The goal of Open Source Ecology is to develop an ecology of appropriate technology products and services that promote right livelihoods.
The philosophy is right livelihood. The means is appropriate and open technology, deployed via flexible and digital fabrication. The outcome is responsible, creative, globally-linked, independent communities.
- 1 Context and What is Right Livelihood?
- 2 Introduction - Creation of Right Livelihood Enterprise Communities
- 3 Approach
- 4 Deployment Acceleration Strategy
- 5 Technology Base
- 6 Hardware for Living
- 7 Social Technology
- 8 Land Acquisition
- 9 Right Livelihood Infrastructure
- 10 Right Livelihood Options
- 11 Accountability
- 12 Volunteer Development Phase - Motivating Alignment and Collaboration of Volunteers
- 13 Product Selection Criteria
Context and What is Right Livelihood?
The focus of our Global Village Construction program is to deploy communities that live according to the intention of right livelihood. We are considering the ab initio creation of nominally 12 person communities, by networking and marketing this Buy Out at the Bottom (BOAB) package, at a fee of approximately $5k to participants. Buying Out at the Bottom is a term that I borrowed from Vinay Gupta in his article about The Unplugged - where unplugging means the creation of an independent life-support infrastructure and financial architecture - a society within society - which allowed anybody who wanted to "buy out" to "buy out at the bottom" rather than "buying out at the top."
Our Global Village Construction program is an implementation of The Unplugged lifestyle. With 12 people buying out at $5k each, that is $60k seed infrastructure capital. With integrated skill of the community integrator, plus individual skills, there is a chance of success, in terms of creating a community with unprecedented quality of life. This quality of life is based on efficient operation, plus 100% voluntary lifestyle, based on transcendence of material constraints. When resource constraints become a non-issue through wise choice of technology, skill, and open source knowledge-enabled flexible production systems for self-sufficiency - then freedom and human creativity are unleashed. As such, the community begins to function as a place of freedom - promoting pursuits of a research and development lifestyle dedicated to the benefit of all humanity. The main working assumption - one already expounded by historical leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, E. F. Schumacher, Buckminster Fuller, and many others - is that economic self-sufficiency is the only true route to a happy and prosperous society. Be in charge of producing your needs, and the world will be a better place.
The concept of right lIvelihood used here is used in its most radical form. Superficially, right livelihood is described as making a living without hurting others. However, this statement has the general characteristic of holy scripture - all the 'right principles' are described, but very few follow them due to human frailty. We must challenge this human weakness, and attempt to create an environment where good life is to be had for all. People may have tried such improvement throughout all times in history. At the least, this proposal is but another attempt. At the very best, it's an explicit program, which, because of its integrated nature and an attempt to link ancient wisdom with modern technology - has a chance of carrying small, dedicated groups to lives of uncompromising, good work. If replicated successfully, the same program has globally transformative potential.
What is the deeper meaning of right livelihood? It is the basic definition as in the last paragraph - plus the explicit situational details of how that applies to our lives - according to generally accepted priciples of how the world works. The details are many, and would take many pages to describe, so we can detail only the general principles. Right livelihood is about creating life, not death, and truth, not fiction. Thus, we say no to the military industrial complex - which is about war = commerce. If we understand this, then we start to ask how communities can meet their needs without having to take from others. Then, we start to work on replacing global supply chains with increasingly localized ones. In practice, this could be flexible and digital fabrication fueled by open source design. The future is here, we have all the technology to survive and thrive, by educating with truth and bravery, so that many more people become skilled rather than dependent. With independence comes less reliance on 'Big Brother' or bureaucracy. Such bureaucracy should be questioned. So should our artificial money system, arms expenditures for securing resources - ongoing colonial expansion that we fund, and a legal system that enforces commerce = war as the status quo.
We have an option to stop feeding invading colonials, from our own empire-building governments to slave goods from China. Structurally, the more self-sufficient we are, the less we have to pay for our own enslavement - through education that dumbs us down to producers in a global workforce - through taxation that funds rich peoples' wars of commercial expansion - through societal engineering and PR that makes the quest for an honest life dishonorable if we can't keep up with the Joneses.
The answer is here, in the development of a replicable village infrastructure, that addresses issues of resource conflict, resource use equity, environmental regeneration, economic distribution, and, consequently, legal and financial reform - by advanced self-sufficiency at unprecedentedly small scales. This is a model of societal evolution, based on principles of open source, voluntary, flexible fabrication economies, that start with the infrastructures of our own backyards - at the same time as they engage in global collaboration on similar issues.
The point is that the advanced self-sufficiency at unprecedentedly small scales leads to easy management of survival, a robust working environment, and, therefore, a voluntary lifestyle that may be dedicated to addressing pressing world issues.
Introduction - Creation of Right Livelihood Enterprise Communities
Deployment of on-demand replicable right livelihood communities happens in 3 Phases:
- Pioneering life with deep exploration of useful technologies, to distill the essential from chaff. Status - in progress
- Replication as a 12 person, Buy Out At the Bottom (BOAB) Right Livelihood enterprise community (RLEC), where our notion of right livelihood includes priciples of open source economic development. This is an extension of the Hexayurt concept from the scale of emergency self-sustaining shelter to the scale of a landed, autonomous, small community with a sound economic base as part of the package. See details of the BOAB RLEC below.
- Internships at tha RLEC designed for immersion study to train others to replicate RLECs as a novel form of social organization.
Goal: to be understandable, affordable, replicable, and self-replicating
The approach of this project is to identify a small but comprehensive infrastructure base of robust, widely applicable solutions for living and working in new communities that are aimed at transforming the world. The community can be as small as a couple, such that no special deviation from the societal norm of a household needs to be invoked. The bottom line is living and working according to principles of right livelihood. If living and working as such is taken seriously, then it is advantageous to form communities of more than one couple, such that division of labor distributes the effort necessary for meeting the group's needs.
With this in mind, we focus on creating an environment for living and working, and a process by which the people to populate this environment are identified and aligned. The initial step is to 1 develop the technology base for the living infrastructure, 2 produce a well-define earning model for the community, and 3, provide an explicit productive infrastructure, 4, produce self-replicating flexible and digital fabrication infrastructure, 5, develop means of using onsite feedstocks as much as possible.
The infrastructure base is first and community is second. One cannot organize people in a state of optimal quality of life if the means to support these people is not available. This is a simple consequency of the generally-accepted principle of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs: basic needs come before higher needs. The basic needs are those including housing, energy, food, mobility, etc. It is on the adequate provision of these needs that we must focus initially when building a new community - if our goal is right livelihood. Right livelihood is predicated on autonomy in the provision of these basic needs. Otherwise, uncontrollable external forces such as employers, governments, or external providers of needs- produce misalignment with the most fundamental interests of the community. This means external influence over the community - a recipe for compromise of both true interests and life quality.
The premise of this development effort is that such infrastructure package has not yet been made available to people. All the technologies exist already, but one must pay dearly for them. Much of the technology requires specialists, is proprietary, or is inaccessible because of the distractions of marketing.
The infastructure-in-a-box includes FEH-RLM-LE: Food, Energy, Habitat, Right Livelihood, Mobility. It constitutes a Learning Environment and a particular way of living. An inherent consequence of this package is transformation. This is because, if self-sustaining, self-replicating units as such are devised, then they solve today's great unsolved 'mysteries' - hunger, poverty, ignorance, overpopulation, and war. Minimal management greenhouses and edible landscapes address hunger, as people place at least some food production back in their hands. Personal and digital fabrication, fueled by open source design, as well as agriculture and information work, leaves no poor among us. Ignorance is dispelled as people take charge of their own education and enlightenment through experiential, entrepreneurial, research lifestyles. Overpopulation is addressed as only the number of people is invited into a particular community as can be supported by indigenous resources. War is addresses as we provide our own energy, fuels, building materials, and foodstuffs - and don't have to attack others for their resources because we ran out of ours.
Start with principles of replicability. Our fundamental principle is that information is the critical, frequently absent component enabling the success of endeavors. To create a replicable program, necessary information must be openly accessible, and better yet - open source - to enable people to learn the necessary techniques. In particular, to create a community, information related to the successful deployment of infrastructure must be available.
This open information must be characterized by a particular nature: (TBC)
Deployment Acceleration Strategy
To accelerate deployment of replicable Right Livelihood Communities (RLCs), the following steps are being taken. In the voluntary sector, information work:
- Prove degeneracy of the solution set for the FEH-RL-LE product base
- This assists in the alignment of collaborators
- Clarification of package
- Communication strategy clarification - Lindsey
- Marketing brochure
- Recruiting and collaborating with a network of poeple aligned with same goals
- Alignment of collaborators with vision
- Clarification of tooling requirements
- Startup of Optimal Enterprise Foundation
- This is one of four steps required to build the foundation of sustainable communities: their economic base
- Four components of RLCs are (1) open enterprise base, (2) land acquisition meme, (3) social technology model, (4) flexible and digital fabrication infrastructure
- Solicit grants and funding sources
With physical resources:
- Deployment of workshop and digital fabrication facilities
- Multimachine, CNC yx torch/router/waterjet cutter, metal casting, plastic extruder, metal stamping
- Electronics lab - multimeter, oscilloscope, strobe light, motor winding
- Invite developers for an intenseve 1 month crash development program - working charette
- Requires: housing, internet access, working space for members
- Requires prototyping and fabrication facilities
Prerequisite technology for Phase 2 involves
- Necessary hardware for living - energy, food, housing, mobility, internet, workshop, orchard, etc.
- Social technology of gathering 12 people
- Land acquisition strategy built into the social technology.
Hardware for Living
The hardware for living includes:
The hardware involves:
- Electricity production - mainstay is solar concentrator power, with solar turbine electric power, Babington burner flash steam boiler backup, and heat storage via hot oil for cloudy periods up to 1 week. Inverters and battery storage is utilized. The hybrid car is also a high power mobile electric power plant also, and the electric tractor has batteries that may be tapped as well in emergencies.
- Food production - orchard, attached greenhouses, large-scale greenhouses, animal husbandry, aquaculture, and raised bed organoponics guarantee fresh foodstuffs. Solar dehydrators and canned food supplement the diet. Value added kitchen makes interesting food products.
- Housing - CEB, sawmill, and glazing extruder provide a solid basis for building homes, cisterns, silos, walls, paths, and other needs.
- Mobility - flex fab lab produces cars and tractors
- Wireless internet - hookup via existing service or wireless range extension.
The social technology involves collecting a group of 12 skilled individuals. These individuals agree to buy into creating the community under the guidance of the core organizer, at a cost of approximately $5k.
- Inventors and Farmer Scientists - interesting products that contribute to a better world, not making a living; products include vehicles, energy systems, machines, and other devices; large market opportunities via open source flexible production, starting with power, habitat, mobility, and food needs of local communities
Infrastructure-related positions -
- Agricultural Producer - orchard, greenhouse, nursery, forestry, animal husbandry, vermiculture, fertilizer production - to feed the community and provide products for market
- Land Steward - responsible for maintainaining health of the land and sound developmenet practices for the facility
- Master Builder - an individual to lead construction efforts; also has architecture abilities
- Energy Provider - expert in renewable energy for autonomous energy, sales to the grid, excess fuel sales
- Healer - farmiliar with food as medicine, mind-body practice, massage, neutraceuticals, herbs, and basic first aid, and is on call to the rest of the community
- IT Provider - manages the computer and connectivity infrastructure
- Electronics Person - familiarity with computer control, automation, sensing, device controls, electronic devices, etc.
The group works together to make habitat, power, mobility, and right livelihood infrastructure for itself. This is immersion experience in self-sufficient living.
The work load should be approximately 2 hours per person per day to meet economic self-sufficiency and provide basic needs. On top of the 2 hours, it is total self-motivated productivity for individual needs and service to local communities. This is our idea of highest quality of life, where survival is a nominal endeavor, and the focus of one's life shifts to good work. A good level of flexible specialization makes the living situation comfortable to all, as the workload of surviving is not onerous to any one person.
Land is the largest expenditure for a community. As such, the number one approach to this issue is to seek someone who is already a landowner, and invite them into the program with their financial contribution replaced by the in-kind contribution of approximately $100k in land value. This value corresponds to the actual worth that each person is contributing: $5k in captital and $95k in skill offered to the community in the coming few years. Right livelihood opportunity cannot be matched to a price, but here we select $100k as a reasonable figure. This should procure from 5-50 acres of land. This land becomes part of the permanent stewartship holdings of the group, bound as a reserve to all future pursuers of right livelihood. Such land is not to enter the speculative market under any circumstances. In future years, additional members may enter the community, up to the number self-supported by the land base. This applies a natural bound for population control, where the limit is determined by optimal quality of life of existing members.
Right Livelihood Infrastructure
The key to participant alignment along a common purpose lies in explicit design choices for the physical infrastructure. The physical infrastructure determines the right livelihood activities, and, indeed, focuses participants' energy to particular choices of endeavors:
- technology integration work
- high level grassroots organizational work
- regional infrastructure and economic development
Essential facilities related to these right livelihood activities include:
- computing and communication infrastructure
- flexible and digital fabrication capacity
- greenhouses and permaculture facilities
- food processing, materials, electronics, and other labs
- small industry of all sorts
All work is placed in the public domain for maximum benefit to all of humanity. Enterprise developed in-house is to serve as right livelihood opportunities to participants, where the developers have primacy in the endeavor, naturally, by being the developers of constantly evolving products. To address business incubation issues, our infrastructure is a dedicated deployment environment for open source enterprise - thereby providing an incentive for product development other than patent protection. The personal requirement from participants is evolved awareness that open economic development, or sharing, is a viable route to livelihood.
Right Livelihood Options
Examples of technology integration work involve documenting and demonstrating working examples of integrated, ecological technologies. One example is a solar turbine CHP systems with solar collector, heat exchanger, turbine, generator, energy storage, and backup power. See details below.
Examples of high level grassroots organizational work involves developing educational programs, forming new organizations, setting up foundations, leading research efforts, managing resource development for funding innovation, leading particular development efforts, and many other endeavors. The main direction is system change, to bring about new infrastructures, institutions, and options for living.
Regional infrastructure and economic development examples include physical production for local markets. The focus is on productive infrastructures - such as production of greenhouse growing systems rather than selling produce, or producing power generation equipment instead of selling fuel or electricity, and so forth. Straightforward products, such as hybrid cars or greenhouse glazing, should be produced as well, though we favor providing 'the fishing rod' instead of 'fish.' This is a general direction, and options will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.
Accountability to the mission of good work lies in a quadruple path:
- In house-validation of product services by using developed products for meeting on-site needs
- Viability of above products for market
- Demonstrated adoption of developed technologies within the local region, either with or without the assistaince of the RLEC
- Replication of RLECs by in-house immersion training of leaders who start new communities for a global network
Volunteer Development Phase - Motivating Alignment and Collaboration of Volunteers
The first step in aligning a dedicated and voluntary team of developers is to recognize that such a team is available. Normally, the success of gathering collaboration is unquestioned, yet, in this case, it is instructive to raise the question whether such collaborators exist because we are looking for full commitment from unpaid invididuals, and on top of that, for a project that is far beyond the norms of established society. To convince ourselves that such a team exists, we must prove:
- the endeavor has high value
- the value is practical or achievable
- volunteers can comprehend the value
- people without ego and angst exist in the population at large
- the value of the endeavor is so high that egoless people can shift their full attention to the endeavor.
Note that we assume that the unpaid individuals - those, in particicular, with full commitment - must qualify as what is best dubbed independently wealthy. These individuals are those who have free time because they do not have to work to make a living. These individuals could be ones who either have big savings, low expenditures, or both - such as monied individuals, voluntary simplicity followers, the unemployed, or those who do not have significant costs of living because of their particular situations.
1. High Value. We start with the stated goal (see Approach section above) as the definition of value: The approach of this project is to identify a small but comprehensive infrastructure base of robust, widely applicable solutions for living and working such that transforming the world is a byproduct. The intent is to produce a replicable business model for a number of successful and optimized enterprises, by which individuals may engage in right livelihood activity as defined in previous sections. This approach has clear value.
2. Practicality. A replicable business model for optimized enterprises is definitely achievable. We simply take existing enterprise models, work to optimize them, and release the know how in the open source to make it replicable. If the enterprise model is one that is successfully engaged by others, then it will be even more profitable if optimization adds further value. The key is to adapt progressive, ecological enterprise to the type of profit margins that are quite attractive to individuals, while ensuring that principles of right livelihood are followed. Specifically, the particular enterprises in the small but comprehensive infrastructure base must achieve a high Right Livelihood Selection Score in order to be included in the set of choices that collaborators agree to develop. This score automatically ensures the high potential impact for the transformative nature of enterprise deployment.
3. Understandability" - This is perhaps the most difficult point to prove, because understandability of this endeavor suffers from grave translatability issues due to the social conditioning of the population at large. It is difficult to convince people that an entirely different model of social organization which transcends centralization and top-down control - namely Right Livelihood - can be implemented, if the total force of social conditioning indicates to the contrary. It is required of the few people who are to understand this proposition that they are independent thinkers largely independent of the military industrial state. Some of these people still exist. These people need to be sufficiently connected to the land and nature in order to comprehend that right livelihood is a prerequisite for a harmonious, truthful way of living. Such individuals are the only ones who place sufficient priority to right livelihood that they would consider engaging in this project.
4. Ego and Angst - Even the people who understand this proposition as in point 3 will not truly understand it unless they conquer any ego and angst that stands in the way. This requires spiritual evolution on the part of the potential collaborator. There are many such individuals on planet Earth.
5. Full Attention - This is a hard requirement, but if people value the proposition sufficiently, the natural consequence is that they engage this Proposition with full heart. The transformative potential is clear to such individuals, and they see that their own integrity leads them to promote the effort with their full energy.
Product Selection Criteria
There are 18 key products in the FEH-RLM-LE package. They are selected on the basis of the importance of their contribution towards creating a right livelihood community. The score of each individual product is based on 10 properties, and is rated from 1-10 for each property. Each product score is the sum of the 12 properties. These properties are:
- Job creation
- Localization of production
- Fabrication capital costs
- Fabrication costs
- Technological complexity - relates to ease of fabrication
- Sourcing localization
- Production energy requirements
- Design for disassembly & Lifetime Design
- Feedstock abundance
1. Market – potential market size in terms of the dollars of global industry or commodity markets that may be substituted by means of decentralized, right livelihood, flexible production. The scores are: 1: $1Million/year, 2: $10M, 3: $100M, 4: $1Billion, 5: $10B, 6: $100B, 7: $1Trillion, 8: $10T, 9: $100T, 10: $1Quadrillion 2. Job Creation - the number of right livelihood jobs that could be created. 1: <1000, 2: 1K<x<10K, 3: 10K<x<100K, 4: 100K<x<1M, 5: 1M<x<10M, 6: 10M<x<100M, 7: 100M<x<1B,
The respective scores are shown below: The 18 key products have been selected from competing alternatives. These are
- Open Source Solar turbine, potential components
- Babington burner - http://www.green-trust.org/2000/biofuel/babington/default.htm
- Flash boiler -
- Solar concentrators - similar to http://www.redrok.com/images/hdsolar.jpg but mounted on flat panels for simplicity; check pricing estimates from http://www.hdsolar.com/ and compare to $100/KW thermal capture predictions by OSE
- Boundary Layer Turbine - http://openfarmtech.org/index.php?title=Solar_Turbine_CHP_System#Component_Design_-_Boundary_Layer_Turbine_.28BLT.29
- Generator heads - not much available, but check out http://www.scoraigwind.com/axialplans/index.htm
- commercial product via open source, distributed, flexible fabrication, at absolute lowest cost, $1/W
- fabrication optimization, and product in kit for user assembly
- Multimachine - http://opensourcemachine.org/
- CNC control
- Electric motor
Vinay's comment: I think you're on the right track in a big way on the $60k for 12 thing that's a real break through one step away from being a shopping list and I can see that the industry of those units could be makig more units fueling a cultural transformation some very interesting things to consider there