Distributed Cooperative Organization

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Definition

"A governance/economic model for self-sustaining, mission-oriented, distributed organizations.

It values pro-bono, care, and paid work with complementary metrics and dispenses rewards accordingly. The purpose is to extract people from the capitalist marketplace so they can use their unique talents to do fulfilling, socially and environmentally meaningful work. The document prototypes a governance model fit for digital labor.

What we offer here is an equipotential and opt-in engagement model. This means that anyone who participates in the collective as a member will have their work valued, and will be expected to participate in the decision making process. Decisions and control are shared, based on contributions and peer review." (http://wiki.guerrillamediacollective.org/index.php/Distributed_Cooperative_Organization_(DisCO)_Governance_Model_V_3.0)

Description

"If Guerrilla Translation is a co-op, think of the co-op members as shareholders. Okay, like in an evil corporation, but bear with us. Each member is an owner, holding different types of shares in the collective. These correspond to tracked “pro bono” (commons-oriented voluntary work chosen by the translators) and “livelihood” (paid) work, as well as reproductive or care work. Shares in these three types of work determine how much is paid on a monthly basis. Where does the money to pay shares come from, and how are they paid? From the productive work performed by the worker-owners — in GT’s case, that work is written and simultaneous translation, copyediting, subtitling, and related services. We will explain the “how” below.

In short, the more effort and care put into the collective, the larger the share. This is not a competitive, game-theory influenced scheme; it’s a solidarity based strategy for economic resistance that allows all members to contribute according to their capacity. All members create value; part of this value is processed through a market interface (the agency) and is converted into monetary value, which is then pooled and distributed to benefit all value streams. We call this value sovereignty. And, although the default decision making protocol is virtually identical to a traditional coop’s “one member, one vote” principle, your shares can influence decision making in critical situations, such as blocked proposal.

...


So far, we have mainly spoken about productive, tangible work: translations, editing, formatting. These tasks are mostly word-based and therefore, easy to quantify and assign credits. But what about everything that leads, directly or indirectly, to paid work? Searching for clients, project management, quality control, relationship and trust building, etc. – all the invisible work that goes into keeping afloat? This is reproductive work, or care work.

In GT. we distinguish between two types of care work: that for the health of the collective, and that for the living beings within.

When talking about caring for the health of the collective, we conceive it as a living entity or system, even a commons. The emergent values of this system are encoded in the governance model and embodied by the collective’s practices and legal-technical structures [3]. To maintain a healthy collective we choose to honour our collective agreements, maintain our communication rhythms, and distribute the care work needed to make the collective thrive. Other ways to care for the health of the collective include coop and business development, seeking and attending to clients, making sure our financials are up to date and everything is paid, maintaining active relationships with authors, publishers, following through on our commitments… everything that you’d consider as “admin” work in a traditional agency or co-op, and on top of that, everything else that’s easily forgotten if you’re not doing it yourself. It’s literally invisible work to those who don’t acknowledge it, and work that many feel unjustifiably obligated to take on.

The difference is that in Guerrilla Translation, these activities aren’t assigned to set roles. Instead, all “caring for the health of the collective” aka care work items are modular, easily visualized, and can be picked up by any collective member. In fact, those members may belong to one or more work circles, which steward certain areas, such as community, sustainability, networking, training, tech, etc.

Additionally, when we speak about care work for the living beings who make the collective, we refer to the individual Guerrilla Translators who mutually build trust and intimacy to care for and support each other. Our cooperative practices should never be solely dependent on technology or protocols, including the governance model. These are only tools to facilitate and strengthen our collaborative culture.

We believe that cooperative cohesion is primarily based on healthy, consent-based heterarchical relationships. To foster these we have committed to certain regular practices, such as mentoring — where we practice and document peer learning in the collective’s tools and practices — and mutual support — where we look after each other and care for our mutual well-being, attuned to everyone’s moods, needs and larger realities beyond the collective.

Every member, whether in training or longstanding, is supported by a specific person who has their back. Every member has someone else’s back. Supported members have a safe space to express themselves to be cared for and heard within the collective. In this relationship, they may also be reminded of their commitments, etc. Conflict resolution is handled through the mutual support system, ensuring the distribution of personal care work. This has been a very basic overview of the model’s structural (credits and shares) and cultural (care work) qualities." (https://www.guerrillatranslation.org/2018/09/22/the-open-coop-governance-model-in-guerrilla-translation-an-overview/)


Characteristics

"The DisCO model is a substantially developed fork of the Better Means Open Enterprise Governance Model (OEGM). The adaptations have been made to:

  • Bypass the original model’s start-up/for profit orientation
  • Address the needs and ideals of
    • The Commons and P2P;
    • Open Cooperativism;
    • Open Value Networks; and
    • Feminist Economics
  • benefit, commons-oriented market entities self sustain their social vision. while addressing their specific requirements and allow for future modifications.
  • Shift the focus from technical, protocol-based solutions to relations, trust and care work."

Example

"GT’s model is an extensive overhaul of an orphaned open source governance protocol , which we have been substantially overhauled to better fit our needs. The adapted model explicitly incorporates the key practices of Open Cooperativism (a method combining the ideas of the Commons and Free Culture with the social tradition of the cooperative movement), Contributive Accounting (a form of accounting where contributions to a shared project are logged to ensure fair distributions of income and livelihoods) and, uniquely in this space, feminist economics and care work as essential elements.

After years of discussing the model, we decided to collectively reimagine it by convening a group of experts on decentralised/non-hierarchical organizations, facilitation, peer governance, distributed tech and mutualized finance. We called this process “Guerrilla Translation Reloaded“, which culminated in a new version of the model: The Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance and Economic Model (currently at version 2.0)" (https://www.guerrillatranslation.org/2018/09/22/the-open-coop-governance-model-in-guerrilla-translation-an-overview/)


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