The Challenge5500 followers
Shared Worldview Communities to Supercharge ActivismTake a beliefs quiz to identify your core moral values. Join a supportive community whose political judgement you trust. Share solutions, collaborate across the belief spectrum, pool resources, accomplish big things in your city and the world.
We’ve found a way to create this world using psychology and technology that didn’t exist until today. As Tim O’Reilly says, “the pieces are in place and the time is right.”
- Create a values-based quiz and a political social networking platform to connect users with similar worldviews
- Build communities, called houses, founded on trust of ethical/political judgment
- Reveal and spread solutions that have been effective in one community to other houses
- Highlight clear, actionable next steps to make progress on social issues
- Facilitate connections between houses and experts
- Encourage collaboration and discourse across the political/belief spectrum
The effect will be to:
- Eliminate the feeling of being an "island of one"
- Create supportive environments where people with collective will and purpose will pursue solutions aligned with their values
- Empower people to take collective action to improve their own communities
- Shape the path to activism
- Make it easy for people to contribute to solutions that are personally meaningful regardless of how popular those solutions have been in the past
- Increase compassion and empathy, leading to creation of better public policy
Perhaps you don't have the time or the right skills to affect change on your own, but what if there were a hundred, or even a thousand of you, all pitching in and working together, with their own talents contributing, with whatever time they have, to feed the homeless? To mentor children? To change the system so everyone has a warm place to sleep at night and our children learn the skills they need to be successful? To make the world better?
The people who might be interested in houses are activists, those seeking to connect with others, and people longing for purpose and a path to make a difference in the world.
People don’t have time to fit activism into their lives, to effectively sift through the mass of information to find suggestions or organizations they trust. By expanding the political spectrum, connecting people with shared values, encouraging discourse across communities, and spreading small actions people can take, we can make it easy for everyone to contribute. We can enable thoughtful, committed citizens to change the world.
In the future, houses will be provided with tools to help them be fully democratic, electing leadership, and using tools like direct voting and argumentation systems to both encourage critical thinking and better inform policy makers about public opinions.
---------------- How We’re Different: Hard Lessons Learned -------------------
in Political Social Networking
1. Our platform doesn’t rely on mass adoption! One of the fatal flaws of many well-intentioned political social networks is that they rely on mass adoption to provide their core value. THF will have value in connecting its first few users since it only takes a single connection to find an equal partner.
2. Our platform doesn’t rely on general consensus! Another convenient myth in political social networking is that more participation and deliberation will lead to general consensus solutions. In reality, most of our disagreements are based on values that evolve very slowly if at all, not after hearing well structured arguments. Diversity of opinion is natural and beneficial; minority-supported solutions can be highly effective and may elicit passionate support from portions of the population. THF helps people find the solutions that appeal to them, and provides them with a simple path to action. We want to find the voices that aren’t heard.
3. Our platform makes real world connections then gets out of the way, except to celebrate and spread successes and help overcome challenges. We will foster face-to-face communication and collaboration, not mediate it. We don’t want to be Facebook, or to keep people on our site unnecessarily.
4. Our platform has a buildable MVP. Our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the belief quiz and matching tools, and a lean team to work with our expert network, provide resources to houses, and implement our business models.
5. Our platform isn’t an opinion site. Opinions have value, particularly when they’re between genuine citizens and their exact elected officials, but we’re not trying to create value on our site, we’re trying to create value through it.
6. Our platform spreads solutions based on success, not just popularity. As the Heath brothers would say, we are focused on bright spots, examples of what is working well in local communities.
7. Our platform facilitates person-to-person solutions and system-wide change. If you care about stormwater runoff, we’ll connect you with someone running a rain-barrel program as well as a petition for a new stormwater runoff law.
Houses will become uber constituents: self-organized, democratic, focused, and capable of being equal partners with government for projects at every scale. THF will sustain the ground swell of political/social interest between elections, giving people an easy onboarding process to convert their passion into action.
THF will facilitate open government by:
- Providing ideal communities for government to pilot solutions
- Encouraging information exchange and collaboration between government and houses
- Ensuring government awareness of the solutions acceptable to people affected by given issues
- Connecting government to residents on a personal level
THF will enable citizens to drive change in their communities by:
- Providing alternative solutions that are in line with a house’s beliefs
- Connecting houses to nonpartisan technical or legislative experts
- Acting as a knowledge sharing network between houses and organizations, e.g., charities or local nonprofits
---------------------------- Why It Works ----------------------------
There are four lessons we’ve learned that define our project. Here are the relevant insights and the minds behind them:
1. Encouraging discourse between people with differing viewpoints will lead to increased empathy and stronger policies. Jonathan Haidt researches how moral psychology shapes our political views. It’s striking, the notion that prioritization of ethical beliefs drives political opinions.
2. Cohesive value-driven groups are unusually effective, and can be grown to act well beyond themselves.
David Logan researches organizations, how they evolve and their social effectiveness.
3. Open, democratic organizations can make intelligent, holistic decisions about their actions and governance.
Duverger and others over the last 200 years, and in particular with the recent Gov2.0 movement supported by people such as Tim O’Reilly and Clay Shirky, have discovered more functional and democratic methods of electing representatives and structuring citizen (or member) controlled governing bodies.
4. Fostering small actions in just the right places often leads to world-shaping change.
Chip and Dan Heath research and write about changing people's behavior through psychology and system change. David Allen and Merlin Mann write and speak about personal and organizational productivity.
Organizations that embody elements of these principles exist today. If you look, you will find pockets of people with shared beliefs who express those beliefs by improving their communities and societies. It might look like a church group serving food at a homeless shelter, a grassroots organization fighting for better health outcomes for low-income families, or an environmental nonprofit building peer support networks.
We call organizations that embody all four of our principles houses. We’d like to introduce you to yours.
-------------- How would we use the news challenge funds? --------------
We’re seeking funds to:
- Work with experts/partners to write the quiz and matching algorithms.
- License or build a simple web tool to execute the quiz, determine the best matches, and facilitate grassroots solution sharing approaches, ideally using resources such as Code for America. Then start connecting people.
- Support a lean team of staff to execute the above, grow our expert network, and work with houses.
- Develop a plan for next stage capabilities of THF such as more sophisticated house support and organizational consulting.
- Develop business models such as matching people with ideological organizations such as charities and foundations, and consulting services for houses and house-like organizations.
We have been developing THF conceptually for years, it is only just now getting started as an entity. We will be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and all of our software will be developed and licensed as Open Source. Further, in recognizing the academic value of our anonymized data we will make it available for academics doing research in the field.
--------------------------- Who’s working on it? ----------------------------
Lucas Dailey is Chief Innovation Officer at MyMaryland.net, his third political social network. Lucas is a UX/UI designer with a background in visual/behavioral psychology and politics/government who has been working in the political social network space for the last five years, most recently as the CEO of Our Ballot Box, Inc. THF evolved out of a multi-year visioning of solutions to political dysfunction and short-sightedness.
Lee Shanahan has seven years experience managing time-sensitive projects for technical support teams. Lee spent two years training and developing managers at a stage 4 organization, and stays current on the latest research in leadership, organizational development, and behavioral psychology. Her statistics background, affinity for applying systems thinking to complex situations, and deep-seated desire to improve the world led to her interest in developing THF.
Because of their complementary experience in the relevant industries Lucas and Lee are the right team to lead the creation and development of The House Foundation and its worldview-defining and organization-building social networking software.
---------------------------------- Partners -----------------------------------
The House Foundation team and advisors will expand to continue integrating the forefront of political, psychological, and behavioral research to make The House Foundation and houses themselves models for other activist organizations and even governments.
To create the belief survey we’ve received input from the research team that works with Jonathan Haidt, yourmorals.org, regarding ethical foundations and the current academic research surrounding politics and morals, as well as connected with Sam Yagan, founder of OKCupid, regarding ideas on how to reframe and make awesome the online questionnaire. We have guidance from the First Unitarian Society (a spiritual and ethics-based community focused on social justice and activism) regarding community building and social justice practices. We connected with the Ford Foundation about their work with democratic governance and will seek further advice from them going forward. We plan to reach out to Michael Sandel regarding his work with political philosophy, David Logan regarding his work with organizational culture, and the Harvard Law Lab regarding contemporary government structures.
--------------------------------- Summary -----------------------------------
Find your community. Find your path. Change the world.
Will houses be too insular? Will they become echo-chambers keeping people isolated?
We completely agree that discourse and introspection are important. In reading the following points about ways The House Foundation promotes discourse and introspection, picture a full spectrum of houses, not just a single house in isolation:
Current research about decision making indicates that when people think in terms of a narrow frame, e.g., “Should I do this or that?” they miss options. By widening the spectrum to include a full range of beliefs, we are helping people understand there are many more options related to viewpoints as well as potential policy decisions. In simple and complex situations, where there are more than two options (e.g., Germany has six political parties), people are more open to new considering new ideas and are more open to feedback from “opposing” viewpoints.
By helping to break down the “us vs them” mentality that is derived from a two-party or two-option system, we are helping people see their “competitors” as homelessness or hunger or disease instead of the group with the opposing viewpoint.
Houses will form inter-house coalitions on many social/political issues that appeal to their worldviews, e.g., homelessness can be approached from a service angle by serving food or providing shelter, from an advocacy perspective by lobbying for rights or legislation changes. Houses will find each of these solutions virtuous for different reasons. Collaboration across houses and the belief spectrum will be the norm.
Lastly, there will be such substantial ideological overlap between houses that people will have many house different options that are appealing. This will naturally lead to greater introspection, house-switching, and more general curiosity about the views of others.
What is your project? [1 sentence max]
Where are you located?
Madison / WI / USA
How did you hear about the contest?
- Knight Foundation website