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Author: katie

Unpacking pattern language

Why should we care about shared language?

I’m never surprised to find that language in an organization is used quite differently from individual to individual and group to group. With so many unique cultures, perspectives and contexts it’s natural for some people to use the same word and mean different things, or have different words to describe the same thing. There can even be personal or cultural differences on the importance of language precision: how much grammar matters, how rigidly we hold onto definitions, how much we desire to name things, and so on.

An underlying principle in working together though is sharing language, understanding one another. Without a shared language we miscommunicate with one another, create unrealistic expectations, waste time and money, become frustrated, and sometimes even fail terrifically. We see this in our relationships, too. It hurts when we feel unheard or misunderstood, and that hurt can erode trust over time.

I believe the opposite is also true — through shared language and meaningful relationships we can repair trust and boost our collective hope for the future. With teams this can also manifest as more effective work and a better work life overall.

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Project management at Good Good Work

A lot of folks want to talk about project management with us. And we get it. Project management systems are, at best, imperfect. And there are so many! How can a group ever know for sure that they’re using the best practices for their group?

We use (and have used) a lot of different tools and systems and frameworks. It depends on the project, who’s the project manager (PM), what the client already uses, what people care about, and so on. The truth of the matter is that no one project management system has been our favorite. They’re all *imperfect.

This post is a basic run-down of some of these tools. You can pick and choose what works best for you. Then let us know how you do project management! We’re always looking for new and creative solutions to common human problems.

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symbiotic relationships of sharing and mutual benefit

Share more, build less

Pretty much everyone in our modern world needs technology to get their work done, including in the nonprofit space. As problem-solving technologists in this sector, we see a lot of requests for proposals (RFPs) from organisations looking for support with a technology project. The majority we see both fall short of addressing project needs and don’t tap into the power of sharing and collaborating. We want to dive into why that is and what we can do about it.

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Following the money with Little Sis

I recently designed a report for a very cool organization called Little Sis (think opposite of Big Brother). They're self-described as "a grassroots watchdog network connecting the dots between the world's most powerful people and organizations". Basically, they follow the money and build interactive maps to show you who's got influence over whom.

This particular report was about the connections between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, President Trump, and fossil fuel interests. The folks at Little Sis had a small budget of $1000 and a short deadline of just about 4 work days.

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Finding ethical algorithms around the web

One of our existing clients, Cathy O’Neil of ORCAA, asked us for some design help a couple months back. She does algorithmic auditing. Meaning: she checks the algorithms companies are building/using for bias. Sometimes algorithms create unfairness without intention. ORCAA wants to fix that and help groups write more unbiased algorithms. They control so much of our lives, after all. You can find algorithms used in teacher pay, the banking system, criminal justice statistics, and more. Even the media we see can be determined by algorithms.

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Standing Rock, the Sagrada Familia and permaculture in Paekākāriki

Lessons in slowing down

Another way to organize

In the autumn of 2016, just before the US presidential election, Drew and I traveled to Standing Rock with a collective intention to lend a hand to the organizers in the pipeline resistance. What we brought was able bodies, willingness to work hard, and a few days of our time towards campsite chores. But what I took away was an entirely new perspective on what activism can look like. For me it was a paradigm shift.

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smart start new hampshire website

A website for Smart Start New Hampshire

Smart Start New Hampshire logoA while back we launched the website for Smart Start New Hampshire, a statewide initiative to help families in the Granite State get access to early childhood development opportunities. They were recommended to us by Hilary Nachem, someone I’ve known — and had the chance to collaborate with a few times — over the last few years.

The request was straightforward: a simple WordPress site that the team could edit easily, a nice brand to match their lovely logo which had been done prior to our collaboration, and a way for people in New Hampshire to search for (and contact) their local legislators. The shining gem of the project was the Legislator Lookup plugin we developed.

You can check it out on their live site and read the blog post about how it was built.
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Project management at Good Good Work

A lot of folks want to talk about project management with us. And we get it. Project management systems are, at best, imperfect. And there are so many! How can a group ever know for sure that they’re using the best tools and practices for their group?

We use (and have used) a lot of different tools and systems and frameworks. It depends on the project, who’s the project manager (PM), what the client already uses, what people care about, and so on. The truth of the matter is that no one project management system has been our favorite. They’re all *imperfect.

This post is a basic run-down of some of these tools. You can pick and choose what works best for you. Then let us know how you do project management! We’re always looking for new and creative solutions to common human problems.
Read more

zebras take a stab at dazzling

Buying anarchist books on credit, a DazzleCon reflection

I recently got back from Portland, OR where I had attended DazzleCon and I figured it was worth some sharing and reflection.

The story of Zebras

A brief history, as I understand it

It was almost two years ago that a couple women got together and wrote a critical analysis of the underlying issues with startup culture called Sex & Startups. It poked at toxic masculinity and exaltation of the dollar above everything else (all hail the ROI!) among other things. It’s juicy and it’s spot-on.

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It’s awfully white in here…

Good Good Work has a problem.

Our social justice oriented co-op is currently made up entirely of white contributors. We’re not alone in this; it’s no secret that technology companies often have this problem.

I’d been busily chugging along with work until a couple weeks back, when someone brought up a conversation about emoji skin tone usage in our contributor Slack channel. It prompted a much larger conversation about race, identity, and diversity. Needless to say, that then prompted me to write this post, publicly acknowledging the problem.

My intention here is to be transparent, honest, vulnerable, to admit that I’m not necessarily doing it right, that I may continue to not do it right as I learn and grow, and to open the space to many more voices.

My hope is to make Good Good Work a better place to work and to make myself a better person to work/be in relationship with.

You can track along with me (and Good Good Work) here. I’ll be writing updates on my/our progress as I/we begin to address this issue head-on.
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The Seven Cooperative Principles

When you’re part of a co-op you’re part of a movement.

A cooperative is a business operated and democratically controlled by its membership of Owners to meet their common needs and aspirations. For the states in the US that do have a separate legal entity for worker cooperatives, there are some additional requirements that make our companies different than your standard c-corp or s-corp. One of those requirements is adhering to the seven cooperative principles that guide this resurgent worker cooperative movement.

Six of these principles were drafted by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in 1966, based on guidelines written by the founders of the modern cooperative movement in England in 1844. In 1995, the ICA restated, expanded and adopted the 1966 principles to guide cooperative organizations into the 21st Century.

The fine folks at Good Good Work strive to embody these principles in our work with clients and one another. Here they are…  Read more

bees love cooperation

We started a co-op

And here’s why

My personal story

For many of us, when we think about the kind of work we want to do and how we want to do it, it becomes hard to imagine a “job” that matches our ideals. I’ve been at this crossroads numerous times: keep doing the work you love but have no financial security…or get some financial security and do work that doesn’t serve your purpose. The latter usually forces you into a dysfunctional workplace with limited flexibility, rendering you unable to live a healthy life.

In my adult life I’ve done a lot of different things and nothing makes me happier than the work I currently do. I want to keep doing this work and always be looking for a way to take it to the next level, to push myself and generate power in my community. But the options that traditionally exist for owning your own labor are incredibly frustrating. Read more

Technological malpractice in organizations

…And the messes we clean up.

We do a lot of work on other peoples’ websites. Often times people come to us to fix their websites because someone built them a bad website.
Let’s dig in to what we mean…

Defining bad and good

Bad and good are subjective and slippery. They’re different for different people/groups/purposes and depending on the needs being met by the website. Generally speaking though—and for our purposes—a goodwebsite:

  • meets all the technical requirements, AKA it functions as it’s supposed to
  • is easy to navigate and find information without being told where to go
  • has backups in place in case anything goes wrong
  • is accessed by secure login credentials
  • is made with clean, well-organized code and has no additional bells and whistles beyond what it needs (I’m looking at you, premium WP themes)
  • runs on up-to-date software on a secure server
  • can be used by most/all people, even those with legacy software (to an extent) and/or alternative accessibility needs

bad website is one that doesn’t meet at least two of these requirements. If it fails to meet three or more of these requirements you can consider yourself ready for a strategic overhaul. Read more

Boulder Food Shed

The background on the work

Boulder County, Colorado has a working group dedicated entirely to their local foodshed. The Boulder County Foodshed is,

“a new educational campaign formed by a coalition of business, government and non-profit leaders in Boulder County. Our goal is to balance our food system by promoting the increased production, consumption, and preservation of regional and local food options.”

After their formation and initial kickoff another group offered to build their website. And they made a lovely looking website, you can check it out here.

What we did

The Shed team approached us to inject some more interactivity into their site. The main calls to action weren’t clickable and had no other content associated with them. They were ready to write that next batch of content and up their online outreach game. We were happy to oblige.

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