Aspects of Stewardship

Background: on Sunday, @dorotea, @hazem and @danohu talked a bit about arranging Berlin-based interviews for the stewardship case studies.

We wanted to choose interviews that would cover different aspects of stewardship, so we could understand it from all angles. But it turned out we didn’t really have a clear/shared idea of what stewardship is.

So this is an attempt to break down stewardship into component parts – both to understand it better ourselves, and to choose the best people or groups to interview:


  • From elsewhere
    • Dictionary: "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care"
    • Wikipedia: "Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources"
    • In Christianity: as a way of thinking about the environment and social justice, -- e.g.

      “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pt 4:10).

      What identifies a steward? Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly are one answer; so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure.  But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord

  • From within Edgeryders:
    • "Stewardship is the act of taking care, preserving, maintaining. We mean it in the sense that communities – starting with us – need to become better at being stewards of public goods"
    • "the ability to come together to take care of assets in an unstable context"
      • "Stewardship manifests as the gardening of an ecology. In so much that it is not curation or archiving. Stewardship can only relate to that which is active - it acknowledges and works towards the preservation and growth of use value, exclusively. "
      • "work against the sense of just working for today"
      • "act as carrier of the learnings of what we develop around Stewardship to communities who...could benefit"
      • "creating conditions for real support and mutual aid" [including mental health]
      • "“responsibility of stewards to ensure something doesn’t get fucked up by externalities"

Breaking it down

  • Dealing with public goods
  • Preserving
  • Protecting
  • Maintaining
  • Support and mutual aid
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@Dorotea and @Hazem in

@dorotea and @hazem in particular – please jump in here. I think you both have a clearer idea than me of what kinds of stewardship we are looking at.

Looks pretty clear to me :slight_smile:

I don’t see anything unclear with your breakdown, @danohu. I would just add a word on agency: in the Edgeryders/LOTE4 take the protagonists are communities. It is them who deal with public goods. And then there is a catch: in the experience of many of us, it is easy to lean too heavily on communities and their more generous members (open source projects, anyone?), involuntarily causing them to burn out. So, our version of stewardship is about communities taking care of public goods and communities. This twist makes the mix sustainable.

But this is just my own understanding, and (ahem) I had not even been pinged by you! I would definitely be interested in how @Hazem and @Dorotea see the matter.


alberto, thanks for this. I hadn’t really thought about that inward-looking aspect, and I entirely agree with you.

nothing to add

that’s very clear … so what’s the next step …we have this list of projects (over 100) and this breakdown of stewardship …is it worthy to see which project is in which category of stewardship ?

you know, I hadn’t even realised this list existed. That’s already wonderful!

Before making this page, i had thought precisely that we should group the projects into categories. 

But now, looking at the list – I actually don’t think many fall neatly into just one category. So I’m not quite sure how to proceed; maybe just selecting projects more intuitively, the way we were before.

Connections and Lote4 Session

This looks great :) @Hazem @Dorotea and @danohu let me know if you need me to connect you to people I have met in Berlin and the best way to do that.

I am writing up a session for LOTE4 to categorise different forms of Stewardship. I hope to have a session proposal online in the next couple of days. Would be great to have any contributions and ideas.

Maybe we can work this into the agenda for the Distributed Berlin-London Meetup?

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could work , we need also the same agenda for both meeting we can add this breakdown of stewardship and have a discussion about it in order to see different definitions/perspectives on the stewardship from different projects .

@danohu @Dorotea  what else was on the agenda  :slight_smile: ?

Categories or overview?

Are you sure about categories @Lauren? Does it not run the risk of being a pedantic exercise? I would propose instead you try and do an overview, based on the super-fantastic list of projects. Even better: why do you not do a Case Study Adventures session, telling the audience about what people are doing all over the world? This is gold!

Lovely work

Thanks @danohu and everyone, this surely comes in handy because it helps us build a common framework of understanding, I for one am using this already, even if it’s unstructured. Similar to @Alberto, I think given the short amount of time left to Lote it’s worth considering what aspects each can take further and develop into a conference session, and prepare thorough documents as yours as a reading list for that session - linking to this page for example. This way people attending know exactly what to prepare or read ahead, rather than navigating the whole Stewardship topic on which is already pilling up :slight_smile: