Assembly X

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Assembly X : We Play. We Decide

nation wide , United KingdomUnited StatesUnited Kingdom
Year Founded:
2016
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Scaling strategies launched within the past 6 months:
Not Applicable
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

What if we blurred the boundaries between fiction and reality, using digital technology and creative content to create the new leaders and action on system change the world needs?

Representing citizens via a unique app, ASSEMBLY X is part game part real citizen’s assembly advancing system change

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

NGOs, progressive social or political movements have not managed to popularize a coherent or inspiring counter narrative to the ascendancy of neo-liberalism. There are few charismatic leaders and no mainstream debate of system change. Yet climate science is clear on the urgency of changing course. NGOs and think tanks either have piecemeal solutions or lack effective creative tools to spark peer to peer communications among the i-generation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

ASSEMBLY X is the worlds first digital Citizens Assembly, harnessing the power of digital creativity to build very real political alternatives. Revealing how our leaders and democracies could be better, our charismatic leaders are only seen in animation or drawn form, yet they engage in deadly serious political debate. Launched in the UK soon after Brexit, and the Pokemon Go phenomenon, ASSEMBLY X blurs fiction with reality and includes a digital app allowing the public, with a focus on the i-generation, to participate, help build the new system, organize to solve local problems, or even become avatars or elect local representatives for the Assembly. Guided by an advisory board of experts, artists, NGOs but letting citizens decide!

Awards

N/A (concept stage, ready to launch)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

ASSEMBLY X engages in regular debate on key political/environmental issues. Constituents are ordinary citizens and students who have downloaded the app. When Government proposes new policy failing to address inequality or to reduce CO2 emissions, Assembly X consults and involves its ‘constituency’ via the App. Partnering with media channels, it then releases an animation or comic strip of the avatar of an Assembly X leader providing real leadership on the stated policy issue. Users invite friends, comment on policy, become elected to a seat in avatar form, or connect with local Citizens X to advance sustainable solutions in their post code. Participatory democracy is enhanced and over time, new sustainable behaviours and values normalised.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Early impact includes unification and mainstreaming of fragmented NGO campaigns into fresh political narrative normalized among the i-generation, as well as re-engagement and education of young people – future leaders. As more people download and participate, media asks: is it a game or a real emerging movement? ASSEMBLY X is a new initiative conceived by THE SWARM and its partners of environmental NGOs, artists and experts. The concept has been well tested among partners and we are clear on its potential for high impact and media pick up. We understand it's an ambitious project and we would benefit from being connected to more University campuses, donors, think tanks and media channels to increase penetration. We hope ASHOKA can help make these connections in the UK and worldwide. Although founded in 2015 THE SWARM already brings a strong record of impact in other projects.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Scaling strategies include opening the Assembly up to local ‘elections’ in regions across the UK, and hosting real life ASSEMBLY debates across UK university campuses. Cultivating mainstream media partnerships until Assembly X positions receive regular coverage. University partnerships will help spread and legitimize what is also an educational social networking tool, cultivating the next generation of leaders. While launch in the UK is strategic now in the wake of Brexit, Assembly X can then be launched in other countries as creative vehicle for progressive civil society movement.
Sustainability
Funding: How is your project financially supported?: 
individual donations or gifts - 20%
foundation or NGO grants - 60%
earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) - 20%

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We require seed funding for software design of the digital app, design of the virtual environment, first avatar characters and to free up coordination time. Earned income limited to a small fee for app download. A small amount of membership revenue from NGOs, Universities and think tanks comprising the advisory board is expected. Our governance structure is partially self organizing, but ongoing grant support will be an important import piece.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Few environmental NGOs engage seriously with the dilemma of economic consumption growth, or effectively spark participatory democracy to advance system change. Plenty of academic and think tank work exists in this area, but none, to our knowledge are equipped with zeitgeisty creative strategy to mainstream their work. Independent citizens assemblies have existed before as arenas for deliberation of deep reform, but we are not aware of any creative digital citizens assemblies or any concept similar to Assembly X: a unique vehicle to build popular narrative and next generation leaders.
Team

Founding Story

After Brexit, our Founder was having a chat with a Swarm designer, reflecting on how there were no charismatic leaders in the political left. So one of us had the eureka moment: why don’t we create them! Swarm had been studying the historical conditions which give rise to social shifts, and what role creativity and culture have in accelerating progressive movements. We knew the power of creating parallel systems, and that a unique digital channel should be part of it. We quickly hit on the tantalizing idea: what if people couldn’t pin down what it was: a game or a powerful social movement?

Team

The core part time staff of 4 combine significant expertise in environmental law, public policy and political campaigning, with expertise in arts management and administration. Our strategic and creative thinking is supported by a larger network of creatives, experts and NGOs within the Swarm. We have 3 board members. We require support to build dedicated capacity for this project: min. 1 new full time coordinator, 1 full time digital artist.