We came up with the idea with you, and now we are seeing it come to life
— Campaign coordinator and activist, Gauteng

In every community there are men and women who have the fire within to create change. But mobilizing and organizing takes skill and time and money. So many who might lead do not. Those who do must spend most of their time on basic tasks rather than learning, planning and inspiring.

We are building a platform to change this. It consists of purpose-built tools that solve real problems for people who wish to organize their communities. It connects such leaders to each other, and allow the easy aggregation and analysis of the issues they tackle.

Purpose-built, simple tools

  1. A “group creator” that enables anyone to set up a group, use a join code to easily recruit and add people, and simple ways to manage the group over low-end phones with little bandwidth;
  2. A “meeting organizer” to summon people with any phone and messaging platform to a meeting, enable them to confirm attendance, automate reminders and acknowledgements;
  3. A “vote taker”to decide among priorities. It gives everyone with any phone a quick and anonymous say and sends the results back to them as soon as the poll closes; and
  4. A “action recorder” to record decisions and facts. It gives everyone a view of group decisions, times associated with them.

Each of these can feed off and utilize the others, meetings leading to actions leading to votes and back again. To get started, simply dial *134*1994# from any phone, and follow the initial steps in this manual (work in progress), or sign up to use the web application (requires a South African mobile phone number). Click here for a quick how-to on getting started with *134*1994#.

Easy ways to add people to groups

Grassroot is committed to making it as simple as possible to expand and manage groups. It does so through multiple means:

  1. Every group has a unique joining code, which can be dialled from any phone and adds the dialler to the group. The code can be distributed at meetings, on posters, or however is most convenient. For security, it can be closed and regenerated at any time.
  2. Groups can be made public, with requests to join sent to a designated group organizer. Groups that are public can be found by anyone who searches for them by name, but only members can see the details of the group or other members.
  3. Meetings, events and to-dos can all expand or contract from the principal group membership, enabling groups to grow and shrink fluidly as necessary.
  4. Groups can easily customize roles and permissions, for example, adding multiple organizers and committee members, changing which actions roles can perform, and so forth. 

Searching, connecting, recalling

Group organizers and members have full recall ability for their groups, with the ability to see a record of prior meetings, results of old votes, and records of which actions have been completed. We are now working to extend those abilities:

  1. To have more recall and on-the-fly analysis integrated into the tools themselves;
  2. To connect on-the-ground leaders to each other to share knowledge and support; and
  3. To make aggregate patterns available to media, civil society and government.

At a level of aggregation consistent with privacy, the system will be open data.