Buckminster Fuller Challenge

We are producing an application for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge this year.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge from Buckminster Fuller Institute on Vimeo.

Brandin Watson, one of our collaborators, has volunteered to take the lead on writing the application for us. Here are his words:
As was briefly mentioned in a previous post, we will be entering into the upcoming Buckminster Fuller Challenge. While the competition in this prestigious contest is very tough, we feel strongly that it will be worthwhile to present Open Source Ecology to the jury and see if we can’t come away with a victory.   The winners of the Challenge will be awarded $100,000 to invest into their  projects. It should come as no surprise to most that such a prize would be an incredible boost to Open Source Ecology and accelerate the pace of our program.  In addition, simply being a finalist will greatly increase the profile of our work to the world at large.  We believe that our work is exactly the kind of work that the Buckminster Fuller Institute is looking for.  In fact, many of the people that are involved in Open Source Ecology can cite Buckminster Fuller as a key inspiration for their involvement.  Even if we do not win, entering this contest will be a great exercise for us in refining our message in order to reach out to a wider audience.  And after all, as the saying goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
I will be taking on the bulk of the entry in the form of writing the essays and filling out the forms.  However, another important part of the entry is a two-minute video which describes as clearly as possible what our endeavour is all about.  The very packed schedule of work on site at Factor e Farm means that those of us on site will not have enough spare time to produce the video here in time for the October 4th deadline.  So in answer to this problem we are currently considering two potential solutions.
The first is our hope that there is someone among this blog’s readers who would be willing to help us out by becoming an active collaborator in this undertaking by producing the needed short video for us.  We are looking for someone with professional grade skills, the necessary free time and a real commitment and understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.  The resources that this person would have available are all the videos which we have previously posted.  They would have to edit a short but comprehensive narrative or “explainer” video about what we are already accomplishing and where we are headed down the road.  It would be a bit of a challenge but is absolutely possible.
The Explainer Video genre is an important concept – see this for an example of a group who is in the business of selling clear, concise explanations. Isaiah, one of our True Fans and a professional movie producer, suggested that we add the Explainer Video genre to our repertoire of documentation productions.
If no one with the needed skills is able to step up then we are strongly considering another option.  That other option is asking for the crowd funding donations necessary to hire an independent professional to produce this video for us.  It would be a relatively easy thing for a professional to develop a video which has a utility beyond just entering this one competition.  We could actually use a short, high quality video that explains our work in a concise way for promoting our ideas to the general public. Think of it as a “two-minute elevator speech with moving images” simillar to what the people at CommonCraft do.  We know that what we are doing with Open Source Ecology is essential but we also want for a lot more people to hear about it so that we can get more people contributing.  Effective marketing and promotion are an absolutely vital aspect of any collaborative undertaking and it is hard to find something that is by its essence more collaborative in nature than Open Source Ecology! This second option has a lot of appeal to us for that reason.  Even if we do not end up winning the Buckminster Fuller Challenge this year, having a video like that will be really useful and a worthwhile investment. We are currently pricing around to  see how much it would cost if we have to hire the work out.
However, we are really hoping that there is someone out there with the skills that can step up and volunteer to do this short piece.  We understand that is a lot to ask though and not everyone can produce professional quality videos.  However, if you are interested in helping out or have any other advice then please get in touch with us as soon as possible. We are going to wait a week while we see if anyone comes forward and also while we continue to price the work in case we have to hire someone.
It seems that in this situation, as in many others that we have encountered here so far, we have a dilemma similar to the old “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” problem.  While there are many talented and interesting people getting involved with projects such as Open Source Ecology all over the world, by far the greatest majority of individuals with the most professional experience remain in the “business as usual” paradigm. With more professional involvement in Open Source Ecology today, we will be better able to attract professional involvement in Open Source Ecology in the future.  However as things stand now, especially in regards to producing promotional material, the most productive route may very be to hire the professionals to get the ball rolling.  We will see what develops.
Look for another post with more information on this soon, and please wish us luck.
Personally, I think that this is a great opportunity to push limits of the collaborative development process. Not only is Brandin taking a lead on writing the contest submission for us – but also – we are exploring the frontiers of collaboration at the interface of crowd funding for funding professional assistance. We will definitely generate useful explanatory material in the process.  Direct feedback on the feasibility would come from votes with your wallets.  With our transparency, you will be able to see direct results. I think the practice of crowd funding of professional assistance is underutilized in the field of open source economic development, and this attempt is an experiment in that direction. This may or may not work, but it certainly is an intended part of the replicable, scalable, open source product development method.


  1. […] only to clarify the concept in general, but which may also assist in: (1), our application to the Buckminster Fuller Challenge; (2), recruiting of True Fans; (3) general purpose media blitz towards transcending scarcity of […]

  2. […] used this video in our application to the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) Challenge. Further credits go to Brandin Watson, True Fan – for doing the first cut of the application […]