II. What is Open Source Economics?
Our mission is to extend the Open Source model to the provision any goods and services- Open Source Economics. This means opening access to the information and technology which enables a different economic system to be realized, one based on the integration of natural ecology, social ecology, and industrial ecology. This economic system is based on open access – based on widely accessible information and associated access to productive capital – distributed into the hands of an increased number of people. Read about an inspiring example of such an economic model being currently put into practice with respect to manufacturing vehicles.
We believe that a highly distributed, increasingly participatory model of production is the core of a democratic society, where stability is established naturally by the balance of human activity with sustainable extraction of natural resources. This is the opposite of the current mainstream of centralized economies, which have a structurally built-in tendency towards of overproduction.
III. What is Open Source Ecology?
We derive our organization’s name from a concept which refers to the integration of the natural, societal, and industrial ecologies – Open Source Ecology – aiming at sustainable and regenerative economics. We are convinced that a possibility of a quality life exists, where human needs are guaranteed to the world’s entire population – as long as we ask ourselves basic questions on what societal structures and productive activities are truly appropriate to meeting human needs for all. At the end of the day, the goal is to liberate our time to engage in exactly that which each of us wants to be doing – instead of what we need to do to survive. All have the potential to thrive. Today, an increasingly smaller percentage of the world’s population is in this position.
We are engaging in four ongoing projects: Open Source Technology Project, Regenerative Island Project, Free Agent Learning Institute, and Open Consulting Project.
(1) Open Source Technology Project
The OS Technology Project aims to demonstrate that a small-scale, robust, patent-free, employee-owned high technology manufacturing process can produce goods that have higher quality and are more affordable than their large-scale, mass-produced counterparts. In particular, we aim to demonstrate that small-scale production of photovoltaics (PV) is economically competitive with mass-produced PV. The small-scale production focuses on an extensive service infrastructure, including full materials takeback and reuse. In short, we aim to show that David beats Goliath.
(2) Regenerative Island Project
The goal of this project is to demonstrate that small islands (~10-100 people) of sustainable and regenerative human habitats can be created and integrated within the mainstream industrial system. Qualities that make such islands ‘sustainable’ and ‘regenerative’ are measured by a Local Quality of Life indicator, which includes scoring based on well-defined measures for: (1) right livelihood opportunities, (2) ecological footprint, (3) commuting distance to work, (4) external energy inputs, (5) external utility inputs, (6) effect on environmental and air quality, (7) nutrient recycling, (8) materials throughput, (9) athletic, recreational, and mind-body practice facilities, (10) cost of housing, (11) access to schools and libraries, (12) access to medical care, (13) access to different modes of transportation, (14) wildlife habitat, (15) local productivity of goods and services for on-site use, (16) material productivity for external use, (17) provision of services to the community, (18) cultural and historical values, and (19) aesthetic and inspirational qualities. Examples of such ‘islands’ are sustainable housing communities, learning institutions, ecovillages, eco-industrial zones, integrated agricultural operations, and extractive reserves.
(3) Free Agent Learning Institute
This project aims to create a school for individuals interested in practical, real-life education leading to careers as Free Agents for Change. The focus of the learning program is to provide any literate and ethically-motivated individual with an interdisciplinary, core toolbox of skills, including working knowledge in the applied sciences (math, physics, chemistry), ecological design, humanism, organizational theory, ethics, financial literacy, and applied law. The curriculum also includes practical internships and group projects. Graduation is attained upon successful design and implementation of an employment option consistent with right livelihood. Practical skills include house design and production, implementing integrated agricultural/food processing operations, building planned communities, establishing research nonprofits, conservation foundations and endowments, starting appropriate manufacturing operations, organizing community-based urgent care clinics, ecological design and consulting services, and so forth.
(4) Open Consulting Project
The goal of this project is to challenge existing intellectual property models of business operation by demonstrating that mutually-beneficial, open source engineering and design collaboratives are capable of succeeding in the marketplace while promoting zero barriers to entry via open sharing of technical know-how. We will demonstrate this with respect to a collaborative which aims to share ecological waste-water treatment system design and specification knowledge among this entire community, where individual companies are encouraged to share proprietary information in exchange for the proprietary information of all other groups, while allowing all designs to become fully transparent via dissemination into the public domain.