Inclusion and the upcoming DSISD school board election

Three candidates are vying for two seats in the election for the Dripping Springs ISD school board on May 6th. DSISD has been the center of a lot of attention around bathroom bills and transgender exclusion. Many DSISD families rallied in support of inclusion, as did incumbent board members Barbara Stroud and Ron Jones. They received a lot of pressure from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the anti-inclusion group Texas Values, including harassing phone calls.

Both Stroud and Jones are up for re-election. In a recent candidate forum, challenger Trey Powers came out as anti-inclusion, invoking the zero-sum talking point that accommodation is “at the expense of other [children].” His solution is segregation.

Segregation is always wrong. Inclusion is the new normal. I will not vote for anyone who sides with segregation. As such, Barbara Stroud and Ron Jones will be getting my vote. They sided with inclusion.

Schools with transphobic bathroom policies break the codes of collaboration. They don’t meet the standards for hosting WordCamps, WordPress Meetups, or Automattic sponsored events. They eliminate themselves from hosting meetups for many open source communities, something schools should be doing more of, not less. Phobic policies distance public education from the creative commons and the engines of modernity.

In an era of massive software driven change, the culture of public education should be compatible with the norms of agile teams and distributed collaboration. Self-organizing teams working in open by default, inclusive by default cultures build great things. This is the present and future of work. What we’ve learned over decades of iterating development culture for adult creatives applies also to students.

Our market is the world. Our audience is the world. Designing for the lived experiences of the full spectrum of human diversity requires working inclusively. Together, we will iterate our way through massive software-driven change. We will navigate disruption with compassion, finding opportunity and inspiration in the diversity of our shared humanity. We are humans making things for and with other humans, helping each other cope with sentience and senescence on our pale blue dot. Communicate, collaborate, iterate, launch. With these tools we’ll make it through.

Inclusion is the new normal. Inclusion is the way to our boldly better future. Diversity is a fact of the modern world that is good for society and good for business.

Source: Inclusion is the new normal

Passion-based maker learning, social model inclusion, and indie ed tech are the way forward. Segregation and exclusion are retreats into fear and ignorance.

Instead of connecting neurodivergent kids with an identitytribe, and voice, we segregate and marginalize them. We medicalize and assess them. We demand their compliance and rarely ask for consent. We define their identities through the deficit and medical models and then tell them to get some grit and growth mindset. We reduce emancipatory tech to remedial chains.

Let’s embrace instead the voice and choice of project-based, passion-based maker learning and inform it with neurodiversity and the social model of disability. Create a future of education and work where neurodiverse teams of project-based learners use technology and design thinking to communicate, collaborate, iterate, and launch to authentic audiences of fellow humans.

End the segregation of special.

Source: Education, Neurodiversity, the Social Model of Disability, and Real Life

My oldest, a baseball fan, coined the term “stallbatting”. Stallbatting is interfering with someone going to the bathroom of their choosing. Bathrooms can be anxious experiences for neurodivergent and disabled people who need assistance. Bathroom bills ratchet that anxiety by emboldening fear and hate. Unisex and family bathrooms are wonderful, and often scarce. We are left with assisting our opposite sex family, friends, and clients in binary gendered bathrooms, hoping nobody makes a fuss, hoping we can relieve ourselves in peace. Bathroom bills steal that peace. Bathroom bills hurt the disabled. Bathroom bills hurt the neurodivergent. Bathroom bills hurt my family and hurt my transgender friends and coworkers. Bathroom bills are incompatible with neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and the norms of work and collaboration.

Source: Bathroom Bills, Neurodiversity, and Disability

Early voting starts on April 24th. Here is an application for a mail-in ballot. Candidate applications and bios, which still contain very little information or transparency, are available here.

Communication is oxygen. Build a district wide collaboration infrastructure and an open by default culture.

Change the technology culture of school. The voice & choice of inclusive education needs an open by default infrastructure for communication and collaboration. Technology will not find its place in the classroom until we move away from the remediation of the deficit model and embrace open and accessible collaboration.

All of us, professionals as well as laymen, must consciously break the habits we bring to thinking about the computer. Computation is in its infancy. It is hard to think about computers of the future without projecting onto them the properties and the limitations of those we think we know today. And nowhere is this more true than in imagining how computers can enter the world of education. It is not true to say that the image of a child’s relationship with a computer I shall develop here goes far beyond what is common in today’s schools. My image does not go beyond: It goes in the opposite direction.

In many schools today, the phrase “computer-aided instruction” means making the computer teach the child. One might say the computer is being used to program the child. In my vision, the child programs the computer and, in doing so, both acquires a sense of mastery over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intimate contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.

Source: Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas

‘Don’t underestimate the power of giving people a common platform and operating language.’

Source: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team – The New York Times

Don’t mistake that common platform for a locked-down, top-down LMS. Don’t mistake it for shrinkwrap, cargo cult culture bought from a corporation whose business model is the deficit model. We’re not talking ed-tech, we’re talking indie ed-tech–the real, promethean stuff.

Indie Ed-tech is infrastructure that supports scholarly agency and autonomy.

Source: A Journey to discover what is Indie Ed-tech | Heart | Soul | Machine

For his part, in that Stanford talk, Jim Groom pointed to 80s indie punk as a source of inspiration for indie ed-tech. “Why 1980s indie punk?” Groom explains,

First and foremost because I dig it. But secondly it provides an interesting parallel for what we might consider Indie Edtech. Indie punk represents a staunchly independent, iconoclastic, and DIY approach to music which encompasses many of the principles we aspired to when creating open, accessible networks for teaching and learning at [the University of Mary Washington]. Make it open source, cheap, and true alternatives [sic] to the pre-packaged learning management systems that had hijacked innovation.

The LMS is our major record label. Prepackaged software. A prepackaged sound.

Pre-packaged sound. Pre-packaged courses. Pre-packaged students.

If we don’t like ‘the system’ of ed-tech, we should create one of our own.

Source: ‘I Love My Label’: Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech

Yes, let’s create a system of our own. Let’s create a system in touch with the social model for minds and bodies and inclusive, passion-based, student-directed learning that uses the real-world tools used by tech workers and STEAM collaborators. Our operating language is the social model, and our common platform is the collaborative commons.

“Indie ed-tech” – what we’re gathered here to talk about over the next few days – is inherently ideological as it seeks to challenge much of how we’ve come to see (and perhaps even acquiesce to) a certain vision for the future of education technology. An industry vision. An institutionalized vision. Indie ed-tech invokes some of the potential that was seen in the earliest Web technologies, before things were carved up into corporate properties and well-known Internet brands: that is, the ability to share information globally, not just among researchers, scientists, and scholars within academic institutions or its disciplines, but among all of us – those working inside and outside of powerful institutions, working across disciplines, working from the margins, recognizing the contributions of those who have not necessarily been certified – by school, by society – as experts. Distributed knowledge networks, rather than centralized information repositories. “Small pieces, loosely joined.”

“Indie ed-tech” offers a model whereby students, faculty, staff, and independent scholars alike can use the “real-world” tools of the Web — not simply those built for and sanctioned by and then siloed off by schools or departments — through initiatives like Davidson Domains, enabling them to be part of online communities of scholars, artists, scientists, citizens.

Source: ‘I Love My Label’: Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech

Resist the monsters of ed-tech. Fight back against surveillance, endless assessment, and deficit model capitalism. Go indie.

There are monsters because there is a lack of care and an absence of justice in the work we do in education and education technology.

Source: The Curse of the Monsters of Education Technology

The Basics of Open Technology

Albemarle County SchoolsSeven Pathways uses open technology informed by toolbelt theory and universal design for learning. Their Basics of Open Technology is a good primer on how to do tech in the classroom right. This is compatible with neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and structural ideology.

The promise of contemporary technology lives in what these tools can do that previous learning and educational technologies could not — they are open, connected, individualizable, and flexible. But if your school adopts these new technologies without adopting the policies and practices that take advantage of these differences, you have likely defeated your students before you’ve even begun.

  • Student Control
  • An Abundance of Tools
  • Accessibility
  • Access Everywhere
  • BYOD and an Open Network
  • Talk to Parents
  • Worry About Behavior, Not Technology
  • Spend Wisely
  • Trust in Children and Childhood

Their philosophy emphasizes assistive tech and helping kids find their voice through technology.

No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.

Source: The Basics of Open Technology | Edutopia

No child within the Albemarle County Public Schools should need a label or prescription in order to access the tools of learning or environments they need. Within the constraints of other laws (in particular, copyright) we will offer alternative representations of information, multiple tools, and a variety of instructional strategies to provide access for all learners to acquire lifelong learning competencies and the knowledge and skills specified in curricular standards. We will create classroom cultures that fully embrace differentiation of instruction, student work, and assessment based upon individual learners’ needs and capabilities. We will apply contemporary learning science to create accessible entry points for all students in our learning environments; and which support students in learning how to make technology choices to overcome disabilities and inabilities, and to leverage preferences and capabilities.

Source: Seven Pathways

This open tech philosophy is especially powerful in the culture of passion-based maker learning and student-created context that Albemarle is building.

Follow superintendent Pam Moran and technology innovation director Ira Socol on Twitter, and read their blogs.

And check out their educational technology plan.

The Open Schoolhouse

Charlie Reisinger (@charlie3) is a good resource on the open schoolhouse, open learning, service learning, 1:1 laptop programs, student help desks, and WordPress in education. In his school district, Penn Manor, student IT apprentices write code, write documentation, image laptops, and provide helpdesk support. Their code and docs are open source and available on GitHub.

Here are some videos on Penn Manor’s approach to the open schoolhouse.

Mr. Reisinger poses the vitally important question, “Which side of the command line should our kids be on?”

His book  The Open Schoolhouse is out now. Here are some excerpts.

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education system designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom.

Source: How leveraging open source solutions helps give students in-demand skills | Opensource.com

Given unfettered permission to revise, remix, and redistribute curriculum material, teachers are trusted to become active agents in the creation of high-quality learning materials.

At Penn Manor School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Linux and open source software are the foundations for more than 4000 student laptops, classroom computers, and district servers. We’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by going open source in both the server room and the classroom.

To #GoOpenSource means more than simple cost savings for underfunded schools. Like openly-licensed education material, open source values invite collaborative and participatory learning. When a school culture honors learning by doing, students become active agents in their education, and they contribute to the school community in innovative new ways.

Source:  Schools that #GoOpen should #GoOpenSource

I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

Source: Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

For more selections from the book, see here.

Hacker Ethos

It’s a software-eaten world; get hip to STEAM and the hacker ethos.

The credentialist social order has been waning since peak centralization in the 1970s. Work and the world are shifting from credentialist to hacker modes of social organization. Agile teams, distributed collaboration, and the hacker ethos of flexible improvisation and rapid iteration are useful cultural literacy. The ed-tech cronyism of the past 15 years– driven by greed, assessment, bad metrics, and algorithmic cruelty–is a culture ill-suited to collaboration. Software eats industries and networks eat geography, bringing collaborative hacker culture along with them. Education’s turn is now. If you’re going to get eaten by software, choose indie ed-tech over corporatist ed-tech and deficit model greed. Engage with the digital commons and educate for massive software-driven change. When navigating the society transforming tidal wave of automation, fluency in the hacker ethos, distributed collaboration, and loosely coupled, tightly aligned teams is very helpful.

In fact, a core element of the hacker ethos is the belief that being open to possibilities and embracing uncertainty is necessary for the actual future to unfold in positive ways. Or as computing pioneer Alan Kay put it, inventing the future is easier than predicting it.

Source: Towards a Mass Flourishing

In our Tale of Two Computers, the parent is a four-century-old computer whose basic architecture was laid down in the zero-sum mercantile age. It runs on paperware, credentialism, and exhaustive territorial claims that completely carve up the world with strongly regulated boundaries. Its structure is based on hierarchically arranged container-like organizations, ranging from families to nations. In this order of things, there is no natural place for a free frontier. Ideally, there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. It is a computer designed for stability, within which innovation is a bug rather than a feature.

We’ll call this planet-scale computer the geographic world.

The child is a young, half-century old computer whose basic architecture was laid down during the Cold War. It runs on software, the hacker ethos, and soft networks that wire up the planet in ever-richer, non-exclusive, non-zero-sum ways. Its structure is based on streams like Twitter: open, non-hierarchical flows of real-time information from multiple overlapping networks. In this order of things, everything from banal household gadgets to space probes becomes part of a frontier for ceaseless innovation through bricolage. It is a computer designed for rapid, disorderly and serendipitous evolution, within which innovation, far from being a bug, is the primary feature.

We’ll call this planet-scale computer the networked world.

The networked world is not new. It is at least as old as the oldest trade routes, which have been spreading subversive ideas alongside valuable commodities throughout history. What is new is its growing ability to dominate the geographic world. The story of software eating the world is the also the story of networks eating geography.

There are two major subplots to this story. The first subplot is about bits dominating atoms. The second subplot is about the rise of a new culture of problem-solving.

Source: A Tale of Two Computers

Teams

In Silicon Valley, software engineers are encouraged to work together, in part because studies show that groups tend to innovate faster, see mistakes more quickly and find better solutions to problems. Studies also show that people working in teams tend to achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction. In a 2015 study, executives said that profitability increases when workers are persuaded to collaborate more. Within companies and conglomerates, as well as in government agencies and schools, teams are now the fundamental unit of organization. If a company wants to outstrip its competitors, it needs to influence not only how people work but also how they work together.

As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues.

In the best teams, members listen to one another and show sensitivity to feelings and needs.

Google, in other words, in its race to build the perfect team, has perhaps unintentionally demonstrated the usefulness of imperfection and done what Silicon Valley does best: figure out how to create psychological safety faster, better and in more productive ways.

Source: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team – The New York Times

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Source: Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

To build 21st Century learning from the ground up, we look to see how companies like Google, Spotify, and GE build their innovative cultures. Their secret to innovation? Agile. Where focused teams unleash creativity, adapt through fast learning cycles, and iterate towards success.

Agile Classrooms self-organizes its own learning, uses visual accountability structures, and are immersed in reflective feedback. It is a structured learning environment that restores the freedom to teach and learn. Where students reclaim responsibility for their own learning and teachers shift into facilitators and coaches.

Source: Agile Classrooms

For more on teams, see my posts on Agile and Scrum in Education and Projects, Teams, and Psychological Safety.

Team Communication

My company uses Slack & hundreds of WordPress blogs running P2 to communicate & collaborate. Our three level communication stack is sympathetic to anxiety and imposter syndrome and informed by neurodiversity. We’ve been iterating on this for over a decade, and I think we get some things right. You can take an idea from small audiences to global audiences with feedback and encouragement along the way.

See P2 in action on the sites at make.wordpress.org.

For an example of using Slack for team chat, join the WordPress Slack. It’s open to anyone in the world. Come look around and lurk as the software running 26% of the web is built.

An open source alternative to Slack used by some districts is Mattermost. Penn Manor moved to Mattermost in 2016. Mattermost derives is name from the importance of communication. Communication is oxygen.

WordPress for School Districts

Newark is a large school district using WordPress for internal and external communication. @camworld of SchoolPresser  built and manages the 70+ WP sites at the Newark district. This podcast talks to him about moving Newark over to WordPress. He gets into nuts and bolts and case study, including cost model.

See his talk on WordPress for Schools at WordCamp Raleigh (slides).

There are thousands of so-called widgets, plugins and themes that are just as important for a one-person blogger than the world’s largest publishers. Gartner’s recent pace-layered application strategy shows that organisations can accelerate their innovation by choosing an array of systems that support business requirements on long-, medium- and short-term timescales.

Systems that maximise connectivity between the pace layers offer organisations competitive advantage. WordPress’ ubiquity has driven it to enjoy a rich ecosystem of connectivity and integration, something that the baked-in WordPress REST API now extends that connectivity infinitely. This is why things will accelerate in 2017.

Source: How WordPress Ate The Internet in 2016… And The World in 2017

High school, college, and sometimes even middle school students help make WordPress. Shipping to an authentic audience is powerful and life changing.

wordpress-download-counter

Backchannels

Ditch That Textbook provides examples of how to use blogs and team chat in the classroom. Chapter 3, Use Technology to Defeat Insecurity, offers good insight into the neurodiversity friendliness of backchannels, something familiar to tech workers.

A backchannel is a separate, often text-based, discussion students engage in while they’re receiving information via a lecture, a movie, a television show, or a PowerPoint presentation. Students use a digital device to participate in a behind-the-scenes chat so as not to disturb others trying to listen.

Backchannels provide the perfect outlet for students who have something to say but refuse to open up in class discussions. When everyone participates in the conversation, no one feels singled out. As a result, inhibitions about sharing decrease and the courage to speak up increases. Plus, when everyone types at once, the teacher spends less time calling on students one by one.

 I personally believe that the backchannel is the greatest unharnessed resource that we as educators have available to us. It does not threaten me nor bother me that you learned as much if not more from the backchannel the other night — in fact, it makes me feel great that I facilitated the connection.

Source: Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Backchannels and Microblogging Streams

And that’s not even touching on the ways this kind of technology supports the shy user, the user with speech issues, the user having trouble with the English Language, the user who’d rather be able to think through and even edit a statement or question before asking it.

Source: SpeEdChange: Bringing the “Back Channel” Forward

Written communication is the great social equalizer.

Remember this if you start to fear your Autistic child is spending too much time interacting with others online and not enough time interacting with others face-to-face.  Online communication is a valid accommodation for the social disability that comes with being Autistic.  We need online interaction and this meta-study demonstrates exactly why that is the case.

I couldn’t help wondering, since the study showed the durability of first impressions and the positive response to the written words of Autistics, with all visual and auditory cues removed, could we mitigate childhood bullying in any way by having a class of students meet first online, in text, and form their first impressions of one another in that format before ever meeting face-to-face?

Getting online was revolutionary and may have saved my life.

The difference between offline and online communication could not have been more dramatic.

Source: THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: Autism and the Burden of Social Reciprocity

IT Culture

To accommodate continuous communication, collaboration and iteration, change the culture of IT acquisition & digital services. Consult the 18F & USDS playbooks.

The goal was simple: burst the stereotypical beltway bubble and expose government employees and bureaucratic workflows to mainstream technology thinking.

Source: The difference between 18F and USDS – Ben Balter

Members of Congress of all stripes and party affiliations are embracing the game-changing promise of better government technology shipped by the modern approach employed by hundreds of hardworking people serving their country at 18F and USDS. Same goes for the career bureaucracy, to varying degrees. And it appears that, at least under oath and the klieg lights, the private-sector vendor community grudgingly does too.

The culture change 18F and USDS embody is starting to take hold, challenging the mindset of entrenched for-profit IT vendors, attacking the billions wasted each year on busted IT, and putting the status quo on notice.

Source: Doing IT Right: Congressional Oversight of President Obama’s Signature Tech Teams – Medium

I was in a meeting once where someone said, “How long will it take to fix that?” One person, who’d been at the company for years, said, “Three months.” A new person, who’d just come from a world of rapidly provisioned cloud microservices, said, “Three minutes.” They were both correct. That’s how change enters into this world. Slowly at first, then on the front page of Hacker News.

Source: What is code? Code has been my life, and it has been your life, too. It is time to understand how it all works.

Adopting the USDS and 18F playbooks will inoculate against edtech cronyism.

Schools do continue to turn away from the iPad as the tablet hasn’t proven to be quite as revolutionary as some predicted. Surprise, surprise. But the rationale for choosing a certain type of computing device is almost always about testing, not about any other benefit the device might offer teaching and learning.

But this notion of an “OS War” shouldn’t be too quickly dismissed. “Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google Are Fighting a War for the Classroom,” Edutechnica wrote in June, with a look at how many colleges have adopted their competing “pseudo-LMSes.” The “war” extends beyond the productivity suite of tech tools and it extends beyond operating system in the classroom. It’s about building brand allegiance with students and/as workers, and it’s about building data profiles to sell ads and other products.

The LMS, of course, needn’t be a permanent line item in schools’ budgets. And its supposed primacy might actually overlook that there’s a great deal of “shadow” technology utilized by instructors who eschew the official LMS for something they find better suited to their classroom needs and goals.

The learning management system is a piece of “enterprise” software after all. That is, it’s built and bought to satisfy the needs of the institution rather than the needs of individual. Purchasing an LMS – or more correctly, signing a contract to license an LMS – requires its own enterprise-level bureaucracy.

I’ve argued elsewhere that education technology serves as a “Trojan horse” of sorts, carrying with it into public institutions the practices, politics, and a culture of private business and the ideology of Silicon Valley.

Of course, what drives the programming on Sesame Street now isn’t education research; it’s market research. It isn’t “equity” as in social justice; it’s “equity” as in the financial stake a VC takes in a company.

And that’s what “the business of education technology” gets us.

Source: The Business of Education Technology

There is a gap developing between the business users of enterprise applications and the IT professionals charged with providing these applications. The business leaders are looking for modern, easy-to-use applications that can be quickly deployed to solve a specific problem or respond to a market opportunity. Meanwhile, the IT organization is typically working toward a strategic goal of standardizing on a limited set of comprehensive application suites in order to minimize integration issues, maximize security and reduce IT costs. These competing goals often lead to strategic misalignment.

Business users often complain that, no matter what they ask for, IT tells them either that they have to use the functionality in the existing application portfolio or that they have to wait until the current multiyear rollout is finished before the problem can be addressed. In today’s dynamic business climate, with constantly changing business models and users who are fully aware of the power of technology, this is simply an unacceptable answer.

Organizations must establish a new strategy for business applications that responds to the desire of the business to use technology to establish sustainable differentiation and drive innovative new processes, while providing a secure and cost-effective environment to support core business processes.

Source: Accelerating Innovation by Adopting a Pace-Layered Application Strategy

Writing in the Age of Distributed Collaboration

As a hacker and writer, I spend a lot of time in text editors. Almost everything I write starts in my favorite text editor. A text editor is my thinking space. My notes are not just a record of my thinking process, they are my thinking process. Iteration and ideation happen in my editor, in plain text.

At my company, we say “communication is oxygen”. Most of that oxygen is writing. So far this week, we’ve written 99,786 Slack messages, 1,749 P2 posts, and 5,070 P2 comments using our three level communication flow.

iterate-communicate-make-happy.png
We Iterate, We Communicate, We Make People Happy
Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 8.06.01 AM.png
793 Slack channels, 441 P2 blogs, 4,628 Zoom video chats

Source: Writing in Education and Plain Text Flow

Literacy in North America has historically been focused on reading, not writing; consumption, not production.

while many parents worked hard to ensure their children were regular readers, they rarely pushed them to become regular writers.

We are now a global culture of avid writers.

As Brandt notes, reading and writing have become blended: “People read in order to generate writing; we read from the posture of the writer; we write to other people who write.” Or as Francesca Coppa, a professor who studies the enormous fan fiction community, explains to me, “It’s like the Bloomsbury Group in the early twentieth century, where everybody is a writer and everybody is an audience. They were all writers who were reading each other’s stuff, and then writing about that, too.”

So how is all this writing changing our cognitive behavior?

• • • For one, it can help clarify our thinking. Professional writers have long described the way that the act of writing forces them to distill their vague notions into clear ideas. By putting half-formed thoughts on the page, we externalize them and are able to evaluate them much more objectively. This is why writers often find that it’s only when they start writing that they figure out what they want to say.

Poets famously report this sensation. “I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind,” Cecil Day-Lewis wrote of his poetic compositions. “If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. . . . We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

Culturally, we revere the Rodin ideal— the belief that genius breakthroughs come from our gray matter alone. The physicist Richard Feynman once got into an argument about this with the historian Charles Weiner. Feynman understood the extended mind; he knew that writing his equations and ideas on paper was crucial to his thought. But when Weiner looked over a pile of Feynman’s notebooks, he called them a wonderful “record of his day-to-day work.” No, no, Feynman replied testily. They weren’t a record of his thinking process. They were his thinking process.

Before the Internet came along, most people rarely wrote anything at all for pleasure or intellectual satisfaction after graduating from high school or college.

The explosion of online writing has a second aspect that is even more important than the first, though: it’s almost always done for an audience.

When you write something online— whether it’s a one-sentence status update, a comment on someone’s photo, or a thousand-word post— you’re doing it with the expectation that someone might read it, even if you’re doing it anonymously. Audiences clarify the mind even more.

Blogging forces you to write down your arguments and assumptions. This is the single biggest reason to do it, and I think it alone makes it worth it. You have a lot of opinions. I’m sure some of them you hold strongly.

When you move from your head to “paper,” a lot of the hand-waveyness goes away and you are left to really defend your position to yourself.

But studies have found that particularly when it comes to analytic or critical thought, the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to think more precisely, make deeper connections, and learn more.

When asked to write for a real audience of students in another country, students write essays that are substantially longer and have better organization and content than when they’re writing for their teacher. When asked to contribute to a wiki— a space that’s highly public and where the audience can respond by deleting or changing your words— college students snap to attention, writing more formally and including more sources to back up their work.

“Often they’re handing in these short essays without any citations, but with Wikipedia they suddenly were staying up to two a.m. honing and rewriting the entries and carefully sourcing everything,” she tells me. The reason, the students explained to her, was that their audience— the Wikipedia community— was quite gimlet eyed and critical.

Once thinking is public, connections take over.

Source: Thompson, Clive (2013-09-12). Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better (p. 50). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Iterate Together; do_action

do_action events bring non-profits and open source communities together to build and improve websites. Let’s do the same for school districts. Students, teachers, and tech workers iterating and learning together as they build the infrastructure for oxygen.

http://doaction.org/

Privacy

For practical advice without the FUD, consult the Smart Girl’s Guide to Online Privacy by @violetblue and this overview on privacy and passwords.

Neurodiversity, The Social Model of Disability, and Structural Ideology

All of this must be informed by neurodiversitythe social model of disabilitystructural ideology, and restorative practices. We are responsible for humanizing flow in the systems we inhabit. Apply these rules of thumb.

With software eating the world, we must make it humane.

Marc Andreessen famously said that “software is eating the world”, but it’s far more accurate to say that the neoliberal values of software tycoons are eating the world.

Source: There is no “technology industry” – Humane Tech – Medium

The inequalities that I’ve chronicled above – income inequality, wealth inequality, information inequality – have been part of our education system for generations, and these are now being hard-coded into our education technologies. This is apparent in every topic in every article I’ve written in this years’ year-end series: for-profit higher education, surveillance in the classroom, and so on.

These inequalities are apparent in the longstanding biases that are found in standardized testing, for example, often proxies for “are you rich?” and “are you white?” and “are you male?”

My own concerns about the direction of education technology cannot be separated from my concerns with digital technologies more broadly. I’ve written repeatedly about the ideologies of Silicon Valley: neoliberalism, libertarianism, imperialism, late stage capitalism. These ideologies permeate education technology too, as often the same investors and same entrepreneurs and the same engineers are involved.

Source: Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016: Education Technology and Inequality

Future Digital Humanitarians

Given agency and a default to open culture, students can become the digital humanitarians society needs.

Students can design, create, and engineer effective solutions to problems. Powerful new technologies are allowing students to create and disseminate solutions to real life problems like never before. Interestingly, it is the power of the human experience – empathy, relationships, opportunities to improve, and a sense that what they do has meaning and matters – that is the key to true and purposeful changemaking for kids. How exciting to think about where these young digital humanitarians might take these skills, understandings, and mindsets in the future!

Source: Empathy: The Surprising Secret Sauce For Authentic STEM Project Design

Video Playlists

Open education playlist:

Neurodiversity playlist:

GenderMag and Cognitive Walkthroughs

GenderMag focuses on five facets of gender differences that have been extensively investigated in the literature pertaining to problem solving. It encapsulates them into a set of faceted personas to bring them to life, and embeds their use into a systematic process based on a gender specialization of the Cognitive Walkthrough (CW) [59, 63]. The five facets are:

Motivation: Research spanning over a decade has found that females tend (statistically) to be motivated to use technology for what they can accomplish with it, whereas males are often motivated by their enjoyment of technology per se [12, 13, 19, 31, 33, 37, 43, 57]. This difference can affect which software features users choose to use.

Information processing styles: To solve problems, people often need to process new information. Females are more likely (statistically) to process new information comprehensively-gathering fairly complete information before proceeding-but males are more likely to use selective styles-following the first promising information, then backtracking if needed [17, 22, 45, 46, 52]. Each style has advantages, but either is at a disadvantage when not supported by the software.

Computer self-efficacy: Self-efficacy is a person’s confidence about succeeding at a specific task, and influences their use of cognitive strategies, persistence, and strategies for coping with obstacles [3]. Empirical data have shown that females often have lower computer selfefficacy than males, and this can affect their behavior with technology [5, 6, 12, 13, 24, 32, 34, 43, 49, 50, 58].

Risk aversion: Research shows that females tend statistically to be more risk-averse than males [23], surveyed in [62], and meta-analyzed in [21]. These results span numerous decision-making domains, such as in ethical decisions, investment decisions, gambling decisions, health/safety decisions, career decisions, and others. Risk aversion with software usage can impact users’ decisions as to which feature sets to use.

Tinkering: Research across age groups and professions reports females being statistically less likely to playfully experiment (“tinker”) with software features new to them, compared to males. However, when females do tinker, they tend to be more likely to reflect during the process and thereby sometimes profit from it more than males do [6, 13, 18, 20, 33, 54].

Source: Finding Gender-Inclusiveness Software Issues with GenderMag: A Field Investigation

Cognitive Walkthroughs focus on just one attribute of usability, ease of learning.

Cognitive walkthroughs evaluate each step necessary to perform a task, attempting to uncover design errors that would interfere with learning by exploration. The method finds mismatches between users’ and designers’ conceptualization of a task.

The procedure uncovers explicit and implicit assumptions made by developers about users’ knowledge of the task and interface conventions. The evaluation procedure takes the form of a series of questions asked about each step in a task that are derived from a theory of learning by exploration.

Source: The Cognitive Walkthrough Method: A Practitioner’s Guide

Per the researchers, the five facets of the GenderMag method are backed by extensive empirical and theoretical work. Facets backed by at least 5 independent empirical studies were chosen, with some having 10 or 15. The majority of studies favor US populations and all are based on adults. Children are excluded from claims.

They realized that, really, it’s all about the facets. It’s not really about gender. It’s all about the facet values and being inclusive across the range of facet values.

I’m channeling Abby, and I do not like this software.

Source: Finding Gender-Inclusiveness Software Issues with GenderMag: A Field Investigation – YouTube

Projects, Teams, and Psychological Safety

Collaborative, project-based teams make great things. Teams that offer psychological safety are more productive and creative. This is true for adults and children—especially children. “Every child deserves an education that guarantees the safety to learn in the comfort of one’s own skin.” What we have learned in industry through continuous iteration works also for students. Give them psychologically safe teams where they can collaborate on shared passions. Give them a home of opportunity.

Students and teachers are in the anxiety zone.

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 12.15.09 PM.png
Comfort Zone, Apathy Zone, Anxiety Zone

Source: Building a psychologically safe workplace: Amy Edmondson at TEDxHGSE – YouTube

In Silicon Valley, software engineers are encouraged to work together, in part because studies show that groups tend to innovate faster, see mistakes more quickly and find better solutions to problems. Studies also show that people working in teams tend to achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction. In a 2015 study, executives said that profitability increases when workers are persuaded to collaborate more. Within companies and conglomerates, as well as in government agencies and schools, teams are now the fundamental unit of organization. If a company wants to outstrip its competitors, it needs to influence not only how people work but also how they work together.

Google’s People Operations department has scrutinized everything from how frequently particular people eat together (the most productive employees tend to build larger networks by rotating dining companions) to which traits the best managers share (unsurprisingly, good communication and avoiding micromanaging is critical; more shocking, this was news to many Google managers).

Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather: One team may come to a consensus that avoiding disagreement is more valuable than debate; another team might develop a culture that encourages vigorous arguments and spurns groupthink. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals — they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently — but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.

As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Within psychology, researchers sometimes colloquially refer to traits like ‘‘conversational turn-taking’’ and ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ as aspects of what’s known as psychological safety — a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’

Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up,’’ Edmondson wrote in a study published in 1999. ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’

What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency. Rather, when we start the morning by collaborating with a team of engineers and then send emails to our marketing colleagues and then jump on a conference call, we want to know that those people really hear us. We want to know that work is more than just labor.

Google, in other words, in its race to build the perfect team, has perhaps unintentionally demonstrated the usefulness of imperfection and done what Silicon Valley does best: figure out how to create psychological safety faster, better and in more productive ways.

‘Don’t underestimate the power of giving people a common platform and operating language.’

Source: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team – The New York Times

Google researchers undertook a massive multi-year research project to understand the effectiveness of teams. They wanted to know why certain teams at Google performed highly and others did not. Was it the size of the team? The blend of personality types? Or even their physical environments? Over time it became clear that who was on the team didn’t matter so much as how the team operated. More specifically, the social norms that determined whether or not everyone got a voice, and whether or not the team members felt that if they made a mistake, they knew it could be openly discussed without fear of embarrassment. Incredibly, group traits like “conversational turn-taking” and “sensitivity to nonverbal cues” matters more than the intelligence or experience of the team members.

That’s encouraging news for those of us who don’t get to perform with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley.

There’s a term for this: psychological safety. The researcher Amy Edmondson demonstrated that teams can appear to be strong on the surface: people like and respect each other, and they get along well. Despite that, they may have an environment where everyone sits silently while the boss talks at them, or where people feel ashamed to be vulnerable and open up about their fears. They might all love hanging out together after work, but nobody can bring themselves to tell someone when they’ve got toilet paper stuck to their shoes. If we want a climate where people can accomplish groundbreaking things, we need to know our voice will be heard and where we’re not afraid to take risks.

The best jazz bands, like the best Google teams, provide the space to take risks. We already know jazz artists have hyperaware senses and can pick up on nonverbal clues. But everyone also gets a voice. In jazz, it’s assumed that unexpected contributions can come from anyone. Getting a “voice” also means every band member takes a turn soloing. Each player spends time as both leader and follower. Miles was always attune to the contributions of everyone. If he realized someone hadn’t had a solo in a while, he’d lean over to them and whisper in his gravelly voice that they should take the lead.

Followership in jazz is worthy of the highest respect—it’s known as comping. Comping is listening and responding without overshadowing. Followership needs to be active, not passive. It’s not about sitting back and letting someone else do all the work. You take an indispensable role in giving space, riffing, experimenting, and supporting. And yet leading and talking are more valued than following and listening in our work culture.

Source: Please Make Yourself Uncomfortable – What product managers can learn from jazz musicians – Ken Norton

“We call it ‘psychological safety,’  ” she said. Psychological safety is a “shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks.” It is “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up,” Edmondson wrote in a 1999 paper. “It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.”

Julia and her Google colleagues found Edmondson’s papers as they were researching norms. The idea of psychological safety, they felt, captured everything their data indicated was important to Google’s teams. The norms that Google’s surveys said were most effective— allowing others to fail without repercussions, respecting divergent opinions, feeling free to question others’ choices but also trusting that people aren’t trying to undermine you— were all aspects of feeling psychologically safe at work. “It was clear to us that this idea of psychological safety was pointing to which norms were most important,” said Julia. “But it wasn’t clear how to teach those inside Google. People here are really busy. We needed clear guidelines for creating psychological safety without losing the capacity for dissent and debate that’s critical to how Google functions.” In other words, how do you convince people to feel safe while also encouraging them to be willing to disagree?

“For a long time, that was the million-dollar question,” Edmondson told me. “We knew it was important for teammates to be open with each other. We knew it was important for people to feel like they can speak up if something’s wrong. But those are also the behaviors that can set people at odds. We didn’t know why some groups could clash and still have psychological safety while others would hit a period of conflict and everything would fall apart.”

Duhigg, Charles (2016-03-08). Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business (Kindle Locations 793-808). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

“Comedy writers carry a lot of anger,” said Schiller. “We were vicious to each other. If you thought something was funny and no one else did, it could be brutal.”

So why, given all the tensions and infighting, did the Saturday Night Live creators become such an effective, productive team? The answer isn’t that they spent so much time together, or that the show’s norms put the needs of the group above individual egos.

Rather, the SNL team clicked because, surprisingly, they all felt safe enough around one another to keep pitching new jokes and ideas. The writers and actors worked amid norms that made everyone feel like they could take risks and be honest with one another, even as they were shooting down ideas, undermining one another, and competing for airtime.

“You know that saying, ‘There’s no I in TEAM’?” Michaels told me. “My goal was the opposite of that. All I wanted were a bunch of I’s. I wanted everyone to hear each other, but no one to disappear into the group.”

That’s how psychological safety emerged.

Duhigg, Charles (2016-03-08). Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business (Kindle Locations 889-898). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

After looking at over a hundred groups for more than a year, Julia and the Project Aristotle team concluded it was something unexpected (group norms) were the key to better teams.

In particular, one factor stood out more than others: creating “psychologically safe environments.” Teams that encourage safe discussions and different viewpoints succeed more.

On the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, what researchers referred to as ”equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.” On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment.

The good teams had high social sensitivity, they had team members that could sense how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues.

Young people are headed for a project-based world, and project based learning is the best preparation. Larmer said, “Do whatever you can to make the PBL environment more like a real-world workplace. If a team is not working well together, what would adults on the job do? If a co-worker gets sick, how might a team handle the situation? If deadlines are being missed and the project is falling behind schedule, how does a project manager adjust?”

“We constantly talk about collaboration and working in teams with students,” said Randy Hollenkamp. Teachers at the New Tech Network affiliate encourage students to create team norms and build contracts with each other prior to every project. “Teachers scaffold this with our students from day one,” said Hollenkamp, who added:

“We also talk with students about how trust is crucial in team work. It is as important to students doing the lion’s share of the work as it is to the students not doing the lion’s share. If someone in the group is doing more work, then there is a group trust issue that needs to be discussed. This idea is carried into our “culture of critique” as well. The norm here is to be “kind, specific, and helpful” when giving critique. In doing this our students build trust and seek and expect critique with each other and adults.”

In school, and in the workplace, successful projects start with a safe environment where diverse views are welcomed, differences are respected and quality contributions are expected.

Source: Building Better Teams for Project-Based Work

Performance terror. We’ve all known a classroom, meeting room or stage where we didn’t feel safe doing something we were quite capable of doing.

“As a college professor I encourage students to read their work aloud, but I never insist on it,” said Carey. “Sometimes those who are uncomfortable doing it will volunteer on their own because it’s their decision rather than mine.”

“I centered my instruction on the lives, histories and identities of my students. And I did all of this because I wanted my students to know that everyone around them was supporting them to be their best self,” said Simmons.

A supportive culture, sustained advisory relationships, and teaching strategies that create positive learning all promote psychological safety.

“Every child deserves an education that guarantees the safety to learn in the comfort of one’s own skin,” said Simmons.

Source: Psychological Safety: Key to Success at School and Work | Tom Vander Ark | Pulse | LinkedIn

If we want to create resilient, capable, problem-solving students, we need to allow them to make mistakes that encourage them to learn and grow. Students learn best when their affective filter is low. When mistake-making is perceived as bad, it is detrimental to learning.

The same holds for teachers.

We must allow teachers to model learning through trial and error.

When we create professional learning experiences that reward teacher risk-taking, we’re creating an environment of trust, which means encouraging teachers to continually re-new their practice through experimentation, failure and iteration.

Source: Model Mistakes and Creating Trust in the Classroom

Schools that fail have adults who talk relentlessly about how at risk their kids are. They have all the statistics at their fingertips. They focus on the perceived limitations… on vocabulary shortfalls, on lack of pre-school and parent involvement, on issues of attendance and language.

Schools that succeed have adults who talk about what their kids can do. They talk about the stories kids tell, the things kids make, the problems they solve, the way the collaborate, communicate, connect to the world. And when they’re really good you never hear the words “at risk,” or “title,” or “deficit,” when they plan.

A home of opportunity.

A school struggling with the ravages of American poverty has to first be a home — the kind of home the children may not have at home. A place that is relentlessly safe, that is both calming and exciting, that offers unconditional love, and that offers boundless opportunity.

That ‘home’ must be supportive and accepting, loving and encouraging, and it must provide the biggest possible window on to the world, on to the universe.

A home of opportunity.

What does opportunity look like? First, it looks like trust. It looks like freedom. And it looks like choice.

What does opportunity look like? It looks like understanding that relationships and social and emotional support mean more than traditional academics. It means that adults don’t fuel bullying through hierarchies — whether with honor rolls, ability grouping, or sports worship.

It looks like Universal Design for Learning, with kids learning to use the tools of a lifetime. It looks like a place where kids can hide when they need to and jump when they want to. It looks like a place where play is considered a high level learning path.

It looks like a place that respects kids’ needs and treats their lives as legitimately complex and difficult.

Source: You must see your school as a home of opportunity – Medium

In today’s business environment, much work in organizations is accomplished collaboratively. Narrow expertise and complex work require people to work together across disciplinary and other boundaries to accomplish organizational goals. Product design, patient care, strategy development, pharmaceutical research, and rescue operations are just a few examples of activities that call for collaborative work. Organizational research has identified psychological safety as an important factor in understanding how people collaborate to achieve a shared outcome (Edmondson 1999, 2004), thus making it a critical concept for further research.

Psychological safety describes perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace (e.g., Edmondson 1999). A central theme in research on psychological safety—across decades and levels of analysis—is that it facilitates the willing contribution of ideas and actions to a shared enterprise. For example, psychological safety helps to explain why employees share information and knowledge (Collins & Smith 2006, Siemsen et al. 2009), speak up with suggestions for organizational improvements (Detert & Burris 2007, Liang et al. 2012), and take initiative to develop new products and services (Baer & Frese 2003). As we describe below, extensive research suggests that psychological safety enables teams and organizations to learn (Bunderson & Boumgarden 2010, Carmeli 2007, Carmeli & Gittell 2009, Edmondson 1999, Tucker et al. 2007) and perform (Carmeli et al. 2012, Collins & Smith 2006, Schaubroeck et al. 2011).

First explored by pioneering organizational scholars in the 1960s, psychological safety research languished for years but experienced renewed interest starting in the 1990s and continuing to the present. We propose that psychological safety has become a theoretically and practically significant phenomenon in recent years in part because of the enhanced importance of learning and innovation in today’s organizations. Psychological safety is fundamentally about reducing interpersonal risk, which necessarily accompanies uncertainty and change (Schein & Bennis 1965). Reflecting this premise, a rapidly growing body of conceptual and empirical research has focused on understanding the nature of psychological safety, identifying factors that contribute to this interpersonal construct, and examining its implications for employees, teams, and organizations. The aim of this article is first to review this literature and then to outline the implications of the findings, including controversies and unanswered questions, as well as directions for future research.

From a practical perspective, psychological safety is a timely topic given the growth of knowledge economies and the rise of teamwork. Both of these trends have given rise to new work relationships in which employees are expected to integrate perspectives, share information and ideas, and collaborate to achieve shared goals.

In an influential paper, William Kahn (1990) rejuvenated research on psychological safety with thoughtful qualitative studies of summer camp counselors and members of an architecture firm that showed how psychological safety enables personal engagement at work. He proposed that psychological safety affects individuals’ willingness to “employ or express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances,” rather than disengage or “withdraw and defend their personal selves” (p. 694). Further, Kahn argued that people are more likely to believe they will be given the benefit of the doubt—a defining characteristic of psychological safety—when relationships within a given group are characterized by trust and respect. Using descriptive statistics from summer camp counselors and members of an architecture firm, he also showed a quantitative relationship between personal engagement and psychological safety in both contexts.

Whereas the studies discussed above focused on employee performance in expected behaviors for their roles, a growing stream of research examines psychological safety’s relationship to extra-role behaviors such as speaking up. Speaking up, or voice, is defined as upward-directed, promotive verbal communication (Premeaux & Bedeian 2003, Van Dyne & LePine 1998). Challenging the status quo and offering ideas to improve process can be a vital force in helping organizations learn. However, considerable research has shown that individuals often do not work in environments where they feel safe to speak up (Detert & Edmondson 2011, Milliken et al. 2003, Ryan & Oestreich 1998). A number of studies therefore examine proactive behavior, especially that related to challenging the status quo or improving organizational functioning (see Grant & Ashford 2008 for a review). Several studies, spanning multiple industries, have found that psychological safety mediates between antecedent variables and employee voice behavior (e.g., Ashford et al. 1998, Miceli & Near 1992). For example, Detert & Burris (2007) investigated two types of changeoriented leadership—transformational leadership and managerial openness—as antecedents of improvement-oriented voice. Analyzing data from 3,149 employees and 223 managers in a restaurant chain in the United States, they found that subordinate perceptions of psychological safety mediated the leadership–voice relationship. Similarly, Walumbwa & Schaubroeck (2009) used a multilevel model in a study of 894 employees and their 222 immediate supervisors in a major US financial institution and found that ethical leadership influenced follower voice behavior, a relationship that was partially mediated by followers’ perceptions of psychological safety.

Source: Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct

Every child deserves an education that guarantees the safety to learn in the comfort of one’s own skin.

I centered my instruction on the lives, histories and identities of my students. And I did all of this because I wanted my students to know that everyone around them was supporting them to be their best self.

So while I could not control the instability of their homes, the uncertainty of their next meal, or the loud neighbors that kept them from sleep, I provided them with a loving classroom that made them feel proud of who they are, that made them know that they mattered.

There is a better way, one that doesn’t force kids of color into a double bind; a way for them to preserve their ties to their families, homes and communities; a way that teaches them to trust their instincts and to have faith in their own creative genius.

Source: Dena Simmons How students of color confront impostor syndrome – Ted Talk 2016   Ted com – YouTube

Further, some research has pointed to the role of leadership in shaping conditions that are conducive for enhancing employee creativity. For example, George and Zhou (2007) conducted a study that evaluated the process by which leader support leads to creativity and innovation. Specifically, they evaluated three behavioral mechanisms by which supervisors can provide a supportive context – developmental feedback, displaying interactional justice, and being trustworthy. The results of their study suggested that all three types of behavioral support lead to increased creativity. Mumford et al. (2002) noted that leaders who provide support for creativity (idea, work and social supports) are more effective in facilitating creativity because they are able to shape and maintain work contexts which are vital for motivating individuals to display creative behaviors. Lee, Edmondson, Thomke and Worline (2004) have also noted that leader supportive coaching enables interpersonal risk taking (Edmondson 1999, 2002), while close evaluation processes intended to unravel failures inhibit creativity (Amabile et al., 2004) and make new tasks more difficult (Zajonc 1965). Lee et al. (2004) underscored the importance of joint supportive conditions that make people psychologically safe, thus facilitating their willingness to engage in experimentation, a behavior integral to creative and innovative endeavor.

In addition, consistent with previous research we reason that psychological safety is developed through relational leadership and serves as a key social-psychological mechanism by which people are able to display creativity without experiencing interpersonal threats and developing defensive orientation (Carmeli et al., 2009; Edmondson, 2004). Along with this line of research (see also, De Dreu & West, 2001), we posit that the relationship between leader inclusiveness and creativity will be mediated through psychological safety. Inclusive leaders who are open, available and accessible to employees who come up with new ideas, cultivate a context in which people feel psychologically safe to voice and express new ideas that often defy the norms. Psychological safety, in turn, is likely to result in a higher level of employee involvement in creative work.

Source: Inclusive Leadership and Employee Involvement in Creative Tasks in the Workplace: The Mediating Role of Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.

Source: Building a psychologically safe workplace: Amy Edmondson at TEDxHGSE – YouTube

For example, a study of 133 factory teams found that higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity, curiosity, and emotional stability resulted in more-cohesive teams and increased prosocial behavior among team members. More-effective teams were composed of a higher number of cool-headed, inquisitive, and altruistic people. Along the same lines, a large meta-analysis showed that team members’ personalities influence cooperation, shared cognition, information sharing, and overall team performance. In other words, who you are affects how you behave and how you interact with other people, so team members’ personalities operate like the different functions of a single organism.

A useful way to think about teams with the right mix of skills and personalities is to consider the two roles every person plays in a working group: a functional role, based on their formal position and technical skill, and a psychological role, based on the kind of person they are. Too often, organizations focus merely on the functional role and hope that good team performance somehow follows. This is why even the most expensive professional sports teams often fail to perform according to the individual talents of each player: There is no psychological synergy. A more effective approach (like the mission to Mars example) focuses as much on people’s personalities as on their skills.

In our own work we found that psychological team roles are largely a product of people’s personalities. For example, consider team members who are:

  • Results-oriented. Team members who naturally organize work and take charge tend to be socially self-confident, competitive, and energetic.
  • Relationship-focused. Team members who naturally focus on relationships, are attuned to others’ feelings, and are good at building cohesion tend to be warm, diplomatic, and approachable.
  • Process and rule followers. Team members who pay attention to details, processes, and rules tend to be reliable, organized, and conscientious.
  • Innovative and disruptive thinkers. Team members who naturally focus on innovation, anticipate problems, and recognize when the team needs to change tend to be imaginative, curious, and open to new experiences.
  • Pragmatic. Team members who are practical, hard-headed challengers of ideas and theories tend to be prudent, emotionally stable, and level-headed.

Observing the balance of roles in a team offers an extraordinary insight into its dynamics.

Thus, evaluating the whole person can offer pivotal insights into how people are likely to work together, and can help flag areas of conflict and affinity. Anything of value happens as the result of team effort, where people set aside their selfish interests to achieve something collectively that they could not achieve by themselves. The most successful teams get this mix of personalities right.

Source: Great Teams Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills

Resist

We face an emerging hyper-capitalist, far right, white supremacist kleptocracy that will dismantle and starve public systems. What’s more, this kleptocracy is much too closely tied to the established hyper-capitalist, far right, white supremacist kleptocracy in Russia. We must be wary. We must resist. Champion diversity and inclusion, and resist intensely ideological authoritarian parties.

Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting the Trump Agenda

The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won.

We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.

To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success in getting Congress to listen to a small, vocal, dedicated group of constituents. The guide is intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve.

We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda. We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize us and our neighbors. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen

Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting the Trump Agenda

The Indivisible Guide provides a one page summary of four top-level takeaways, which I’ll excerpt here.

How grassroots advocacy worked to stop President Obama

We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components:

  1. A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress (MoCs).
  2. A defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.

How your MoC thinks — reelection, reelection, reelection — and how to use that to save democracy.

MoCs want their constituents to think well of them and they want good, local press. They hate surprises, wasted time, and most of all, bad press that makes them look weak, unlikable, and vulnerable. You will use these interests to make them listen and act.

Identify or organize your local group.

Is there an existing local group or network you can join? Or do you need to start your own? We suggest steps to help mobilize your fellow constituents locally and start organizing for action.

Four local advocacy tactics that actually work.

Most of you have three MoCs — two Senators and one Representative. Whether you like it or not, they are your voices in Washington. Your job is to make sure they are, in fact, speaking for you. We’ve identified four key opportunity areas that just a handful of local constituents can use to great effect. Always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with your group, and report back to local media:

  1. Town halls. MoCs regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.
  2. Non-town hall events. MoCs love cutting ribbons and kissing babies back home. Don’t let them get photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.
  3. District office sit-ins/meetings. Every MoC has one or several district offices. Go there. Demand a meeting with the MoC. Report to the world if they refuse to listen.
  4. Coordinated calls. Calls are a light lift but can have an impact. Organize your local group to barrage your MoCs at an opportune moment about and on a specific issue.

Our family has used some of these approaches in the fight for transgender, neurodiversity, and disability inclusion in our school district.

I am autistic and uncomfortable talking. I do not like interacting with ableist, exclusionary systems that rely on synchronous meatspace conversation. But, sometimes we must show up to talk to representatives and their staff, face to face. Show up at town halls and other events and let them know your PoV exists. We need to be in the room with power. You must personally present your words, or at least work together with someone who will be in the room for you.

Congressman Steve Israel recommends showing up at an event your representative is at and asking them “Why did you vote a certain way?” and “What’s your position on a certain issue?”

If your representative is not holding town halls and avoiding the public, Indivisible’s Reclaim Recess Toolkit features a Missing Members of Congress Action Plan that describes how to hold and publicize a constituent town hall.

The Indivisible Guide stresses two key strategic elements that made the Tea Party successful.

  1. They were locally focused. The Tea Party started as an organic movement built on small local groups of dedicated conservatives. Yes, they received some support/coordination from above, but fundamentally all the hubbub was caused by a relatively small number of conservatives working together.
  2. They were almost purely defensive. The Tea Party focused on saying NO to Members of Congress (MoCs) on their home turf. While the Tea Party activists were united by a core set of shared beliefs, they actively avoided developing their own policy agenda. Instead, they had an extraordinary clarity of purpose, united in opposition to President Obama. They didn’t accept concessions and treated weak Republicans as traitors.

Defend your neighbors. Defend your schools. Defend our institutions and ethics.

Call the Halls

I believe phone calls have a significant impact because of their immediate call to action. It requires an office to formulate a response right away and in our district office, we began tallying calls immediately when we received a large number on a specific topic. I also liked hearing the voices of constituents because they felt more personal than an email or letter. However, I also agree with the CMF’s assessment that large amounts of calls can be disruptive in a bad way and they should be used responsibly, so you don’t damage your message:

  1. Only call the representatives who represent you.
  2. Identify yourself as a constituent.
  3. Call the D.C. office as well as the state offices.
  4. Call once about an issue.
  5. Tell your story on the phone to the staffer.
  6. Ask for specific action.
  7. Be brief and respectful

Source: Call the Halls: Contacting Your Representative the Smart Way

Even if you don’t speak directly to the lawmaker, staff members often pass the message along in one form or another.

Emily Ellsworth, whose jobs have included answering phones in the district offices of two Republican representatives from Utah — Jason Chaffetz, from 2009 to 2012; and Chris Stewart from 2013 to 2014 — said the way your points reach a lawmaker depends on how many calls the office is getting at the time and how you present your story.

In some cases, it’s a simple process. When a caller offered an opinion, staff members would write the comments down in a spreadsheet, compile them each month and present reports to top officials, she said. If the lawmaker had already put out a statement on the issue, the staff member would read it to the caller, she said.

But a large volume of calls on an issue could bring an office to a halt, sometimes spurring the legislator to put out a statement on his or her position, Ms. Ellsworth said. She recommended the tactic in a series of tweets shared thousands of times.

“It brings a legislative issue right to the top of the mind of a member,” she said. “It makes it impossible to ignore for the whole staff. You don’t get a whole lot else done.”

Source: Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators – The New York Times

People need to have a relationship with their elected officials.

#CallTheHalls

Resistance Manual

Action begins with information.

There are more of us who believe in equity and justice than those who support Donald Trump’s ideology of fear and hate.

Together, we can harness the collective power of the people to resist the impact of a Trump presidency and to continue to make progress in our communities.

Get educated. Get organized. Take action.

Source: Resistance Manual

20 steps for resisting fascism

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend an institution.
  3. Recall professional ethics.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  6. Be kind to our language.
  7. Stand out. Someone has to.
  8. Believe in truth.
  9. Investigate.
  10. Practice corporeal politics.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  13. Hinder the one-party state.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
  15. Establish a private life.
  16. Learn from others in other countries.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  19. Be as courageous as you can.
  20. Be a patriot.

Source: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century on How to Survive in Trump’s America – In These Times

Sarah Kendzior and The View From Flyover Country

Sarah Kendzior is an anthropologist, journalist, and expert on Central Asia and authoritarianism. Follow her on Twitter for insight into authoritarianism and kleptocracy and how to #Resist.

Her book The View From Flyover Country offers insight into the structural problems that got us here.

I’m calling it for Trump. I think he’s going all the way. I think people who dismiss this have no idea how poor off people are now and how badly they want a savior and scapegoats. This country has nothing left but pain and exploitation of pain for entertainment. Enter Trump. Deal is sealed.

Here is that pain.

This is the view from flyover country, where the rich are less rich and the poor are more poor and everyone has fewer things to lose.

At play, notes Byrne, was more than a rise in the cost of living. It was a shift in the perceived value of creativity, backed by an assumption that it must derive from and be tied to wealth. “A culture of arrogance, hubris and winner-take-all was established,” he recalls. “It wasn’t cool to be poor or struggling. The bully was celebrated and cheered.”

New York – and San Francisco, London, Paris and other cities where cost of living has skyrocketed – are no longer places where you go to be someone. They are places you live when you are born having arrived. They are, as journalist Simon Kuper puts it, “the vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself”.

This is the New York artist today: A literal servant to corporate elites, hired to impart “creativity” to children whose bank accounts outstrip their own.

Creativity – as an expression of originality, experimentation, innovation – is not a viable product. It has been priced out into irrelevance – both by the professionalization of the industries that claim it, and the soaring cost of entry to those professions.

The creative class plays by the rules of the rich, because those are the only rules left.

Today, creative industries are structured to minimize the diversity of their participants – economically, racially and ideologically. Credentialism, not creativity, is the passport to entry.

“What the artist was pretending he didn’t know is that money is the passport to success,” she writes. “We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have, are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures.”

Failure, in an economy of extreme inequalities, is a source of fear. To fail in an expensive city is not to fall but to plummet. In expensive cities, the career ladder comes with a drop-off to hell, where the fiscal punishment for risk gone wrong is more than the average person can endure. As a result, innovation is stifled, conformity encouraged. The creative class becomes the leisure class – or they work to serve their needs, or they abandon their fields entirely.

But creative people should not fear failure. Creative people should fear the prescribed path to success – its narrowness, its specificity, its reliance on wealth and elite approval. When success is a stranglehold, true freedom is failure. The freedom to fail is the freedom to innovate, to experiment, to challenge.

To “succeed” is to embody the definition of contemporary success: sanctioned, sanitized, solvent.

“People”, in Grosse and Thomas’s formulation, are not those who actually live in north Philadelphia and bear the brunt of its burdens. “People” are those who can afford to view poverty through the lens of aesthetics as they pass it by. Urban decay becomes a set piece to be remodeled or romanticized. This is hipster economics.

These dismissals, which focus on gentrification as culture, ignore that Lee’s was a critique of the racist allocation of resources. Black communities whose complaints about poor schools and city services go unheeded find these complaints are readily addressed when wealthier, whiter people move in. Meanwhile, long-time locals are treated as contagions on the landscape, targeted by police for annoying the new arrivals. Gentrifiers focus on aesthetics, not people. Because people, to them, are aesthetics.

Proponents of gentrification will vouch for its benevolence by noting it “cleaned up the neighborhood”. This is often code for a literal white-washing. The problems that existed in the neighborhood – poverty, lack of opportunity, struggling populations denied city services – did not go away. They were simply priced out to a new location.

In cities, gentrifiers have the political clout – and accompanying racial privilege – to reallocate resources and repair infrastructure. The neighborhood is “cleaned up” through the removal of its residents. Gentrifiers can then bask in “urban life” – the storied history, the selective nostalgia, the carefully sprinkled grit – while avoiding responsibility to those they displaced. Hipsters want rubble with guarantee of renewal. They want to move into a memory they have already made.

Rich cities such as New York and San Francisco have become what journalist Simon Kuper calls gated citadels: “Vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself.”

Struggling US cities of the rust belt and heartland lack the investment of coastal contemporaries, but have in turn been spared the rapid displacement of hipster economics. Buffered by their eternal uncoolness, these slow-changing cities have a chance to make better choices – choices that value the lives of people over the aesthetics of place.

“I’ve heard several young hipsters tell me they’re socially-liberal and economic-conservative, a popular trend in American politics,” he writes. “Well, I hate to break it to you buddy, but it’s economics and the role of the state that defines politics. If you’re an economic conservative, despite how ironic and sarcastic you may be or how tight your jeans are, you, my friend, are a conservative …”

But while these were memories for some, for others they were merely rumors. A functional local economy was a story our parents told us.

Our rundown towns had little anyone wanted: empty lots, boarded windows, vacant stores. Decades passed, and no one rebuilt them. Now the malls follow, and no one will rebuild them either. My generation watches the malls fall like our parents watched the downtowns die. To our children, the mall will be a nostalgic abstraction, a 404 in concrete.

Materialism may remain rampant, but now its spaces are secret. Retail work has been replaced with jobs in online shopping warehouses where “pickers” labor unseen in brutal conditions.

Malls were once castigated for turning consumers into zombies. Now, the zombie is the ideal online retail employee, unthinking and robotic. Advice by algorithm, delivery by drone: This is what a dehumanized landscape looks like.

Our connections and commerce are dependent on our screens. Pay attention, pay attention, to the men behind the screens.

Do not rejoice at the fall of the mall. The setting may have been artificial, but the people in it were real.

The reality is that, in the “jobless recovery”, nearly every sector of the economy has been decimated. Companies have turned permanent jobs into contingency labor, and entry-level positions into unpaid internships. Changing your major will not change a broken economy.

It is not skills or majors that are being devalued. It is people.

To which the 30-something, having spent their adult life in an economy of stagnant wages and eroding opportunities, takes the 20-something aside, and explains that this is a maxim they, too, were told, but from which they never benefitted. They tell the 20-something what they already know: It is hard to plan for what is already gone. We live in the tunnel at the end of the light.

If you are 35 or younger – and quite often, older – the advice of the old economy does not apply to you. You live in the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people. Profits are still high. The money is still there. But not for you. You will work without a pay rise, benefits, or job security. Survival is now a laudable aspiration.

When survival is touted as an aspiration, sacrifice becomes a virtue. But a hero is not a person who suffers. A suffering person is a person who suffers. If you suffer in the proper way – silently, or with proclaimed fealty to institutions – then you are a hard worker “paying your dues”. If you suffer in a way that shows your pain, that breaks your silence, then you are a complainer – and you are said to deserve your fate. But no worker deserves to suffer. To compound the suffering of material deprivation with rationalizations for its warrant is not only cruel to the individual, but gives exploiters moral license to prey.

In the post-employment economy, jobs are privileges, and the privileged have jobs.

Most human rights, policy and development organizations pay interns nothing, but will not hire someone for a job if they lack the kind of experience an internship provides. Privilege is recast as perseverance. The end result hurts individuals struggling in the labor market but also restructures the market itself.

Unpaid internships lock out millions of talented young people based on class alone. They send the message that work is not labor to be compensated with a living wage, but an act of charity to the powerful, who reward the unpaid worker with “exposure” and “experience”. The promotion of unpaid labor has already eroded opportunity – and quality – in fields like journalism and politics. A false meritocracy breeds mediocrity.

Post-recession America runs on a contingency economy based on prestige and privation. The great commonality is that few are paid enough to live instead of simply survive.

Mistaking wealth for virtue is a cruelty of our time. By treating poverty as inevitable for parts of the population, and giving impoverished workers no means to rise out of it, America deprives not only them but society as a whole. Talented and hard-working people are denied the ability to contribute, and society is denied the benefits of their gifts. Poverty is not a character flaw. Poverty is not emblematic of intelligence. Poverty is lost potential, unheard contributions, silenced voices.

In reality, profits are soaring and poorly compensated labor tends to lead to more poorly compensated labor. Zero opportunity employers are refusing to pay people because they can get away with it. The social contract does not apply to contract workers – and in 2013, that is increasingly what Americans are.

In America, there is little chance at a reversal of fortune for those less fortunate. Poverty is a sentence for the crime of existing. Poverty is a denial of rights sold as a character flaw.

American ideology has long tilted between individualism and Calvinism. What happened to you was either supposed to be in your control – the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach – or divinely arbitrated. You either jumped, or you were meant to fall. Claims you were pushed, or you were born so far down you could not climb up, were dismissed as excuses of the lazy. This is the way many saw their world before it collapsed.

Unemployment is not only the loss of a job. It is the loss of dignity. It is the loss of the present and, over time, the ability to imagine a future. It is hopelessness and shame, an open struggle everyone witnesses but pretends not to see. It is a social and political crisis we tell a man to solve, and blame him when he cannot. When you are unemployed, your past is dismissed as unworthy. Your future is denied. Self-immolation is making yourself, in the moment, matter.

They cut and blame us when we bleed.

In authoritarian states ruled by tyrants, in democracies allegedly ruled by law, we find the same result: hard-working people let down by the systems which are supposed to support them. When the most you can ask from your society is that it will spare you, you have no society of which to speak.

While the start and end dates of the millennial generation are up for debate – and the idea of inherent generational traits is dubious – people of this age group share an important quality. They have no adult experience in a functional economy.

A generation that can barely stand on its feet is in charge of another generation’s welfare.

Millennials are chastised for leaning on elders, but the new rules of the economy demand it. Unpaid internships are often prerequisites to full-time jobs, and the ability to take them is based on money, not merit. Young adults who live off wealthy parents are the lucky few. They can envision a future because they can envision its purchase. Almost everyone else is locked out of the game.

Dependence may be the primary trait of the millennial generation, but it is a structural dependence, caused not by “laziness” or “narcissism” but by a lack of options or social mobility. For millennials much more than for the generations which immediately preceded them, the future is determined by the past. The son is indebted to the debt of the father.

It is one thing to discover, as an adult, that the rules have been rewritten, that the job market will not recover, that you will scramble to survive. It is another to raise a child knowing that no matter how hard they work, how talented they are, how big they dream, they will not have opportunities – because in the new economy, opportunities are bought, not earned. You know this, but you cannot tell this to a child. The millennial parent is always Santa, always a little bit of a liar.

Americans should not fear riots. They should fear a society that ranks the death of children. They should fear a society that shrugs, carries on, and lets them go.

Source: The View From Flyover Country

Matthew Stoller’s work complements Kendzior’s narrative of a post-employment economy.

#Resist

These folks—from a variety of political and professional backgrounds—have been out front on Trump + Putin + Russia + kleptocracy + supremacy.

I have included tweets from these sources in the comments on this post. Scroll down.

Flocking

Collective action increases individual survival. Birds, fish, insects and herbivores have been doing it for a long time. It’s called flocking behaviour. In the presence of danger they run as one, turn as one. It makes it much harder for, say, a predator to single out an individual.

More than ten years of research (see, for example, Consensus Decision-Making in Crowds) shows that humans flock, too. It takes only 5% of a crowd to begin to move for the other 95% to follow; we do it subconsciously. Flocking is emergent behaviour: it happens when certain criteria are met without the participants making any conscious decisions. Imagine how powerful that strategy could be if we acted consciously.

Fairness and diversity cannot happen until allies speak out. So, to those with power, platform, and access: You probably don’t like the idea of going from predator to potential prey. Oh, well. But you must not duck for cover, you must not hide. You must speak out. Speak out in concert. Talk to your friends and colleagues. Figure it out. Pick a day; do something.

Source: How to defeat an autocrat: flocking behaviour | Nicola Griffith

Power Mapping

In order to effect social change, an advocate needs to be aware of the political and social power structures in play. A power map is a useful visual tool for figuring out who you need to influence, how to influence them, and who can do the influencing in order to reach a specific goal. This guide will help you create your own power map for your area.

Source: A Guide to Power Mapping | Move to Amend

Hat tip: Safety Pin Box

Youth Activist’s Toolkit

Organizing is the process of building power as a group and using this power to create positive change in our lives. Throughout history, organizers have played a key role in addressing injustice in our country. From the Civil Rights movement, to the feminist, LGBT and immigrant rights movements, organizers have come together, created strategies and built collective power to win lasting change.

Organizing has everything to do with power and shifting relationships of power. Power is the ability to control our circumstances and make things happen outside of ourselves. Everyone has power inside themselves—power to make decisions, to act, to think, to create. However, not everyone has equal power to make things happen outside of our own lives due to inequality of resources and authority. Nevertheless, we can build our own power and the power of our community through organizing. Collective power is the power that a group has by working together with a shared interest in achieving a goal.

Sometimes we think that if our cause is right, we will be able to win easily without building power. We might think that if decision makers just understood the problem then they would act. Unfortunately, in most cases, even if we are right, and those in power know about the issue, they still don’t act. This is because they are being pressured by others not to act, such as donors who want school funds to be allocated to sports programs instead of a student health center. Most campaigns will require you to be more than right. You will find that you must build power in order to put pressure on those who can make decisions. Organizing is about figuring out what resources you really need in order to win change. This could mean you need the votes of members of your student council; chatter on social media; the allegiance of a person with power; or it could mean building crowd support to disrupt business as usual with direct action (such as a protest). You must identify what you need and then figure out how you can make it happen.

This guide will serve as a tool you can use to think through how to make change in your community. It will walk you through the steps of developing a campaign strategy that includes setting goals and establishing demands, analyzing key players, building power, and using power to achieve your goals.

Source: Youth Activist’s Toolkit

Hat tip: Safety Pin Box

Direct Action

These movements include the civil rights movement, the student movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, and the environmental movement. Each, to varying degrees, changed government policy and, perhaps more importantly, changed how almost every American lives today.

Supporters of these movements questioned traditional practices about how people were treated. Why did black and white children attend separate schools? Why were women prevented from holding certain jobs? Why could a person be drafted at 18 but not able to vote until 21? This questioning inspired people to begin organizing movements to fight against injustice and for equal rights for all people.

In addition, they did not use traditional methods of political activity. Instead of voting for a political candidate and then hoping that the elected official would make good policies, these protesters believed in a more direct democracy. They took direct action—public marches, picketing, sit-ins, rallies, petition drives, and teach-ins—to win converts to their causes and change public policies at the local, state, and federal levels. They contributed their time, energy, and passion with the hope of making a better, more just society for all.

Source: Protests in the 1960s

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

Source: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Direct Action and Measurable Allyship

Cindy Gallop, Make Love Not Porn, Sextech, Gender Balanced Writers’ Rooms

Some of the Rick & Morty marketing folks were on a recent episode of Harmontown. They mentioned that Cindy Gallop is changing the ad industry with her diversity and inclusion work. I was unaware of her efforts—a blind spot—so I checked out some of her talks and joints to catch up.

10 habits to change a country | TEDxAcademy

  • The business model of the future is all about doing good and making money simultaneously.
  • Shared values plus shared action equals shared profit—financial profit and social profit.
  • When you identify your values, it makes life so much simpler.
  • Shared values is the key to success for any business.
  • Shared values does not mean shared thinking.
  • Fear of what other people will think is the single most paralyzing dynamic in business and in life. You will never own the future if you care what other people will think.
  • Action is key, because action is transformative.
  • When you do something it makes you feel completely differently about yourself and what you’re capable of.
  • The key to action is micro actions.
  • Change happens from the bottom up.
  • Micro actions from the bottom up
  • How can shared action create shared profit? We make more together than we do apart.
  • Collaborative competition – everyone competing by all doing the same thing
  • Competitive collaboration – when we come together and collab to make things better for all of us in a way we don’t see currently. Rising tide lifts all boats premise.
  • Competitive collaboration > collaborative competition
  • Don’t do good by writing checks to clear conscience. Make money because you do good.
  • When you can create a business that does good and makes money simultaneously, you have your own resources and own funds to draw on to scale and create an ever bigger impact.
  • Women challenge the status quo because we are never it.
  • Diversity drives innovation.
  • True innovation, true disruption is the result of many different mindsets, perspective, insights, worldviews, all coming together in constructive creative conflict to get to a far better place that none of us could have gotten to on our own.
  • Female perspectives are critical within that, because there’s a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously.
    • Women buy. Primary purchasers and primary influencers of purchase in every single product sector.
    • Women share.
  • Openness and honesty around sex is what leads to better human connections, better relationships, and better lives.
  • What are your sexual values?
  • Healthy personal and national sexual values improve productivity and creativity.
  • Micro act together. Create enormous impact at scale.

Women and People of Color in Advertising, Here’s What You Do Next

  • Start your own agency. Start something that gives you agency.
  1. You don’t need money to start the agency of the future.
    • The great thing about working in a service industry is that all you need is your brain. You don’t need an office. You can work remotely.
    • In the gig economy, all the resources you need are in your own network.
    • Identity your minimum viable cost of living.
    • Our industry is very good at persuading us we have to live at a certain level.
  2. Know that you’re extremely good at things you don’t know you’re extremely good at.
  3. Blue sky it. What do YOU really want to do?
    • Look around you? What is missing that should be there. What would you love to have, but nobody’s doing it? What can you uniquely create?
      • What have you always wanted to do?
  4. Design your business to be the way that you want to work
    • Identity what you love doing and the conditions under which you love doing it.
    • Design an opportunity, a job, a venture around those things.
  5. Design your business model to be the way you want to make money
    • Your business model can be anything you want it to be.
    • How would I like to make money? Because I can guarantee you, that you do not want to make money the way our industry currently makes money.
    • You do no want to operate on the premise of timesheets.
    • The value we deliver is not about the amount of time spent.
  6. Design your business from day one to one day ultimately make a lot of money
    • We do not get taken seriously as women unless get taken seriously financially.
    • True for every other diversity group in our industry.
    • The moment you prove you can start making money, you get taken seriously.
    • Diversity drives the creativity that makes a huge amount of money.
    • Reinvest that money in the rest of us.
  7. You can start the agency of the future alongside your current job
    • Start putting what you want to do out there. Start blogging. Start tweeting. Share your thoughts on social media. Start building a community of like minded people around your idea. That’s how you test it in the marketplace, get early proof of concept.
  8. Plenty of people want to fund your business
  9. Your clients are all around you
  10. Make it real

There is a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously.

Make Love Not Porn

MakeLoveNotPorn is a Cindy Gallop production. I date younger men, usually in their 20s, and came up with the idea for MakeLoveNotPorn based on direct personal experience. I launched MakeLoveNotPorn at TED 2009: TED 2009: Make Love not Porn followed by an interview with me on the TEDBlog. Here is a talk I gave recently at the L2 GenerationNext Forum that expands on how this is the single biggest impact that technology is having on human behavior today.

I would like to stress the following:

  • MakeLoveNotPorn is not about judgement, or what is good vs what is bad. Sex is the area of human experience that embraces the widest possible range of tastes. Everyone should be free to make up their own mind about what they do and don’t like.
  • MakeLoveNotPorn is not anti-porn. I like porn and watch it regularly myself.
  • MakeLoveNotPorn is simply intended to help inspire and stimulate open, healthy conversations about sex and pornography, in order to help inspire and stimulate more open, healthy and thoroughly enjoyable sexual relationships.

Source: Make Love Not Porn :: Porn World vs. Real World

Sextech

Gender Balanced Writers’ Room

BTW, season three of Rick & Morty has a gender balanced writers’ room. Harmontown talks about diversity, inclusion, and identity often, including D&I in Hollywood.

“We hired a bunch of new writers,” Dan Harmon told Den of Geek in an exclusive interview. “There was a craving for a gender balance in the writers’ room that we had never had, but I’m also very proud of the fact that we didn’t compromise ourselves following that craving. We just looked harder and I don’t know if it was coincidence or because the show was popping up on the radar of a lot of great female writers noticing, ‘Well, they don’t have any women writers in there. I’m gonna submit something.’ It was probably a combination of all those factors.”

Source: Rick and Morty Season 3 Release Date, Preview Trailer, Interviews And More | Den of Geek

Hidden Disability

A brief anecdote from my real life as an autistic adult coping with chronic pain and peripheral neuropathy…

After walking around a big box store to get supplies yesterday morning, I spent the rest of the day almost completely offline and confined to bed.

If I’m rested, I can walk into a big department store and its rows and rows of questing seeming physically hale. If I’m in a good mood and music is running through my head, there might even be a spring in my step.

The moment doesn’t last. Trudging row after row while navigating my cart through a crowd of other carts and minds awakens the paresthesia, fasciculations, tinnitus, anxiety, adrenaline, and pain.

I use my cart as a walker to get through checkout, trying not to pass out while negotiating social boilerplate in a barely verbal state—under concerned eyes.

I make it to the car, collapse in the seat, and submit to gravity and the flood.

I stim the sensory flood away with singing, scatting, rocking, and flapping—casting the overwhelm through fingers and palms, flinging beams of paresthesia and sensation out of me.

Music helps, and time.

Overwhelm subsides. My muscles stop boiling enough to drive.

I make it back to where I can lie down and cope through the rest of the day.

My legs are made of gravity and pain. The cramps will come, spreading from arches and jaw through voluntary muscles like wrenching wildfire.

Music will help, and time.

A lot of people have contacted me to say that they’ve struggled with well-meaning people saying, “I have that too”, when they’ve tried to explain what it’s like to have autism. And it’s not just people with autism, but people with other hidden disabilities too.

I know I worry that people don’t believe me. I’ve been around NTs who don’t know my diagnosis as they say, “Oh everyone has something these days! It takes nothing to get a diagnosis! It’s just fashionable!”

I know some people think that. And I worry that people will think that all my difficulties are made up because I’ve hidden them so well.

Acceptance is better than empathy, especially empathy that is getting it wrong. The thing you’re trying not to do? You’re doing it. We don’t hate you for it. We love that you’re trying. But you’ve just stopped us sharing. You’ve just shut it down. And I don’t think you meant to, I think you want to hear what I have to say. I think you care.

“I do that too” The great miscommunication – Autism and expectations

Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

Source: The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino – But You Dont Look Sick? support for those with invisible illness or chronic illness

Nobody noticed my invisible struggles, my sensory sensitivities, my poor coordination, lack of organization, and troubles making friends. The social things always were dismissed as long as I kept everything else in line. I was “too smart” and “lazy” and a million other names.

Source: Autism or Asperger’s? | Anonymously Autistic

“Aspie burnout” is a colloquial term, that the clinical world doesn’t seem to acknowledge as a genuine part of the autistic spectrum, resulting from the attempts to “be normal”, fit in and keep up. Here, I think it is very useful to draw peoples’ attention to Christine Miserandino’s ‘spoon theory’: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ because when I read it, I saw such immense parallels with living with Asperger’s/autism. It can creep up on you, it can hit any time, but for sure, most Aspies will have experienced Aspie burnout by the time they hit 35.

Basically, the higher functioning you are, the more others expect of you and also, the more you push yourself. You have an invisible disability, you look normal and have no apparent physical difference. So why can’t you behave and carry on like everyone else? Sure, everyone gets tired, sure they also can get burnout from pushing themselves too hard. But the difference is this: we get it from just existing in a neurotypical world, a world that doesn’t accept our differences or make allowances for them. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are greater in high-functioning autistics, because of trying to fit in and finding it so difficult. Because we are acutely aware of our differences and our failings, but we are just as affected by them as lower-functioning autistics. So we kind of have the rawest deal.

When you hit burnout, you can take a long time to recover.  Even one stressful day, for someone on the spectrum can mean days or even longer, of hiding away to recover afterwards.  So imagine what impact it has if you try day after day to continue living at a level, which to others is ordinary but to you is a massive challenge.  And once you burnout, your coping capacity is diminished.  That means, even when you recover, if it happens again, it can happen quicker and take less to provoke it.

Source: Aspie Burnout | Planet Autism Blog

It’s difficult to explain the concept of limited energy to people who haven’t experienced it. It’s even more difficult to explain when I actually have functioned with a full-time occupation before. If I now say I’m unable to do that, it either seems like I’m flat-out lying, or like I’m deliberately ‘disabling’ myself by limiting what I can do. But neither of those is the case. I never knew that most people don’t feel overwhelmed and overloaded all the time. I did know that most people don’t have mental health breakdowns like clockwork every few years – but I didn’t know why that happened to me and not others. Maybe most significantly, I didn’t know that energy limits existed, let alone that the idea could explain my experiences.

Now that I do know those things, I’m not lying about my past or trying to make myself worse off than I am. I’m finally being honest, to myself, about my own abilities. If that looks like I’m limited myself, it’s only because I’ve pushed myself way too hard for my whole life until now. It might look like I now have the life of a ‘more’ disabled person than I have before. But it’s actually the opposite. I am just as disabled as I always have been, but now I am taking some control over how my life works. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens.

Source: Burnout | autisticality

I often bring up the ableist action of harassing/accusing ambulatory wheelchair users (as well as scooter, walker, crutches, and cane users) of “faking” because it’s something that happens ALL the time under the guise of “allyship” that people seem to WANT to remain oblivious to.

A person standing up from a wheelchair or standing without their mobility aid SHOULD NOT be cause for alarm, should not inspire accusations of faking, should not inspire you to say, “it’s a miracle!” in a mocking tone, or to ask me if I should “really be parked here”, or recommendations of weight loss so I won’t “need that chair anymore”, or whispering about how my karma is coming or how I’m going to hell for “playing with a wheelchair”; all comments I’ve received from strangers for just standing in public, getting my chair out of the trunk of my car on my own, or doing something as minimal as riding my chair while being young and smiling.

It’s prejudice; it lacks understanding to how diverse disability is, it uses a singular representation of wheelchair users to judge all wheelchair users. When people are called out on that ableism, those who do it will become defensive and claim to be acting in defense of disabled people because they truly deeply believe in the myth of a “faking disability epidemic”, but hear this: non-apparent disabilities/invisible disablities, etc. are REAL disabilities and you are harassing the very people you are claiming to be advocating for.

Source: Annie Elainey – Standing Up From My Wheelchair in Public – Standing Up From My Wheelchair in Public

Ableist discrimination and bigotry materialize in countless ways, but talk to anyone whose disability isn’t immediately obvious and this kind of story pops up again and again. Encounters turn bad because a random individual—sometimes in a position of official authority, other times just a meddling onlooker—decides someone is getting away with something. They cry “fraud.” They demand proof. They seek to restore order. Such incidents often result in humiliation or forced disclosure. Worse, as in Minnesota, they can spark violence and trauma.

Anyone who uses accessible parking but who doesn’t look sufficiently disabled or who only uses their wheelchair sometimes has encountered the “Good Samaritan” stranger who demands that they prove their disability. It happens a lot in parking lots, because accessible parking spaces are hotly contested proving-grounds for disability.

We need to learn to expect disability. There’s no one way to look or be disabled. When someone asks for an accommodation, believe them. If someone is behaving in an atypical way, pause to reflect whether there might be a disability-related reason. Or just lighten up. Humans are diverse. We do things in our own unique ways.

Source: When Disability Is Misdiagnosed as Bad Behavior – Pacific Standard

I can walk when I must. I can push myself through as much as 20 minutes of standing and walking, but the cost is great. I need the rest of the day to recover from such a reckless waste of spoons.

I sometimes long for a wheelchair. Far from being confining, a wheelchair would be liberating. I could stim with movement. I could save some spoons. I could stay below my diminishing thresholds.

I dread the moment of rising from the chair in front of others, though. Getting up from a wheelchair to navigate an inaccessible threshold, reach for something, or simply stretch does not compute for our ableist societies. You are judged a fraud, a fake, someone trying to get something you don’t deserve.

A wheelchair is in my future. Without one, I can’t go on outings with my family without melting spoons. I can no longer push past the shrinking limits of my endurance. I’m using a rollator now, but it can be slow, uncomfortable going. Even with rollator assistance, walking is a struggle with pain and gravity. A wheelchair would be enabling, but using one involves a direct confrontation with systemic inaccessibility and ableism. Am I up for it? My body becomes more and more convincing about its need for a chair, but I am reluctant to put up with more ableism than I already experience.

Wheelchairs are the symbol of disability. Transitioning to visible disability would avoid some invisible disability tropes, but those would be replaced by other tropes. And the moment I demonstrate that I can still, for now, walk, that symbol becomes an indictment.

Source: Transitioning from invisible to visible disability – Ryan Boren