First Ever Immersion Training: Growing the OSE Team

We have just completed the first ever OSE Immersion Program on the Open Source Microfactory. We are are proud to announce that Alex Au and Sara Bajor have joined the OSE team full time as OSE Fellows. As such we have raised OSE staff in number from 1 to 3. I point to these humble numbers to emphasize that we are using our bootstrap funding model to grow the organization. The main point is that as we ‘grow up’ as an organization – we transition to paid staff. This doesn’t mean that we won’t rely on volunteers any more – on the contrary – we aim to expand their role greatly – but need some measure of organizational stability to make this happen. This may be obvious to any student of enterprise – but for the longest time I’ve been thinking that the revolution would succeed with volunteers only. Since banging one’s head against a wall begins to hurt after some time, it was time to pursue a more enterprising approach. Will it work? The next 3 months will tell – as we have no runway and rely on earned revenue to keep going.

Moving forward, we are pleased to release our new website dedicated to the open source microfactory aspect of the Global Village Construction Set: 

We are thus expanding operations to the Bay Area in the USA – where Alex and Sara are located. We begin with our offerings of 1 day 3D printer builds, to be followed soon by recycling with the plastic shredder and filament maker – for producing 3D printing filament from scrap plastic. We are doing market research to uncover where our skills and tools may be put to best use. Workshops? Teacher training? Turning libraries into maker spaces? Kits? Corporate Team Building Retreats?

Immersion Training

As a result of their immersion training, Sara and Alex are now working as OSE Fellows full-time. Our revenue model is running public workshops to fund continuing development. Full time development effort is critical to accelerating OSE work to completion – slated as a window of opportunity until 2028. I say window of opportunity as we are switching to the application of the GVCS in 2028 – with whatever GVCS machines that we have developed. The next area of endeavor will be, broadly speaking, training people to become Integrated Humans and who microstate entrepreneurs – reforesting the deserts of both the biosphere and of human consciousness.

In the immediate work – if the revenue model works – we will have proven that we can scale to different locations around the world – starting with North America.

We’re excited about the next Immersion in April 2019 where we plan to cover heavy machinery that makes building the Seed Eco-Home more accessible. Our goal is to double annually for the next 10 years until we reach 1000 full time effort, meaning that we can actually do something world-changing in a fundamental way. So far it wasn’t easy: of the 7 people who were accepted for Immersion Training, only 3 made it through the program. 3 dropped out after Boot Camp, and 1 lasted for another week. A 43% graduation rate means that in its current form, the OSE Immersion Program needs a lot of work. I’d be happy with an 80% graduation rate the next time. In the current cohort – the 3rd graduate – Dixon Nahrwold – is working as an idependent OSE developer with 60-80% effort until releasing full documentation for the laser cutter by end of December 2018.

Given the challenges that we faced, the initial OSE Immersion crew earns my respect as true survivors. Alex, Sara, and Dixon are the early adopters. We went through a lot together in those 5 weeks – but nobody lost faith no matter what happened. As I write this – our future is not certain for the next 3 months. As OSE grows to a veritable movement – we may look at these three as The Legends.

Here were some takeaways from the immersion training experience. You can also hear more details in Alex’s and Sara’s own words in this 1 hour YouTube recording.

  • Full Product Manual – We published our 358-page exhaustive build guide for the OSE 3D Printer. This is the most complete and finished documentation for any of our projects. We adopted a documentation process that makes building our machines more accessible to total beginners.
  • Collaborative Workshop Teamwork – We committed to a workshop model that increases collaboration between participants such that there are no stragglers. Typical workshops involve people with all skill levels – which means that some builders are faster and some are slower. This makes quality control impossible, so we are now committing to a build model where everyone is kept at the same step. The first person to finish helps others – and this continues until the very last person is up to the same step. We have found repeatedly that doing this allows everyone to finish in less time. Both the faster and slower people end up learning more. We are constantly learning about barriers to collaboration – and our renewed commitment to a truly collaborative build has the potential to scale the workshop build model to surprising results.
  • Setting Workshop Expectations – We reflected on how expectations should be better communicated so that participants understand we are actively developing and improving on prototypes rather than distributing finished products. Right now the 3D printer is at what we call a ‘finished product’ ready for widespread replication. But in reality – the product will continue to improve. Plus, our grounding in a Construction Set Approach means that we can build infinite variations – in which every new variation is best viewed as an experiment rather than product.
  • Supply Chain Issues – we though that we had the supply chain work finished – but we ran into severe supply chain issues when we switched several suppliers for the 3D printer that was built during Boot Camp. That turned the first week of the Immersion Program into a Week of Hell. We struggled all week with parts that did not work – and wasted so much time in the process that we ended up covering only 50% of the intended curriculum. Of the 18 3D printers that were built during the Boot Camp – only 10 got to their first successful print. By the end of the immersion program, we ended up switching from the Prusa i3 MK2 extruder – which was simply too difficult for most people to build – to the E3D Titan Aero – a much simpler design. The simple solution for supply chain issues is to test all components prior to workshops.
  • Holding Space for Group Processing – part of technology development involves social technology. We created space for participants to share their feelings in a safe space so we can understand our collective needs and help people manage a stressful situation.
  • Governance for Full-Time Team– We adopted formal decision-making processes that let the full time team have control over how they do their work.

We are actively seeking ways for Open Source Ecology can support its growth by holding education workshops, building community-scale infrastructure, and supporting entrepreneurship. Right now, we’re doing research on the needs of the OSE community.

Our one ask: chat with us and let us listen to your needs

As we are growing – we would like to establish feedback loops on how we can serve our community better. Chat with us and help us understand what you would like to see come out of our work. What do you need and find valuable? How can OSE meet those needs? Understanding your answers would help Open Source Ecology in big way.

We are currently researching how to roll out the 3D printer and the open source microfactory into communities. How can we serve entrepreneurs, producers, schools, libraries community centers, and others – while launching a public design process for the common good? The goal is to involve everyone in creating a better world.

Please fill out this survey so we can hear your feedback, insights, and suggestions:




The legend continues. The Legends continue.

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