4: DisCO Journey and LABs
The DisCO LABS are frontline communities taking matters into their own hands. As a framework, DisCO only really comes alive through the continual creation and reinvention of DisCO LABs: Small, distributed groups of 4-20 people that federate and jam with each other. The LABS toe the line between self- and community-determination. This is how DisCO propagates and stabilizes as an economic counterpower.
Every DisCO is a DisCO LAB: This includes the founding DisCO organization, DisCO.coop. Relations between LABS are heterarchical. This means that we recognize each other's experience and expertise as uniquely valuable. As an economic framework, DisCO is very much pattern-based and pluriversal: this means that it's adapted to the specific needs and circumstances of each individual DisCO.
What does it take to become a DisCO LAB? Every DisCO LAB is tasked with exploring and documenting its unique answers to the Seven DisCO Principles. This is how they begin the DisCO Journey. The principles need to be met in ways that make sense for each LABS' culture and environment. This ongoing process of community-level economic prototyping strengthens DisCO's resilience and pluriversality.
The OG DisCO LAB is Guerrilla Media Collective (or GMC, Spain/Berlin). Created in 2013, GMC is an activist communications collective and agency. The DisCO framework emerged out of GMC’s lived experience, and GMC has served as its testing ground.
Guerrilla Media Collective is a feminist translation cooperative with a strong focus on the commons. It is an international group of professionals dedicated to preserving the art of translation, using the cooperative model as a tool for providing sustainable, dignified and ethical work to those in the knowledge sector. Advocating for free and open culture, they've been pioneers in licensing their texts with the Peer Production License since 2013.
Guerrilla Media Collective cares for the humans that work on their translations and promotes the use of cooperative models as a fair and solidarity-based alternative in a sector so often plagued by precarity. The articles they translate are selected with intention and care, always with the permission of the author, and they translate them pro bono to make them accessible to a new audience free of charge.
In addition to their translation work, they document all of their organizational processes and results achieved that may inspire other activists and ‘game changers’ to take action. In this sense, Guerrilla Media Collective is a laboratory for creating governance models, a testing ground where we translate (pun intended) the principles of cooperativism and other sources of inspiration – the commons, P2P methodologies, feminist economics, alternative value models – into reality. This experimentation and activity ended up being the catalyst for DisCO.coop.
Cooperation Jackson (CJ) is a black solidarity network of cooperatives and worker-owned, democratically self-managed enterprises based in Jackson, Mississippi (USA). Cooperation Jackson is one of the most radical, political cooperative projects in the world, as well as a beacon for radical black cooperativism. It aims to develop a series of independent but connected democratic institutions to empower the workers and residents of Jackson to address the needs of poor, unemployed, Black and Latino residents.
This network will consist of four interconnected, interdependent institutions: a federation of local worker cooperatives; a cooperative incubator; a cooperative education and training center (the Kuwasi Balagoon Center for Economic Democracy and Development); and a cooperative bank or financial institution.
Cooperation Jackson believes that we can replace the current socio-economic system of exploitation, exclusion and the destruction of the environment with a proven democratic alternative. An alternative built on equity, cooperation, worker democracy, and environmental sustainability to provide meaningful living wage jobs, reduce racial inequities, and build community wealth.
Laneras is a DisCO LAB working with merino wool in the Extremadura region of western Spain. Recuperating ancient wool gathering and weaving practices, Laneras is open-sourcing endangered knowledge and educating commoners on the machinery, tools and special aspects of truly sustainable fiber and clothing.
Laneras gives free traditional wool-harvesting workshops, while documenting and sharing designs for low-tech machinery for weaving and looming. They aim to revive sustainable practices, use local raw materials to prevent their loss, revitalize the community and territory, protect local land and social bonds, and support biological biodiversity and rural development.
Carework is closely tied to Laneras’ own origins, worldview and development. Their project is ecofeminist in nature, prioritizing care towards oneself, others and the environment. Community support networks are essential to their mission, and the relationships that members form are strongly grounded in trust, mutual support and interdependence.
REPAIRE fosters relations between Quebec's independent research and experimental arts and its counterparts in Canada and abroad. REPAIRE's aim is to increase the recognition and influence of this ecosystem, representing and defending the professional and socio-economic interests of its members while encouraging the promotion and documentation of independent research and experimental arts.
REPAIRE actively responds to the evolving nature of the artistic practices it supports and the organizations behind them, by nurturing dynamic collaboration and knowledge-sharing. It seeks to ensure the implementation of practices based on equity, socio-economic solidarity and sustainable development. REPAIRE also prioritizes striking a balance between the transformations of independent artistic research, their experimentation practices and their sources of funding.
Space of Urgency (SOU) is an emerging network that enables and sustains access to space for the next generation of culture.
Space of Urgency consists of founders of non-dominant cultural spaces, collectives, community initiatives, and motivated organizations working together to design, develop and improve conditions for self-organization and access to physical space. SOU envisions a future where non-dominant cultural spaces and their communities are self-reliant, both in rural and urban environments, even when political support is non-existent.
Space of Urgency engages in a variety of projects, ranging from public actions, community projects and offline events, to international collaborations, digital tool development and research and advice for local governments.
SODAA (Self-Organized Decentralised Accessible Arts) is a collective of artists, DJs, musicians, producers, coders, songwriters, hackers, promoters and partygoers assembled together towards building a decentralized governance model for a venue in London.
Imagine a music and arts venue funded and operated by its community, where every member is involved in the decision making process. SODAA dreams of applying new modes of cooperation to physical spaces combining online and IRL participation. Their mission is to create a sustainable and inclusive future for the music scene.
These LABS are a small sample of all the organizations who have either expressed interest or are on the way to becoming a DisCO LAB. See all the currently active labs here.
Our DJ is the DisCO Journey
The DisCO Journey (DJ, in short) is our immersive DisCO-making program, to develop, document and create distributed economic alternatives that work in the here and now. The DJ is designed for DisCOs to build trust and federate with each other. We're creating a network of committed groups that want to build large-scale, federated economic counterpower. Here's how it works:
Famed commons-theorist Elinor Ostrom said that commons are continually "moving back and forth from the world of theory to the world of action". DisCO balances these worlds by co-creating comprehensive resources drawn from diverse experiences — our interest as founders of DisCO is to see it evolve in myriad cultural contexts and manifestations. All our resources are Open and Peer-Production Licensed. This means that you can copy these resources and, if you're a coop, social solidarity economy enterprise, non-hierarchical NGO or, basically, any organization that operates on largely anticapitalist principles, you can freely use them to gather income for your mission.
DisCO is thorough and can be complex so, even though the DisCO Journey is about your experience (and that of your group) you don't have to go at it alone.
The DisCO Journey is all about relationality: meeting people where they are, making kin and growing together in solidarity. To achieve this, the DJ amplifies some of the Dating and Mentoring practices found in individual DisCOs within an experimental, DisCO Cluster context.
The DisCO Journey has 3 Main Paths and Seven Steps:
3 Main Paths on the DisCO Journey
You will be able to take the DisCO Journey in 3 ways, listed in order of time and involvement:
1: DisCO Journey Quick Start
The Quick Start Journey is designed to get you up and running as a DisCO in no time. You only need to take the DisCO Challenge, our interactive quiz to determine whether you're ready to DisCO or not. Upon completion of Step 1, you're a proto-DisCO. Once you've completed Step 2, you're part of the DisCOverse. You can then choose to engage with the other two DJ modalities later on.
2: DisCO Journey Self-Paced
This is the full-scope DisCO Journey, but you and your group will take it at your own time and rhythm, supported by our materials and access to our community spaces.
3: DisCO Journey Cohort
In the DisCO Journey Cohort, you will have regular calls with the DisCO.coop team and other DisCOs taking the Journey. Together we will take part in games, exercises, mutual care and exploration of the development of the DisCOverse. The Journey weaves speculative economic sci-fi with real world practice. Conceived as a LAERP (Live Action Economic Role Playing Game), participating DisCOs LABS co-create the lore and resources to animate DisCOnomics into everyday practice.
The following summary of steps concerns mainly Paths 2 &3, which are the ones we recommend for the full-on DisCO experience.
7 Steps on the DisCO Floor
These 7 Steps represent a peer learning process to co-create advanced, mature DisCOs. Every step builds on previous ones and each iteration of the DisCO Journey benefits from the experience of those who have taken it previously — it's the ultimate dance party.
Step 1: Get on the DisCO Dance Floor
- Your DisCO agrees to take the Journey and contacts the DisCO.coop team for an onboarding call.
Step 2: Spinning the Seven DisCO Principles
- Your DisCO considers and discusses how it addresses the 7 DisCO Principles, reflecting your group’s answers in a simple document. You will now have a dedicated entry in the DisCO Ball Wiki and are now officially a DisCO. Congratulations!
Step 3: Pump up the Values
- Your DisCO discusses how it meets, forks or adds new values to the 11 original DisCO values. You will add this information to the DisCO Ball Wiki and gain access to DisCO's discussion spaces on Matrix and Loomio.
Step 4: Break it up, Break Down: DisCO Elements
- Your DisCO discusses which DisCO Elements to use or adapt. We will encourage you to create and document new Elements that other DisCOs can benefit from. As part of this you will create your own information repository, as a complement to the DisCO Ball Wiki. You will have a progress call with the DisCO.coop team and your journey will be featured in a blog post or interview on the main DisCO.coop site.
Step 5: The DisCO that Governs Together Stays Together
- Your DisCO will discuss and create its own base DisCO governance model, describing roles and responsibilities, value tracking and decision making, creating new governance patterns for the DisCOverse.
Step 6: Hexagons are the Bestagons — Building the DisCOverse
- Your DisCO will support the development of younger DisCOs on their DisCO Journey, building a supportive relationship network with other DisCOs. The Bestagon is our visual representation unit, ultimately used as a building block for SuperDisCOs.
Step 7: Seven is the Magic Number: Federating the DisCOverse
- Your DisCO will complete its Bestagon by surrounding itself with six other DisCOs. Share your Journey and the lessons learned with the other six and explore inner and outer federation to continue to build resilience in the DisCOverse.
Click here to find all about the DisCO Journey, including timelines, how to qualify etc
- The DisCO LABS are communities in the process of implementing the DisCO framework. This process is called the DisCO Journey. The cultural context and circumstances of each DisCO LAB is unique and so is the way they address the 7 DisCO Principles.
- The DisCO Journey has 3 Main Paths (quick start, self-paced and cohort) and Seven Steps that sequentially guide each community towards becoming a full-fledged DisCO. Each step is meant to help the group clarify their values, methodologies and governance, among others. The ultimate aim is to develop a network of federated DisCO LABS and to create distributed economic counterpower.
- The most mature DisCO LABS to date are Guerrilla Media Collective, Cooperation Jackson, Laneras, REPAIRE, Space of Urgency and SODAA. You can check all the other currently active labs here.