3 min read
Fri 24 Jan 2020 Writing

Weeknotes 7

Supporting autonomous reading group organising, food solidarity networks and networking across CoTech

What we got up to

This week has been typically busy, with the highlight being the two sessions of user research we did.


We spent a lot of time writing proposals this week for some really interesting work, some consultancy and some solidarity. If these come through it will be excellent.

We are of course always available to consult for progressive organisations or work on solidarity projects.

You can book a chat for an hour directly or email us.


Our international consultancy project continued, with us sending over wireframes for their review.

Networking across CoTech

We are proud to be a part of CoTech — the UK wide network of tech cooperatives — and actively try to reach out to others within it.

This week we had a chat with The Developer Society , who are based in Birmingham, and The Small Axe from London. They are wonderful folks!

Cooperation Kentish Town

We’re working with the initiators of the Cooperation Kentish Town food solidarity group to reproduce this kind of organising work in other parts of the country, based on their experiments.

On Monday night we were invited to the initial meeting and left enthusiastic and full of ideas, having made copious notes about the facilitation and decision making processes involved.

We’re particularly focused on reducing the anxiety and worry of taking the first steps towards kicking off self-organisation initiatives like this, building on the simple digital facilitation that is already live: the mutual-aid.uk website. We’ll share our prototypes for this project soon.

Left Book Club

We began our work with Left Book Club by taking part in the Finsbury Park meeting. It was a really interesting chat over Beyond the Fragments by Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal and Hilary Wainwright.

We thought it was a very enjoyable reading group and especially enjoyed the fact that it really fostered an exchange of movement experience between generations — it was really interesting when younger and older activists talked to one another, not just about the book but about current circumstances, local activist news and the meaning of the book for the reading group itself: how do we organise ourselves?

We’ll be visiting the Hackney reading group soon. Next week we will be doing our “Weekly Product Lab” and producing a really quick prototype based on what we learnt.

If you host a Left Book Club in the Greater London area and wouldn’t mind us coming along to participate and observe, then let us know at leftbookclub@commonknowledge.coop

Book groups are an important space for grassroots political learning as well as providing a space of solidarity, community and a basis for organisation. We want to learn how they work well and build out the digital and social infrastructure to help them flourish.


Work continued on our new website. We are really close with it and should be launching next week.


Space4 is the cooperatively run co-working space we work from. It’s such a positive space, filled with interesting people to talk to who are working on really important projects.

This Wednesday we had lunch with everyone in the space — delicious Ethiopian food from St Gabriel ’s. This happens every week and costs a very reasonable £5 that someone just decides on the day to collect.

We also paid £1 each to join the collective fruit bowl that some of the students at Founders and Coders , who share the space with the co-workers, have arranged.

Advisory Board

We have an advisory board that we talk to about our work. They are: Becky Bond, Lizzie O’Shea and Richard D. Bartlett. We sent them a highly delayed update this week, delayed because of the General Election. It was useful to have the space to reflect upon what we’d made and learnt.

What we’re reading

Books we’re reading across the co-op at the moment include Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown and The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin , which both contain beautifully quotable prose.

Here’s one that’s bouncing around our heads a lot:

“Nature has taught me that if humans don’t figure out what revolution really means, nature will make the revolution despite us.” — Tawana Petty, via Emergent Strategy

GoFreeRange, another tech coop, publish a very good blog .

Local Welcome are a project we are massive fans off and feel a fair bit of affinity with, especially with their commitment to user led work and use of community organising techniques. We loved this blog talking about the problems they are trying to solve at the moment.

We are Common Knowledge, a not-for-profit workers’ cooperative. Working directly with grassroots activists, we design digital tools that make radical change possible. We are guided by the values of agency, solidarity, pragmatism, thoughtfulness, interdependence, openness, optimism and cooperation.