I like the idea of this project, so far as I can get my head around it
The thing is: most of the “community self-supply economy” already exists. It just isn’t user-friendly.
i.e. for basic goods, you would look to freecycle, clothing swaps, etc. For tools, you would look to Open Source Ecology) or other appropriate technology sources.
So a “personal self-supply plan” mostly requires linking up needs with resources that are already fairly well-known. i.e. a guide’s role would be mostly pointing the new member to sources of help outside edgeryders, only resorting to makerfox etc. for things that aren’t available elsewhere.
One start would be to compile such external resources, as a reference for guides. I offer to do that, if it would be useful.
[I’m normally reluctant about that kind of compilation, because
- people make duplicate lists in many places
- they go out of date quickly
but I think (1) doesn’t apply because the many resources are so scattered, and (2) doesn’t because we’ll be able to update it by looking at the advice offered by guides]
Sure using them!
I think you are exactly right to point out that much of the work is already done and many initiatives are already there. So by all means, let’s use them!
One of my own projects in the last years was to compile an extensive list of such open source and community managed solutions – called EarthOS. The EarthOS document is still a mess, but can be useful for the guides. But I agree that having a short list of the best existing projects and initiatives for essential needs would be a great resource in this project. If you want to work on this, very much welcome!
The reason for this OpenVillage Solutions project is what you call the elf-supply economy not being user-friendly. It’s hard to learn all the necessary tools and skills, so in this project we could help each other along the way. And maybe more importantly, we could make self-supply much more efficient by allowing for specialization and economic exchange within the group. So far I don’t know any group doing this across all the categories of self-supply, so I started this.
For example, I became quite efficient by now in “producing” HTC Desire HD phones (assembling them from cheap broken ones, and updating to newest Android 4.4 via CyanogenMod 11). This is something I can produce quite efficiently by now – but even though I document how to do it, others would need more time to get into this than it makes sense for producing just one of these for themselves. Sounds like a great opportunity for helping each other out (for example, via PayCoupons barter exchange). So I will offer two such phones in the next week for barter value here, and more later, and in exchange could use items from others that I can’t produce myself efficiently (for example, I’d need a lot of LiIon 18650 batteries, which can be remanufactured from breaking down old notebook accu packs, but it needs some expertise and testing equipment).
Makes sense? If you have an unmet “basic need” at the moment and a specialized product or skill maybe we can even work out a first exchange
On another note
Yes there are all these related initiatives, but it’s hard to make do with them, to integrate them into ones own life in a workable way that indeed provides for the basic needs rather than being “some wealthy Europeans tinkering with some eco-tech”.
I don’t know anyone who has mastered more then two or three of the self-supply technologies provided by existing initiatives. So if we can here together find a way to “master them all”, it’s also a credible way to help our economically excluded (read: monewise poor) brothers and sisters in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Argentine and where else these “financial crises” are marauding currently. That’s where I’m aiming at. A universally working step-by-step list for going from economic deprivation to stable self-supply with all the basics.
on a tangent
wow, Matthias, I hadn’t seen EarthOS before. That’s an incredible document. Though as you hint, 800+ pages is overwhelming as a first stop.
I agree very few people have mastered many self-supply methods. But there are some real experts in this community – elf Pavlik, for instance.
Perhaps it’s useful to ask: “why aren’t more people doing this already?” – since different reasons will require different solutions. So, off the top of my head:
- Not knowing what is out there
- Lacking the skills to take advantage of it
- Geographically in the wrong place to use resources
- Lack secondary facilities to use (e.g. transport or tools)
- Lack of time or energy
- Lacking the social connections required
- Do not feel entitled to free stuff, anxious or ashamed about taking it
- Believe free goods will be low-quality
- Want to avoid reciprocal responsibilities
We’d want to figure out which of these, or others, are the most common barriers, and then find ways to overcome them. [e.g. in my case, the inhibitions have mostly been social – admittedly that’s from a west-european who is somewhat embedded in the mainstream economy anyway]
Are you suggesting a survey?
Rolling out a survey to the whole Edgeryders community needs to be pondered somewhat – it’s not something you can do every day. But the question is interesting.
Or is this a Gedankenexperiment?
yeah, more a Gedankenexperiment. Or possibly (with some more refinement first) a framework for a discussion group at LOTE4 or some other event?
parasitic vs self-sufficient
[warning: just thinking in text. not directly relevant to the immediate topic]
Also, there seem to be 2 fairly distinct categories of self-supply:
- those which are parasitic on the existing industrial economy, taking advantage of its waste and carelessness (e.g. dumpster-diving or squatting)
- those which do not rely on the existing economy
Category (1) is where many of the immediate quick wins are. e.g. you can freecycle many of your material needs without that much difficult. But they are least useful to those who need them most – the poorer a community, the less waste.
But Category (2) so far consists mainly of projects which either are speculative, or have a high barrier to entry. Crucially, you generally can’t utilise them as an atomized individual. You probably can’t start a one-woman fab-lab or self-sufficient farm.
So the value of (1) is mainly as a stepping-stone to (2). It lets new people get started, gives them some immediate benefits, and provides them sufficient insulation from capitalism that they can contribute to (2) projects.