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Created May 25, 2020
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What would you like to do?

I promised to write up some nice long blahblahblah about some visions for Trustroots, etc... but I was postponing whilst pondering exactly what to write, I sometimes write too much, but also didn't want to write too little, some people are interested in the more extended version, so whatever, I'll just start writing!

I got a bit involved in Trustroots development before (first commit in 2016), I came across Trustroots through being involved in https://yunity.org, I focused more on architecture stuff, adding service layers, improved dev env, fiddly bugs, and starting the migration to react ... etc. I was really impressed with the overall experience of contributing, lots of helpful comments/reviews from Mikael, and the whole site looks very clean/slick. The code felt careful written, but a bit verbose, lots of copy and paste, missing some abstractions, but generally nice.

I stopped after a while, for the usual volunteer dev reasons (aka stray cat developers), other projects, need to maintain some paid work, but also preferred the philosophy/vibe of some other projects I worked on (perhaps karrot being the main one), Trustroots felt a bit tightly controlled for my liking, I wasn't really sure of the pathway into being able to actually make decisions. And there was a big discussion a while back concerning the topic of abuse, and I didn't really enjoy the dialog there. So I left.

But now, I made a new life structure for myself (it's experimental starting from a month or two ago) - the idea is I want to spend all my time on small community orientated software projects and obtain a small income that will allow me to maintain a low cost lifestyle (dumpster diving, cycling, hitchhiking, low/no rent, perhaps not much long term saving...). I am much happier working on these kind of projects, than having a "split brain" where I have to maintain being the facade of being a "professional" person too. I was still working for/with a "nice" organisation (https://outlandish.com/) for my income, but they're still not quite the kind of projects that inspire me (generally too big/national/abstract/funded, and connected to London, which I avoid...). I became really interested in grassroots people-powered projects, self detirmination, etc. And the scrappy mess that it might involve...

Now all the initial people that had a lot of time to work on Trustroots have things that take up a lot of their time, Trustroots seems like it could fit into this model more. I see the potential to transition it into a more community-governed, developed kind of thing. I watch the "platform co-op" movement from the sidelines, interested in this new direction of user/producer-owned platforms. I think it's something to tap into. (I'm a bit skeptical about some of the platform co-op stuff though tbh - esp when they are just co-op versions of normal capitalist business models, e.g. on demand food delivery). I'm interested in working on platforms that can be seen as part of a different way of organising society, that would actually make a viable way to be/live/exist. Not a sideline.

I also see this kind of project as being for the long term and taking time, it's not about Big Bang changes and rapid growth, the reality is that it's very hard to build these alternatives - compared to successful commercial startup models there are almost no resources to work on these things. But I like that, slow and steady. Needs time and resilience. It's not just about the project but also how our lives work, e.g. projects like https://kanthaus.online have enabled people to work on projects they wouldn't otherwise be able to, I think these changes involve deeply thinking about how we live and work together.

A lot of my experiences and views come from working on https://foodsharing.de/ which had become kind of neglected by the developers for various reasons, I put a lot of focus on making it a nice experience for developers, improve the dev setup, and code quality, and it still has many problems, but is in a much better state to how it was before (if you're more interested you can read some parts of the story on the devblog, first post --> https://devblog.foodsharing.de/2016/10/10/introducing.html)

I think one of the key things to work on is building our little team a nice team feeling, so a call every couple of weeks is probably nice for now (lets pick a date?). Then this hackathon in March or April at Kanthaus would be another great thing.

From my immediate contribution perspective, I'd like to support Michal with getting the site migrated to react, and help get some of the open PRs merged...

Other than that, I'd really like to do what I can to support people to develop their ideas, Noah was talking about doing a user survey to find out what's important, etc... I think we can discuss this stuff in a call.

At the same time I'm trying to learn and think more about patterns of organisational structures in the abstract that suit this kind of thing (I have https://disco.coop/manifesto/ on my "want to read list" for that reason - if I ignore the word "blockchain" I think I might manage it! it's not core to the idea apparently). I'd like to find a model of working on this kind of projects that makes sense to share and communicate, I really dislike most of the organisational/work models I see around...

I think in the process of discussions, we can form a structure that works for us.

And almost finally, the money topic. The idea I discussed with some people was to ask for voluntary donations from users, and find some interesting way to distribute the money. One idea would be to try out something like https://opencollective.com, and come up with a democratic method for decision how to share the money. I believe strongly in valuing everyones contributions and would only be in favour of an approach that is open for anyone who is contributing. I think this is a big/tricky topic though, and would rather not try and involve any money for quite some time, until it feels like we can actually think about this topic properly.

From my perspective I want to change the relationship of work and money. I hate the feeling of being paid to do work, I don't like having a boss, and never did. So, something more like "solidarity payment" is a term I like the feeling of more. Money that somehow is there to support the costs of life, not for doing what someone else wants me to do. I think Marx has lots to say about this. Wage labour and all that.

And finally, just if you're interested the other projects I'm working on (and only these), and how the money works:

https://karrot.world/ for groups to co-ordinate to save (mostly) food, monthly money calls (see https://community.foodsaving.world/t/monthly-money-call/354), last month we decided to distribute 70EUR to each of three of us https://www.ilovefreegle.org/ basically "free your stuff" groups in the UK, more conventional finances, they can pay £100/day, I can work 4-8 days/month https://social.coop co-operative run mastodon instance, just started experiment to pay me, and one other $120/month to keep instance/server maintained I also help out on https://foodsharing.de/ for 0EUR, mostly just the "tech person of last resort"

Thanks for reading all the way down to here and I look forward to a nice discussion below!

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