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of by for is a movement to end the game of electoral politics and build real democracy.

This means replacing politicians with everyday people from all walks of life. And it means putting them in position to have honest informed conversations, find common ground, and make wise decisions.

Our vision

If we continue to let the game of electoral politics sell us out and tear us apart, we will continue to suffer blatant corruption, mounting crises, and a further disintegration of the fabric of our society. Our children will inherit a lost and imploded America.

But if we can end the game of electoral politics in time and build real democracy, we envision a world in which we all feel in control of our future, confident in our government, and proud of our country. We envision a future in which we solve the many crises we face and finally enjoy peace of mind. A future in which we heal our divisions, regain a sense of community, and empower our children to lead full and fulfilling lives.

Who we are

of by for began with a few people who’d had enough of the political game and could no longer stand to watch their communities and country come undone. One founder actively avoided politics his whole life. Another has never voted.

Searching for a solution, we found democratic lotteriesand found each other. And the more we spoke with everyday people about the ideas behind of by for, the more we saw how hungry Americans were for them. So we combined our experiences, did our homework, and founded of by for with a deep and sober understanding of how challenging yet necessary and possible this change is.

We pride ourselves on being caring, capable, courageous, and humble. And we’re working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralized, and inclusive. To learn more about our founders .

Our partners

of by for is an active member of Democracy R&D, an international network of organizations, associations, and individuals that develop, implement, and promote ways to improve democracy, from the local to the global level. All 30+ organizations work with and develop the practice of democratic lotteries.

of by for is an active member of Democracy R&D, an international network of organizations, associations, and individuals that develop, implement, and promote ways to improve democracy, from the local to the global level. All 30+ organizations work with and develop the practice of democratic lotteries.

overwhelming public pressure
+
sustained escalating disruption
=
transformative change

Our Theory of Change

Changing from elections and politicians to lotteries and everyday people means changing the structure of power in our society. This won’t come about by simply writing or lobbying politicians. A corrupt few at the top will resist for as long as they can.

So our approach comes from movements that have peacefully ended colonial rule and toppled dictators. It centers on building overwhelming public pressure and creating sustained escalating disruption for the political establishment on an increasingly massive scale. When we organize and refuse to play along with business as usual, the house of cards can come tumbling down fast.

This has been proven over and over again across the world. Researcher Erica Chenoweth’s analysis of 323 efforts at regime change over 100 years showed that every peaceful campaign that actively engaged 3.5% of the population has succeeded. With 65% of surveyed Americas already agreeing with our vision, we think the time for real democracy has finally come.

Our timeline

2020-2021

Popularize

We will mainstream our vision for real democracy and organize committed volunteers in communities around the country to take action at the local and regional level

2020-2021

2022+

Institutionalize

We will pursue ballot initiatives in cities and states nationwide to begin putting our vision into practice

2022+

2023+

Mobilize

We will take bolder and bolder steps to disrupt business as usual and build overwhelming public pressure for the transition to democratic lotteries

2023+

Our principles

  • We put our personal politics aside and put democracy first
  • We don’t support or align with parties, candidates, or issue based movements and organizations. They can endorse us, but we don’t endorse them.
  • We build with people from all walks of life, recognizing that our success depends on our movement reflecting all of America
  • We’re all responsible for growing the movement and deepening relationships
  • We’re respectful, assume best intent, and cut each other some slack. When missteps occur we support learning, not shaming.
  • We don’t tolerate harassment or abuse
  • We fully accept how things are and commit ourselves to making them right.
  • We do not indulge in blame, excuses, and denial.
  • We welcome and support all to contribute and take leadership
  • We see leadership as rooted in service and empowerment
  • We’re committed to leadership that’s decentralized, fluid, collective, and accountable
  • We are strictly nonviolent
  • We always take the high road regardless of others’ actions towards us
  • We advance, without asking permission or backing down
  • We are evidence-based, check our motivations, and focus on first principles
  • We are self-critical and always looking to improve
  • Mistakes are expected. Not learning from mistakes is unacceptable.
  • We understand that ordinary people — not economic or political elites — have ultimate power in society through our consent and cooperation
  • We focus on winning public support by contrasting the beauty and legitimacy of our vision with the the ugliness and unfairness of the political establishment
  • We treat everyone as a future ally in the making. We meet them where they’re at and focus on the values we share in common. We use our personal stories to build relationships and trust, and show what we all have at stake.
  • We design actions that push others to take a stand
  • Both with each other and the public, we do creative and unexpected things that win attention, admiration, and affection.
  • We avoid activist cliches
  • We encourage creativity, risk-taking, and innovation to help us find the most effective ways to fulfill our common mission.
  • We ask for advice, not permission and ensure that our actions align with our mission, principles, and strategy.
  • We act with the fierce urgency of whats at stake, knowing that every day counts
  • Yet we understand that each member’s well-being is integral to our strength as a movement
  • We take care of ourselves and each other, knowing this may look different for each of us
  • We balance hard work and hardship with good humor
  • We are prepared to be ignored, laughed at, misunderstood, and misrepresented, knowing it’s simply part of the process of deep change
  • We see opposition and oppression as signs of our growing power and leverage them to our advantage
  • When a need arises, we always default to eliciting our own or others’ generosity
  • We value every contribution knowing that we all lend a hand in different ways
  • When in-kind donations or creative solutions aren’t possible, every penny that does get spent is justified and accounted for

Our Structure

Our movement has a democratic structure designed to be both effective in its mission and accountable to its membership.

Local Hubs

Do the most important work of the movement: growing participation and taking action in communities all across the country.

National Team

Serves and supports the leadership of local hubs. Together with the local hubs, it provides direction, strategy, and coordination to the movement as a whole. The national team is accountable to the Board of Directors. 

Board of Directors

Responsible for high-level decisions, overseeing the national team, and ensuring the movement stays true to its mission. A majority of directors will be selected by lottery from the membership and rotated, once the movement reaches adequate size. 

Conventions

Have the ultimate authority regarding major decisions faced by our movement. These are large, ad-hoc groups selected by lottery from all active members. They meet online in a facilitated process that includes presentations for and against relevant proposals. Require 2/3 majority vote through secret ballot. Active members can petition the membership to call and place proposals before a Member Convention.

Our advisors

We’re set up to incorporate the right blend of both outside expertise and the lived experience of those doing the work of the movement.

Advisory Panel

Provides input and guidance to our board,national team, member conventions, and advisory assemblies.

Comprised of specialists in different fields who bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the table. To see our current advisors .

Advisory Assembly

An assembly of active members that provides a pulse of the movement for our board and national team.

Similar to a Member Convention, but serves only an advisory role (i.e. provides input and guidance but does not make decisions).

Our founders

George Zisiadis is an artist and designer who committed his career to creating large-scale public art that could provide joy and beauty to everyone equally. This practice taught him to lead teams through large, complex challenges towards the realization of bold visions. It also taught him how to speak directly into people’s hearts, and make things look great. But after a decade of creating beauty in the world, he realized that it didn’t matter how pretty things are on the surface, if the foundations are rotten. So he’s rolled up his sleeves, and is dead-set on helping transform what is deeply broken in the world.

Adam Cronkright is on the Coordinating Committee of Democracy R&D, a network of 30 organizations advancing democratic lotteries in 18 countries around the world. He is also helping spearhead an international and multilingual effort to share the story of democratic lotteries on the internet. He co-founded Democracy In Practice in 2013, a non-profit whose work reinventing student government with democratic lotteries was a finalist for the Council of Europe’s 2016 Democracy Innovation Award. Before that, Adam was deeply involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan, where he co-facilitated two sessions of the occupation’s General Assembly, and co-wrote the proposal that created a Spokes-Council alongside the Assembly.

Our advisors

Movement Organizing

Jamie Kelsey-Fry – Extinction Rebellion & New Internationalist
Jamie has been a key organizer with Extinction Rebellion since its beginning in 2018. He is the author of the Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit and founder of the successful participatory-democracy-led grassroots community platform Torridge Common Ground. He is a contributing editor at the world’s biggest media cooperative, New Internationalist, with over 200 appearances on mainstream broadcast media as “the revolutionary your grandmother would love.”

Oscar Olivera – Fundación Abril
Oscar is best known for his important role as an organizer, activist, and spokesperson for “La Coordinadora del Agua” during the so-called ‘Water War’ protests in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2000). He has received numerous awards, including the Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Award (2000) and the Goldman Environmental Prize (2001), and was the inspiration for the protagonist ‘Daniel’ in the feature film Even the Rain (2010). Currently, Oscar is an active member of the Andean School of Water and the Director of La Foundation Abril, a non-profit organization that promotes alternative participatory and democratic processes in labor claims and in the management of water as a common good. Oscar was also an industrial metal worker for 40 years, and served as a factory workers’ union leader from 1980 to 2010.

Sally Morton – Sunrise Movement
Sally oversees Sunrise Movement’s training program in CA, UT, AZ, and NM. She invests in training new leaders/trainers throughout the region and coaches regional hubs on conducting trainings. She was part of the direct action in Nancy Pelosi’s office that launched Sunrise into a nationally recognized movement.

Douglas Atkin – Airbnb & Purpose
Douglas was Airbnb’s ‘Global Head of Community’, a member of its Leadership Team, and its ‘Architect of Purpose, Culture and Core Values’. He worked at Airbnb from 2012-2017 during its hyper-growth years. He led the development of Airbnb’s Purpose and all community initiatives. These utilized grassroots organizing and movement-making techniques to mobilize Airbnb Hosts and Guests to take political action that changed laws to recognize home sharing. Prior to that, Douglas co-founded Purpose, an organization that creates movements, and was on the Board of one of its creations: AllOut. AllOut is the world’s first and largest LGBTQ rights movement. He was also Partner and Chief Community Officer at Meetup from 2007-2008.

Chelsea Robinson – Generation Zero
Chelsea has spent her career focused on global systems change and collaborative governance. She co-founded Generation Zero, a movement of young New Zealanders building cross party political support for net zero emissions. She is currently the Chief of Staff at OpenLunar, focused on creating a cooperative international framework for settlement on the moon.

Micah Daigle – Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Micah is a designer and creative strategist with a background in movement-building and systems-thinking. His accomplishments include designing a digital advocacy campaign that reached 4 million people in 3 weeks and overseeing the rapid growth of a student organization (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) to include hundreds of chapters and tens of thousands of members.

 

Political Reform and Campaigning

Lawrence Lessig – Harvard Law School
Lawrence is best known as the founder of Creative Commons and as a committed anti-corruption activist who ran in the 2016 presidential election to push the issue of campaign finance reform. The Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, he is also the founder of Equal Citizens, a non-profit, non-partisan group that is dedicated to reforms that achieve citizen equality.  Lessig has received numerous awards and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is the author of ten books, including They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy.

Jay Costa – Voters’ Right to Know
Jay has spent the past decade building non-partisan state and national anti-corruption campaigns. He is currently the Executive Director of Voters Right to Know, which pushes for political spending transparency and is overseeing ballot initiative campaigns in multiple states in 2020. He previously worked with CounterPAC and Maplight.

Perry Rosenstein – Hustle
Perry has 10+ years experience at the intersection of politics & technology. He is the founder & CEO of Icebreaker, an online event platform designed to help groups build community & connection. Prior to that he co-founded Hustle and invented scaled peer-to-peer texting in order to help organizations build authentic, meaningful relationships with their members and supporters.

 

Media & Communications

Patrick Chalmers – All Hands On
Patrick is a journalist and filmmaker focused on the notion of “democracy.” He is the creator/director of the All Hands On series of short documentaries showcasing democratic lotteries and citizen deliberation in action. He is also a freelance reporter for the likes of The Correspondent, the Guardian, Politico and openDemocracy, and spent 11 years as a correspondent for Reuters.

 

Organizational Development

Renn Vara – SNP Communications
Renn is an expert on leadership development, startup cultures, team building, and communication structures from startups to enterprise. His experience includes more than twenty-five years working with Silicon Valley tech companies, startup founders and senior teams. He worked closely with the founders of Airbnb during their startup and hyper growth phase. He is the co-founder of SNP Communications, Inc. / SNP Communications Ltd, a full-service leadership communications company with offices in San Francisco, New York City, and Dublin, Ireland.

 

Communities of Faith

Michael Pappas – San Francisco Interfaith Council
Michael is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council for 13 years running, following his tenure as an ordained priest in the Greek Orthodox church. He has crafted the SFIC as the “go-to” organization for organizing and mobilizing the city’s 800+ religious congregations.

 

Online Platform Democracy

Liz Berry – Pol.is
Liz is a founding board member of pol.is, an online platform that helps organizations understand themselves by visualizing what their members think, that has been used by governments, universities, non-profits, movements, and large organizations. Liz is also the Coordinator of Strategy for Extinction Rebellion NYC.

 

Democratic Lottery Practice & Research

David Schechter – Democracy R&D
David is a researcher and deliberative practitioner acting as the Coordinator of Democracy R&D, the premier network of practitioners and academics working at the intersection of deliberation and democratic lotteries. DR&D currently has 38 organizations and 24 individuals fro 18 countries around the world.

Lynn Carson – newDemocracy Foundation
Lyn is the Research Director at the newDemocracy Foundation, which has conducted Citizens’ Juries and Citizens’ Assemblies across Australia, as well as the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (2009). Her many publications include the book Random Selection in Politics (1999) and The Australian Citizens’ Parliament & The Future of Deliberative Democracy (2013). Lyn started her decades-long journey in deliberative democracy as an elected official.

Jane Mansbridge – Harvard Kennedy School
Jane has been active in social movements since the mid-sixties. As a scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School, she specializes in democratic theory, particularly participatory democracy, deliberation, and representation. She is the author of Beyond Adversary Democracy and other works.

Yves Dejaeghere – G1000
Yves is the coordinator of the G1000 organization, a think tank with international expertise on the use of sortition and deliberative democracy in combination with representative democratic institutions. In this function he has acted as an expert for the European Court of Auditors, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission. Their most notable project has been the creation of a standing Citizens’ Council alongside the East Belgium Parliament (2019). Yves is also a senior researcher in political science at KULeuven and the University of Antwerp. He has published in major international journals on youth participation in politics, citizenship, electoral participation and on the information processing of elite politicians.

Chris Ellis – MASS LBP
Chris has designed and managed 41 Civic Lottery processes to form Citizens’ Panels for government and public institutions across Canada, as MASS LBP’s Director of Civic Lotteries over the past 12 years,. His work has ensured a robust and fair approach to representing diverse populations and empowering marginalized and minority voices, such as First Nations peoples and francophones.

Terry Bouricious – Vermont House of Representatives (formerly)
Terry is a political theorist and recovering politician. From 1981- 2001 he served as a City Councilor and then as a member of the Vermont House of Representatives. After working on election reform on a national level, his focus shifted to sortition around 2004. He works with FairVote, The Center for Voting and Democracy, and the Sortition Foundation US.

Hélène Landemore – Yale University
Helene is a tenured Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. She is a political theorist interested in democratic theory, Enlightenment thinkers, political epistemology, constitutional theory, and the philosophy of social sciences. Her new book, Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century, will be out in the Fall 2020 with Princeton University Press. In it she imagines what genuine democratic representation means and how we could open up our narrowly electoral institutions to ordinary citizens, including via what I call “open mini-publics.” Her prior book Democratic Reason (Princeton University Press 2013) was awarded the 2015 David and Elaine Spitz Prize for best book in liberal and/or democratic theory.

Brett Hennig – Sortition Foundation
Brett co-founded and directs the Sortition Foundation, a member-based organization advocating for the use of lotteries in government (also called sortition). They are primarily focused on the UK and have recently conducted a democratic lottery for a Citizens’ Assembly a the request of the Scottish Parliament. Brett is the author of the book The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy, and his TEDx talk What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people? has 1.6 million views.

Wendy Willis – Deliberative Democracy Consortium
Wendy is the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, an alliance of leading organizations and scholars working in the field of public engagement, participation, and deliberation. The purpose of the DDC is to build knowledge, strengthen networks, and forge collaborations among researchers, practitioners, funders, and public officials at all levels of government, in order to improve democratic practice and democratic governance. Wendy is also the founder and director of Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a space to empower Oregonians from every corner of the state to contribute feedback, ideas, and resources to decision-makers, public projects and initiatives.

Marcin Gerwin, PhD & Citizens’ Assembly Practitioner
Marcin designs and coordinates Citizens’ Assemblies across Poland. He is a graduate of political science and specialist in sustainable development and deliberative democracy. He is Author of the Guide to Citizens’ Assemblies.

This movement is for you if:

  • You’re concerned for the future of the US and the world
  • You’ve had enough of politicians, political parties, and the political game
  • You’re open-minded to working with people who are different from you and willing to go beyond the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’

We are a movement to end the game of electoral politics and build real democracy.

This means replacing politicians with everyday people from all walks of life. And it means putting them in position to have honest and informed conversations, find common ground, and make wise decisions.

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