Thu 30 Jan 2020 6:13PM

Kiez Burn e.V. - Request for clarification - Consensual doocracy

CM Callum Macdonald Public Seen by 95

Following my recent initiative, I wish to seek formal clarification from the board of Kiez Burn e.V. on a few specific questions.

Here's how I understand the consensual doocracry process:

  • Anybody in the community can bring forward an initiative.

  • If they seek advice on this initiative, and they listen to the concerns being raised, and they make an earnest attempt to respond to these concerns, then:

    • So long as no laws are being breached

    • The Kiez Burn e.V. foundation, and its board, will permit this initiative to move forward

The key question here is does a proposal or initiative require explicit consent from the board or not?

Also, for further clarification:

Under what circumstances will the board step in to block or veto initiatives (which are within the law)?

I'll write more below about my motivation and so on. I'd like to keep the specific questions as clear as possible so the board may offer as clear an answer as possible.

EDIT: I'd like to add a third question to this:

Is the Kiez Burn e.V. board willing to let Kiez Burn 2020 fail (not happen at all) if the community does not carry it?

I think it's important to directly acknowledge this. Much of my experience has been that if some core people believe something might endanger the event happening, they will block. I think greater clarity here will be helpful.


Callum Macdonald Thu 30 Jan 2020 6:21PM


Several people have expressed concerns to me in private that proposals for change within Kiez Burn are only possible if they are approved by a few core organisers. While the organisation simultaneously is publicly saying "anybody can take action".

I see people who want to contribute, but who are not, for whatever reason, supported by this small group of people, and so their inputs are ultimately squeezed out.

I realise that some of these core group have put a tremendous amount of work into Kiez Burn, have a lot of experience and expertise that's relevant. I understand that, in some ways, Kiez Burn is their "baby", and it can be very challenging to see people make proposals which may appear risky, dangerous, or just downright crazy. I empathise with the challenges of stepping back, and allowing new blood to take part in the organisation.

I also feel like the situation needs to be clear. I think it is unacceptable for the board to advertise for volunteers on the basis of a "you are free to make the change you wish to see" philosophy, if this is not factually accurate.

I know many of the core team have expressed that they burn out from doing too much work on Kiez Burn. That the burden of organising such a large event can be a heavy toll on a small group of volunteers. I sense that it is hard to feel overworked, maybe under appreciated, and to see new and potentially disruptive influence happening in the community.

My hope is that the board, and the core organisers, will consider their position on this topic, and will publish a clear and unambiguous statement. Personally, I'm comfortable with the board retaining decision making power. I'm comfortable with a small group running Kiez Burn. This is how Burning Man has been run for over 30 years. My intention is to bring clarity on this topic.


Erin Jeavons-Fellows Thu 30 Jan 2020 10:25PM

@CJ Yetman I'm not sure how to read your reply. I read it as a criticism to Callum's initiative. I don't believe he was trying to devalue the work that people have put in in previous years at all... In fact respecting it. His initiative is within the rules of do-ocracy and realms of how he interprets consensual do-ocracy (after even going to the consensual do-ocracy workshop last weekend put on my Waldo and Remy). He is requesting for support, clarity and advice. Correct me if I'm wrong, it seems you're requesting Callum to consider if he has failed in his interpretation of this or simply give up from exhaustion on his initiative? This is disappointing if someone who genuinely believes they follow values would have to consider giving up from utter exhaustion while trying to support Kiez Burn 馃槩


Benjamin Langholz Fri 31 Jan 2020 11:52AM

I鈥檓 also very curious about this topic. I鈥檝e had the system explains to me essentially how Callum described. With the addition of specifically posting on this platform for a vote essentially requesting the participation and opinion of the community. If that vote passes you鈥檙e good to go.

it has also been verbalized (irl) very clearly that the amount of participation on a poll or proposal doesn鈥檛 matter. As well as that there is no hierarchy in decision making. Which sounded to me like there would be no space for the idea of blocking of vetoing from a board.

I鈥檓 very curious if this is how it will play out in reality.


meowmeow Fri 31 Jan 2020 1:28PM

May I ask how a doacracy is supposed to actually function? Surely we can argue whether it should be the word 鈥減oll鈥 or any other semantic amusement, but which mechanism if not with polling should we use it its place? I鈥檓 starting to get the strong impression that there is no doacracy and decisions need to be approved by a hierarchy hidden behind a doacratic facade.


meowmeow Fri 31 Jan 2020 4:20PM

If polling doesn鈥檛 consist of advice from everyone, what other forms of advice are there that can be used aside from asking the board? I鈥檓 just waiting for the answer to change terms enough times to finally realise how a do-er is capable of do-ing without approval, I鈥檓 sorry not approval, 鈥渁dvice鈥. I鈥檓 sincerely hoping this Doacracy presented isn鈥檛 an imitation of an Askocracy and eager to find out how the Kiezburn community is capable of pressing buttons on our own.


[deactivated account] Fri 31 Jan 2020 11:24PM

Very important and interesting thread.

My personal take on the whole is that we have thrown ourselves into a "radical do-ocracy" without having prepared the ground. My guess is the process was rushed without much work having been done to ensure a smooth transition. We cannot just make everyone a captain, jetzt. We'll ram into the first iceberg.

I see this thread here as a demonstration of UNclarity on the role and duties/powers of KB e.V:

I stand by @Callum Macdonald 's request to understand the role of KB e.V and the KB board (I don't even understand if that is 1 or 2 different bodies @waldo ?)

I am guessing the rushed decentralisation effort came out of a desire to radically empower our community + offload the load off the shoulders of a few key individuals that have been driving this huge and chaotic boat until today.

I would like to propose to acknowledge collectively that this has been done somewhat quickly and awkwardly. And that that is OK.

Let's note that apart from a few individuals hanging out here, the majority of KB attendees don't have a clue about what is going on. The majority might be just waiting to buy some tickets and an opportunity to place a camp soon-ish? Yes, maybe not ready for that thing called do-ocracy just yet.

We lacked prep and communications, we lacked a smooth transition.

Let's remember that this is all a big experiment, that we love co-creating with each other, and that all of this is not so important compared to the expanse of the Universe ;)



meowmeow Sat 1 Feb 2020 4:59PM

I鈥檓 simply going to read between the lines of my ignored questions with a final question:

If the Kiezburn board admits that they can veto anything they feel like and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


walto Sat 1 Feb 2020 6:30PM

As a member of the board, to who this post is directed, and as one of the people who has led the transition 2 years ago towards decentralization, I would like to acknowledge this post and ask for more time to respond.

Thank you.


[deactivated account] Sat 1 Feb 2020 9:08PM

I admit I do not know who is on The Board this year? So who are we talking to here? The search on Talk just brings up the closed group. I did find the information on the website - I'm not sure if it's 2019 or 2020?

The current board members
Remy Schneider
Erin Jeavons-Fellows
Waldo Vanderhagen
Alex Cuthbertson
Hanna-Maija Oukka
Saskia Annen
Franziska Sedlak

Maybe it would be fair to tag the Board members here? Not just @waldo becasue he's the most active?

Please correct me if wrong tags/people/board from last year!

@Remy Schneider @Erin Jeavons-Fellows @waldo @Alexxx @Hanna-Maija @Saskia (The Fuzzy Facilitator) @Franzi ?



CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:46PM

don't be too hard on yourself... if you said anything at all about "implications for people impacted need to be discussed and taken into account", I think that's a far cry from setup a poll and no matter how many people vote move forward.


meowmeow Sat 1 Feb 2020 5:27PM

Thank you for the links


CJ Yetman Sat 1 Feb 2020 5:37PM


Just to clear one thing up in case, I am not a member of the board, so if you're looking for direct answers from them, I can't help you there. But if you're suggesting that I, as the one who has respond to your post, has ignored your questions, I will give it another go, but to be honest, I really, genuinely did not understand most of your questions.

Here are the questions I've seen you ask above and an attempt to answer to them given that I don't fully understand them...

May I ask how a doacracy is supposed to actually function?

I'm not the best person to answer this because I'm not an expert on do-ocracy, and frankly I'm not a big fan of it, but the links that I posted above in previous replies should be a good start to answering that question. Here they are again...

Surely we can argue whether it should be the word 鈥減oll鈥 or any other semantic amusement, but which mechanism if not with polling should we use it its place?


If polling doesn鈥檛 consist of advice from everyone, what other forms of advice are there that can be used aside from asking the board?

I honestly don't understand what you mean here. I would guess that there are a number of mechanisms that could be used to get advice: asking questions, having a discussion, reaching out to people with experience, etc. But that seems so obvious that I suspect you mean something else.

Is there more to be said about this mysterious substance?

The "substance" you are speaking about here appears to be the word "binding" or "non-binding" which I used above. There is nothing mysterious about the word and nothing more to be said about it. It is simply a common English word with a well understood definition that I personally was using to describe something.

Is it a requirement for a doer to actually do something?

Again, I'm not an expert on do-ocracy, but my understanding is the the doer is required to go through an advice process before implementing a proposal. See again:

Who generates it?

I have no idea what "it" is in this question.

The community or the board?

Assuming this is still asking about "it", I still don't know what "it" is.

Or is it preferable to the board to make the community believe it is decreed by the gods?

I assume the answer to that is "no", but I can't speak for the board. I am a member of the verein, and I participated in the election that elected the board, and my general feeling is that the members of the verein do not want that, and since the board is elected by the members to operate the verein on their behalf, I would think that they would not be doing their jobs properly if that were the case.


CJ Yetman Sat 1 Feb 2020 9:29PM

Website is up to date. That is correct.


CJ Yetman Thu 30 Jan 2020 7:19PM

This is not to detract from your request for clarification, which I think is genuine and appropriate, but... maybe your experience in making a proposal and going through the do-ocratic advice process is a good glimpse into what these core members have been going through ad-nauseam for the past few years.


CJ Yetman Thu 30 Jan 2020 7:24PM

to be more clear about that... I think my point was, this process is difficult and daunting, but not impossible, so consider whether you have truly failed yet, or if you're simply exhausted from the process, which imho is exhausting.


Erin Jeavons-Fellows Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:23AM

Thanks for the clarification. The way i read this post is that callum doesn鈥檛 see that he has failed but is asking for further clarification on why he is having so much trouble while following a process that is meant to give community the joy of taking on tasks and enabling decentralisation. I joined Kb this this reason. Because anything is possible and it has the capacity to be what we make it because we make it.


CJ Yetman Thu 30 Jan 2020 10:55PM

@Erin Jeavons-Fellows @Callum Macdonald and everyone else... sorry, I must have given the wrong impression unintentionally. Let me try to clarify...

In my impression, Callum's post here contains the premise that he has tried the do-ocratic process and it has failed, and he reasonably wants an explanation for that. I'm **suggesting** that he consider if the do-ocratic process in which he has engaged has actually failed completely yet (warranting his request for explanation), or if the do-ocratic process is simply still on-going, and although it is an exhausting and difficult process, maybe it will work out in the end and then maybe he would not feel this question is as relevant any more. Does that make sense?


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 2:49PM

As far as I understand it, there is no collective decision making process in do-ocracy. Individual 鈥渄oers鈥 make decisions after an advice process.


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 4:28PM

Where have you seen it said that polling is not a valid way to get advice? My impression is that polling is a totally permissible way of collecting information about the sentiment on a topic, but the results of a poll are non-binding, i.e. a poll can be used to get a sense of the support for a proposal, but the results of the poll do not make the decision, and therefore the 鈥渄oer鈥 could decide on something even if a poll favored something else.


Saskia Fri 31 Jan 2020 5:52PM

Thank you, CJ. Still I can see how I might have added to the confusion and acted as a bad representative for KB here. 馃 Anyways, I take it as a learning.


meowmeow Fri 31 Jan 2020 5:56PM

I haven鈥檛 seen it said that polling is not a valid way to get advice. The confusion lies in the mixed use of binding and non-binding advice. The next catch word this process has evolved to is: BINDING. Is there more to be said about this mysterious substance? Is it a requirement for a doer to actually do something? Who generates it? The community or the board? Or is it preferable to the board to make the community believe it is decreed by the gods?


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 7:11PM

and here's some more where it expressly contrasts KB do-ocracy with democracy and voting/polls, e.g. "Kiez Burn is not a democracy. Voting isn鈥檛 the purpose of all these processes, collective intelligence is."


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 6:06PM

Binding and non-biding are just words that I鈥檓 using. I am not the keeper of do-ocracy terminology. What is a word that you would be more comfortable with me using?


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 6:30PM

here's the beginnings of an explanation of the "advice process" (note: no mention of polls, voting, or "binding")


Saskia Sun 2 Feb 2020 11:01AM



Benjamin Langholz Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:24PM

It was very cold when we were talking so the explanation may have been rushed 馃槅


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 8:03AM

My answer would be... because this process is very hard and exhausting. That is the nature of the thing. In a hierarchical organization decisions are easy. You are given authority. You may or may not listen to others advice. You decide when you鈥檝e heard enough. That鈥檚 not how do-ocracy works apparently.

I never said or suggested that Callum failed. I鈥檓 saying it sounds like he believes this process has failed to produce the result that it promises, or the board has failed to follow through on their willingness to let things be decided by this process. I鈥檓 suggesting that the process might not be over and it might be a little too early to make that call. Maybe after another few days and a bunch more debate, Callum will see that the tides have turned, and after making edits to his proposal, listening to more feedback, maybe even making some compromises, suddenly a strong consensus will start to form and soon after he鈥檒l get to launch his baby and everything will be fine and dandy. After such an experience, would It make sense to ask whether the board actually supports and agrees to this do-ocratic process?

If his question is actually 鈥渨hy is this so difficult? Why is it taking so long? Why am I not getting what I want?鈥 Then well, those are different questions with different answers, but that鈥檚 not how I interpreted it.


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:04PM

@Benjamin Langholz I have a very opposite impression. I've heard said numerous times that polls/voting are non-binding and merely informational. Where have you seen that if a "vote passes you鈥檙e good to go"?


Benjamin Langholz Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:13PM

This was my impression after asking several people how to actually get something to happen. Most recently @Saskia (The Fuzzy Facilitator) gave me this explanation. The words 鈥済ood to go鈥 we鈥檙e likely not used, but this was the explanation of the process as I understood (along with what Callum posted).


Callum Macdonald Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:16PM

My impression, and what I've also had explicitly stated by both @waldo and @Alexxx is that some topics are just not part of the consensual doocracry framework. That this framework needs to be refined, and that ultimately the board wants to retain control over some areas. I'm fine with that, but I would like it to be explicit. That's the intention of this thread. Let's clearly define where the board will assert control, and where not.


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:18PM

interesting... I have not heard that clearly nor explicitly stated


CJ Yetman Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:20PM

interesting.... @Saskia (The Fuzzy Facilitator) what's your take on this? I was pretty sure you were in the polls/votes are non-binding camp based on the poll you did for the dream token redistribution last year, in which I thought you did an excellent job of explaining that the poll was for information and was non-binding.


Benjamin Langholz Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:21PM

I I鈥檓 also totally fine with the board retaking control in areas. In fact it is preferable. But this should definitely be made clear and the board should then take responsibility for the areas they want control (do the work to make sure they happen).


Saskia Fri 31 Jan 2020 12:36PM

Hei there,

indeed I was having an informal talk with Benjamin after the location meeting.
And indeed, the non-binding nature of polls is something I am very aware of, because of the exact discussion about token redistribution CJ mentions.

After seeing this thread and following it for a while I also got the impression that my rushed explanation of the Do-ocracy process might have lead to a skewed impression of how powerful a poll in talk really is.

I definitely said something along the line of: "Open a thread, discuss your proposal and start a poll."
I am also pretty sure that I said that the implications for people impacted need to be discussed and taken into account. I also repeated the basic dogma of the do-ocracy process which is 'Everybody is able to make such decisions regarding KB, including you.'.

All of this might have lead to the impression that simply making a poll, regardless of reactions and interaction with the poll, enables a person to go forward with their proposal, regardless of whether or not the people impacted have spoken up.

What I did not see at that point is the sheer amount of people impacted by this decision and that some of the people or groups who are impacted by the decision are not even in existence yet. I also wasn't aware of the massive discussions and needs for clarification regarding details of the do-ocracy process. Many of those things came up in the wake of Callums proposal about the radical ticket sales.

I wish to formally apologize to you, @Benjamin Langholz. I should have told you that I wish to explain to you the process in a better environment and in a mental condition. I should have been more concerned with the clarity of my statements. It was not my goal to mislead you. I will take a big ass learning from this. I also want to abstain from any further comment about the do-ocracy process, as currently, I am under a big cloud of confusion about a couple of things, too. I want to stress that this miscommunication is not an issue of the system, but of me having made a personal mistake of having a damn big mouth that night.