The Open Lobby/Participate

YOU are needed to make this happen! This idea could radically change the way policy is developed, and give good people with good ideas unprecedented access to the laws that govern their lives.

But a few brave souls are needed to blaze the trail, to provide a few vivid examples of what can be accomplished. We will need dozens, maybe hundreds of people at some point, but right now a small core group to do some brainstorming is what we need to get the ball rolling.

Will you volunteer to stretch your imagination a little, and help stretch the minds around you? Will you bring your experience to the table -- whether it's in Oregon policy, consensus-oriented decision making, wiki technology, or copyediting -- and help build something new? If you're looking at this page, it's probably because somebody thinks you have some pretty impressive skills or passions. If not, don't let the lack of recognition stop you! Jump on in.

So, please add your name below. At the moment, any commitment is purely abstract: signing up just means, "I wanna help." How much, or in what way, remains to be seen. And if you can't wait to get started, feel free to edit or expand this page, or the main The Open Lobby page!

The Archimedes Movement

Former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber discusses how to change national health care policy starting from a local, grassroots level. Preview; full video is 44 mins.

The Open Lobby

(main project page)

Get involved!

(Contribute to this project's success!)


(Questions? Comments?)


Add your name below, and consider leaving contact info, or a few words about your background, or the nature of your interest. (Posting your email is pretty safe; this wiki site will automatically turn your email into an image, so it can't easily be "grabbed" by spammers.)

  • Pete Forsyth,
  • Martha Forsyth,
  • State Rep. Ben Cannon,
  • Christy Splitt,
  • Chris Beck,
  • Travis Huntington,
  • Elizabeth Swager,
  • Brandon CS Sanders,
  • Ben Jacklet,
  • Garrett Downen,
  • Kristin Wolff,
  • Michael G Schwern,
  • Ingy döt Net,
  • Joe Cohen
  • Ward Cunningham
  • Ray King
  • Geoff Burling
  • Cameron Adamez,
  • Steven Walling,

Potential pitfalls

Decisions, decisions

  • What scale to begin on? (Portland? a school district? Multnomah County? statewide?)
  • Privacy, anonymity. My initial thoughts: For development of info resources (part A), real names should be encouraged but not required, and random interlopers can edit without signing up. For policy development, real names should be required, so that we can say at the end exactly who supports it, verifiably. Perhaps some venue, with a fairly high bar, for anonymous comments through an administrator. Finally, it may be necessary to have a totally private area, only available to a select few, for stuff like email addresses, phone numbers etc.
  • It's possible, and reasonable, that some participants will want to be anonymous to the public, during the deliberative process, but will be fine with having colleagues know their true name, and with publicly associating their name with the finished product. Is there an easy way to accommodate this?
  • Where to host? This needn't be a permanent decision, but what is the best tool and place to begin organizing around this project? Here at AboutUs seems the obvious choice, because of the common interest, the existing community, and the Sponsor a Portal program. However, the lines would be blurred between this organization and the AboutUs organization, due to the skin. This might be bad, especially for a project that will likely be struggling to assert its identity.

Finances and feasibility

A good basic model, as suggested by Brandon, is:

  1. Develop the idea to the point where we have a demonstrably committed group of people regularly using the site.
  2. Solicit sponsors, who would place advertising on our pages. Sponsors are given the opportunity to "reach a certain audience," as opposed to "influencing a process."

AboutUs is developing a relevant tool: Sponsor a Portal

What expenses:

  • Compensation for one person (?) to do recruiting, coordinating, public speaking/media relations, fundraising.
  • Any in-person meetings/brainstorm sessions should have ample refreshments.
  • Computer equipment?
  • Occasional need to pay for extensive research?
  • Occasional need for media buys/mailings etc.?

Measures of success

  • Community has demonstrable activity, enough to solicit sponsorship/advertising
  • Having an elected official or significant candidate for office publicly adopt one of our policy proposals.
  • Someone from within the community is inspired to run for office or sponsor a ballot measure based on policy proposal.
  • Significant newspaper editorial or endorsement from public figure of policy proposal. (Focus is on content of proposal, not process.)
  • Ideal: policy adopted, general public understands how it originated.
  • Significant growth of community

Things to avoid

  • Putting too much focus on getting the government to change, and incorporate technology. I believe the power of this idea is along the lines of "show, don't tell." The goal is to generate policy recommendations backed by a consensus so strong, that existing government entities will be compelled to adopt them.
  • Getting bogged down in technical specifics. The bulk of the work should be in community-building, and on the specific tasks at hand. There will be many technical options, but if we can get the right group dynamic, it won't matter much whether we're on this or that platform.

Random thoughts

Senate testimony about wikis and government

This video shows Senate testimony from an OMB staffer, a Google representative, Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales, and someone from the Center for Democracy and Technology. Note that the Senators, save chair Joe Lieberman and Sen. Akaka, declined to attend this hearing.

Things to incorporate into main text later, maybe. Brainstorms.

Three core values:

  • Broad consensus. We seek a unified voice. Where there is dissent, we seek it out, and strive to understand it. We modify positions to make them acceptable to not just any majority, but a broad majority. Decisions that flow from this process will be sensible and stable.
  • Accessibility. We will be open to input from absolutely any stakeholder or interested party in any issue we take on. We will find ways to invite people in and help them understand what we're about, and how to contribute. In this way, we will make the parts of government that we touch more accessible to the public.
  • Transparency. We will be transparent in our reasoning on every aspect of every project. We will make the parts of government that we touch more transparent.

Related thinkings

Similar but actually, different

Blogs are a very different animal from what is envisioned here. Blogs can be very effective at bringing people with common interests together, and at providing information. But they are not collaborative tools, and they don't tend to incubate carefully-crafted policy ideas, assess the depth and quality of consensus, or provide the structure that can make a campaign effective. Blogs will make excellent partners though.

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