ECA governance infrastructure & organising

S sophie Public Seen by 577

This conversation is a follow up from the WG in Brussels on ECA infrastructure & governance. Some key questions are: How do we make decisions? Should we have a coordinating committee? How should the ECA infrastructure develop? How do the Assembly Groups fit in ? https://europeancommonsassembly.hackpad.com/Assembly-Groups-Gu5j6Fo8Cby
Here is the summary and some main points of the WG:


In this thread we can agree on conference calls, but also share ideas freely and discuss. This is new and challenging issue for all of us, if people are keen on being part of this or just have (good! ) ideas, please share and connect. :smiley:


Julien Lecaille Tue 24 Jan 2017 10:41AM


If we have the goal to organize the ECA as a Common, two questions are of major importance, and i think we must have a wide-ranging agreement in the discussion.

  • What are the ressources actually managed by the ECA ?
  • How can we identify the members of the ECA ? How can we enter the ECA ? How do we exit the ECA ?

Rules of the ECA can only be defined afterwards


Gaelle Fri 27 Jan 2017 4:58PM


Shouldn't we develop a chart that will set general rules of funtioning and organizing.
It would response to Julien's questions and most of Sophie's as well.
We could draft it and submit it to the members.


Maïa Dereva Fri 27 Jan 2017 5:54PM

May I suggest not to write a chart (which often talk about values which can be so different for each individuals...), but a text more oriented to the objectives and real practices of the group? If the ECA is a common, we could define (as Julien proposed):
* what is the ressource we all want to construct, developp and protect?
* how is defined the community which takes care of the common? (who is member, who is not?)
* what kind of governance do the community chose to achieve its goals?
* is there any specific rules or practices about the access to some part of the common? (Who holds the access codes of the website? Who manages budgets and how? etc.)

In a way, we already have the answers since the group has been working for several months. It is just a question of formalizing them, rather than inventing a charter of non-existent practices and potentially cleaving values.


Stacco Troncoso Mon 30 Jan 2017 10:48AM

In a way, we already have the answers since the group has been working for several months. It is just a question of formalizing them, rather than inventing a charter of non-existent practices and potentially cleaving values.

Strongly agree! :thumbsup:


Nicole Leonard Thu 9 Feb 2017 1:55PM

I'm trying to think of an agenda for the call but I need some help. I agree that we should work on formalizing the way things have been working so far to simplify things. Please look at the pad and comment if possible...


Nicole Leonard Wed 1 Feb 2017 1:10PM

Ok, I am starting a pad "Governance Charter Working Doc". For now I have just copied the questions, but I will start trying to answer them in a bit: https://europeancommonsassembly.hackpad.com/Governance-charter-Working-document-ECA-9UjjdfTiWV0

And, here is a doodle (sorry, framadate wasn't working!) to decide a time for call on this next week, Wednesday or Friday: http://doodle.com/poll/5g2qfywnhwx8be7u

Please participate in the poll! Thanks


Nicole Leonard Fri 3 Feb 2017 7:07PM

I've added a few rushed thoughts to the pad to get it going. Please, edit/modify and add thoughts!

It might be worth sending another email alerting people to the existence of this thread. These are important questions and it would be good to get more people involved. Do you agree? For now it's just Maia and me to fill out the doodle for the call, ostensibly next Friday the 10th.


Frédéric Sultan Fri 3 Feb 2017 7:37PM

Thanks for launch in the pad. I will comment in it. Could you please share the doodle I did not seen it?




Nicole Leonard Sat 4 Feb 2017 11:01AM

Doodle for call on governance: http://doodle.com/poll/5g2qfywnhwx8be7u


Nicole Leonard Thu 9 Feb 2017 2:00PM

Call will be tomorrow at noon on Skype: nicoleleonard92


Stacco Troncoso Thu 9 Feb 2017 3:37PM

Unfortunately, Ann Marie and I will be out tomorrow morning. Perhaps you can write a summary or @maiadereva can fill us in after the fact. Thanks everyone!


Nicole Leonard Fri 10 Feb 2017 9:02AM

My skype is nicoleleonard92


Nicole Leonard Fri 10 Feb 2017 9:02AM

Call at noon!


Ivor Stodolsky Fri 10 Feb 2017 12:48PM

Sorry, I didn't know this was coming up until I read your email from a few hours ago just now.

A little advance notice would help! ;)

Should we try again sometime soon?


Ivor Stodolsky Fri 10 Feb 2017 12:53PM

ok, i now see you mentioned this and opened a doodle 2 days ago.. missed it. looking forward to see the notes (event tho crazy busy with other things)


Nicole Leonard Fri 10 Feb 2017 6:02PM

9 days ago @ivorstodolsky ;) But yes I know, it's hard to follow things. I think we had a good conversation. I am writing up some notes to share with everyone, but it will have to wait until tomorrow as I've got to run now.


Nicole Leonard Mon 13 Feb 2017 3:53PM

Notes from Governance Call (Friday February 10)

We agreed to write up a code/charter of our “Working Principles”. The following were discussed and agreed upon, based off observation of how the group has been functioning so far, and our conversations in Brussels and on loomio. The text however is still open for comment as this is just my (Nicole's) interpretation:

  1. We manage the ECA as a commons. There is no hierarchy.
  2. The ECA is a space to collaborate, rather than a body of representation.
  3. Participants cannot legitimately speak “on behalf of” the Assembly as a whole.
  4. They can however claim that ideas or work “emerged from” the ECA, or identify as members or “part of” of the Assembly.
  5. We work through self-organized groups that take responsibility of carrying out actions (“workshops?”... I think this is an important vocabulary question we should agree on).
  6. The groups are autonomous in their decision-making when the decision does not implicate the ECA at large.
  7. When it does affect the group at large, higher levels of input and discussion with assembly members should be sought out.
  8. All groups have an obligation to communicate and share their actions with the broader ECA.
  9. At the beginning of an agreed-upon initiative they should clarify and document a mandate that describes and contextualizes the action. (personally not clear about the details on this mandate so maybe Fred or Maia want to add more)
  10. We operate via the principle that all actions are okay unless there is explicit objection. If there is objection then discussions should take place to find a solution and resolve the issue.

We also talked about the various meeting proposals that have been offered over the last few weeks and months and reflected on issues of representation and building a timeline for 2017-2018.

-There are many proposals on the table. In theory (and in line with #4 in the code above), there is no reason why all the initiatives cannot go ahead and be self-organized (unless financial resources become an issue or there is a time conflict).
- We need more detailed information about each meeting proposal to know if priorities/decisions need to be made and so we ask for some documentation/mandate about each one to be shared on loomio by the end of the month, February 28 (in 2 weeks!). These should include the date, context of the event, who would be responsible for organization, how it relates to the ECA at large, and the financial status of the initiative (if funding is already secured, still needed, not necessary, etc. and how much).
- The proposals seem to vary in scope and prominence of the ECA within them. Some are simply about having a convening space for the ECA in the context of a pre-existing gathering, where others are explicitly an ECA event. In line with #2 above, we can consider all these as various ECA Moments or spaces. They are not instances of representation and members are free to claim association with the Assembly.


Nicole Leonard Mon 13 Feb 2017 3:54PM

EDIT/COMMENT on the text through the hackpad (better formatting of bullets there):


I will let this sit a few days before circulating to the broader group.

But I will start contacting people that have proposed meetings to ask for their elaborated proposals before the end of the month.


Gaelle Tue 14 Feb 2017 9:19AM

Dear all,
Thank you for the notes on the call. Sorry that I missed it – I got confused with my agenda… I think the first draft is really good. Do we have a deadline to share it with the rest of the Alliance / finalize it?


Nicole Leonard Wed 15 Feb 2017 5:36PM

No we didn't create a deadline. I was going to send an announcement on the list with a link to this loomio thread and also to the hackpad.

Then I was going to send a separate email with asking those who have submitted meeting proposals to provide more information before Feb 28 (date, context of the event, who would be responsible for organization, how it relates to the ECA at large, and the financial status of the initiative (if funding is already secured, still needed, not necessary, etc. and how much) with a note that this isn't an application but simply a way of learning more about the proposals on the table.

Does this sound good to everyone?


Gaelle Thu 16 Feb 2017 11:58AM

It sounds good to me.
But the issue of the charter for the governance, and the one of the various meetings proposed are seperate, aren't they?
Do we link them because we think that we need the chart to make a decision on the meetings?


Nicole Leonard Thu 16 Feb 2017 12:30PM

Yes, they are separate issues. We just discussed both during the call.

And yes, you're also right because they are linked. We'd like to make decisions on the meeting in a way that coheres with the principles.

I still think we can go ahead right now with getting more information together the different meeting options.


Silke Helfrich Wed 15 Feb 2017 10:11PM

First of all, sorry for chiming in so late. The reason is that I was mostly offline and could only react to full text e-mail messages. So; I saw that sth. was going on but could not figure out what as I was on the road and had no access to loomio. (Btw: it's a general problem if - with the argument to reduce e-mail traffic - we shift everything to online communication. Many commoners aren't online 24/24 and the communication ends up among those who are (including me - most of the time).
So please make sure that important content is/ will also be shared via mailing list.

As for the content: great work! Thanks a lot. You'll find my comments in the hackpad. It's basically saying that we need to develop common criteria first BEFORE we "allow for" distributed decision making.


Nicole Leonard Thu 16 Feb 2017 12:38PM

Thanks Silke (and @gaelle) for your comments. Looks like we still have some revising to do on this charter. I think a deadline is in order. I'd say in 2 weeks - so Friday March 3. I propose to:
- circulate the text on the broader list and invite people to comment between now and the upcoming Wednesday Feb 22.
- I synthesize the comments and write up an agenda of points to resolve
- I launch a Doodle for another group call to try to work out the details and finalize?

Does this make sense? Do we need another call?

I'm also curious to hear what other people think about the "criteria" point


Nicole Leonard Wed 22 Feb 2017 9:41PM

Ok, so! First, I propose a second call on this next week. DOODLE HERE: https://framadate.org/JwSL8sZDOSWgNnYm

I have re-worked the text on the pad, but left most comments so it is clear what the logic was. I think it is an improvement but we still have some things to work out: https://europeancommonsassembly.hackpad.com/Governance-charter-Working-document-ECA-9UjjdfTiWV0

There is still a major point to resolve which is the criteria for decision-making that Silke suggesting.

Please comment with ideas for these criteria (or other adjustments to the text) ASAP. I am also sending an email to those that have been involved in this conversation so far and/or expressed interest so we don't miss this message.


Nicole Leonard Sat 4 Mar 2017 7:51PM

Hello ECA,

I’d like to give an update from the ECA Governance and Organizing group which has held a couple calls over the past few weeks. Here’s where we are:

  1. We feel we need to enlarge the group itself in order to be more representative of the ECA as a whole. It would be great to have more participation from those that are interested and have the time to work more regularly on questions of organizing the assembly. To that end, I offer a framadate (doodle) here to find a time for the next call: https://framadate.org/9XmAQnbL7YgqLspp

  2. We have gone through a process of writing down our Working Principles in the form of a charter. Version 1 will be sent soon to the list in a separate email.

  3. We have informally discussed a number of proposals for future “ECA Moments” and will continue to do so. I’ll also share these on the list in a separate email along with an invitation to share other proposals that we might not be aware of yet.

  4. Funding - A budget has been approved for me to continue as a coordinator until November with the goal of facilitating communication and helping the various groups get up and running. Beyond that, we will continue to discuss and strategize how we can secure and organize future funding for the ECA and would like to open up this conversation.

So, please keep an eye out for the next emails on proposals and the charter and respond to the framadate above if you’d like to get more involved in the Governance and Organizing group. You should also review and join this thread on loomio: https://www.loomio.org/d/kodMYJE5/eca-governance-infrastructure-organising

Thank you and as usual don’t hesitate with questions,


Silke Helfrich Mon 6 Mar 2017 9:56AM

Hi everybody, I am sorry I missed the call and will also miss the next one, we 're having the Intermapping meeting in Florence, a follow up of the Commons Space in Montreal :-) and the fringe meeting in Brussels.
Two short remarks:
about the "no hierarchy" thing, have a read: https://medium.com/ouishare-connecting-the-collaborative-economy/cut-the-bullshit-organizations-with-no-hierarchy-dont-exist-f0a845e73a80#.r7xe3viqh

and about the idea not to put "general values", but focus on principles of working together, i.e. describing more precisely HOW we should interact. I've just published this in the mapping context: https://discourse.transformap.co/t/mapping-for-the-commons-manifesto/1285
These are no general governance principles of course, but the text points to the level of clarity and concreteness we'd need.

Happy to contribute on the pad, thanks for opening it @nicoleleonard


Ivor Stodolsky Fri 10 Mar 2017 4:07PM

I would be happy join next time, especially if I can be of concrete help.


Ivor Stodolsky Fri 17 Mar 2017 9:06AM

Hello all, I'm on skype. How should we connect? Ivor


Nicole Leonard Fri 17 Mar 2017 4:17PM

Summary of Call this morning

-We will have regular governance and assembly organizing calls every 2 weeks (open to all). Since I (Nicole) am working regularly on the ECA, I will refer to this group for overall direction/strategy for the Assembly. I will publish summaries like this on the list after every call.
- We decided to hold an open vote on Version 1 of the Charter of Working Principles (via the list) to formally "adopt" it. If adopted, it will go on the website as a reference.
- We spoke at length about the proposal to have an ECA Moment at Madrid as part of the TransEuropa Festival, the last week of October. Everyone agreed, although we do not like the terminology "ECA Moment" as a public title for the event. While the First ECA meeting in Brussels was quite general, this event should be more thematically targeted, possibly on issues relating to urban commons. We touched on ideas for having "laboratories" on specific topics, or creating templates that could be adapted to different contexts... but these will be further elaborated in a call dedicated to the Madrid moment (framadate coming soon). We also underlined the importance of having someone local, fixed in Madrid to coordinate.
- Some people expressed difficulty following the happenings of the ECA or could not understand our structure, so I will work on cleaning up pads, writing up a clear overview document and also perhaps a timeline of what's gone on in the assembly.



Nicole Leonard Sat 1 Apr 2017 6:22PM

As @ivorstodolsky suggested, I tried to create a timeline of the ECA. I wonder if it is helpful, let me know


Nicole Leonard Sat 1 Apr 2017 6:24PM

I also tried to do a mapping of the Assembly Groups, though this is much less clear. Note that: Two initial processes led to the “creation” of these groups: The Policy Proposal Co-Creation Process, and the last day (November 17 at Zinneke) of our First Meeting in Brussels. They are at various stages of maturity/activity. This mapping erases some of the initial work/collaboration done in the first round of the Policy Proposal Co-Creation process in October.

Blue: Event-based
Green: Work-based (from 2 main processes)
Purple: Institution-based


Nicole Leonard Sat 1 Apr 2017 6:28PM

Here they are in jpeg, rather than pdf format (please read comments above)..


Nicole Leonard Sat 1 Apr 2017 6:31PM

I also consider the intiial Master Table for Policy Proposal Creation a good resource: https://europeancommonsassembly.hackpad.com/Policy-Proposal-Co-creation-WnSX18B6o07

I don't know what the next steps are... should we aim to create a full directory with everyone's names? This overlaps with some of the mapping and bio work that @fredericsultan is doing with Remix the Commons. Any ideas on how to better organize the assembly is welcome. I think this division into "Work", "Moments", and "Institutions" by color can maybe be a useful start...


Julien Lecaille Sun 2 Apr 2017 8:07PM

Thanks Nicole, it's really helpful !


Ivor Stodolsky Mon 3 Apr 2017 10:09AM

Thank you @nicoleleonard for this!

Re the Timeline: I think this sort of blocking of milestones is good.

However, I actually had something different in mind, for internal use by ECA commoners. I realised that, because I hadn't had time to follow for a couple of weeks, I had lost track of which 'internal' documents/pads/loomio groups etc. were in active development, and which had been merged, retired, archived, etc.

So I was hoping for some way of knowing, at a glance, what had happened. Say I took part in the policy-co-creation pads/loomio.. that's been moved and consolidated. But I can't find my group's input in the new place. How do I checked what happened? If we had some sort of map, I could find out the process: aha.. it's been moved to this and that new medium/table/pad..

Best I


Nicole Leonard Tue 18 Apr 2017 11:22AM

Hi Ivor. I agree and I know what you mean, but frankly it's a huge effort to re-organize everything that has already been done and I don't have that capacity.

I don't think that much has really been moved - it just isn't well organized. Do you have a specific example about something that has been moved or deleted?

Realistically, I think this is a project for the summer when I have a bit more time (finishing my Master at the end of May). We also want it to feed into an effort to re-design/update/make more accessible the website and wiki. (see my next post...)


Nicole Leonard Tue 18 Apr 2017 11:44AM

Update: a group of us here have been drafting a set of "work packages" so that we can seek out new funding for the ECA. Draft to share should be ready soon. There are parts for communications, e.g. maintaining the web tools, and also creating a directory for the ECA.


Oliver Kalleinen Fri 3 Nov 2017 11:28AM

I copy/paste here an extract from a message that @fredericsultan sent to the mailing list. I think it is worthwhile to discuss it also here in Loomio:

Sustainable ECA (Villarceaux, Oct 2017)
So, at the end of July, we have invited people to self nominate for a 3 days meeting For a Sustainable ECA. 10 persons were volunteers to dedicate 3 days of their life to ECA, that is not nothing ! The gender balance was respected : 5 women and 5 men. We had 3 days for thinking ECA as a tool for the commons movement – meaning in part talking about how to organize it, and how to govern ourselves. It was a very challenging conversation. The result is a report made by Ann Marie from P2P foundation. She did an incredible work to synthesize this difficult conversation.

What is the result of this gathering in Villarceaux ?
First, we realized that it was not possible to solve the problem of governance in such a short discussion. The solution is not to create a board and centralized a coordination. It is not enough to imagine a procedure of membership. We definitively need to be more imaginative.

So we propose to dedicate time to do seriously this strategic analysis. What is our movement ? What kind of infrastructure do we need for it to be functional ? How to organize our work all together, how to make decision, etc. The issue is : How could we redesign an ECA and organize it to be at the service of the commons movement ?

And we propose :
• First, to take a pause of 3/4 months and during this time, to have someone do a real research on this issue for us : someone that will look at the ECA archives, all the did and said until now, including the discussion we had in Villarceaux, and look at the models that been developed so far by networks to organize horizontal action and the various movements. The task of this person will produce a proposal of governance senario for the assembly.
• One we have this possible scenario, we will invite volunteers to self nominate for a new « Villarceaux meeting » that will finalize a proposal for ECA and submit it to the members. We will then be able to discuss and adopt a form of governance and functioning for the ECA.

The result of this process and collective work should even be put in the form of a manual, useful to the ECA and its members but also potentialy to others.

Meanwhile, we also proposed that Thomas and I try to develop a consensual proposal to carry on with already planned activities (see the document Work Packages) for the coming months without jeopardizing them.

What do we need to do that ?
• it is needed to re-alocate to this strategic process, the funds we already have. There are remaining funds on the different activities of ECA. So we can finance this research and process without extra funds. We only need to clarify exactly how much there is in each budget of the actions scheduled.
• It is also also needed to define clear terms of reference for the reseacher and of course identify the proper person with the adequate skills. All the proposals are welcome as we know that ideas are already in minds.

So at the end, I am confidente that we will have an Assembly with a bottom up model of governance, and I am looking forward to the discussions we will be having now on this.


Oliver Kalleinen Fri 3 Nov 2017 11:30AM

To Fredrics text @timothyflitcroft replied the following questions:
1) The aim at Madrid was to formulate concrete proposals at the municipal level - is the idea for those proposals to happen within the work packages like "ECA advocacy" bearing in mind proposals are supposed to have a December deadline for a January budget. Or would they happen independently and seek funding independently. Or is the idea to suspend all additional activity until after the governance process is established (in which case it makes the Madrid ECA process rather redundant)
2) Is it sensible to have only one person for the research position who will inevitably have a particular perspective. Obviously funding is an issue but would it be better for one or two more people who have experience and expertise be also involved even if only in a consultative way.
3) Could you expand on this statement
"we will invite volunteers to self nominate for a new « Villarceaux meeting » that will finalize a proposal for ECA and submit it to the members. We will then be able to discuss and adopt a form of governance and functioning for the ECA."
Who are the members? How will it be discussed? How will it be adopted - if by consensus what form of it? Will there be a quorum of some kind in order to confer legitmacy?
If these questions are left for the Governance proposal to formulate it means the Governance proposal will decide the form of governance by which the governance proposal is adopted. This circularity could be risky if it is seen as self serving eg if a quorum is set too low or the discussion is too restricted. The discussion period after the proposal is made is crucial - I hope that Loomio or whatever online tool is chosen will adequately represent it. It would also gain greater legitimacy if it was also open for an offline assembly meeting to discuss and adopt. I also hope too there will be a procedure built into the Governance proposal that allows for changes to the Governance under certain conditions if it is later felt it needs to be altered in any way.


Timothy Flitcroft Fri 3 Nov 2017 12:02PM

Thanks Oliver for copying and pasting to Loomio. i did not know where to put my questions as Fred had put his report out on the email list. Gaelle's comments too were also sent by email. So there remains this confusion where is discussion supposed to go. Email seems to reach a wider audience than Loomio but the list is supposed to be only for announcements. Loomio is felt to be being misused if it is used for discussion - in my view although Loomio is primarily a tool for decision making it is also a place for discussion. It is good to keep things all in one place. I am not so concerned about the perfect tool as that we stick to a method and use it.

Best Wishes



Oliver Kalleinen Fri 3 Nov 2017 4:08PM

I agree, for me the choice of platform is not so important, more important would be to have people active in one place (for example Loomio), and on a regular base so that the discussion goes on all the time. In the moment it seems there is a drop-in and drop-out culture, which is a problem for many volunteer based organizations.

In terms of @fredericsultan proposals I think it is a good idea to hire a person (or two) who are responsible to collect all the existing materials from the numerous pads, google docs, loomio, mailing list etc. perhaps edit them for clarity and add commentary. But I would slightly change the emphasis of the job description for the hired 1 person (or two). Instead of developing and presenting a ready proposal for ECA governance the hired person would work more like a moderator, facilitator and provocateur for at least 6 months, the main task would be to get as many members active in loomio, pull them into the discussion, reach out to the mailing-list, meet face 2 face and report back to loomio, merge suggested ideas into an online draft proposal etc. I think we have enough of knowledge in the membership to come up with a coherent ECA constitution, but we need to establish some routine in online collaboration and exchange. That seems to be the more crucial task to kickstart our online communication.


Timothy Flitcroft Fri 3 Nov 2017 4:32PM

Hi Oliver

I like your proposal very much for the research period. Do you think it might still be worth having a face to face meeting of a smaller group to evaluate the proposal and then put it to a formal vote - or do you see that as unecessary. I am just worried we do not have a very good use of loomio as yet. I also feel it should be put to a whole physical assembly if possible.

When Frederic responds to my queries lets put these ideas on Loomio

Best Wishes



Oliver Kalleinen Fri 3 Nov 2017 4:58PM

I personally would emphasize the online collaboration aspect on producing a constitution (that's what I call it for now) – if ECA wants to be sustainable as a distributed organisation we need to be quite good in online collaboration, because face-2-face meetings are expensive, time consuming, ecological problematic and create exclusion. I could imagine that local groups would meet face-2-face and then contribute to the online process. If people feel strongly that they want to meet in Villarceaux to move the process forward, that is of cause great as well. The final voting on accepting the constitution should anyway happen online in my opinion. We could look at the Iceland constitution writing process for some inspiration.