Competition, Collaboration, and Co-Creation

(here’s an original voice… interesting ideas and suggest reading – promoted by pfiore8)

I have a .net head and a .org heart.
I am trying to transform a .com game using .gov players.

The nature of American politics is highly competitive. It is not rule by the majority. It is rule by those who can take power and dig the deepest trenches to defend it. Getting an office is a series of rivalries and victories. At each step another 49% of the voices get pushed aside, and the remaining 51% go on to the next divisive round. Tiny factions get the spoils.

This paradigm of competition is such a deep part of the structure, that to generate participation I sometimes have to cloak ‘all of us together’ projects in the language of ‘us vs. them.’

I think there is a larger point to be made here about cooperative blog projects, the ecology of bloggers each doing their own thing, and the underlying competitiveness of Left vs. Right, Dem vs Rep, DLC vs Progressive, and my blog vs. their blog.

I am not sure that I can fully make that point, but I will nibble around the edges while telling you what I am doing to mess with the system in the Colorado 2nd Congressional District ‘Coats and Cans‘ straw poll.

In Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, Rep. Mark Udall (D) is vacating his relatively safe seat to launch a race for the Senate.

Three very worthy successors have stepped up and are fighting what might be the most expensive congressional primary in the history of American politics. Their quarterly reports aren’t in yet, but it looks like they have combined to raise close to $2 million already.

Money is flying around for consultants and media buys, but it is a district rife with foreclosures and layoffs. How could we give these three civic minded folks an excuse to step away from the knife fight, and spend a few moments doing the work they all really came here to do?

Democrats Work has set up the ‘Coats and Cans‘ poll.
The rules are simple: one can = one vote; one coat = five votes.
Ballot box stuffing is encouraged.

We found partner charities in the district who could distribute the donations, and we are hosting park cleanups and tree plantings in places where we have invited people to stop by and ‘cast their votes.’

The campaigns have appeared eager to participate. Why not? Good press for everybody, bragging rights for somebody, and a way to rally the troops around an event before the holidays scatter them.

I think it is going to generate a lot of good, and if anyone wants to do something like this on any scale in your area I would be happy to let you know what is working for us and what problems we run into along the way.


It is great that we are able to coat community service in a competitive sugary coating so that the political beast will swallow it faster, but it has me wondering about the next step. It has me thinking about possible futures.

Other sites have been great at joining people together to support political races, but essentially that means they have brought people together to fight other people. That has its place, and in all honesty, it is part of my job at Democrats Work; I am trying to build a stronger Democratic Party.

But there is another part to the job; I am helping to build a BETTER Democratic Party. The goal is to have people working together to improve the world for everyone. I think that this website could foster projects with that spirit.

I think Docudharma is a great rain forest of wondrous and strange bloggers, each doing in their own niche what is right for them. I do not want to tamper with that. I like being part of a co-created world that stirs together all of those unique and varied visions.

At the same time, I would love to be able to move forward with the efficiency that is common to ugly industrial machines. By stoking the fires of competition I expect us to do more for the food banks than we could have with just the request. I want to tap into the power of combined action.

I guess that ultimately I am looking for something between the jungle and the machine. I want to find a tribe. I want more partners. I want to band together with other individuals and work in our individual ways towards a common purpose.
It doesn’t have to be anything to do with my projects in particular, but I would like to see something emerge here that creates an opportunity for combined action.

If you would like to work together to create ways to raise donations then I certainly would love to have a conversation about ways we could spend them. We always need $ for events, and I would love the seed money to create self-perpetuating blog ads that can keep spreading the word while supporting the good sites.
But really this does not have to be about Democrats Work…

You tell me.
Is there something we can do together that works outside the zero-sum world of competition?
Is there something we can cultivate together that will make the world richer as it grows?

Invite me in.


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  1. original thinking… fresh perspective… will promote this!

    i love the “i want to find a tribe.”

    i’m always saying that i love to run with the pack… so i know what you mean

  2. nice little article here and we may want to vote in the poll regarding should Huntington Beach consider passing an Impeachment Order on Bushywallwalldingdong.

  3. Creativity is what we need, and your projects show it. Welcome aboard.

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