make total sense and also mentioned that people from Foodsaving Warsaw could also work on some mockups for ‘breaking the silo’ features and share some suggestions.
Nathalie while reflecting on the map talked about her personal interest in intergroup interactions via Karrot and in opening up ways to better connect groups on Karrot with the ‘Karrot team’. As Nathalie nicely put it, Karrot days is already an attempt towards better connecting initiatives from the ground with people in the ‘Karrot team’.
Finally Nick and as a reflection to Tomek’s comment on creating as a group some mockups that can be then shared with the ‘Karrot team’, commented on their personal interest for groups to have more agency on participating in the design process themselves in more direct ways and also commented on the idea of opening up new doors between Karrot and other projects of a similar ilk- not only tech-centric ones.
After this reflection round, Bruno presented the sketches and mockups we have been working on during a series of co-working sessions. Our focus on those sessions has been to think about the development of features on Karrot via which non-members of a group can contact the group via Karrot and also features via which a group can share information (announcements, events etc) with its broader community: non-members yet.
The following design mockup depicts the general idea.
A contact form pops up after clicking on the contact group button and the person is asked to put their name, an e-mail or a phone number and write their message for the group. The message then appears on the group’s wall or in a dedicated space where messages from ‘outsiders’ appear.
Also there is an option to subscribe which would mean that a person gets notifications every time a group is creating a public activity or shares some public information. An idea (that still has to wait) is that one can subscribe for specific types of notifications which are organised in categories made by each group.
Reflecting on our general idea to keep it more inclusive and in some cases support the more urgent need to spread information from a group to the broader community we have also thought of the possibility that people except through email can also subscribe by providing a phone number and receive notifications via SMS.
Looking now at the mockup from a member’s view, via those new features members of a group when they create an activity or want to write a message on a wall are given the option to either make it public or group only. If a wall message or an activity are public then outsiders can see those on the group’s public wall and interact (e.g. comment, sign up for an activity etc).
If an activity is made public or a wall message, then a shareable link is also created that people can copy and paste and share in other mediums/platforms.
Of course there are multiple ‘flaws’ in this very first design concept and there are a lot of improvements to be implemented. It only works as a basic prototype idea. After Bruno’s presentation of the sketches and mockups we went again on a round of reactions.
Dave commented positively on the idea of giving the option to register via phone and receive SMS, John noted that allowing some levels of public interaction between group members and outsiders is “low hanging fruit” that can possibly be impemented with small design interventions and suggested that it would be nice if somehow people could still interact with a group without having to provide their email. For example in cases where an activity is made public an ‘outsider’ could sign up without providing any contact details which could give an idea to the organisers about the number of people willing to join.
Daniel also positively commented on the SMS idea especially when there is a need to reach people on the go and as an alternative to contacting through Karrot’s app which is not always the best option. For example for those not very into tech or those that have an ios phone (where Karrot is not available atm). Daniel also suggested that public activities could be connected with Mobilizon if we adopted the ActivityPub protocol and suggested that with some new features this way of creating public activities on Karrot could possibly replace social media like FB which have been mainly used for this reason so far.
Tomek also positively commented on the idea of experimenting with the ActivityPub protocol and pointed to the importance of making it simple and clear for members to choose if an activity they are creating on Karrot is public or for members only.
Nathalie contemplated how the landing page of Karrot groups can be better designed and also referred to the number that is now given to each group’s url which seems quite random (maybe). Nathalie also positively commented on the SMS way of receiving notifications and reflecting on her experience in foodsharing especially in bigger groups where people from different ages and backgrounds are involved. About the way ‘outsiders’ can contact a group’s members Nathalie suggested that it might be a good idea to have a more specific space where that messages show up instead of the general wall. She also commented that except having a feature like that, it also needs commitment and effort from each group. For example who is writing back on questions that show up from ‘outsiders’ or who can send notifications to non-members.
After this round of reflections on the prototype concept, a discussion was initiated around the current ways and mediums through which groups are announcing events, activities or news to a broader public. Some groups are using social media like FB or Instagram and the group’s website and others use google sheets or registration forms and then send emails to the people that have expressed their interest to participate.
Overall the discussions that took place during this session about doors and walls with experts from the ground (people active in groups that use Karrot) have been very rich.
Some days after this session Bruno worked on another prototype that can be found here which will serve as the basis for creating a Minimum Viable Feature. In this more interactive prototype two roles are available. A member who creates a public activity and an outsider who finds out about a public activity that is posted on a group’s public Karrot page. Before moving into the feature’s development we also did a series of tests with both people already acquainted with Karrot and ‘outsiders’ to get their feedback.
Session 2: Conflict resolution
After a quick break, the second and last session started.
In this session we focused on conflict resolution and how Karrot can possibly evolve in ways that can better support groups to deal with potential conflicts. From our side (meaning the so called ‘Karrot team’) we have been ‘ill-prepared’ one could say since we just recently started working around this issue. Thus we didn’t have to present any sketches or mockups as we did in the previous session.
The session started by Nick giving an overview of the conflict resolution features. How and when the concept was initially designed during the Yunity days, and how the concept evolved through the years.
For those not familiar with Karrot, via the conflict resolution feature members of a group can ‘target’ other members and open up an ‘issue’. After a member ‘targets’ another member of a group then a community-chat and a voting process starts which will go on for 7 days. Only members that already have enough trust Karrots can start a conflict resolution process. All members of the group can participate in the chat and they can vote on one of the following options
The user stays in the group - The user gets removed from the group -Extend the time to keep discussing
A more detailed guide about the conflict resolution feature can be found here .
After this quick introduction from Nick we went on a round of reflections sharing experiences with conflicts in groups, ways of dealing with conflicts and the conflict resolution feature on Karrot. We also played a bit with the existing feature and initiated an issue on our Karrot Days 2022 group.
Fiddling with the conflict resolution process
More fiddling with the conflict resolution process
Katie from foodsaving Stockholm said that there have been some conflicts among members of the group she is involved in, which however have been worked out among people from a smaller circle, those directly involved. As Kaite put it, they have luckily not used the conflict resolution feature available on Karrot yet.
Daniel from Luxembourg referred to the conflict resolution policy that the members of the group he is involved in have created. Daniel stated the NVC (non-violent communication) approach the policy suggests and talked about the well being managers which can also act as mediators in case that conflicts arise. In the Luxembourg group, despite the fact that using Karrot for dealing with conflicts is not suggested by the general agreement all members have agreed on, there have been some cases when the feature has been used but with low participation as Daniel recalled. Daniel also mentioned that they decided that Karrot is not the right way to deal with conflicts since as he put it a lot of interactions do happen outside Karrot as well and a more ‘general’ approach was needed that promotes more face-to-face interactions and ways of dealing with conflicting interests/behaviours.
Daniel describing the conflict resolution guide in place, the NVC approach, the role of Well-Being Managers in FSLuxemburg
Tomek from the Warsaw group said that the conflict resolution feature has been used within the group they are involved in, some 8 times or so. He also referred to the yellow and red card system they have in place. A yellow card is a warning given to someone not following an agreement while a red card is given to someone for major misconduct. He also referred to a group that operates within the initiative that is responsible for dealing with conflicts and opening up an issue on Karrot after they have discussed with the persons involved in a potential conflict.
Tomek also referred to this one time when they wanted to create a pol and got creative: they ‘hacked’/appropriated the conflict resolution feature to make a collective decision about pick-ups. They made a dummy user and opened an issue against them. Voting for the dummy to stay was voting in favour of the proposal suggested and voting for the dummy to leave would mean voting against the proposal shared.
This brings up the need for Karrot to have simple, create-a-poll features that groups can use. Thinking of how the Warsaw group tinkered the conflict resolution feature to initiate a poll, possibly some small design interventions/add-ons on Karrot can make such a feature available to groups. Last year we have been working on the agreements feature which is towards that direction and could facilitate groups collectively reach an agreement in a democratic way.
Someone (apologies but from our notes we cannot find who mentioned that but maybe it was Tomek from the Warsaw group) commented that people that have been ‘targeted’ can still sign up for activities during the 7 days period that the discussions and voting are going on and commented that some people from their group have also suggested that ‘targeted’ persons should not be able to join activities until a decision is made about their future in the group.
Bruno referred to the use of the conflict resolution feature on Karrot after Tomek and commented that sometimes initiating the process online feels or has been perceived by Solikyl’s members as a very drastic way to cope with conflicts that have emerged. Along these lines Bruno commented that due to the feature’s ‘drastic’ nature (we hope we got that right Bruno ) sometimes people feel upset. In response they recently added one more stage to the process: when a conflict arises the issue should be discussed via e-mail with another member of Soliky which holds some kind of a mediator’s role before a conflict resolution process is initiated on Karrot.
During this additional stage the people involved try to solve the conflict that has arised with the support of a mediator and if they don’t manage to do so then the issue is brought up to the rest of the community via Karrot. For Solikyl this has been quite a recent development and as Bruno commented it hasn’t worked perfectly so far. Bruno also briefly referred to a recent incident where Solikyl’s board suspended a member’s rights which person however refused to accept the board’s decision and wouldn’t pause their account on Karrot. Then a conflict resolution process was initiated on Karrot. Bruno commented that this case was different to other conflicts since the board had already decided that this person should not be allowed in the group anymore and as he said “‘it felt that like something else was needed there”.
After this round of reflections and sharing experiences about conflicts and processes in place, Nick referred to the ideas and comments that have been shared through the years on Karrot’s forum about the conflict resolution feature available to groups.
Some people have been saying that the current score-voting system can be sometimes confusing. Others have been suggesting that having the option to agree on softer sanctions can be useful in some cases. For example the group decides that a person is not totally removed by a group but that they cannot sign-up for an activity for a period of days/weeks. Another idea shared has been around the development of an escalating model of conflict resolution in which for example when a conflict arises the members involved, come together with a mediator (that can be assigned through Karrot possibly) and if they don’t reach an agreement then the issue opens up to the rest of the group to decide.
Someone commented that disagreements and conflicts are part of organising a community and they will inevitably emerge, especially as an initiative grows bigger.
Reflecting and thinking outloud Natalie shared her thoughts about the existing conflict resolution feature and noted that in some cases it feels more like a user removing feature implying that conflict resolution can and should be more than that; should be a way for members to come together and discuss and resolve a conflict in less drastic way. And then Natalhie brought in NVC (non-violent communication) and pondered how and if an NVC approach also somehow supported by a software tool (in this case Karrot) could better focus on resolving a conflict without that implying simply deciding if someone stays in a group or is kicked out.
Discussing about the different groups’ size Nathalie also referred to sociocracy and how a more sociocratic way of organising and taking decision in smaller groups (circles) could help in managing conflicts especially within bigger groups like for example the Warsaw group or Solikyl, initiatives which are membered from 150- 200 members each.
Another round of reflections went on. Bruno and Daniel, both resonated with the idea of delegating some members of a group to form a mediators subgroup on Karrot which would try and solve a conflict before bringing it up to the whole community.
We finally talked a bit about Karrot notifications and emails that people receive when a conflict is going on in their group. It has been reported that sometimes receiving notifications for every new reply that someone writes during a conflict can be both confusing and overwhelming for some but that also those notifications work as reminders that poke people to check what the issue is about and possibly engage in the discussion that is going on.
The way notifications are used is an issue that has been popping up quite a lot recently and we agreed that we need to spend some time thinking about that in order to find a way that people do not get confused or overwhelmed but still receive adequate information about a conflict that is going on and are ‘nudged’ to participate.
Nick shared a simple idea about using notifications in a different way and suggested that on the sidenav menu, when there are open issues the number of the open ‘cases’ can be depicted as well as shown on the following screenshot.
Clock was ticking for this session so we decided to wrap it up. Bruno suggested that the next step would be a series of co-design meetings where we could start sketching some initial ideas. As Bruno put it, a co-design process takes us from the stage of uncertainty, doubts, and challenges and we can become more focused and concrete and then choose something we can actually start building.
Breaking the silo was our last session. Some of us stayed for a check out after this session where we shared some general reflections about this two day gathering and humbly congratulated everyone that has put effort for this gathering to happen!
Open space goodbye session: Some of us stayed until the end and reflected on Karrot days 2022 event