Report from Oberlin, Ohio

The Oberlin College event went extremely well. My presentation was at the Oberlin College Environmental Center, which features a Living Machine for processing its waste, earth berming for geothermal design, and fruit trees all around. It also happens that Mr. Hall of the famous namesake invented the Hall process for electrolytic refining of aluminum at a party at Oberlin. Moreover, Oberlin is famous as the first college in the united States to admit a black man.

Some highlights of new contacts and collaborations are:

  • We identified subject matter experts for the design and fabrication of the Ironworker Machine; hot Metal Rolling; metal Forge; agricultural Microcombine. We also found a subject matter expert on Bioplastic Extruder design.
  • We will publish the OSE Manifesto – a soft-cover, on-demand-printed book.
  • We will announce a call for an Administrative Executive, as I’m buried with emails and administrative tasks as a result of our increased publicity.
  • The Oberlin crew is planning on building a compressed earth brick (CEB) press from our plans – for use at the George Jones Experimental Farm and other demonstration/education purposes
  • We will add Plastic Extrusion for producing open source greenhouse bioplastic (from plants) to the Global Village Construction Set. This expands the GVCS construction capacities to brick and lumber production, Cement Mixer, Trencher, Sheet Metal roofing (Metal Rolling), Rebar (Rod and Wire Mill), and now Bioplastic. This now covers low-cost walls, foundations, roofs, and glazing, and it would make our 40 cent per square foot advanced ecological housing feasible. We dropped the plastic extruder some time ago because of the advanced nature of this technology, but because of the serious interest and on-the-ground leads to this process, we plan on adding a proposal for this into Proposal 2012.
  • We have found assistance on developing a Research and Development (R&D) resource development strategy for nonprofit fundraising.

We also visited the Makers Alliance hackerspace in Cleveland.

One highlight on the cultural creation front was a woman who expressed her gratitude (in the Q&A session after the Oberlin presentation) for the message  that we don’t have to step back into the stone age in order to live with ecological integrity. That is one of our core messages. Personally – I’ve been through this question over 4 years ago – in terms of living in rough conditions as a matter of ‘saving the environment’. This made no more sense to me after I examined this issue profoundly via a combination of research, meditation, and workshop experience. It became clear to me that any harmful, power-concentrating, environmentally-degrading industrial process can be substituted with a totally benign, open source alternative. Schumacher, Fuller, Gandhi, Piore, and Schor talk about this issue at greater length. Further, if we want to create the next civilization – we simply need to compete with standard industrial efficiencies of production. The good news is that we can indeed do much better – considering all social, economic, and environmental issues.

I would like to thank Glenn Gall, True Fan, for organizing and sponsoring the Ohio trip.

We now have 210 True Fans. Subscribe to the True Fans so we can complete the GVCS in 2 years. We are putting the implementation team together, and my main tasks are now: (1), to clean up the project presentation and prepare for the TED Fellows talk; (2) keep recruiting the parallel development team, beginning with organizational infrastructure to support the rapid, parallel technical development.


  1. Leigh Blackall

    Regarding the manifesto. Perhaps consider using Wikibooks for the simple use of PediaPress for getting the thing printed on demand and out there. People will still buy your copies of prints if fund raising was a goal.

  2. Rosa

    Wow Marcin!!! Such excellent progress. Hope to have some of my own in the next two weeks. Time off for the holidays helped. Here’s to 2012!!!

  3. Patrick Gibbs

    I first heard about you from Joseph Zarr in 2008, and I feel thrilled that OSE has come so far since then!!! Thanks for your persistence in dreaming big, remembering your vision, and acting daily!

    For the book: consider Booki, used by FLOSS Manuals teams for collaborative book writing, which they present online and in print.

    For the “organizational infrastructure to support the rapid, parallel technical development,” I wonder if you’ll look beyond MediaWiki or Trac or Redmine (last I remember you were using one of those). From my surveys of software for Gaia University, seems to me that a structured wiki might be very useful for you: perhaps TikiWiki, Semantic MediaWiki (with Halo extension), Foswiki, Drupal, Wagn, Plone, or Xwiki might make sense. Also relevant: the Open Enterprise Model presented by might be useful, either on their platform or borrowing pieces of it.

    Beyond the software part of organization, to the policy of organization, I wonder if sociocracy might be handy. John Buck is a leading USA-based sociocracy specialist, and I’ve found him very approachable, and he seems to enjoy radical projects, so a conversation with him might be fruitful.

    Email me if you want more conversation on the challenges and possibilities of distributed collaboration among folks with inconsistent internet connections.

  4. LucasG

    I suspect most work will be done in English, at least during the first 24 months, and once the knowledge base is stable it’s then translated into other languages.

    But if multilingual origins are needed, maybe here is a way: (they use tiki-wiki) (here’s how it works: original developers can work in any language, English acts as a pivot language, then from English to the rest of languages)