The Reef: Membership and Economic Model (Draft)

project-reef-brussels

#1

Introduction

The openvillage is modelled on the coral reef.  Reefs are a connective layer that consists of physical structures in different places built by small entities embedded in water. These “rainforests of the sea” are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. They flourish in ocean waters that provide few nutrients. What makes coral reefs especially interesting as a model are two attributes:

  • They are held together by a simple physical structure that can be produced by colonies of tiny animals.
  • Even though they only occupy 0.1 % of the world’s ocean surface they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species

Using these beautiful and fragile structures as a model, The OpenVillage is a working and living space embedded in a massive online conversation equipped with collective sensemaking tools. Members are part of a global 4000+ strong community of brilliant individuals working in different fields. OpenVillage is where we pool resources to finance a number of services which help each individual and initiative to live up to their full potential:

  • Foster maximal diversity to attack systemic problems. We now know diversity trumps ability.
  • Improve ability to analyse and interpret information. Produce and use data. Have a data strategy.
  • Increase knowledge about existing initiatives, organisations, people, places and networks. Acknowledge their good work and build on it. Do not duplicate them or compete with them.

Membership Perks

Personal and professional development: Knowledge, adopting skills and behaviours needed for living and working well with others.  This include things like understanding and managing group dynamics, Intercultural communication, mitigating and resolving conflicts, dealing with common psychosocial problems e.g. depression, changing counterproductive behaviours, nutrition and physical wellbeing, developing practical skills like permaculture, carpentry and plumbing, developing survival skills etc

  • Invitation to annual members' retreat
  • Peer coaching and mentorship sessions
  • Community dinners, parties, courses and adventures
  • Invitation to participate in Courses, Masterclasses and Immersive learning experiences

Space to work and business development: Specialised support services fo independent/freelance/small businesses e.g. hired sales people to help them grow their revenue (SmartBE)

  • PR, Sales & Lobbying support
  • Unlimited use of coworking space 
  • Invitation to annual members' retreat 
  • Peer coaching & mentorship sessions
  • Use of meeting rooms and workshop spaces
  • Project development & partnership-building support
  • Invitation to participate in  Skill Development Masterclasses

Affordable housing in beautiful space with others in a well-functioning community: Rental of short term accommodations (hotel rooms/beds e.g. ROAM) and long-term housing (regular apartments e.g Techfarm in Stockholm).

  • Bed(room) + amenities
  • Comfortable, clean and calm
  • High quality, healthy meals daily
  • Mix of spaces for sociality & solitude
  • Access to our co-working and event spaces
  • Community dinners, parties, courses and adventures
  • Use of the  guest rooms for hosting visiting friends/family

CoOwnership of property: Group Purchase and Development of real estate for permanently affordable living and working(Simone’s Coliving  in Milan)

  • Access to the Edgeryders co-working & event spaces
  • Use of the Edgeryders guest rooms for short term visitors
  • Invitation to Edgeryders events for deep learning and business networking
  • First refusal on new business ventures & early-stage investment opportunities

What OpenVillage offers its members:

Membership Packages and Pricing

Our membership model ensures that the OpenVillage is economically self-sustaining and rests on a fair social contract. The revenue from membership fees are used to ensure that OpenVillage creates enough value, financial and non-financial, to compensate people contributing to it:

  Membership category Business, project development and sales support  Administrative, Financial and legal services Online platform and tools Community building & management Annual gathering Coaching & Mentoring Master classes Coworking & event space Guest Room Personal (Bed)room
  Core x x x x x 0 0 0 X 0
  Workspace x x x x x x X X X 0
  Resident x x x x x 0 X X X X
  CoInvestor x x x x x x x x 0 0

+ Eur/month for additional access to activities, resources and perks. 


FAQS

How is \#openvillage different from existing co-housing and co-working spaces?

Most coliving spaces fall into are either rented from private landlords or cooperatively purchased and owned by their residents. Most co-working environments are tied to specific locations and are dependent on revenue generated from rental of space which they in turn rent from commercial landlords. Lack of diversity, lack of needed interpersonal and practical skills needed for harmonious co-existence, lack of pragmatic business and financial models, lack of legal model that allows for flexibility while safeguarding individuals’ investment etc.

The OpenVillage is a hybrid online-onsite space. The combination of online and on-site resources, services and community management supports diversity and experimentation. It allows for a mix of different kinds of participation, commitment and investment: 

  • Insurance against myopia ( breaking out of filter-bubbles)
  • Access to observations from the global network in your field
  • Collective intelligence-powered insights 
  • Deep understanding of unconventional solutions to known and unknown problems
  • Access to protagonists of new solutions to known and unknown problems at an early stage
  • Unlocking flow of information, resources and trust across structural gaps in social networks
  • Discovery of new critical skills through hands-on learning guided by peers with practical and theoretical expertise
  • Discovery of important weak signals from the edges embedded in contextual knowledge (rich data)

Pooling resources to purchase real estate is interesting, does it work in practice?

Cases of crowdfunded purchase of real estate: Bolivia/Chile highrise, example 2, example 3  . There are also several property crowdfunding ‘platforms’ (though they solely focus on financial gain)

https://www.crowdwithus.london/

https://yielders.co.uk/

https://propertymoose.co.uk/

https://www.propertypartner.co/

https://www.crowdlords.com/

Also this is a rather interesting article on the topic: https://www.ft.com/content/bff453da-be7d-11e4-a341-00144feab7de

like1

Which risks are involved and how will you mitigate them?

  1. Capital constraints: Obvious to all.  Money.  Groups can economize to almost unimaginable amounts (like at Findhorn and The Farm), but it also means there are all sorts of things you can't do.
  2.  Burn-out: just like with any office refrigerator and dishes, some people are neater than others and some people care more than others about certain daily realities of the physical space and on to completely mental/psychological/relationship issues.  It is inevitable in any group that you will have a kind of bell curve of participation at the most basic levels of responsibility where some people take on anything and everything, most people do some, and some people don't do that much.  This is one of the most important reasons why certain things have to be worked out and talked through.  Putting a bunch of signs around and just being rule-enforcers might work when the large majority of people there are transient, but for a smaller more committed group, it can take on a life of its own that can get to be a drag.  Plus, it wasn't said in that article, many of the intentional communities or collectives, are started by people in their younger adult years.  Sometimes the real story is people grow and change and their life goals shift.
  3. Conflict over private property and resource management: related to burnout and capital restraints.  This is a situaltion where I think it ought to get written down as to what the basic agreements are about who owns what and who is responsible for what.  Not getting this right is dangerous.  But that is what the crucible and planning is all about.  Many ways to go on this, with pros and cons at every turn.
  4. Poor systems of conflict mediation: One of the best quotes in that article was, "‘It’s not utopia. It’s microcosm. Everything that’s in the outer world is there – marginalisation, addiction, poverty, sexual issues, power. Communities are just fractals of society.’ The difference for Sutherland was that in Findhorn there was good will and a clear commitment to waking up: ‘People are willing to look at their stuff.’ "People are willing to look at their stuff."  No matter how you say it, get this working and you can go on and on.  Avoid it, and, well, vaya con dios..bad vibes await you.
  5.  Factionalism: Inevitable perhaps to some degree, but can and should be diffused with regular open and honest talk about it.  Requires total fidelity to truth, even if the truth is somene admitting that they are conveying an impression and not facts per se.  The thing is, frank talk should not get put off too long or too often so that bringing up anything turns into some huge blowout deal.
  6.  Founder problems: leaders and founders don't easily relinquish.  Every situation is different.  In a "does the work/calls the shots" environment this won't present itself as a huge problem as long as everyone understands and agrees on the meaning of the word "work" and what work has what relative value.
  7.    Reputation management: can be a problem as an attractor of new people.  One of the agreements of the operation should be "don't be an asshole" plus make sure the plumbing works and the reputation ought to take care of itself.
  8. 8. Skills shortage: this has been discussed already in terms of having a variety of people clustered who know how to synergize what they know.  But if you go out to the country, this will become a big deal right away.  Unless you want to spend your time learning country skills.  But in the city the skill sets are going to be more focused on the ER mission as it plays out now, right?  Grant writing, business management, event planning, workshop managing, etc.
    1. Failure to attract new talent or entice subsequent generations: not a near term issue at all.  But one problem with groups is they can get pretty smug and insular.  That’s not attractive.

 

What are the most important differences between Memberships?

Depending on which package they choose, Members have access to 1)  different kinds of services and 2) physical spaces.

1) Access to services

Core Membership Package: Personal and professional development

You get:

  • Sales and PR support
  • Use of coworking spaces
  • Invitation to all social events 
  • Invitation to annual members' retreat
  • Peer coaching & mentorship sessions
  • Community dinners, parties, courses and adventures
  • Project-development and partnership-building support
  • Invitation to participate in Skill Development Masterclasses 

Why do it:

  • Insurance against myopia ( breaking out of filterbubbles)
  • Access to observations from the global network in your field
  • Collective intelligence-powered insights
  • Deep understanding of unconventional solutions to known and unknown problems
  • Direct access to the protagonists and solutions at an early stage
  • Discover important weak signals from the edges embedded in contextual knowledge (rich data)
  • Contribute towards achieving positive change at scale

Workplace Membership Package: Space to work and business development

You get:

  • PR, Sales & Lobbying support
  • Unlimited use of coworking space 
  • Invitation to annual members' retreat 
  • Peer coaching & mentorship sessions
  • Use of meeting rooms and workshop spaces
  • Project development & partnership-building support
  • Invitation to participate in  Skill Development Masterclasses

Why do it:

  •  
Coworking Space Office Meeting Room Event Space
5 sqm/person 15 sqm 30 sqm 100 sqm
A days/month B days/month C hours/ month D days/year

+ x Eur/month for an extra person , + y Eur/month for business services

Resident Membership Package: Affordable housing in beautiful and respectful community

  • Bed(room) + amenities
  • Comfortable, clean and calm
  • High quality, healthy meals daily
  • Mix of spaces for sociality & solitude
  • Access to our co-working and event spaces
  • Community dinners, parties, courses and adventures
  • Use of the  guest rooms for hosting visiting friends/family
Bed in Bunk Room Single Room Double Room Residence
10 sqm/person 20 sqm/person 30 sqm/person 40 sqm/person
 Eur/Person ? Eur/Person ? Eur/Person ? Eur/Person

+ x Eur/month for an extra person, or couple.

CoInvestor Membership Package: 

  • Invitation to participate in 1x Masterclass 
  • Access to the Edgeryders co-working & event spaces
  • Use of the Edgeryders guest rooms for short term visitors
  • Invitation to Edgeryders events for deep learning and business networking
  • First refusal on new business ventures & early-stage investment opportunities

2) Access to physical spaces

Membership category Annual gathering Coaching & Mentoring Master classes Coworking & event space Guest Room Co-living Space
Core x x 0 0 0
Workspace  x x x X X
Resident x x 0 X X
CoInvestor x x x x x

+ Eur/month for additional access to activities, resources and perks. 

What do the different types of membership cost?

Where does my money go?

  • Core Membership: Generates baseline revenue without depending on square meters . Number of available memberships is unlimited. Required membership contribution depends on costs of organising events and community management.
  • Resident Membership: Generates rent for running costs. Number of memberships is highly limited. Required membership contribution depends on number of square meters per personand duration of stay. The Workspace option gives non-residents access to our co-working, meeting and event spaces.
  • CoInvestor Membership: Generates capital in exchange for co-ownership. Number of available memberships is limited. Required membership contribution depends on cost of acquisition and renovation of real estate, size/number of rooms and number of days per year.

A complete breakdown of costs and budget logic is available here: [ Add Url to wiki here].

  • Core Membership Fees: x% goes to Basic running costs for providing location-independent services to community members are covered by money coming in from x% of Core Membership fees.
  • Workspace Membership Fees:  Y% goes to Running costs for providing space and location-dependent services to community members.
  • Acquisition costs for securing permanently affordable space for housing and working are covered by money coming in from z% of subscriber-investor Membership fees.

How did you calculate the Membership Subscription fee?

  1. We make an interactive spreadsheet/chart for figuring out it would cost if acquire the space with bank loans: We aggregate a list of prices, interest rates for bank loans, commission to the real estate agent, legal fees and other third party services as well as cost of renovations within a specific timeframe for paying everything off. Say 5 years and 10 years. We then estimate the predicted value of the building in same amount of time as would be bank loan. This divided by the meter square is the "commercial" cost of investment into the building for an individual or organisation and can be split into monthly installments that then come the subscriber-investor membership pricing.
  2. We then do the same for figuring out the same as \#1 if we acquire the space without bank loans. Finally we compare with the costs of renting different spaces
  3.  We then do the same for figuring out the same as \#1 if we acquire the space without bank loans.
  4. Finally we compare with the costs of renting different spaces
  5. We make an interactive spreadsheet/chart for figuring out it would cost if acquire the space with bank loans: We aggregate a list of prices, interest rates for bank loans, commission to the real estate agent, legal fees and other third party services as well as cost of renovations within a specific timeframe for paying everything off. Say 5 years and 10 years.
  6. Weestimate the predicted value of the building in same amount of time as would be bank loan. This divided by the meter square is the "commercial" cost of investment into the building for an individual or organisation and can be split into monthly installments that then come the subscriber-investor membership pricing. 2.
  7. We then do the same for figuring out the same as \#1 if we acquire the space without bank loans. 3. Finally we compare with the costs of renting different spaces

Rather than wait till everything is perfect we are launching a basic membership scheme in April 2017. This will give everyone who is interested in exploring creative new ways of living and working in the future a low-risk opportunity to do so. While learning and having fun with inspiring people from around the globe :)

Financing and Pricing model


#2

Ideas what we could add to the place that could generate income:

Tool depot / a shared space of tools, tents, games and whatever else with a subscription.

Bike fix station

3d printer lab

solar power - ideally if we could gradually switch towards sustainable energy generation and selling it to the neighbors/donating for free to entities such as nurseries or schools


#3

I think

  • tool depot is a great idea, perhaps also include a small number of consumable materials that will likely “pay their rent”.

  • 3D printer is a nice little extra*, but perhaps even more often used would be a 3D scanning facility

  • while I am a fan of renewables, breaking even on selling the electricity will be hard. You could certainly offer e.g. an electric bike charger together with a (self) repair shop though

*shapeways is around the corner - but a quick experimental print or similar could certainly be done in reef


#4

We can apply to fund it from Velux foundation, which allows purchasing real estate

http://veluxfoundations.dk/en

And get support from this call - The New shape, remodeling global cooperation. I mean, where do we fit better?

https://globalchallenges.org/en


#5

Maybe a spreadsheet of funding opportunities with deadlines?

Like this it’s hard to know how to allocate time… maybe people can tweet us using a hashtag (or we can tweet when we come across something elevant)?


#6

Off season, after hours

Hey I am wondering if one could lower the committment threshold if one paid for a couple of days stay in advance (or got them through services to ER community).

And then one maybe would not have the same rights as a recurring payer, but could for example stay a couple of days extra after an event. Perhaps there are seasons when there are few event or lots of people are on holidays. One could meet up with someone in Brussels to discuss things of mutual interest more easily. I don’t know how to best handle this - perhaps with a red, yellow, green status?

And depending on if ER is more in need of money or collaboration you could throw out more or less of such opportunities.


#7

The in-kind payment

How is the advance 2-day payment different from Remote membership above?

Nice touch with the in-kinds, especially with so much precarity around us and edgeryders members big on moneyless economies. Fyi @Yannick and HUIS VDH (the Bxl space turned event venue) have just launched an improved protocol for venue rental which is interesting because: it’s based on learnings from a trial period in 2016, and acknowledges the bootstrapping mode the team seems to be in; while anybody can request a venue by completing forms, the procedure is flexible enough to allow hosts to examine a request and make decisions on a case by case basis; it opens up possibility to pay by contributing to the space renovation and maintenance, which I understand should not be underestimated especially when it comes to ran down or incomplete spaces.

Unfortunately, if the Reef Bxl needs to make hard cash even to pay rent, well that informs a large part of the membership model.


#8

Only difference is lump vs recurring I think

If I give you say 100 EUR tomorrow I don’t have trouble with making this work with my cash flow over time (similar to ER Bxl crew, community members often want to keep recurring costs of the book I think). Also, our style is decidedly non-linear I’d say. We don’t visit for 5 days every year, for the next 20 years. We visit once for 2-3 nights and discuss things. Then if things start working out we come again for a week. Then the same next month. Then we see, fuckit, it is easier to straight up move to Bxl.

Or we bring an acquaintance for a 3-way discussion and a short holiday meet-up. And on the last day they decide that some ER project is what they really want to do, and never go back home. As crazy as it may sound, but those are the more plausible models from my perspective.

Also, if you have 100 EUR tomorrow - those can go to work for making the place a desirable destination straight away. If the users come before the cash it is the wrong way around. In-kind contributers are usually a different story - there it may be better if they first get to experience what you actually need and can thus contribute more efficiently and effectively.


#9

Remote membership = advancing the fee

Ok, I think I got it, but that’s pretty much how I read it initially. Makes complete sense to me.


#10

Alot depends on the venue itself

E.g. does it have a shopfront or no? Is it on a busy street or a “dead zone”? So it maybe it makes sense to do things in this order for each city under consideration (starting with Brussels):

  1.  Find a number of venues that are available *now*
  2. Drive a community discussion about possible revenue streams for each one to develop credible proposals
  3. Design and drive a "pick one" campaign in which people commit resources to the combination ( space + model) in which they believe.

We run this cycle with/through an intense online/offline outreach and engagement campaign in the city for up to 3 months.

What do you guys think?


#11

Longer term planning indeed.

The only problem I see with this idea is having someone on the ball around each of these spaces, also to see when the window of opportunity closes. For example the space at fo.am may not be there indefinitely, but it does make sense to do this thorough modeling as a case study.


#12

We’re on the ball in Brussels

I think we can prototype the whole online-offline process from looking for spaces, to evaluating and finally choosing something in Brussels. Because we are already here and can quickly follow up on things. Plus we have accommodations and coworking space where we can easily host people who come in to do spurts of work on making this happen in the city.


#13

I have an architect friend

who is no stranger to activism and unconventional living. Currently he is based in Vienna but circumstances are good to have a talk with him. I already nudged him once, but I think it would be better if you fill him in on your vision directly.

He should have enough French to work on the ground in Bxl as well. I’ll pm you his skype - feel free to cold call him (although he’s in a bit of a hot-cold situation, so you may have to schedule eventually).


#14

Thanks!

I guess Nadia will follow up once we are back in Brussels. :slight_smile:


#15

How could I have missed this? Thanks!

That’s a great suggestion. Might be the first person we contact after our second community call today.


#16

Good discussion everyone, thanks.

There are two kinds of costs: one-off investments (renovation etc.) and running costs (rent etc.). I suggest to start by focusing on the viability of running costs, not because one-offs are not important but because it makes the problem more tractable.

With a commercial space that we pay rent for, in-kind makes a ton of sense for renovation, but not so much for running costs, as Noemi pointed out.


#17

BitHouse

maybe it already occured in your discussion, but i’m sharing anyway

https://www.bithouse.io/ looks a lot what @nadia explained to me some months ago about your plans. Looks interesting


#18

Thanks, joined. Interesting and valid for the Irish situation. Irish government have launched a “Help to buy” scheme, which in reality doesn’t appear very helpful. Seems geared more towards helping to get into debt. Another initiative on the way here is rennovation grants for first time buyers in small rural towns.


#19

Leasing!

Thanks @Yannick , Nadia and I just had an animated discussion on this. It seems a leasing contract with some add-ons. Some are nice and even needed: for example, in our home we already deduct any money we spend for repairs from our share of the rent. We use a shared Google spreadsheets.

We both liked the transparent, data-based approach to housing. “Transparent” is why we use G-sheets instead of LibreOffice files saved on someone’s hard drive. Same thing for Edgeryders asa  company: accounting is in the cloud, and we all have full access. I don’t particularly see the benefit of using a blockchain-based system (must be computation-heavy, with significant overhead), but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.


#20

Met great people from Communa a lot of synergies for Reef in BXL

@nadia @alberto @noemi

Today i met the people from Communa that are also rehabilitating vacant spaces through their knowledge of juristictions (two of them are actual jurist), they explained their businessmodel and the next big challenges and i think you all need to meet. They have a working system, experimenting with rent systems but want to tackle also if people buy something in group and such on. I’m sure you will find a lot in common to discuss and maybe they will help you find the Reef in BXL

Let me know if you need contacts,

Yannick