Proposal 2008 Facility Replication

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It is instructive to describe the costs involved in replicating self-sufficient, off-grid productive enterprise communities as put forth in this proposal. Table 4 shows the cost for ground-up building of a facility's most important infrastructure features. This does not include land costs. The costs are shown for three scenarios. The Cost column reflects the business-as-usual scenario where one buys the entire infrastructure from the outside, in a pre-open source economy. The Open Source Cost is one where we begin with access to low-cost open source equipment140 and where we utilize as much of on-site resources as possible- such as the soil, trees, and solar income of the site.

The third option refers to our facility replication program, which is under development.141 It occurs for people who study in a 2-year long immersion replication program with us at the Factor e Farm facility. As part of their learning eperience, participants produce some of the infrastructure necessary to start a new facility. Participants engage in the following:

1. propagate plant material for orchards and landscapes 2. breed necessary livestock, such as goats, chickens, fish, and bees that they can take to the next OSE Facility 3. produce technological items in our Flex Fab Lab 4. are entitled to lease our equipment at cost 5. can earn while at Factor e Farm by participating in any of its on-site enterprises

This means that expenses embodied in the OSE-Assisted Cost may be offset by earnings that are part of the training program, such that capitalization becomes a non-issue for stewards interested in our program. OSE upholds this commitment to capitalization assistance, as we are interested in qualified individuals to step into stewardship roles, and not only individuals who can pay for the replication costs. This philosophy underlies all of our cost reduction efforts, and helps to explain why we are putting so much attention on the cost aspects of this adventure. We believe that this attention to cost is a foundation for transcending the money issue that is involved in all kinds of good work.

Item Cost Open Source Cost OSE-Assisted Cost CEB press 25000142 1000143 0 Mobile Sawmill 8000144 1000145 0 Chainsaw 500 500 500 Renewable energy system, 4 kW146 30000147 4000148 3000 Living space, 1000 sq ft 50000149 2000 2000 Workshop and storage, 2000 sq ft 12000150 2000 2000 Advanced greenhouse, 1000 sq ft 20000151 1000152 1000 Plastic extruder 10000153 1000154 0 Skid loader/tractor 10000155 4000156 4000 Car 10000 4000157 4000 Edible Landscaping158 2000 100 0 Spader159 5000 1500 1500 Rototiller160 1200 500 500 CNC machine shop161 10000 1000 1000 XYZ table162 8400 900 900 Metal casting equipment163 1000 200 200 Power inverter, grid tie, 10 kW164 8000 1000 1000 Battery bank, 20 kWhr165 3000 3000 0 Battery charger 500 100 100 Electronics fabrication166 2100 300 300 Well drilling167 10000 1300 300 Vehicle fuels168 4000/year 1000 1000 Cooking gas 500/year 1000 1000 TOTAL $221,500 $31,200 $24,100

Table 4. Captalization costs for building a living-working Global Village facility.

There is an approximate Factor 7 cost reduction in building a new facility in the open source context: $222k is reduced to $31k. We are assuming that the low costs are obtained by one building certain machines from scratch with the sweat of one's brow. This means that labor is not included, and high skill is required. This eliminates all but perhaps 5% of the population form achieving such a program. We mention such a program as the highest form of self-sufficiency foreseeable, if one is interested in buying out at the bottom.169 By this term, we mean that one does not wait to save big cash for retirement, but can quit compulsory labor early, because of the attraction of independence and the low capital cost (minus labor) for doing so.

A particular enabling feature for buying out at the bottom is to produce turnkey generative technologies for producing necessities: fuels, building materials, food, energy, machinery, etc. That is precisely the aim of our technological developments. All the technologies are available.170

It should be noted that the Global Village facility of interest is entirely sufficient in food, energy, fuel, cooking gas, housing, and earning potential. Earning may be accomplished by flexible fabrication, self-employment, orchard and nursery operations, power sales to the electric grid, organizational work, or anything one chooses. One's bills in this scenario include only land taxes. Beyond these, one is free to pursue a life of creative pursuits.

It is important to understand the context for the open source cost and OSE-Assisted Cost. The first thing to be said is that there is no free lunch, in that equipment is available, but it takes operator labor and skill to utilize the equipment for productive purposes171. We are assuming the availability of CEB, sawmill, and plastic extruder for all building applications. We are assuming an energy infrastructure, for stationary and mobile power, is based on the boundary layer turbine. We are assuming a nursery for generating plant materials. We are assuming that the general tools of the Global Village Construction set are available, so that one can basically provide all infrastructure needs. We assume especially that with a flexible Fab Lab at low cost, and a repository of open source designs, we will be able to create anything. With the OSE-Assisted Cost, we are talking about students, or Fellows, which we invite to our facility for the explicit purpose of learning to be independent entrepreneur land stewards. As such, we are interested in sharing our resources to make replication of our facility feasible. This includes at-cost leasing of equipment and propagation of our genetic stocks, on top of the immersion experience that we will offer.

One major enabling feature of our aims is simplification without reduction of quality. By simplification, we mean particularly in the way to produce the items of interest. If production of some items takes a long time, that is a waste of life's precious hours, and is a good start of enslavement to the technology. This is precisely the reason why we want to design optimized fabrication procedures, and use any means necessary to achieve this - such as digital fabrication - without leaving the realm of appropriate technology. That is a great challenge that Lewis Mumford172 - the great critic of inappropriate technics - would readily endorse. A good counterexample is the Ronja project,173 where one can fabricate an open source wireless bridge, at reasonable materials cost ($100) but with 70+ hours of labor. Even at minimum wage, that brings total cost to $450+. We are suggesting that various facilitation mechanisms should be put in place in open source process to facilitate replication - such as availability of complete part kits, prepared components, hands-on workshops, or many others. These services also constitute business opportunities at the interface of information work and physical production, and are fuel for a radically different economic process.

We are not discrediting Ronja here, but pointing out the importance of alternative facilitative mechanisms. These are critical if one is shifting away from mass production. Moreover, it should be emphasized that the bulk of OSE's work lies in developing these mechanisms, to make active Global Village creation an easier - and perhaps even mainstreamable - choice.


It is also important to mention the ongoing yearly maintenance costs for managing a land-based facility of 12 people, minus its fabrication capacity. Here are some of the main costs:

Item Cost Open Source Cost Chainsaw 100 100 Living space, 1000 sq ft 100 100 Skid loader/tractor 3000 100 Car174 3000 100 Rototiller175 100 20 Grid-tie inverter, 10 kW 100 10 Battery bank, 20 kWhr 200 0 Battery charger 50 0 Vehicle fuels 3000 0 Cooking gas 1000 0 Food 12000 0 Interest 10000 100 TOTAL $37,550 $530

Table 5. Ongoing maintenance costs for a living-working Global Village.

The main costs are food, equipment maintenance, fuels, and interest. We are assuming that the 'standard' route of operation is to buy, not grow, your food. Tractors and cars take about $3k/year in maintenance costs. Vehicle fuels are also significant, depending on one's travel distances. Housing costs are negligible in both cases, as both scenarios have access to a sawmill for lumber and brick from the CEB press. In the open source cost, we should virtually eliminate vehicle costs, if we are fabricating our own parts. We will be producing fuel alcohol or algae fuel, as well as cooking gas, once our facility is up to full performance. We may safely add $10k in 5% debt service to the standard cost scenario, as people typically take out loans to cover capitalization expenses on the order of $236k.


The replication time for a facility is 2 years, if we start with 2 individuals of above-average abilities and a deep interest in pursuing a program of right-livelihood Global Village creation. We propose 2 individuals as a nucleus from which a whole community can grow. The table below shows the proposed timeframe within which projects may be completed. Note that this time is based on the availability of the full infrastructure of a seed facility, including all the open source know-how and optimized production facilities. The times shown are a double of what we predict it would take for a skilled person, since the Fellow-in-training will not be able to complete projects effectively the first time in a learning process:

Item Time CEB press 1 week Mobile Sawmill 1 week Renewable energy system, 4 kW 4 weeks176 Living space, 1000 sq ft 4 weeks Workshop and storage, 2000 sq ft 4 weeks Advanced greenhouse, 1000 sq ft 4 weeks Plastic extruder 1 week Skid loader/tractor 2 weeks Car 2 weeks Edible Landscaping 1 week Spader 2 week Rototiller 2 week CNC machine shop 2 weeks XYZ table 1 week Metal casting equipment 1 week Power inverter, grid tie, 10 kW 1 week Battery charger 2 days Electronics fabrication 1 day Well drilling 4 weeks Vehicle fuels 1 week yearly Cooking gas 2 days yearly Animal husbandry - fencing 1 week TOTAL 40 weeks

Table 6. Time requirements for immersion learning and production for replication.

A total of 40 weeks - of which 16 are 2 person operations - for a total of 56 weeks, or a little over a man-year, is sufficient to produce all the hardware for living, working, and thriving, including self-sufficiency in food, energy, housing, water, technology production, and self-employment abilities. It includes lifetime cars and tractors, ability to produce all necessary building materials, and the most advanced agricultural equipment.

The above man-year involves only about 24 man-weeks in direct preparation and fabrication (at Factor e Farm) for a future facility, where the rest of the facility building and well-drilling occurs at the new site. This means only about 6 man-months are required in direct fabrication duties. If we are talking about a couple taking on this program, then only 1/8 of the immersion program of 2 years is spent, per person, directly on fabrication/replication duties. The rest may be stent in theoretical preparation, book learning, earning, or other associated endeavors. In other words, replication is feasible as a result of a 2-year immersion program, and made even more fun when engaged as a couple on a path to freedom.

This program eliminates the carrot-on-a-stick driver of most peoples' typical American dream: a dream house, car, and a full belly.177 Costs of a house, car, utilities, food and fuel - are literally eliminated when one has generative building equipment, an ability to fabricate, and an ability to dig in the dirt. Recall that personal fabrication carries a promise of being easy, if design files for Fab Lab operations are readily available, and other aforementioned facilitation mechanisms are in place. Then the only skills required are assembly178(bolting, fastening, welding, etc.), digging in the dirt, playing with computers, and other tasks as needed. We should recall from Table 4 that the capitalization requirement for this adventure is under $25k. In other words, one can buy out at the bottom for less than $25k in this proposition. The catch is that one would have to have land, but dirt cheap land still exists,179 and we aim to work with Fellows on land acquisition via earnings. We propose this program as an alternative to a crap job till 55 and retirement. We are interested in fostering peoples' creativity by liberation from the necessity to make a living.

In summary - it's $25k, minus on-site earnings, plus 2 years in time - and you can buy out at the bottom. The rest is under your control.