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Jeffrey Elkner

Decidim: People's Software for Democratic Participation


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Decidim describes itself as "a digital platform for citizen participation", and the homepage banner carries the subheading, "Free Open-Source participatory democracy for cities and organizations". Pablo Aragón's 7 minute 20 second presentation, with this same title, is a great place to start for a big picture intro to what Decidim is about, as is the 1 minute 57 second Decidim: From social to political network.

I have been dreaming of the possibility of creating a web platform of this kind for years now. The web development cooperative of which I am a member, NOVA Web Development, has been putting effort toward this kind of platform for the past 4 years, and has developed its own small effort, LibreOrganize. We spent a few thousand dollars and the dedicated effort of a few young and talented web developers to get it started, but I had no illusions that the project would ever amount to much without some serious resources dedicated toward its development. I had hoped that either through the labor movement or perhaps an organization like DSA, interest in, and resources toward the project would be forthcoming.

Decidim changes that calculation completely. Developed with real funding from the city of Barcelona, it is already being used by tens of thousands of residents in that city for strategic planning, participatory budgeting, and networked communications within the city. Barcelona is committed to developing open source software for governments, and has allocated real resources toward this commitment.

I believe that our little co-op should investigate this platform, and determine whether we could provide support for setting up decidim in our area and for our movement. It aligns so well with our co-op's principles of helping to build the world we want to live in.

The first step would be to install decidim for our own use, and to see how it works and what it can do. I hope to have more to say on this process soon.