Stewardship Sustainability Plan Template

In the real world, sometimes our stewardship projects interact with funding agencies like foundations and public authorities. They tend to think about things using the metaphor of business: so, they often choose their partners on the basis of documents that are essentially business plans. However, projects like the unMonastery are not businesses, and they don’t have business plans. So, we set out thinking about making instead a sustainability plan: something that plans over time and adds and subtracts values, like business plans; but it incorporates explicitly the stewardship value of we do, unlike business plans.

In principle, this should be understandable for a funder (for example, it allows them to compute their beloved ROI), while still doing justice to what we want to do. It takes the form of a set of “unSpreadsheets”. You can find an incomplete prototype here, with mockup data relating to the unMonastery. It is incomplete because it only computes profit and loss, but not the financial (and unFinancial) values of the statement of financial positions. Here is a discussion of what we were trying to do with the prototype. We may try to go fully open, leaving Google Spreadsheets for EtherCalc.

Logo icon: CC by Dimitry Lagunov

Date: 2014-10-21 07:00:00 - 2014-10-22 16:00:00, Europe/Brussels Time.

somethings missing…

Hearing what you are saying makes me think that, if you are going this route, then it might be useful to  think in the language of socio/environmental impact investment (S/EROI) rather than in terms of basic vulture Capitalist ROI. (though its only a slight improvement and the same fundamental logical order of self interest that is slowly and inevitably destroying the ecosystem and hastening the process of global systemic collapse - though that doesnt seem to bother the ‘sharing/collaborative economy crew’)

There are many metrically based tools for doing this job and with the digital skills of your members you should be able to figure this out for projects such as the unmonastery.

Measuring the environmental impact of say renewable over fossil energy usage would be one point.

Then the social value calculation of health improvements, service provision, education and digital literacy for example, and so on.

Some stuff

As you say, the logic is the same.

But the extension goes in a different direction. Essentially, the value gets stored as an asset, but based on direct measurement of the economic value of the flow of services originating from the stewarded asset. For example: if you can keep the lights on in the unMonastery, you can have people living in and saving X money of rent; you can organise 4 small conferences a year, and that will save you Y money of venue rental, etc. Additionally, you will avoid degradation of the building itself due to it being lived in, and that will save you Z money of maintenance and reparation and so on. X + Y + Z gets compounded over time and incorporated in the asset’s value.

We make something that you enter X, Y and Z in, and it spews out a sustainability plan. Hopefully.


if I have you right, you are looking at the model as a sustainability measure of the value invested being protected in the asset maintenance, rather than that generated by the services issueing therefrom to the community in which the ‘asset’ is situated.

This view caters to the building owner, project funder (foundations or otherwise), or holding municipality, and does not, per se, factor in the community in the environ.

When the point is to generate value at community level, neccessitating integration, then another set of metrics apply. Leaving them out can harm the integration due to that not being factored in to the process from the outset. Also, by gaining proficiency in this kind of metric you widen the scope from which to draw resources, namely via social/community investment bodies.

Still, that said, it seems that you are looking in a  specifically different direction, and yet, even public authorities look for value generated for their commuities, and foundations most definitely look for the generative also, and so perhaps consider this, and not only protectorate measures.

Playing it safe will, after all, get us nowhere.

Maybe you can clarify these points (and I’ll be glad of the lesson) -

When you say:  " ‘the value’ gets stored as an asset" I wonder first if you mean ‘the value’ as that which is invested in setting up the model , which translates as a ‘live to maintain and serve’ model (not unbecoming of an unMonasterian, and given the context, a nice basis on which to build out ones own livlihood for the thereafter :slight_smile:

And, given the initial post’s directive, might this not be called a ‘stewardship sustainability plan’ as a physical-asset-specific metric, upon which the more intangible and therefore harder-to-gauge metrics might be added at some later date?

Sustainability Plans, SROI and other stuff…

We developed the building calculator to help community organisations compare projected income with asset management/maintenance costs. It relies upon high quality private sector data about associated costs BUT they’re UK costs AND any outputs derived should only be used as a very rough guide because it’s impossible to programme a data-driven system if you’re talking about a heritage asset (the materials / complex dependencies are a specialist field). Nonetheless, it may be helpful.

Otherwise, it’s worthwhile reflecting upon the Guide to SROI generated by the SROI Network back in 2012 - in particular, P92 onwards. Simply stated, Alberto is right: it makes NO sense to compare the capital value of an asset with the (e/S)ROI from REVENUE (labour based) services. We found that LOTS of government bodies sought to ‘justify’ a specific level of discount to the market value of a capital asset to communities on this basis, but continue (successfully) to argue that, without accompanying revenue monies, the asset alone is dependent upon volunteer time / energy (which ought not to be monetised straightforwardly in relation to hard currencies, although the situation would be different in my mind where you have ALT currencies operating as exchange rather than store of wealth flows).

This might also be of interest:

Well, this is promising!

Discussion already on the track proposal page is a good sign that this is a needed exercise. @Eimhin, you are welcome to participate, and even better to lead, on this. The name you propose is great, and I am adopting it right away! @CommonFutures, I somehow had not thought about the approach behind the Building Calculator, which does make tons of sense. Maybe the reason is that we started developing this in the context of the unMonastery, which is a very non-standard building. Unfortunately, it does not look like the BC is open source, so we can’t develop and extend it (hint, hint).

Anyway, the actual artefact (the spreadsheets) is not so important as the act of putting it together. Some months ago, @elf Pavlik, @Ben, @fortyfoxes and I spent a very interesting afternoon hacking the prototype, and we learnt a lot about unspoken assumptions and judgment calls in the process. I have the feeling it will be a while before we can code the Ultimate Stewardship Sustainability Plan Maker. But of course that’s precisely the reason to start as soon as possible.

Building Calculator

I’ve asked colleagues and we would be willing to open up the code to yourselves on the basis of a Peer Production License. Pls send me a formal email request outlining how you would envisage this working in practice, and I will make contact with the developers once all concerned are content. NB: the real ‘value’ here lies in the costing data - and, regrettably, that belongs to our commercial partners and is locked down in a ‘black box’ / contractual agreement. So, is it still of interest? Clearly, crowd-sourcing costing data would constitute a very interesting exercise, and could be structured as per an Open Data Coop. And, on that note, I’m pleased to confirm that we will be taking forward our data coop work from mid-September as per my presentation last Autumn at LOTE3.

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Thank you and your colleagues, but…

… I cannot really commit to hack that code. I don’t even know what language it is written in! And hackathons are supposed to be fun, so I don’t want to be sending formal letters :slight_smile: If your colleagues want to go down the open source route, more power to them: in that case, we’ll at least look at their repo and read their README. Then, if we have the skill to reuse and improve and we like what we see, we’ll fork the code.

Building Calculator 2

Drupal. Will ask re README file. Open Source is fine - but, will still require confirmation that you’re content re adherence to the Peer Production License. Not unreasonable - given the up-front investment implied and special dispensation for Edgeryders to re-use.

Nah - I’m no expert, just a voice in the crowd.

I’m happy to discuss here mostly because it serves a mutually beneficial end with the Community Building Stewardship I am doing in Birr and this affiliated Food project in the town:

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Carnegie and Plunkett (moreso Carnegie) need loose metrics or at least close-to-metric data, that is - something SROI-ish that looks like its been drawn with a compass and ruler at least.

In addition, this type of loose-SROI-like system can use the participatory activities of the unMonasterian membership to fill out. This takes intelligent design, but, for example, where working with groups, you can use GNH (‘H’ is for Health/Happiness) as a guideline for  the design of the Metric which can be based on questionaire instances every time a given group meets or at stages in a process (1 month, 3 months, 6 months) - are people getting healthier, happier, fitter, more productive, do they feel they have more choices etc etc. Thats one simple example.

e/SROI takes what @CommonFutures is talking about above. There are a bunch of softwares that monitor the electricity usage in the building and from what I read @Elf already knows his way round them. This service could, hypothetically, be extended to businesses in a municipality as a service whereby they in turn channel their CSR funds into unMon related projects. I once wrote a short piece for company CFOs whereby you can incentivise energy savings by channelling percentages of that saving into health programs and company-social services for employees. This requires a process of monitoring the energy usage in buildings, and with an IOT/Sensor head on your team you could do amazing and valuable work in this respect. @Alberto, your friend at Lote2 in Brussels,EU head, the older man, French-speaking, he works with exactly this kind of technology and was very interested in our conversation at the time. Perhaps if you remember his name we can revive that chat here.

In addition, there is the general lived environment, is it nicer, more amenable to the ‘good life’ and how is that measured? What is being protected in terms of environment - species, heritage sites, SAC site maintenance etc, how is it being done, how is this a saving compared to not doing what is being done? All part of this kinnd of make up.

But I’m still on the wrong track I guess, so -

@CommonFutures, you are right about the gov. position re:revenue generation, its a crux everytime going into these situations and something of a Catch22 seeing as once revenue is generated than the likelihood of your being legally pigeon-holed as some form of 101 ‘company’ increases significantly. Getting around this requires a new form of structure I reckon, and an angle to approach state/political interest while accomodating both community groups and the unMonastery model specifically may be to form some kind of municipal community-corporate identity that can work between community focussed groups and the town in which they operate…

What you are saying about alternative currency operation - this is where it gets very interesting. Making the distinction between non-profit and for-profit mean something might hinge on the use of (initially) small scale alternative currencies based on abundance. This works for everyone as long as somewhere there is a revenue angle being created to balance the thing in the eyes of state and local chamber-types.