• WE BELIEVE that the current crisis in Europe will be getting worse, dramatically dividing people, the rich from the poor, the privileged from the excluded, the rulers from the ruled ones.
• WE BELIEVE that the so called ‘middle class’ will retain only a few of its privileges, a vast majority will join the ranks of the excluded.
• WE BELIEVE that the political class, despite its official claims, is neither willing nor able to reverse the process, but rather amplifies it to protect its own privileges and political survival.
• WE ARE OUTRAGED!
WE DECIDED TO:
• Set up a facility to gather, verify and share knowledge and skills needed for free social self-organisation.
• Focus on a practical, technological approach, including soft skills, while staying away from all conflicts, be it ideological, personal or otherwise.
• Get involved full time, as a community, in supporting individuals and groups aiming to leave the social decomposition zone, and to adopt a freedom-oriented
• Co-create an intentional community as a testbed for the solutions we want to research.
1. WhyBecause people who live off-the-matrix, voluntarily or forced, need theknowledge and practical skills both for survival and for getting organised.
2. WhatWe gather, verify, improve and disseminate practical skills for social self-organisation. From making rocket stoves, rainwater harvest systems, through urban farming & food processing, to radical cooperatives' organisation, consensual decision making and social problem solving technologies. We run demo installations (rocket stove heating in a squat in Warsaw), workshops (consensus-driven decision making) and make tutorials. The first and major point is that we are not focused on leaders. We are focused on communities.
Then we are not focused on “making a difference”. We are focused on teaching people how to increase their independence in key areas:
- social structure & procedures.
tools, not ideas.
Formally speaking, the FreeLab mission is to gather, verify, refine and spread all practical skills needed for social self-organisation.
3. HowWe set up a team of people, living&working together as a collective. We settled in a rural area of Poland. The facility includes a house, a barn (being adapted as a
workshop area) and 1ha of garden. Our approach is to make off-the-system communities sustainable and resilient in respect of food, energy and technology. The first stage is the ‘scarp source ecology’ – using waste and recycled materials. Then we move towards locally produced/grown materials and producst, shortening recycling loops and energy circulation. Local food, local energy, local production – the goal is to have up to 80% of needs fullfilled from local sources.
4. WhoThere are 4 people, all homelless and jobless, being full time collective members, two honorary members and several „Friends of FreeLab”, working remotely. We
also have couple dozens of supporters, mainly over the Net. This winter we hope to invite two more full-timers, after a trial period. Currently, the members are:
- Beata, 24 yo, artist, maker, dancer and musician. She's an avid food maker and great tutor.
- Michal, 25 yo, musician, gardener, descendant of a long tradition of blacksmith family.
- Natalia, 55 yo, activist, translator (GER&RUS), natural therapist, counsellor, cook, gardener and biker.
- Petros, 48 yo, technologist, tinkerer, speaker, coach. Co-founder of Warsaw Hackerspace and independent political writer.
We are not interested in spreading our personal stories. We are interested in serving intentional coummunities and individuals around us. The rocket stove, rainfall harvest system or consensus-driven decision-making procedures will work all the same disregarding personal stories of “people behind the project”. Less ‘ego’, more ‘go’.
5. Story so farStarted last spring, FreeLab begun its operations in the middle of nowhere, near Opole, in SW Poland. During summer months we developed basic infrastructure
(rainfall harvest, solar power station, rocket stove kitchen), run several workshops on-site and throughout Poland (Animal Rights Gathering Poland, Wodstock Stop
Festival, Antinuclear Camp Lubiatowo, squatting communities in Poznan and Warsaw, Anarchist Federation summer camp). For the winter time we were invited
to Poznan, to establish an urban Freelab facility. During the move the proposed location (a squatted building) has been evicted by armed police forces. Thanks to
our friends, related to the Rainbow Family, we got an invitation to settle in Grabówka in SE Poland.
Currently we are operating as a sort of secular mendicant order, raising funds from our supporters, working locally for a share of crops and running extra-curriculum classes in local schools in exchange for food and wood for winter.
Once we gather provisions (6 ppl * 6 months) and have the house and barn prepared for winter, we shall be able to resume normal FreeLab operations. We already have an invitation from Warsaw squatting community to run rocket stove workshops. We also prepare couple „IT for activists” projects, plus a number of publications to be presented online and during public events.
Beginning next spring, we shall start new series of prototyping and workshops, covering local food and energy production. We shall also test our solutions during the refurbishment of the house, barn and garden.
6. Our needsFood, wood and basic resources we shall arrange locally – by working and begging. Our extra needs include fixing broken equipment (2 Kindle readers & Dell XPS – broken screens, fiat ducato – major engine failure), and some hi-tech gear: camera for tutorial movies, Itronix rugged tablets & laptops for field ops (pre-owned, preferably; can be just a case, battery, mainboard and screen – we shall gradually make them complete), PV panels and controllers – older generation will do, we have a LOT of roof.
Minor items: LED lights (12V & 230V); accus of all kinds: AAA, AA, C, D, 9v; Battery driven tools (12V preferably); hand winch, electric winch.
We also need people to help us with electronics for our constructions, microcontroller programming and power adaptors construction. The main project in this area is an intelligent battery bank. See „Winter projects” below.
Beginning spring we shall be inviting guests to help us with house/barn refurbishment and garden recultivation. Through the winter we plan to work for construction materials and to gather enough wood and other components to make the job doable.
7. Winter projects
- Intelligent battery bank. Made of recycled car batteries, with intelligent controllers keeping all batteries at the same capacity level. Details on demand.
- Wood gasification – wood gasifying stove and wood gas generator for a converted car engine.
- Rocket stove based hot water installation (Warsaw squat location)
- Rocket stove building & development workshops in Warsaw.