“Children do not begin by learning the rules of grammar and then using these rules to construct a successful sentence. They learn to speak the way they learn to walk: by imitation, trial, error, and endless practice. The rules of grammar are the regularities that can be observed in successful speaking, they are not the cause of successful speech.” – James C. Scott in Vernacular Order, Official Order (Chapter 2 in Two Cheers for Anarchy: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play)
A few ideas are slowly beginning to emerge as values to the core group of us here at CoLET and inspired by Scott’s discussion of the vernacular in the piece linked above (which is brief and well worth a read),we thought we’d outline them here rather than relying solely on our mission statement, which is already as we speak growing kinda stiff and stale.
Work Days Rather Than Business Meetings
After a few attempts at holding more formal, structured meetings, we drifted into open work days at Camille’s or Dana’s place. This was something Dana was already doing, and Laura and Camille have been able to move their schedules around to meet every few weeks.
On these work days, we:
- cook a good, healthy lunch together (recent dishes include a stuffed eggplant dish, garlicky braised kale, slow-cooker brisket);
- chat as we cook and eat;
- knock out work items;
- talk through any confusion; and
- help each other with any blockers (usually technical).
We still don’t have an agreed-upon way to collectively track our backlog of TODOs (CiviCRM Cases is currently being tested for client-related work) but knowing that the work day is coming we can usually just jot down notes and then run through them during the course of the day.
We are trying to use the platform as much as possible. The WordPress community apparently uses blogposts and comments to communicate. We’ve set up a /meet path so that if other people want to spin up other CoLET meetups they could still use the top-level domain. (more on structure here )
Setting up NextCloud (which offers document sharing, calendars, collaborative text editing) will unlock a lot of functionality for us although it will undoubtedly also add complexity.
Less Email, More Chat
Our colet.space emails seem to mostly be used for community and client contacts. To communicate between the three of us, right now we are just primarily using Signal. The discussions are usually brief, where to meet, checking if something is wrong with the site, little things.
Scaling Up At A Human Scale
We are focused on growing in a manageable way. We will add customers who are working on projects we want to support and that are allied with our values. We are building out features (which are really more templates, skins, and connectors between already existing open source products) as real people actually need them and can pay for them.Growth is based on needs and if those needs are met or changed, then our lifecycle with collaborators or CoLET itself ends. We’re not in the business of adapting to stay relevant or marketable. We want to be of service, if we’re not, we should move on.
Centering Women and People of Color’s Leadership
Right now, it’s been super empowering to be a group of international female technologists. We are going to likely continue to be selective about who we bring into the core group. Childcare will always be worked around and provided as needed. No childcare, no meeting.
Transparency and Documentation
We are trying to create a culture of writing up as much as we can and sharing it with each other and anyone else who is interested. Sitting down and getting things out of our heads and into a document can be tough and it’s easy to see how organizations end up with so much institutional knowledge trapped in the heads of a few key individuals. We’re hoping we can continue to prod each other to just write stuff down. Transparency is more valuable than organization or elegant prose.