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.
It’s probably stating the obvious, but I really like to support folks who are working for a cleaner, healthier, fossil fuel-free future. Colorado Rising is a local grassroots group doing exactly that. They’re working at getting a new issue on the ballot for the 2018 election that would change the regulations for oil and gas development.
A 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.
Here’s the setup: You’re a good little developer and you’re building your latest WordPress Theme using git to track your changes. You’ve got a local environment, where you develop and test edits to your theme file but you don’t have a good way to push those changes to the server. Yesterday, I was doing my development using git but relying on FTP to send updated files to the server. Today, I simply use
git push. Here’s how: Read more
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.
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.
Relationships are built on mutually understood agreements. More often than not, these agreements are based on mutually implicit understandings of common terms. Employee, best friend, peer, co-worker, manager, president, CFO, etc. all have implicit meanings which we assume are commonly understood. In my experience, we can often trace problems in relationships back to misalignment in these implicit understandings. Our expectations of another person do not align with what they believe is expected of them when our agreement is only as deep as a single word like “client” or “consultant.” At the end of the day each of us has our own unique understanding of these words.
At Good Good Work we strive to make the implicit explicit. We also strive to be transparent. To that end, I’m going to dig a little deeper into how we engage with clients. Read more
When Katie and I set off to create Good Good Work, before we even had a name, we were looking for legal advice. We wanted to start a social enterprise that was prefigurative, legally sound, and reflected our radical values. Katie and Jason had been moving in similar circles in Colorado for a while (most specifically, platform cooperativism) and his name kept popping up. It didn’t take us long to realize that we’d be great collaborators.
We decided to work with him to design our business, you know, the one that eventually evolved into the Good Good Work Co-op. Our relationship was built on mutual aid and in-kind trade. As he set up our business we began working on his website, which we all felt didn’t express his professionalism, skill, and leading edge practice. Read more
This past weekend I went to The People’s Disruption: Platform Co-ops for Global Challenges what follows is a download of my notes from the weekend. There were loads of great speakers and the organizers did a great job of centering voices that normally aren’t visible. I went to the first Platform Co-op conference in 2015 and the growth and maturing of the community and movement is inspiring. Get ready for a non-linear dump of links and information! First off, you can view archived livestream of the whole event here. Read more
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
Last month was the 6 year anniversary of #OCCUPYWALLST, a political movement in the US that needs no introduction. September 17th, 2011 was a pivotal point in my life. It was the day I started down a road divergent from the status quo, the day I left the confused world of early 20’s “adulting” and joined The Movement. It brings hope of a world arranged in such a way that poverty is impossible and extractive ecocide is not the basis of economic activity.
It took me three years to begin to grasp a very important lesson that The Movement demanded I learn. Read more
There is nothing better than building a tool that can be used by many people. We were approached by New Futures to build a website a few months ago for their Smart Start campaign. One of their requirements was a tool to help their visitors look up their state representatives. We accomplished this by building a plugin for WordPress which New Futures has agreed to allow us to release to the public. Their investment in this plugin will now increase in value every time someone uses this plugin! Download the zip, check out the code on GitLab. Read more
In early August, organizers from the March for Racial Justice connected with us, needing a website for their march in Washington DC on September 30th, 2017. We were able to get started on August 15th, after writing up a statement of work that outlined a design and development process.
It quickly became clear that things were moving faster than our plan could handle. There were over 6 thousand people “going” to the Facebook event and over 50,000 “interested”, with no website to speak of. Andrea, the point person who brought us into the project, was overwhelmed and stretched thing, taking on more than she could handle. In addition to making a website, our goal was to make her life — and the lives of the other organizers — less anxiety-inducing. Read more
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
…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
A 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