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Novus Carta Day 2021: Looking Back on Progress

On this day six years ago, April 20th, 2015, the LBP Union ratified a new constitution called the Novus Carta. Although this was a very different time for the Union and very different circumstances, lessons we've learned from that day and beyond have helped us grow into the community we are today.

It seems a bit ridiculous in retrospect. How can politics and LittleBigPlanet be so related? Why was a voting system like this ever considered? What was the point of it? How does this have anything to do with what the LBP Union is doing now?

We don't celebrate Novus Carta day because we want to glorify a better time. It's clear that the political focus of the Union in 2015 was not what was best for LittleBigPlanet. However, it was a big step in our growth. We learned a lot from this event, and it's a big steppingstone toward where we are today. Instead let's celebrate Novus Carta Day by celebrating the progress we have made as groups and individuals.

A Different Time

The LBP Union was much different in 2015, even more different than when the alliance was first founded in 2009. However, it had very similar goals to what we have today. My good friend Calvin, CCSocalGamer in game, described the Union as being "a hub of both political and creative intrigue. Just like the forum and discord today we endeavored to provide a safe space for creative minds across the spectrum while still maintaining a level of integrity that fell in line with our values and the Terms of Service."

A screenshot from LittleBigPlanet containing Lgmpm, M88youngling, and CCSocalGamer.
Lgmpm, M88youngling, and CCSocalGamer

Calvin was the LBP Union's Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2015, and I was its President. As you can imagine, the LBP Union was much more politically focused for LittleBigPlanet clans back then, and this political focus I believe often made us blind to more useful ways to reach out and connect with members of the community.

Lachlan, Lgmpm in game, was our Vice President at the time. I reached out to him as well to hear his thoughts. "The Union was a tremendous honor and privilege to be a part of and a highlight of my life thus far. Everyone was incredibly kind and like-minded. Cooperating on many things ranging from basic level design to complicated level features and also just a place to hang out and talk to some incredible people."

Before The Novus Carta

An LBP3 screenshot with a set of six statues of former Union leaders.
The Hall of Protectors, statues of notable Union leaders.

The LBP Union prior to 2015 had just come out of a period of dormancy. In 2011, the alliance had been shattered by a dispute between the younger leaders, a schism. The Union split apart and did not rejoin until December 14th, 2013. When it did reform, it was guided by a document called the Constitution.

The LBP Union's goal at this time was to unite different clans together and give them a platform to talk and collaborate with one another. However, it suffered from a few problems that the Union needed to overcome. Few people knew how to participate in its political system or felt comfortable doing so. More felt skeptical that it was even necessary.

A Flawed Constitution

A guiding document or charter like a constitution is helpful in more than just political contexts. Clubs, creative studios, businesses, and more use documents like these to help guide the actions of their team and keep things fair. So, what is a constitution?

A constitution is a document with instructions about how to operate an organization. It tells us how we should work together to make decisions. Rules and actions that a group takes should never go against what was agreed upon in the organization's constitution.

But what if there is something wrong in the constitution? The LBP Union faced this issue throughout 2014 and early 2015, as we realized a critical flaw with the system: the Union was guided by direct democracy. At first glance, this seems great. Everyone who is a member of any of the LBP Union's member clans could vote on new rules. However, this proved to be extremely challenging due to voter apathy and vote collection. What the Union really needed was a representative democracy, where a smaller group of people chosen by the Union's member clans were the ones who voted for new legislation.

Starting Over

A screenshot of LBP3 featuring a set of six flags outside a tall building.
Flags outside the old LBPU HQ in LBP3.

Instead of amending the Constitution, we chose to replace it with something more robust, an entire overhaul of the document. To do that, however, we needed to cooperate with everyone involved with the Union at the time. It was a huge conversation between clan leaders and members. We eventually agreed on the Novus Carta ("new charter") as the solution, replacing direct democracy with representative democracy.

"The Novus Carta addressed the growing political apathy within the Union" Lachlan recalls. "This was a concerning issue raised at many meetings. It was difficult at the time to see many promising clans removed for a lack of attendance and participation at summit meetings. Often there wasn't any notice from those who couldn't attend."