Our approach to mentoring has very much been influenced by our colleagues at Zemos98. Their approach to learning is based on the four following tenets:
- trusting peer to peer knowledge,
- accepting diversity as an intellectual basis for our work together,
- connecting practices and experiences for the common good, and
- using not just oral but also visual languages.
In DisCO we follow suit. Wikis such as this are only a first step in what we consider to be a non-directive mutual space for learning. Texts can become meaningless without real human support to bring the ideas described here to life and in situated contexts. Videos, infographics and other media will help us learn and refine the message, but the most important work acquires meaning through our relationships.
If knowledge is power, then we want to share that power we've accumulated with new members so they feel a similar sense of ownership and familiarity as soon as it's feasible. We consider the learning to be mutual, bidirectional and based on personal relations and needs. When we speak about creating a knowledge commons in DisCO, we're not just talking about the articles and materials we publish on our website, but also the culture, practices and structures of the collective itself. As part of the community we first want you:
a) understand where we're coming from and why we've made these choices
b) add your voice to the choir and enrich our commons
Practically speaking, those with more experience in DisCO, such as members from the Guerrilla Translation pilot project, mentor new members in the productive activities of the collective. Beyond this, all members mentor each other in cooperative culture, specifically the tools and practices of the Open Coop in question. Mentoring is always bi-directional (both ways), peer to peer, and available to any committed member. The outputs of the mentoring process are recorded as part of our knowledge commons and openly shared through resources such as this handbook or our wiki. While mentoring is an ongoing process, special attention is paid to those members going through the Dating Phase.
During the Dating Phase, mentoring is handled by your DisCO Buddy. DisCO Buddies take dating members through all aspects of working on the collective, the tools, our governance model, etc. They ensure that new members get all they need to meet a series of criteria on the way to becoming full, committed DisCONAUTS. After the Dating Phase is over you will no longer have an exclusively DisCO Buddy assigned, instead you will become a new Dating Member's Buddy.
Full members will still receive assistance, of course, but it's now seen as a collective responsibility, rather than an individual one. Anyone needing mentoring support after the Dating Phase is encouraged to use Mattermost and Loomio to reach out for guidance.
We don't expect everyone to know everything all the time, but DisCONAUTS are expected to be able to mentor new members and each other in several areas and new members are expected to be open and available for this process.