Guerrilla Translation Reloaded Full Report
- 1 Introduction
- 2 A Brief History of Guerrilla Translation
- 3 The Fundaction Application
- 4 The Lead-up to the Workshop
- 5 The Open Coop Financial/Governance Model in brief
- 6 The Methodology
- 7 Guerrilla Translation’s Goals and Values
- 8 The Prototypes
- 9 Conclusions, Closing Circle and Next Steps
- 10 Addendum: The Hervas June 18 GT Encounter
- 11 Reviewing the Prototypes
- 12 Thematic Conversations
- 13 The Synthesized Timeline (AKA “The Lucas Plan”)
- 14 Next Steps: what now for Guerrilla Translation?
- 15 Footnotes
This is the wiki version of our Hervás 2018 Workshop report. You can read this report in two additional formats which include plenty of images and diagrams:
- Epub (better for mobile readability) (final link pending)
We have reproduced it text-only in the wiki for reference and to hyperlink to specific sections.
The report was collaboratively written by Stacco Troncoso (sections 2, 3, 5, 8.1, 9 and 10), Lucas Tello (Sections 6 and 7) Ann Marie Utratel (section 8b) Mercé Moreno Tarrés (section 4) and Lara San Mamés (section 10) between June and early July 2018.
It was edited by Ann Marie Utratel and reviewed by all 13 members of the Guerrilla Translation Reloaded Workshop Group.
A Brief History of Guerrilla Translation
Guerrilla Translation(GT) is a P2P and Commons-oriented translation collective. Created in 2013 in Madrid, it was heavily inspired by the 15-M and Occupy movements happening at that time. From the start, GT was designed as having two complementary functions: a translation collective working voluntarily for social and environmental causes, and a full-service translation agency for hire. This agency would use its proceeds from commissioned work to partly finance its social mission, the voluntary translations.
Following our creation of a dual language (English and Spanish) blog, GT began to attract attention from sympathetic authors and readers. Within the first year, this reputation capital led to the commissioned translation of Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics, a OuiShare Award in the Open Knowledge Category, and an expanding community of readers, authors and translators, among other encouraging and endorsements.
With pro-bono (voluntary) and agency (paid) work being performed within the collective at different rates and with no set coordination structure, an initial governance model based on the Better Means Open Enterprise Governance model was proposed in the Summer of 2014. The goal was to reach an optimum balance between production of pro-bono and paid work while using part of the income from agency work as motivational fuel for the production and upkeep of GT’s translation Commons. Drawing inspiration from Sensorica’s Open Value Network model and other forms of P2P contributive accounting, the original Better Means model was analysed through a series of “Objections”, meant to lead to a final governance and economic model suited for GT. Around this time Guerrilla Translation became a project of the P2P Foundation.
Discussion on implementing the model continued during 2014-2015, but due to lack of engagement, no finished model was proposed or implemented. Both pro-bono and paid work continued. However, there was a marked imbalance between different types of labour. There were those performing non-productive or “invisible” labour for the collective (networking, invoicing, social media, training, blog formatting, etc.), those focused on agency work and those keeping the pro-bono side thriving. Frustrated with this imbalance between ideological commitment to GT’s principles and material benefit without (carework) reciprocity, the co-founders Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel decided to take an extended sabbatical from the project.
During 2016-2017, some pro-bono and agency work continued, but at a much lower rate than during the years 2013-2015. A notable exception was a successful crowdfund campaign through Goteo.org to translate and publish David Bollier’s Think Like a Commoner, a Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons. The campaign was important in several aspects, including its use of the Peer Production License and an innovative distributed publishing model dubbed “Think Global, Print Local”. The lead-up to the campaign saw renewed activity on the pro-bono side, and the crowdfund succeeded in its objectives, leading to a book launch in the fall of 2016. After the crowdfund, however, GT still suffered from the same mixed condition: Solid social capital, continued offers of lucrative work, but no clear governance structures to ensure a fair distribution of work and rewards whilst being true to its social mission.
By this time, the remaining team (Susa Oñate, Georgina Reparado, Lara San Mamés and co-founders Troncoso and Utratel) had achieved a very high level of trust among each other. Mercè Moreno Tarrés (who, in her former role at Goteo.org, was the advisor for the crowdfund campaign) joined the team to assist with organizational development. It seemed that now was the right time to revisit the unfinished governance model and “relaunch” GT in an organised and sustainable way.
We determined that GT needed seed funding in order to develop its full potential as commons-generating provider of livelihoods (what is known as “Open Cooperativism”). As precondition to this, however, GT would need to reexamine and clarify its goals, values and governance/economic model. Clearly, an in-person meeting was needed, and the best solution we found was to have GT’s team interact with friendly experts in tech, decentralised, non-hierarchical organizations, facilitation and governance in order to develop the governance model together and strategize GT’s future survival
The Fundaction Application
Fundaction is a Europe-wide participatory grantmaking platform focused on social transformation. Its stated goals are:
“...to shift power to make decisions about funding from foundations to those closer to the issue, strengthen collaboration and mutual support among European activists and build the capacity of activists and the social movements they work with.”
The organizational design of Fundaction can be traced back to December 2016 and the Seville Activist Encounter, a three day workshop convened by Fundaction’s backers and mediated by Zemos98, a Seville-based commons-oriented cultural association and a coop that mediates for social change. Ann Marie Utratel and Stacco Troncoso attended this workshop representing the P2P Foundation, the NGO they work for.
The Fundaction Platform was officially launched in Spring 2017. It consists of an online assembly of constituents drawn from activist communities who propose, discuss and ultimately vote on projects to be funded. Fundacion bestows three types of grants: Renew (20,000 €, for projects working toward systemic change), Rethink (5,000 €, directed at exchange and capacity building activities and networking) and Resist (2,000 €, for rapid responses to urgent actions).
Given the agreement that GT needed a multi-constituent, in-person assembly and workshop to reimagine its future, Utratel and Troncoso wrote a proposal to apply for the Renew grant in November 2017. The proposal described the history of the collective and highlighted the need to refine, reimagine, and implement GT’s economic model. The focus of the proposal was not only GT, but also on the refinement of a viable model for digital labour with a commons component, and Open Cooperativism in general. From the application (full text here): “Our plan is to take our current ad-hoc model and create an open-source accounting and management model via holochain technology. We have support from leading organizations in the field and an experienced project manager on board.”
The Rethink Grant would support a three-day meeting to discuss GT’s challenges and directions for the future, with a special emphasis on open sourcing and thoroughly documenting the discussion. The application concluded that: “The short term goal is to build an open-source and thoroughly documented knowledge commons of translations. Mid-term, we want to determine best practices for other types of knowledge-workers to scale and expand the economic system and model a new form of revenue-generating work that opens possibilities for more fulfilling knowledge work while encouraging more cooperative culture among freelancers.” The proposal also mentioned some of the prospective attendees: associates of the P2P Foundation, P2P Value, Enspiral and Holochain, with Zemos98 facilitating.
In late December 2017, the first round of voting for Rethink proposals was closed, with the “Guerrilla Translation Reloaded” proposal obtaining the largest number of votes (14). In January 2018, there was an official announcement of the Rethink grant awardees, with Guerrilla Translation as one of the 8 winning applications.
After first considering a workshop in February (and also the possibility of a location in France), it was decided to host the workshop in May 2018, in Hervás, Spain, a small town in Western Spain where Utratel and Troncoso reside. There were several attractive factors, among them the low rates for accommodation and the cost savings of fewer participants traveling, and some staying in the Utratel-Troncoso home.
The Lead-up to the Workshop
The preproduction and lead-up work toward the workshop took place during January-May 2018 and was mainly distributed between three members of the collective: Mèrce Moreno Tarrés, Stacco Troncoso, and Ann Marie Utratel with former GT member and friend Carmen Lozano Bright joining in the last month to assist with additional tasks. During this period, a first draft of the economic model was also written and discussed (more on that in the section below).
This pre-production work was divided into three main phases: Budget, Attendance, and Pre-workshop communications and logistics.
A detailed budget was established, allowing to determine realistic possibilities for the encounter, regarding the number of assistants and payment for production facilitation within the available resources.
15 persons (including the organizers) were initially invited to the event via email. Most invitees accepted, although some others were not available to due to scheduling conflicts. Among the latter were Primavera de Filippi (Berkman Klein Centre, P2PValue), Samer Hassan (P2P Value, P2P Models), Donnie MacLurcan (Post Growth Institute) and Brett Scott (Alternative Finance Explorer), who all agreed to keep in touch and offer their feedback on any subsequent reports and future GT developments.
After balancing the possibilities of the budget and considering other alternatives, seven persons external to the collective were invited as guests. These were:
- Sarah de Heusch (SMart)
- Emaline Friedman (Holo)
- Bronagh Gallagher (Connecting Scotland)
- Richard Bartlett (Loomio, Enspiral, the Hum)
- Natalia Lombardo (Loomio, Enspiral, the Hum)
- Virginia Díez (Wikimedia Spain)
- Carmen Lozano Bright (Nodocomun, ex-GT))
The invitees were selected not just for their professional affiliation and knowledge in cooperative structures, work mutuals, community work and new economics, but also for their personal qualities and how they could interact as a group (and serve as allies to the collective ongoing). It is also worth noting that the final composition of the workshop had a female-male ratio of 10 to 3, which reflects Guerrilla Translation’s own gender ratio.
Additionally, Lucas Tello from Zemos98 was hired for workshop methodology and facilitation. Finally, five of the six current active members of Guerrilla Translation (Susa Oñate, Lara San Mamés, Mercè Moreno Tarrés, Stacco Troncoso, and Ann Marie Utratel) would also be present. The sixth member, Georgina Reparado, lives in Argentina; unfortunately, the travel expenses associated with a transatlantic flight made it impossible to have her present.
Pre-workshop communications and logistics
With the encounter budgeted and attendees confirmed, the production team started tackling travel logistics, in-event transportation, food, accomodation and the space where the event would take place.
After contemplating several options, it was decided that the majority of attendees would be hosted at El Canchal de la Gallina, a rural space equipped with comfortable facilities and, crucially, a meeting room large enough to hold all attendees, as well as several breakout spaces and a quirky farm atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the production team also began working with Zemos98 (and Lucas Tello in particular) in devising the methodology (see section below).
Beyond this group, a series of communication channels were established to encourage open and fluid communication between all attendees, both during and after the workshop. These channels included a Telegram group for synchronous communications, Loomio for asynchronous communication and decision making, and a dedicated Trello Board for documentation and scheduling. The use of Telegram as opposed to other IM platforms was voted on by the whole group on Loomio.
The Loomio group contained practical information for the workshop, a series of recommended articles, a thread on facilitation and post-production, and the presentation of the first draft of the Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Model.
The Open Coop Financial/Governance Model in brief
As mentioned above, the collective resumed work on the governance model during January-March 2018 as a lead-up to the workshop. It was felt that both the workshop participants and the collective members needed a tangible “object” to serve as a base for discussions. However, as mentioned in the introduction, no coherent final text existed apart from some notes and many conversations.
Stacco Troncoso took the lead in documenting these ideas into a single text. This process was shared with the collective and discussed in Loomio until a first draft was produced. This draft prompted many questions, debates and ideas, but it seemed better to leave the model intact and wait for the event to dig deeper (rather than tackle it all online).
The model’s main characteristics will be important to understand, as they formed the basis of most discussions that followed, and are reflected in this report. It’s important to highlight that the model was never formally implemented. It was intended as a starting point for development, not an concrete template. The first draft of the model can be read in full here; in this section we’ll share the highlights.
Stripping away the particulars of GT, here are the model's main characteristics, which can be applied as a bare-bones formula for other commons-oriented service collectives. (This lists includes hyperlinks to GT’s wiki, and some of them may not be updated)
- The Open Coop performs pro-bono and paid work.
- Pro-bono work creates relationships and social capital leading to paid work.
- Both forms of work are tallied into credits.
- Net earned income is distributed to fulfil members' shares, Paid (75%) and Pro-bono (25%).
- Client prices are on a sliding scale but members’ credits accrued are stable.
- Higher prices lead to surpluses, used to accelerate pro-bono credit payment.
- There are two membership tiers: Casual/unpaid (Commons-based peer production dynamics), and Committed/paid (Commons and Coop dynamics).
- Casual members have no responsibilities; addition of their work is mediated by Committed members.
- Committed members have ongoing responsibilities (pro-bono and care work), evaluated quarterly. Members unable to maintain these are downgraded from the Coop.
- Care work is essential but is the least specifically defined component, and is subject to regular re-evaluation and definition.
- Repeated, modular care/admin tasks are valued in credits. More subjective care work is valued in time and entrusted selectively.
- Decision making is made by consent. Committed members' votes are binding.
- Both pro-bono and paid productive work affect each member's standingin the coop, as reflected by their historical credits.
Regarding the workshop, the key item here is “Care work is essential but is the least specifically defined component, and is subject to regular re-evaluation and definition.”
How can we track and value care and reproductive work, and contrast it with the productive work tracked via wordcount and credits? How do we introduce a human element into this mathematical framework? These were some of the questions and tensions to be explored during the workshop.
The methodological framework was designed to achieve the following goals:
- To work towards developing and promoting the prototype of a model to make Guerrilla Translation sustainable in the long term basis;
- To foster ties between the participants in order to serve as a basis for a future community around, and working with, Guerrilla Translation, and;
- To make the model replicable and useful beyond Guerrilla Translation itself.
In order to achieve these goals, the methodology relied upon these main principles:
- trusting peer to peer knowledge,
- accepting diversity as an intellectual basis for our work together,
- connecting practices and experiences for the common good, and
- using not just oral but also visual languages.
We used an adapted version of a methodology used previously by ZEMOS98 called “The Tablecloth”. This is simply a round piece of paper placed on the table, upon which any participant can write down ideas, draw lines or images, etc., in order to complete the prototype of a platform for Guerrilla Translation. The Tablecloth was split into five different sections. The centre portion was used to define the goals and values underlying GT’s practice; surrounding the centre, four interconnected areas were ready for participants to fill with ideas regarding the governance, the community, financial and technological tools to be used.
On the first day, participants at both tables started with the centre of the tablecloth to define objectives and values. They worked on it for two hours and then proceeded to the rest of the tablecloth, jumping from one area to the others, depending on the conversations, with the understanding that many of the issues in fact overlapped different areas. Why use a tablecloth? Because we wanted create space for relaxed, in depth conversations around a metaphor that gives a sense of what care means - always understood as something central to the platform design. Every group spent a day and a half filling in and linking the different areas of the paper tablecloths.
The second afternoon, after completing the tablecloth, the facilitator invited the groups to move forward by identifying those resources already available, and those needed to establish the model of the platform proposed in the tablecloth. After establishing a common sense of “haves” and “needs”, both groups proceeded to create a timeline for the prototype phase of the platform in order to visually appreciate how much work is needed, how many and what kind of tasks GT must complete to have a perfectly functioning model of work.
Finally, during the third morning, each table presented what they had been doing and every individual noted the most interesting features proposed by the other group on notecards shared afterwards with the rest of the group.
Guerrilla Translation’s Goals and Values
As a first step toward developing the platform prototype, both groups began by considering the goals and values that underlie the Guerrilla Translation project. Participants spent two hours discussing this on this during the first day’s meeting, speaking from their own personal and professional backgrounds.
Group 1 determined that the new model to be implemented in Guerrilla Translation should acknowledge and put into practice the following values:
- peer to peer learning
- clarity and simplicity
- “trustparency” (blending trust and transparency)
- resilience connected to systemic self-reflection
- finding value beyond monetization
- punk elegance
- Do It Yourself values
- fostering a collaborative culture of work
- simplexity (blending complexity and simplicity)
While debating the aims and purposes of Guerrilla Translation, the following goals were agreed by the group:
- Considering GT as a place where mentorship in translation can happen among members of the platform and new translators wishing to join.
- GT could be a project that demonstrates that an alternative economy which takes into account other values is practically possible.
- To turn GT into a translingual commons.
- To extract translators and funds from capitalist regimes back into commons.
- To open the GT model up to being replicated in other contexts by translating it to friendly, visual languages (and doing it in a way is not coercive).
- To be sustained by a model that take into account care work.
- GT might be a space for peer to peer learning about how to work together and translate in a different way.
The values offered by Group 2 were:
- being prefigurative (in the sense of incarnating the utopia to be achieved)
- being exemplary of the change we want to see
- high quality crafted work
- developing a community identity
- working towards producing a political transformation within the relationship between the individuals and the collective they work in.
Regarding goals, the second group considered these the most important priorities:
- A “Guerrilla Camp” event, as a place to get together regularly.
- To produce personal transformations that would allow GT to reflect on how to bring other people in.
- To create a framework of personal trust between one another in the digital sphere, that supports everyone in carrying out their personal commitment to the platform.
- Being an exemplary project in the sense of providing the needed information and resources to make the project replicable.
- Sharing and creating commons (“commoning”).
As a whole
During post-presentation conversations, other questions and ideas were raised:
- Guerrilla Translation could be a project to experiment with how to provide good living conditions from a commons.
- Richard Bartlett wondered how is this experience could be translatable into our own daily lives.
- Carmen Lozano highlighted the fact that GT embodies conversations that are not only theoretical but also based on concrete daily practices; but, also wondered about how communal commitment and individual interest will intersect for the platform to function.
- Ann Marie Utratel stressed the importance of having a long term vision for the platform.
After two and a half days of work, each group presented their prototypes for GT’s near and mid-term future. The presentations kicked off by sharing different aspects of each tablecloth and how they related to each other. Additionally, each group’s perception of GT’s current assets and immediate and future needs were discussed, along with a concrete timeline for implementing the agreed-upon ideas and actions.
The following summary is taken in part from documented images of the two prototypes, and from audio recordings of the presentations.
Group 1 had a cohesive vision of how Guerrilla Translation should develop, from immediate circumstances to ambitions mid-term goals. The mood in the group was very relaxed and convivial. There was a lot of work and discussion on the Community and Platform aspects, closely followed by Governance. Finance took a back seat in this group, with most of the finance discussion being tied to the platform and Holo.
The participants of Group 1 were Natalia Lombardo (Loomio, Enspiral, The Hum), Emaline Friedman (Holo), Bronagh Gallagher (Connecting Scotland), Susa Oñate (Guerrilla Translation), Mercè Moreno Tarrés (Guerrilla Translation) and Stacco Troncoso (Guerrilla Translation, P2P Foundation).
Natalia Lombardo took the lead by discussing the community aspects of Group 1’s prototype. The pre-condition for creating a healthy, resilient community is by fostering a collaborative culture. How? By developing practice-based models based on GT’s values.
It was highlighted that, in parallel to acquiring start up/project dev funding, GT needs to increase its earned income and financial resilience. To do so, the collective would do well from diversifying its income streams by highlighting and pursuing complimentary services such as simultaneous translation, subtitling work, narration, audiobooks, localization, dubbing, etc. Also mentioned were web design, illustration, visual facilitation, UX, workshops other non-translation communication services which members of the collective have performed over time. The collective has the capacity and skill set necessary to search for such income streams. An additional idea was to conceptualize GT as an educational opportunity, both for translators and for those interested in Platform/Open Coops, with attentive mentoring and, in the future, the possibility of scholarships or even a “Guerrilla Camp” type of workshops.
Natalia added that, when speaking about GT’s community, the idea is that the financial model shifts from “individuals who collaborate” to “We are a collective that works together”.
Emaline Friedman spoke about the crossover between financial and legal. Out of the possible legal entities that can host GT’s community and model, Estonia’s e-citizenship program was mentioned.
Shifting the conversation toward the platform, Emaline posed the questions of interoperability with Holo. If GT were embedded within the Holo ecosystem, it could potentially use ‘Holo Fuel’ as a medium of exchange. Fuel is Holo’s recently created non volatile and asset backed cryptocurrency. As Holochain’s first native cryptocurrency, it stands in contrast to other cryptos due to its value stability. In line with Group 1’s timeline, Emaline suggested that there is a strong possibility for GT to begin interacting with Fuel once the latter’s network is stabilised (in six months or so). One potential benefit of such an interaction would be that a large portion of Holo’s current financial and legal research on transnational micro employment could be applied to GT if the latter were to use Holo for transactions and payments. This would facilitate research on how to become an transnational cooperative without having to incorporate in different countries. Emaline explained that this was an open question rather than a set plan, but she believed that there was great opportunity in pursuing such a strategy.
If the platform were to be built on Holo, there could even be a payment API in the platform capable of converting from National currencies into Fuel. The interesting part of using Fuel, Emaline explained, is that Fuel is directly redeemable for distributed computing capacity. This means that the medium of exchange can be liquidated into National currencies using Holo’s reserve accounts. This computing capacity could also be used to support the infrastructure of the platform itself.
Natalia clarified for the other participants that Group 1 was interested in building a digital platform to handle all accounting and transactional aspects. Emaline added that beyond a simple website, the group conceptualised a more holistic platform which, through Holo’s architecture, would:
- Perform credit and value tracking
- Outsource the role of ‘bad cop’ and uphold the credit-related norms and agreements of the coop (always in combination with carework)
- Include user friendly and attractive metric and data visualizations of the collective’s assets and health
- Integrate with Holo Fuel and its ‘banking infrastructure’
- Could provide
- collaborative writing tools
- Kanban (eg. Trello) type board
- Wordpress integration
- Instant messaging
- Decision making (through integrating Loomio)
Emaline remarked that these features would be relatively easy to build as Holochain Apps.
Natalia added that this platform design corresponded to the collective’s needs. As of present, there is no existing platform that addresses GT’s economic model and values. Prior to having such a platform built it is important to identify tools that already exist and that can be used to start implementing the minimum viable model. These include accounting systems, spreadsheets to calculate hours, words etc.
Emaline expressed that the Group had imagined the platform as “the one-stop GT shop” but that, obviously, a Slack-Loomio-Trello system already addresses many of the collective’s needs, with the exception of financial model accounting. Whether these features are to be integrated into the platform is a decision to be discussed.
Bronagh Gallagher explained that such a Platform would greatly facilitate the reconciliation of pro-bono and livelihood credits with word-count based and hour based accounting. With a credit tracking system that is easy to visualize, these metrics can be contrasted discussed and adjusted to ensure fairness within the collective. Natalia expressed that beyond the “love”, “livelihood”distinction, she found it important to know how many credits are there at the end of the month, and how much the collective can pay each of its members. Part of this is not considering pro-bono as being “different” from paid work. They are both seen as work, and the collective needs to discuss which portion of each is to be undertaken on an ongoing basis, including the greater or lesser need to find paying work to make the whole system work. Creating livelihoods and supporting the collective is the prime objective. Another suggestion was to substitute the terms “pro-bono” and “agency work” with Social and Financial capital, respectively.
Emaline remarked that good, legible data visualization and in-built accounting would make it very easy for everyone to have a “felt sense” of what is needed in GT, facilitating economic planning with reliable data.
Addressing the community aspects again, Natalia spoke about GT’s levels of membership/commitment and the sense that an “extra layer” should be created between “casual and committed” members. So far, there is only a three-month trial period for casual to become committed. Characterised metaphorically as “dating”, this intermediate state can be extended, with candidates performing a larger portion of pro-bono work (freeing established or coop members to do more livelihood work) while being paid proportionately less for livelihood work until they are invited to become full members. This creates an incentive for “dating” members to become more committed and also allows for the rest of the collective to see whether trust has been established and working relations are healthy. The dating period would then serve as a precondition for entering the committed circle. The group also spoke about enfranchising and providing tools for involving those in the “casual” sphere. This could be done by opening some Loomio groups and Trello boards for such groups.
Addressing governance, Bronagh, building on what had been said previously, introduced Lucas 9000 to the group - the humorous name for the platform, named for Lucas Tello (the workshop facilitator) and the supercomputer HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Described as “backend, kickass platform and software” capable of taking on bad cop duties when necessary while helping everybody to transparently organize the collective’s work, Lucas 9000 would effectively be the upholder of the collective’s values. As such, the Platform becomes the core group of Guerrilla Translation, an embodiment of its collective intelligence and affectivity. Surrounding this core exist a number of rotating working groups with complementary responsibilities. These are affected by the “casual-dating-committed” membership strata described earlier, with those invited to become committed members expected to take legal, financial and emotional responsibility for the care of that organization. Becoming a committed member is a big step.
Also central to the discussion was the issue of care work: how to recognize and value it? The group suggested that this become an integral feature of each work team.
Bronagh continued by recounting Group 1’s discussions on acknowledging power dynamics within the collective, specifically the need to name and acknowledge those who have been more active in the collective’s creation and carrying its legacy forward. This imparts a degree of power, experience and influence which needs to be acknowledged, perhaps via weighted decision making power (60 vs 40%, for example) in some of the bigger decisions if and when there is an impasse, but that such a percentage would level itself out as others begin stepping up and taking on a shared memory and history of the organization.
Stacco Troncoso added that Lucas 9000 went beyond the role of bad cop or “outsourcing the difficult work of having conversations and relationships” by functioning as a Virtual Trust. Similar to how a Community Land Trust perpetuates specific social values to a shared ownership structures, Lucas 9000 represents the collective’s consent to a set of voluntary self-organised rules, while also being responsible for overseeing and carrying out those agreements and rules. As a program, it is important to stress that it would be regularly programmed by the humans affected by its actions. Susa Oñate humorously added that this was the reason why “we are Trust-lators”.
Relaying Group 1’s discussions on legal structures, Susa explained that the collective needed to find an umbrella that would work for the translation and media side of things. What is the most adequate structure? No one knows for sure, added Mercè Moreno, so research on legal structures was seen as an absolute priority, as this could affect GT’s governance structure. Mercè continued that, as suggested by Emaline, such a legal structure could be based in Estonia due to its facilities for tech-oriented ventures. Natalia added that no one in the team was specially knowledgeable about European legal structures so it was agreed this aspect needed additional research. To everyone’s delight, Sarah De Heusch from Group 2 exclaimed “we worked a lot on that!” Ann Marie Utratel from Group 2 added that Estonia had also been mentioned in their group.
Qualities and Needs
Mercè Moreno explained that, in the matter of assessing Guerrilla Translation’s qualities and needs, Group 1 had decided to cluster these into the areas already present in the tablecloth: Community, Governance, Platform and Finance.
Beginning with Community, Mercè remarked that GT had good, real people. Concretely: Ann Marie, Stacco, Susa, Lara, Georgina and Mercè, who are seen as friendly and committed individuals. “We tried to be as concrete as possible” continued Mercè and, regarding skills, the collective possesses source/target English and Spanish editors and source Spanish, English, French and Italian, and target English and Spanish translators. Aside from the multiple facets related to translation/editing work, the current team also includes accomplished graphic and web designers, illustrators, photographers, creative writers, voice over artists, musicians and and video editors. Additionally, GT also has a well established extended network of activists, developers, researchers, authors, public intellectuals and funders.
GT has also created a sizeable translation commons of books, articles and videos, licensed under the Peer Production Licensed. GT has important social capital. Regarding Finance, the collective is relatively inexperienced, but has good relationships with funders and potential supporters. Further, GT is seen as having great investment potential. Regarding services offered as an agency and their prices, prior work has resulted in a clear pricing structure, although these services need to be better marketed. The collective is also able to invoice and make payments under its present legal structure.
Centering on Technology Mercè explained that Guerrilla Translation is represented through two attractive websites, (one in Spanish, the other in English) supported by a recognizable brand identity and “kickass design”. The collective has been using organizational tools such as Telegram, Loomio, Trello and a Wiki for some years now.
Finally, regarding Governance Mercè remarked that the Guerrilla Translators share a strong core set of values and a nascent economic/governance model. The rest of the group chipped in to explain that, as far as needs go, they had taken the post-its from the “needs” section to set them along the timeline, while focusing on GT’s present qualities for this exercise.
Mercè Moreno proceeded to explain Group 1’s timeline. As seen in the image above, the Group quickly clustered many posts its around the beginning of the timeline. The interpretation is that many actions need to happen early on and as seen as equally important and complementary. An immediate GT team in-person follow up meeting was seen as an urgent necessity. This meeting would kick off a more regular team building strategy comprising regular check-ins, calls and more in-person encounters. As part of this strategy, a virtual coworking room was called for to make the Guerrilla Translators feel as if they’re working together. Another first priority would be to communicate with Sarah de Heusch from Group 2 to ask for assistance with the research process into legal structures, with SMart (depending on country of residency) as a possible partner for GT’s invoicing and payments system. Zemos98 was also mentioned as consultants to this research process, given their knowledge of Spanish, socially oriented, non-profit cooperative structures. Zemos also happens to be working with an accountant knowledgeable about such matters.
Group 1, Mercè continued, had decided to go ahead and write a first draft of a Guerrilla Translation Handbook. Taking its inspiration from the handbooks produced by Loomio and Enspiral, the text would provide an easy and accessible introduction to the workings of the collective for new potential members and allies. Group 1 is conscious that such a handbook will change substantially as the collective’s development takes place through the proposed timeline. This first draft would explain “what we have right now” with a future edition planned once the collective has settled into more matured governance practices a year from now. Natalia added that there was more clarity needed on what GT is and how it works, therefore the handbook would also be supported by other introductory materials, including infographics and screencast video tutorials. This would also double as “marketing work”, not only to bring more team members in, but to clarify GT’s unique qualities and values to other stakeholders.
Version 1 of the handbook’s would therefore facilitate uptake for new members, letting them know how the collective will function during the start-up implementation phase and what to expect. Taking a wide view of the timeline, it was explained that the first year had more distinct activities and necessary steps while, in year two, that work will stabilise and it will be a time for experimentation and fine tuning (the board displays an abundance of post-it actions in year one, and substantially less in year two, but this does not mean that activity will diminish, but that it will take place within a more resilient framework).
Other early priorities include clarifying roles within the casual-dating-committed framework, as well as rights and responsibilities and how to members can progress from one circle/level to the next. Mercè explained that, within the diagram, post-its marked in Green were seen as “easy”, grey “medium difficulty” and red as “difficult”. Natalia added that the Group had also worked on clarifying work teams for the collective.
Stacco went on to explain that we have to distinguish between organizational development (GT will search for funding to help form a team to develop the “start-up” side of the project), software development for the platform (for which funding would also be needed) and continued agency and pro-bono work. Regarding the organizational development aspect, Stacco explained that such funds could be distributed in a flexible and/or rotating basis and not necessarily be attached to set roles.
When Ann Marie Utratel asked whether that work would be performed exclusively by current members of the collective, Stacco explained that everyone present in the room (attendees of the meeting) could be part of that work (as consultants), as well as forthcoming GT members.
Mercè explained that one of the Group’s ideas was to start implementing a minimum viable financial model, taking effect immediately. The purpose is to start testing how the model works bare bones, but without any “punishment” for oversights, it’s meant to provide clarity in real world situations. This would, of course, be subject to continuous revisions and refinements.
Natalia took over by explaining that it was a priority to also generate income straight away, to support the collective. Related to this, Group 1 had highlighted the need for advice in refining GT’s business plan and budget. The budget is essential to ascertain how much capital GT needs to perform all the tasks described in the timeline. Group 1 had decided on an initial funding period of two years to develop the organizational and platform development aspects. Centering on the platform development side, Natalia explained that the idea was to develop this in conjunction with Holo who, in turn, could work with developers from Enspiral’s development team (Holo can give advice and train the developers but has no developers of its own). The necessity of generating income is predicated on the need of gradually bringing more people into the collective, namely an additional target-Spanish editor and more target English translators and editors. Natalia explained that once the minimum viable model was set up and the organizational and legal structures clarified, GT could start bringing in the people needed to generate income.
The general idea is that by the end of year one GT will have 10-15 committed members (mainly translators and editors, including in other languages). Once this is achieved, the collective can use year two as a testing ground for modular tweaks to the model. Mercè added that work on adapting the model beyond translation and having it applied to other media (illustrators, coders, designers, etc) would not be the priority in year one. Some possible names for these spin-off collectives were read out by Stacco: “Guerrilla Graphic Collective, Guerrilla Coding Collaborative, Guerrilla Publishing Collective”.
Carmen Lozano Bright from Group 2 remarked that, in the process of growing the team and given that there will be a need for more translators/editors, there could be an option to recruit “casual” staff to complete paid work. She clarified that this wouldn’t be a regular thing, but an option for exceptional cases and that, if things go well, these “casual but paid” members could be onboarded into the committed part of the collective.
Natalia answered that it had been discussed as a possibility but that Stacco mentioned that it had been tried but it didn’t work. Stacco explained that such a possibility wouldn’t offer much in the way of incentives for casual translators to become committed and that it would make GT basically function like a traditional translation agency, not a coop. At what rate would these individuals be paid, especially considering that committed members are doing extra hours and work to secure paid assignments? Stacco felt it was too complicated.
Carmen countered that she’s aware of the difficulties involved, but not contemplating such an option could lead to loss of work (and potential members). Natalia then remarked that this would be a perfect issue for the GT team to discuss as they set their internal agreements. Emaline added that such a situation may not even be necessary if GT is going to work on its community building and in making the collective more accessible. Those extra work needs can be covered by those in the “Dating” circle. This would ensure that those receiving paid work would already have a relation with the collective.
Summarizing Group 1’s timeline, the meat of the work (legal structure, community building, funding, relaunching the brand, platform development, etc) would be developed in year one, with year two being a time for experimentation, maturation and fine tuning.
Group 2, of course, also had a deep vision of how Guerrilla Translation’s next phase of development, with some useful contrasts to the detailed and technologically focused ideas of Group 1. Emphasis was put on the development of strong personal relationships, and thus trust, primarily within the Community of those in the collective. There was also a continual thread of conversation about the need to research many details on legal structures, even at different stages of development. Diversification of the work offered as income streams was another strong current.
The participants of Group 2 were Virginia Díez (Wikimedia), Carmen Lozano Bright (Nod0comun, ex-GT), Lara San Mamés (Guerrilla Translation), Richard Bartlett (Enspiral, Loomio, The Hum), Sarah de Heusch (SMart.be), and Ann Marie Utratel (Guerrilla Translation, P2P Foundation).
Richard described our ideation on different income streams and the importance of the financial model; Richard proposed to copy the Root Systems Financial Agreement which accounts for the viability of the business, the commitment of the membership, and performance (number of hours, amount of money associated) in a table. From the perspective of an investor, the question is whether the financial model accounts for the viability of the business, because the current one does not, and would not be trustworthy for investors.
This crosses over to governance, where Richard related that we had a good conversation about strategy: is it better to stick with the existing team and deepen commitments (to become viable), or, attract new team members with more diverse skills and thus diversify the services - conclusion was to do both in sequence, according to the timeline we devised. In short this amounts to, using the translators already in the team, do some translations and collect some income, later shift gears to recruiting more members.
Sarah reminded us that another point was to create a “piggy bank”, internal resilience. The current model distinguishes between “pro-bono” and “paid”; instead Richard recommended we should focus on whether the business is profitable or not, and being sure to account for at least 20% of income being put towards the overhead of running the co-op in its (re)startup phase, which will eventually come down (as a %) as the business becomes more viable. The financial model, according to Richard, should be designed to incentivize commitment; the “piggy bank” builds up a buffer that people (ie, the team) will incentivize people to stick around and participate in (concretely, because there would not be a total “cash out” down to 0 each month, and people would need to stay on for a while to retain the saved income in the bank, eventually. This would essentially be a reinvestment on the part of coop members in the business while it becomes more resilient, and able to cover its costs and to sustain during times of no or less income).
Natalia mentioned that in group 1, they also had an aspect of the plan where part of the monthly income also stays in the bank. Emaline also added that in group 1, instead of calling the types of work (eg, in a handbook), “pro-bono” and “agency” work, it could be better to distinguish these as 1) activities that generate financial capital, and 2) activities that generate social capital. Rich used a similar but simple set of terms, “teamwork” and “client work”.
Sarah commented on our conversation on governance: two options discussed were deepening the commitment, and we realized that we needed to do a mapping of people’s capacities and time abilities (availabilities), and better distribution among the core team to share work. With a mapping it would be clear how to organize according to capacity and availability; also, a survey on levels of commitment and decision making. Also, in the governance, Sarah cautioned that the legal structure itself would influence the way governance would need to be implemented, eg., the choices of types of legal structure would need to take into account possible limitations or restrictions on things like the ability to take in funding, or mutualize income, how taxation would work… Group 2 agreed that we need to do a thorough survey of legal-structure options (and include any distinguishing pros/cons). Sarah also mentioned the possibility of an interim solution, a “hub support”; these exist in Belgium but we need to look into whether there are any in Spain. These, loosely speaking, function like Smart but for organizations (handling legal/fiscal responsibilities under the “hub” umbrella). Another way is to use existing cooperatives (as does Lara, and AM/Stacco/Mercè), to collect individual income with appropriate taxation, on the way towards getting a final legal structure of our own.
The “butterfly”: this is a visual metaphor we came up with to signify the stages of development of the business structure, from cocoon to caterpillar to butterfly. Initially, perhaps the legal structure may be one thing appropriate to the needs of (for example) a very small group, but later if the group expands or is replicated, a new legal structure may be more fitting. Ann Marie reminded the group that in the egg or cocoon stage, we also have one of the most basic questions: are we a standalone translation-only collective, or are we expanding right away into a more broad “media collective” with other services? For the purpose of starting where we really are, we chose, during this prototyping, to use the idea of growing from the existing (translation only) collective.
Ann Marie related that when we started to talk about development, we felt (as group 1 did also) that we need to understand first what the best legal structure (for the actual group we have now), but, also, we put a lot of emphasis on the trust issue and human relationships in the group. There were many tools suggested for reinforcing the ideas of how to be a collective, and the sense of being people who relate to each other, particularly as a distributed team (at the moment), with much better interpersonal relationships and communication. Some of the breakdowns of how the commitment, or workflow, or organizational tools are discussed could be solved, if we are coming from a much more legitimately trust-based place. We shouldn’t rely on our commitment as an unspoken thing simply because we’ve had some years, there should be a more explicit and better system for staying together.
How we can do that, was itemized in some tools suggested by Richard - have regular check ins during the week;; agile style retrospectives about short-term work, where we celebrate outcomes and review things that might have gone differently; a quarterly meeting focused on longer work-related goals; and a yearly multi-day big meeting that has a ritual celebration aspect, and a day for invited guests to come and interact (from the broader community, and including translators outside the group, authors, reader/”evangelizers”, funders, clients, and groups we feel close to). In our group, we agreed that putting more care and emphasis on building better relationships, especially internally but also externally, is a high priority and a way to avoid trying to outsource “difficult conversations” to software/platforms. We think both things must be in place. Ann Marie mentioned the mapping again, because if we start by 1) crafting a common “commitment statement” and 2) signing it, saying we’re on board, we must also know the true limits of availability. In short, we focused less on building a platform and more on building relationships, in part because of the composition of our group. While we need to account for time and money, we also need to account for commitment and actions within the relationships.
We also discussed whether we could try to implement an hourly standard of accounting for translations internally, not for the client (not breaking translation-industry standard) but to more easily visualize the different types of work done, for a better big picture - Carmen reminding us that carework and translation work are valued the same.
Richard described designing for commitment. Right now, a lot of the design of the model is about the type of work (client, pro-bono and the dependency between them), but in designing for commitment, the focus expands to taking into account what’s happening with the people in the team, so it’s clear what shifts have to be made (who is available, who needs something specific that isn’t obvious to others).
Another metaphor we had: “our office in Romania”, representing a type of business that exists which provides certain business services (mail, phone) to stabilize the impression of the business (someone is “in the office”), and gives a legal home base. The real and potentially more viable example is Estonia, and its e-citizen and e-business facilities. Carmen also reminded us that the country we will base ourselves in is a decision that has to be made soon, because there will also be the issue of the “tax residence”, and how that will impact the individual workers. Sarah emphasized that there will be one set of issues for the company/collective with a tax base in one place, but then the individuals and their physical residence will have another set of tax compliance issues - all part of the research.
Richard pointed out that we’re not meant to do all the legal research exploration right at that moment, and shifted the convo toward a term, “concurrency”, a computational term that’s useful management principle: not just that your work can happen in parallel (people doing different things), but in different order (not a chain of dependencies). So, in considering some development on Holochain, for example: can you do the development of the Holo work in a way that does not block the development of the translation work (answer: yes).
Qualities and Needs
Carmen began presenting Qualities and Needs by explaining our method: post-its were written by each person quietly, and then reviewing all these to find groups and eliminate redundancies.
Haves: a committed team of members, call it a seed team or core team, currently 6 people, “brilliant minds willing to work together”, etc. - something strong. Also, an affinity community comprising readers, clients, a larger network. A sexy brand, otherwise known as peer recognition, credibility or reputation, and great networking ability owing to this sexiness. We have an online magazine(s) for good content, and good social media channels. The team has many women, which could be attractive for specific grants or funding. Also featured was putting life at the center, better conditions of living and work. Enthusiasm about mutual care. Vision, compelling narrative, and clear purpose were also listed as “haves”.
Virginia commented that our Needs were mostly shared with Group 1. We thought about redistribution systems including for carework, efficient payment system, invoicing and administrative systems; we need a legal structure but also reliable invoicing and knowledge about taxation, whether this is “owned” by the team or outsourced to third parties. Also, commitment statements would help determine a legal structure based on the needs of the members. Legally binding agreements that share risk and return among the members. No solution, but many ideas, were discussed regarding the current need for cashflow in the organization. Thought about coming up with startup capital and making a pitch for this kind of seed funding. Also, we need to work with clients to try to get recurring work rather than one-time. Another need is a critical mass of skills and jobs, among clients, translators and editors in the same language pair (Richard restated this as a need for enough flow that is also met with enough capacity).
In terms of work organization, we need clarity of tasks and timelines (deadlines). Regular updates and workflow meetings for better organization (2-3x weekly). Need to establish workflow tools that satisfy everyone. Mapping of team members’ current conditions (as explained earlier). An impression of stability to the outside, reliability for stakeholders (and funder) - this could be a physical base but could also be in the form of having a spokesperson. Progressive economic model, with “progressive” meaning that people can earn more as the finances increase (Richard clarified). A financial model that funds working on the coop, and re-thinking valuation, implementing an hourly standard to help visiblize carework. Regarding bonding: acknowledge members’ needs, build communicating habits, at least one annual physical meeting with GT core team, and moving to a larger, community-inclusive meeting annually. Carmen added that we said that if we can fix a time in May 2019 for an internal meeting of the core team that has a second day for a public event, with authors, this could be a source of money to produce the event, and take that funded opportunity for our own meeting.
Virginia continued the list with the next step in meetings, where the core team will meet again soon after the GT Reloaded meeting to work on commitment, build trust, and all mentioned. Other needs for the long term include growing the team as needed for new tasks, and eventually grow to diversify services (after performing a diversification study, in the future). A goal would be to develop into a communications strategies team. Another point made by Richard was, “no new technology more complex than a spreadsheet”, to much laughter, although he said that this was in the needs “category” even though it was something that could happen. (Note: in our subsequent follow up meeting of the GT team, we discussed this and decided that we wanted to work with Holo on the long-term plan proposed).
Lara began by explaining that we didn’t find it natural to divide the timeline into the same units of time so we made our own units. In the end, we used an idea of seasons, and instead of having color breakdown by “easy, not so easy, complicated”, we decided to re-categorize as “things we can do ourselves” and “things that need external help”.
We already mentioned our capacity and commitment, peer mentoring, online and offline meetings, and research on legal structures - research we begin within our group, before going outside for help. At the same time, using “concurrency”, we would do this as we also apply for other possible grants, small ones to keep the flow going. A team meeting to decide on legal structure would follow. We blocked out a realistic “summer zombie zone” where we must expect some slow-down. During this entire period, working on translations should keep up. New people could be added when we’re ready with a legal structure, and also as we prepare better materials describing what we do in GT (onboarding, handbook), and recruit new members at events or through networking. Richard pointed out that in our timeline, we drew small euro symbols at the bottom to symbolize continual income, and these coins begin to appear closer together indicating more income as we grow more organized, capable and resilient over time. This would be the moment to also consider diversification (including internationalization), while adding new people...ending with a rainbow of hope. Ann Marie added a distinction from the other timeline: we have a different view of what constitutes a “minimum viable model”. Where we end with rainbows around events and other forms of income, that’s separate, but we acknowledge that we are presently going to continue as we are: a haphazard, below-the-radar organization which isn’t perfect but trying to get some small personal grants to get meetings funded, and work “sub-baseline”, get some shit done until we can cross a threshold of legitimacy.
Our MVP doesn’t start at Day 0, ours starts (maybe) in 1 year, defined by our ability to better apply for large grants. Richard added that one of the components of the viability line is that there is reserve money for building up to basic income. Ann Marie continued that the best possible realistic outcomes would be what appears at the end of the timeline long after minimum viability (enough to pay operational costs and taxes, and a stable income stream) , physical home location - things like more sexy services, larger public events and public speaking, film festival, political engagement. A key point is to be financially literate enough to discuss money within the project.
Conclusions, Closing Circle and Next Steps
Lucas Tello invited each team to go over the other team’s materials (table cloth, qualities and needs chart and timeline) to summarize whatever they found most interesting (and not included in their own team’s material). These comments had to be “Tweet size” (with Lucas clarifying that he meant “vintage” 140 character Tweets)
Both teams were very happy with each others’ proposals. The highlights noted by both teams were:
Team 1’s feedback on team 2
- Natalia: Building trust among the team as a key component. Accounting for hours and not words. Accounting for work and life realities to allow individuals to work as a collective. Start by piggybacking on other organizations to “scaffold” until GT arrives at is own legal structure. Thinking about small scale funding (inc. crowdfunding) as a possibility
- Susa: The decision-making matrix. The staircase of conflict and transformation. From the timeline: the continuous experimentation/consultation process.
- Bronagh: Mapping of organizational structure, team availability/capacities and commitment statement. The emphasis on a developmental timeline. Bronagh felt that group 2’s timeline was more realistic than group 1’s as far as the first three months go.
- Mercè: The heart as a “work sauce”. Meetings as “ceremonies”. Considering each member’s conditions, possibilities and will. Public events.
- Stacco: Commitment Statement. Team Mapping Capacity. Profitability/Margins (which is so obvious that it was downplayed in the model, although it’s implied, but it’s good to state it clearly). Decision making matrix for legal structure.
- Emaline: Noted importance of “concurrency” in thinking about legal, platform, and community building. Excited to see how community can be enriched by internal resilience and more nuanced classification of types of work.
Team 2’s feedback on team 1
- Rich: The casual/dating/commitment levels of engagement. Acknowledging power and making space for uncomfortable conversations. Focus on partnerships (Holo, Enspiral, P2P Models). Influencing the crypto narrative to be more about dealing with the precariat.
- Virginia: The Wikimedia bits. Focus on carework. Exploring cryptocurrency as a payment mechanism, both from a legal/structural point of view, but also to connect with potential funders and investors.
- Lara: Data visualization as a tool to (clearly) show the collective’s health and the current status of each structure (ie: the “dating circle”). The possibilities of integrating new tools and platforms like Holo.
- Carmen: Lucas 9000 core software as a way to support everybody’s level of commitment. Also from Lucas 9000: the data visualization of work and cash flows. The idea of having two handbooks, an early draft first version and a more mature V.2.0. The handbook is a visual a simple way to onboard members and it would help clarify roles and engagement. To equally value words vis a vis hours.
- Ann Marie: Sophisticated thinking about accounting via tech platform: Lucas 9000. Data visualization: see for yourself, the status of ALL. “Financial capital” as opposed to “Agency work”, “Social capital” as opposed to “Pro-bono work” — this is an improved view for the long term. Acknowledging Power. Holofuel as a multi-purpose tool worth investigating. Onboarding materials with multimedia as a priority..
- Sarah: Usage of other platforms, such as Holo. Sustainable model: ratio between pro-bono and paid work (which was absent from group two).
Finally, lunch at Stacco and Ann Marie’s house, where they held a closing circle.
The Closing Circle
The closing circle was a convivial and personal affair, Lucas Tello set two simple questions for the group:
- What do you bring home?
- How would you like to engage with GT ongoing?
Apart from the future commitments of each participant regarding future collaboration with GT, we will not transcribe specific statements.
In general though, everyone expressed gratitude about the workshop, and towards the production team, especially Lucas Tello, whose hands-off and easy going moderating style allowed for plenty of space and created a convivial atmosphere. “There was no one telling anybody what to do… we just did it all together”, as Carmen Lozano recounted. Everyone felt that they had learned a lot, not just about GT or the project, but about themselves and their own groups and collectives. Some people expressed that it was the best workshop they had ever been to and everyone was unanimously happy about the social occasions, the sharing of food, being out and about in Hervás, etc.
The vulnerability, transparency and willingness to explore apparent contradictions and tensions as a positive dynamic was also deeply appreciated by the group, as well as the cultivation of intimacy as a precondition for creating non-hierarchical, non-patriarchal relations.. Finally, the female to male ratio was also highlighted as a unique feature of the gathering, with the three men expressing deep gratitude for being present in such a space — something they are often not able to do.
This is what the participants expressed about their future relationship with GT:
Natalia would be happy to help the collective with organizational structures and the work of building trust.
Mercè was passionate about, and also, challenged, by the project, but she wants to collaborate in building it. She also offered to illustrate and help make sense of some of the discussions graphically, and perform follow-up tasks on the event.
Sarah offered different things. She proposed to collaborate on the evaluation of legal structures. She also offered to introduce GT to SMart’s existing translator community and, if GT onboards Dutch or French translators in the near future, contract the collective for agency work.
Susa was very excited about the project. As a GT veteran the workshop experience has been very inspiring and she is eager to dive in deeper.
Emaline, beyond concrete technical developments having to do with accounting and interfaces, offered her availability to slowly and thoroughly explain how to integrate into the cryptocurrency and next Internet word. She also wants to help GT shed new light on possibilities for that whole world, as GT brings some essential values often missing from these communities.
Virginia offered mentoring on how her collective had overcome similar challenges. Wikimedia is going to work on ways of balancing between Wikimedia employees and volunteers and she will keep GT abreast of such work. She intends to keep in touch and working with the GT and GT Reloaded (understood as the 13 attendees) teams.
Richard offered the “difference between a sun and a laser beam”: the way to turn sunlight into laserlight is by shining it through a crystal, to then bounce it back and forth between two mirrors until it breaks through as a coherent, focused beam. As well as some sunlight, Richard offered to be one of these mirrors. He also offers enthusiastic encouragement.
Lara had been extremely inspired by the event and expressed her deep commitment to the collective, and the “tons of work” ahead, toward the its shared goals.
Carmen offered keeping in contact and trying to link GT with other possible sources of advice (accountants familiar with cooperativism, legal advice, etc). She also offered to go through the documentation and give her input. Without commiting, she also posited rethinking about her role with GT in the future, as she intends to stay close.
Ann Marie offered to think through some of the tensions and challenges, including offering accessible communications about the team and future team members.
Stacco was very grateful but forgot to offer anything :) but it’s assumed he will passionately contribute to the ongoing development of GT.
Bronagh offered whatever is needed! Her experience on mediating and helping people to work together could be extremely helpful. She is also interested in researching with, and on behalf of, the collective.
Lucas found the meeting a great opportunity to meet other people involved in GT, as he and ZEMOS98 were already peers with Ann Marie and Stacco for other projects. Whether being more traditional ‘clients’ of GT and/or engaging with some of the actions and activities, ZEMOS98 would like to keep involved in the development of the platform for sure.
Stacco also mentioned that, given the existing “GT Reloaded” Loomio group, the people “in this room” now also have a shared online room. With GT needing a stakeholder board in the near future, this meeting and that shared space prefigured how such a board would shape up, communicate and who would be part of it.
The group closed the event by having a good hug and a toast.
During the event, the members of Guerrilla Translation highlighted the need to have an internal follow-up meeting, “while the iron was hot” to coalesce the information from the workshop, take decisions together and agree on a shared timeline (bringing elements of the two prototypes together). This more intimate coda to the event is described in the section below.
Addendum: The Hervas June 18 GT Encounter
The GT team resident in Spain (Mercé Moreno Tarrés, Susa Oñate, Lara San Mamés, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel) wanted to meet as soon as possible to capture the spirit of the GT Reloaded encounter. The two prototypes had to be reviewed and the team needed to reach a series of agreements.
In the weeks after the initial encounter, the team discussed options in their internal Loomio group. This smaller follow-up encounter would be self-funded by the collective’s members and, therefore, operate within strict budget constraints. After weighing several options (including Navarra, Barcelona and Burgos, where Susa Oñate, Mercè Moreno and Lara San Mamés live, respectively) it was decided to return to Hervás once again, given that it’s the only place where two of the collective members reside (Ann Marie Utratel and Stacco Troncoso).
The group would stay at the Utratel and Troncoso’s home and hold meetings there and other locations. The decision was to hold this meeting from June 21st to 24th.
While the evening of Thursday July 21st and Sunday July 24th were given over to group circles and fostering community, Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd were full work days.
The encounter would serve to discuss the previous month’s workshop and agree going forward. The agenda was characterized by two overriding topics: Thematic conversations and the creation of a synthesized timeline, as well as a review of the prototypes created during the last meeting.
Reviewing the Prototypes
The first in-depth exercise was to review and discuss the two prototypes. Using the posters from the GT Reloaded meeting and an early version of this report, the team discussed all the ideas, consenting on or questioning some and forming a general idea of which steps to take. Some items were marked for discussion during the meeting as “Thematic Conversations” (see below) while others were decided as mid-term discussions or decisions which could take place in Loomio.
After the previous encounter, the team acknowledged there were specific topics to discuss in a in-person meeting, such as members’ commitment and availabilities, carework tracking, efficient and regular communication with online tools, new members’ welcoming and learning processes, mentoring and mutual support, etc. GT spent three sessions addressing these issues, reaching the following agreements.
- Intentionally Produce (Counter) Culture
- Systematically Distribute Care Labour
- Make Explicit Norms and Boundaries
- Keep Talking About Power
- Navigating the Communication Landscape
- Introduce New Tools With Care
- Make Decisions Asynchronously
- A Toolbox For Decision-Making
- Use Rhythms to Address Information Overload
- Generate New Patterns Together
- Get Unstuck With An External Peer
While concrete adoption will be gradual and ongoing, some were seen as being immediately applicable and are described below.
As for how to welcome new members into GT collective, a 9-month apprenticeship period was agreed as a way to give members an accurate idea and perception of Guerrilla governance model, structure and tools and let the team to better assess members potential. The question arose whether these to-be members (described as “Dating members” during GT Reloaded) would be solely devoted to learning GT environment and translating pro-bono material or they could be offered paid work when it was necessary. After some discussion the team came to the following agreements. Within the “Dating Phase” members will:
- 1st Quarter (months 1-3): Pro-bono work (5000 words minimum, or 10000 if copyediting), Care Work (time tracked but unpaid, see “Credits/Hours/Carework”, below)
- 2nd Quarter (months 3-6) As above + Livelihood work paid at 50% (Remaining 50% eventually redeemable when becoming committed)
- 3rd Quarter (months 3-6) As above + Livelihood work paid at 75% (Other 25% eventually redeemable when becoming committed)
This, of course, includes a mutual evaluation between quarters, applicable to all collective members, regarding of their status.
There will be two recruitment stages so to speak: first, a targeted search according to GT current personel needs (members who are familiar with finance and tech, to even out knowledge in the collective) and, during the fall, an open call to expand and build up the collective. A first draft of the Guerrilla Translation handbook model will be undertaken with the objective of providing potential members a quick overview of the dynamics and methodology of the group.
Following Richard Bartlett’s pattern “using rhythms to address information overload” suggested in the previous encounter, the team decided to adopt and adjust this same structure to meet the collective needs, namely a daily brief asynchronous meeting to check everyone’s mood, feelings and work projects; a bi-weekly session to discuss projects stages and relevant ongoing processes; a meeting every three months to review the quarter, our governance model and talk deeply over GT objectives and plans in the short-mid term and biannual retreat to reinvigorate our ties as a collective.
A new tool workflow was proposed. In addition to the five tools already used by the collective (Telegram for synchronous communication, Loomio for asynchronous communication and decision-making processes, Trello for task and project management, G-Drive for collaborative writing and file storage, and MediaWiki for documentation), two more were included in the list: Slack or Mattermost, for synchronous conversation and Toggl, for time tracking. While not all these tools are open source, they represent viable UX-tested alternatives. The objective is to use them critically as an integrated system and then port desirable features into the Open Sourced Holo-built Lucas 9000 (see below).
All six tools will be divided into the same subgroups to organize the flow of communication: love work/pro bono work, livelihood work/paid work, carework (community and governance, sustainability, finance, etc.) and specific projects ahead.
These will be put in a tool graph as brief instructions for use.
The team agreed to adopt two of Richard Bartlett’s “Patterns” regarding communications and tech: Navigating the Communication Landscape and Introduce New Tools with Care.
A role and availability mapping was critical for creating a steady framework in the collective. GT members explained the tasks and responsibilities they were committing to, as well as their short- to mid-term availabilities in the project. This helps form specific work circles and deconstruct the historic trend of socially assigned roles. Current roles and availability mapping can be found in this Wiki article.
To achieve a common pool of knowledge, a mentoring scheme was proposed so members could help others in their areas of expertise. A list was made to itemize duties, toward a more cohesive and better-trained core team, developing new skills and addressing former functional imbalances (strategic and business development, funding, communication tools, public speaking, social media and formatting, language testing, etc. )
Another keystone for building a better understanding and unity in the team is to establish a mutual support network. Pairs of members will find their own rhythm and tools to develop trust relationships and change periodically to be paired with another person. This strategy will benefit the group as close-knit collectives are resilient. Also, we decided to adopt Richard Bartlett’s Systematically Distribute Care Labor pattern as-is.
Crediting all types of work done by GT members has long been operose for the collective. The disequilibrium between productive and reproductive work led us to opt for an hour tracking tool (Toggl) to account time spent on all GT-related tasks, to compensate members accordingly.
The group also spoke at length about who is qualified to take on administrative or “start-up development” tasks and how these would be paid. For now, consensus is that once there is funding, the six existing team members can be paid for this work based on their hours, previous agreement and planning. Meanwhile, prospective “dating” members will be expected to learn and assist, time track and communicate this work, but will not be paid until they are full committed members (with capacities and working circles defined). The reason is that the current core team has already accrued more than five years of unpaid reproductive work setting up Guerrilla Translation. The collective has agreed that this previous work (formerly known as “Legacy Credits”) will not be paid down with future funding, so new members are expected to also contribute their time towards building the collective during the 9 month “dating” phase.
A possibility for the period when the collective will not be seeking structural funding is to de-commodify all these tasks and discuss hourly quotas to be partaken by all committed members. Those members contributing less care-hours while earning more Livelihood/Agency or Love/Pro-bono income would see a proportional deduction in their earnings, with those funds being redistributed to those contributing more care hours via their livelihood queue. It is also understood that in two years, the most tedious tasks will have been automatized while the core team will have become expedient at handling regular tasks. The goal is to reduce the time needed for “admin” work and give as much time as attention to community care work as needed.
GT.org and GT.es: Websites and Content
Both English and Spanish websites will continue to publish articles, videos and other contents in line with GT curation guidelines. Previously translated agency work which strongly resonates with GT’s ethos (David Bollier’s Think Like a Commoner, Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics and Commons Transition and P2P: a Primer) can be featured or serialized in the websites. It was decided to build up a stock of published articles for both websites. These will be published during the summer but not promoted until September 15th when the collective will start diffusing new articles weekly, along with the promotion of the GT Reloaded blog post update (which will link to this report).
The Synthesized Timeline (AKA “The Lucas Plan”)
One main goal was to create a synthesized timeline with the best elements of each prototype. To achieve this, the team reviewed each prototype, with members from each group explaining the components of their own timeline. As a whole the team voted on the inclusion of ideas and their difficulty, beginning with Group 2. The process was repeated with Group 1’s timeline, but with redundant items from Group 2’s timeline marked “already approved”. This exercise yielded the items the team wanted to address but not their levels of priority, possible contradictions, or their position on a synthesized timeline.
Concurrency: A Synthesized Framework
To address these issues (and prior to creating the synthesized timeline), an overall narrative framework was offered:
“Concurrency”, as seen above, was one of the main features of this framework. As a reminder, this was a concept brought up by Richard Bartlett describing “a computational term that’s a useful management principle: not just that your work can happen in parallel (people doing different things), but in different order (not a chain of dependencies).”
Humorously referring to the team’s eagerness to work through the apparent contradictions and form resilient systems, the approach was also described as “Schrodinger's Timeline”, and was divided into two main sections:
- STAGE ONE: Minimum Viable Model (assumed to end between 6 to 12 months)
- STAGE TWO: Lucas 9000 (assumed to begin between 6 to 18 months)
The flexibility regarding when these relative stages begin and end is due to the organic and unpredictable nature of concurrent events. Stage One features many of the ideas expressed by Group 2. Conversely, most ideas proposed by Group 1 start concurrently in this first Stage but at a slower pace, maturing further in Stage 2. Each stage has its characteristic features:
Stage One is characterized by the usage of a Minimum Viable (Economic/Governance) model. This assumes the immediate implementation, if not full execution, of the Open Coop Governance Model with the changes agreed on after the meeting. Much discussion was given to whether GT was presently viable or not. In one sense it is - it has existing offers of agency work and temporary invoicing mechanisms. In other senses, it isn’t yet - the team is too small and not resilient enough, and GT lacks an independent legal structure.
At present, GT is considered “proto-viable”, with minimum viability being determined by a) An initial legal structure and b) at least one or two more committed members.
With this in mind, Stage One would prioritize three lines of work:
- Research and implementation of MVM legal structure: Including options such as an association in Spain, the “group hub” equivalent of SMart, Open Collective, or an Estonian e-company. All are mechanisms for the collective to invoice and receive funding.
- Community Building: Both the existing community, its tools and processes, and additional community members via a handbook, selected outreach, etc. This includes prospective work circles.
- Project Funding: To achieve the first two main goals and everything else that is needed for GT to blossom as a mature Commons-oriented Open Coop, seed funding needs to be secured. This work involves detailed project proposals, budgeting and alliances.
During Stage One, the team would use the communication/workflow tool system described above — existing browser-based tools (Toggl, Slack, Loomio, Trello, G-Drive, Wiki) — as an experimentation base for the Stage Two.
Stage Two is characterized by the implementation of Lucas 9000, the “One Stop Shop” for Guerrilla Translation’s needs.
Conceived as being built with and on Holo (following Emaline Friedman’s suggestions in Group 1) Stage Two sees GT as a DCO or “Distributed, Cooperative Organization”, a spin/critique of Ethereum-based “Decentralized, Autonomous Organizations” (DAOs). The latter are code-based entities capable of executing payments, levying penalties, and enforcing terms and contracts without human interaction. Lucas 9000, however, is agent-centric: it is in the service of the ideas and feelings of the humans who have agreed to be Guerrilla Translators.
With Lucas 9000 implemented as an Open Cooperative DCO, Guerrilla Translation would use this Holo-based platform to process financial transactions (external invoicing, pro-bono work, hours-based carework metrics). The legal structure would be built around this distributed cooperative framework, based on Holo’s emergent network and with HoloFuel as a medium of exchange. Lucas 9000 would also provide clear, visual, information about the health of the collective, facilitating community conversations. It would also provide a suite of Open Source tools (dApps) manage workflow and collaborations.
All community work during Stage One is further developed in Stage Two, where the collective envisions a multi-lingual, globally distributed team working through the Platform, informing its community-centered development as well as fluid working circles attending to the collective’s needs.
The Lucas Plan: A Synthesized Timeline
The synthesized timeline was named “The Lucas Plan”. The team scheduled all “approved” aspects from each timeline over a two year period, following the general framework described above.
Some of the aspects (listed below) refer back to the thematic conversations held during the encounter. These have been reordered from the image above and some items have been added since the meeting.
- Capacity Mapping (June 18)
- Commitment Statement (June 18)
- Community Rhythms and Tools (June- Aug 18)
- Workshop Reports (July-Aug 18)
- Updated Governance Model (July-Aug 18)
- Updating Websites (July-September 18) Prototyping
- Reclaiming Social Capital (June - Sept 18) Prep (Ongoing) Implement
- Project Budget (July-August 18)
- Initial Fundraising and implementation (August- December 18) Depends on external factors
- Peer Mentoring (July-Dec 18) Prototyping (Ongoing) Implement
- Onboarding Process
- Targeted people (July-Aug 18)
- Open Call (Oct-Dec 18) Depends on internal factors
- Handbook (Ongoing, V.1.o Sep 18; V.2.0, June-Sept 19)
- Legal/Organizational Research
- Internal (July-Sep 18)
- External consultancy (Oct-Dec 18) Depends on internal factors
- New Income Streams (July-Dec 18) Depends on internal factorsv
- Minimum Viable Model (July 18-June 19)
- Pro-bono Wordcount (July 18)
- Updated Business Plan + Consultancy (Sep-Dec 18) Depends on internal factors
- Holo Plan (July-Dec 18) Beta (June 19-June/Sept 20) Prod. Depends on external factors
- New Languages (FR) (Jan-June 19) Depends on external factors
- Other Media (Jan-June 19) Prep (June 19-Ongoing) Implement
- Coop not dependent on external funding (June/Sept 20-Ongoing)
- Continual Iteration (June 19-Ongoing)
The timeline is currently being implemented and the team will monitor its progress. It will also keep GT’s Stakeholders informed (including but not limited to the extended GT Reloaded group). Although the timeline begins in June 2018 and extends to June 2020, GT’s development is dependent on external funding. As a two year project, many tasks will extend over two years beginning after receiving funds. To prepare for this, the timeline extends to “September 2020 and beyond”, with September 2018 seen as the earliest viable date to receive project funding.
The timeline can also be consulted as a spreadsheet here.
Next Steps: what now for Guerrilla Translation?
At the time of writing (early July 2018) we (the members of Guerrilla Translation) are energized and inspired to carry out the distinct tasks we’ve set for ourselves.
Our most immediate goal right now is to share this report (and a 1500 word summary blog post) with our stakeholder community. Beyond that, our priorities this summer are well reflected in the timeline above. Following the categories used in the tablecloth, these are our plans for the summer:
- As a Community we will map our capacities, set our community rhythms, reclaim GT’s social capital and state our commitments. We will mentor and support each other. We will draft a first version of the Guerrilla Translation handbook and contact select translators.
- Concerning Governance we will prioritize researching legal structures for Stage 1 of the timeline. We will also update the governance model with all the knowledge and decisions made after GT Reloaded. We are also beginning to gradually implement the model
- In the Financial side we will budget our timeline and project, create a detailed funding proposal and share it with our prospective partners. Additionally, we are exploring new income streams.
- Regarding Tech we are clarifying and training in our workflow/ communication tools. We will update the websites and, in addition, stay in touch with Holo for the future implementation of Lucas 9000.
We are excited and ready for this journey. Guerrilla Translation has existed since 2013 and, as recounted at the beginning of this report has gone through many iterations, changes, disappointments and successes.
We are all older, wiser…and hopefully humbler and kinder. As we write these words Guerrilla Translation feels reloaded and ready to dance. Please join us!
- A condensed version of the whole book can be downloaded here.
- This is also a reference to the inspiring British design/technological sovereignty movement in the late seventies
- The collective will continue working on media besides translation (eg. web design, backend and illustration). The timeline refers to a future moment when other “sub collectives” start incorporating GT’s economic model.
- The collective will continue working on media besides translation (eg. web design, backend and illustration). The timeline refers to a future moment when other “sub collectives” start incorporating GT’s economic model.