Re: Factor E Farm, How do we learn?
- Hi Marcin and all,
Franz Nahrada has collected links to letters and comments from himself,
Michel Bauwens, Stefen Meretz, Vinay Gupta and others who are learning
from recent events at Marcin Jakubowski's Factor E Farm where Ben and
Jeremy were forced to leave on short notice.
I also share Mark Roest's letter below and Jeff Buderer, Benoit Couture
and others have written at:
I add my own personal reflections.
* I think Marcin's approach is intrinsically competitive. He's
interested in his own success, but not very interested in anybody else's
success. He competes for donations, for people, for resources and
especially, for attention in conceptual space, where I think scarcity
economics is very intense. Conceptual space tends toward monopolies
(like Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Twitter, etc...) And I think this
competitiveness is more or less true of most online projects that I know
of, including Oekonux, Keimform, P2P Foundation, Global Swadeshi, One
Village. In that sense, I myself compete for Franz Nahrada's attention,
for example. I think I'm competing successfully in that through Minciu
Sodas I am organizing Worknets as a network of labs (mine, Samwel
Kongere's, Franz's GIVE) and online groups (Franz's Global Villages,
Janet Feldman's Holistic Helping, Samwel's Mendenyo, Pamela McLean's
Learning From Each Other, Edward Cherlin's Earth Treasury and more)
where there is a lot of energy shared in supporting each other's
success. (And we're outliving highly touted efforts such as Doug
Engelbart's Bootstrap Institute, Dee Hock's Chaordic Commons, MIT Media
Lab's Think Cycle, Eric Eugene Kim's Blue Oxen, Pierre Omidyar's
Omidyar.net) I think I (and we) are competing positively in that I
(and we) are open to working with everybody toward a minimal culture for
such shared energy, as I'm expressing with my draft of the Worknets
Charter http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Charter which includes working
in the Public Domain, helping people earn money but not charging people
to care about them, and wanting all to succeed. My own conclusion after
years of trying to engage other groups is that at this point we may well
succeed around our own efforts to create a culture of independent
thinkers. It seems that the more we succeed, the more others are
inclined to join into our culture.
* I think Marcin's commitment is very impressive and very rare. That's
a key problem, that there aren't many alternative on-the-ground leaders
in do-it-yourself open source global village technology. It's a reason
to support Marcin and all such pioneers.
* I suppose that it's nice to showcase all technology in a single
village. But I think it's unreal, it's simplistic. Most of the world
already has a built environment, infrastructure and technology that can
be leveraged. I think it's counter to sustainability to abandon it. I
agree that we do need a "do-it-yourself" approach to technology, but
primarily on the level of skills and initiative, being able to do or
organize one's own repairs, renovations, improvements. What I think
will be real is a network of people with useful solutions. Ricardo has
helped dozens of Africans get computers, get online, make the most of
their technology, buy on eBay and trade locally. Zenonas Anusauskas (I
live with his family) uses a simple furnace he invented for burning wet
wood and household waste by which hot air dries the fuel before it is
burned. The real "global village" technologies are I think the ones
that help you remake your environment, not build from scratch. In that
sense, even if Marcin was completely successful, his work may be mostly
irrelevant, in that he's assuming that you'll start from scratch. But
furthermore, his approach to his own land - such as where to build on it
- seems haphazard, at odds with Christopher Alexander's "timeless way of
building" where you feel through your surroundings, what's optimal for
quality of life. I don't think that there's much notion of "quality of
life" at Factor E Farm, and thus no way that the collection of tools
that he builds are going to be valid for real world global villages.
* I support an alternative approach that focuses on small projects (say,
$100 each) such as Tom Ochuka's hand cart for water. We can learn
something from each such project, build skills and get experience and
share that. If we had hundreds of such projects, then we'd have
something much more real than Factor E Farm. And they can benefit real
people, as in Africa, rather than in a contrived situation, like Marcin's.
* I support an alternative approach that focuses on the individual and
their dreams - how to support them as a person who grows - rather than
their projects, which may hinder their growth. If Marcin had said,
"Help me live my dream life..." (rather than "the world needs my
projects") then maybe he'd still be with Britanny and maybe his
inventions would have some human context. I think it's a big mistake
that he takes himself out of the picture, which is why I keep organizing
around the deepest values of each individual. (Marcin's is "The freedom
that technology gives you" which I think is helpful to know, where his
leadership is relevant, and both his strong point and weak point.) We
could have an "economy of dreams" but I don't know Marcin's personal
dream. I ask us all to write about our dreams.
* I support an alternative approach that builds on other people's
efforts. Marcin started out on his own and I suppose that's what you
have to do when you are a pioneer, and what I've done with Minciu
Sodas. But most "global villagers" are going to be drawn into the
movement and can add their energy to existing efforts. Franz Nahrada
helped me see the relevance of the village. After the city displaced me
from the Atzalynas community center, and then left it without any doors,
I thought to myself, Who are the most inspiring villagers that I know
of? Zenonas and Audrone agreed that I live with them and their
delightful family. I'm able to boost Audrone's work to foster sobriety,
Zenonas's Internet TV http://www.internettv.lt and get to know villagers
at their church, at the sawmill in their back yard that supplies them
with waste wood, or who supply us with milk because they keep their cows
and horses in their barn, or who use the Internet access at four
computers in the large room which is their bedroom at night. This is a
real global village, a real example with real impact on real people.
As I live here, people will get to know about it. I expect that Samwel
and I and other Worknets lab leaders will have photo blogs that show
people the on-the-ground activity. In 2003, I proposed to Marcin that
he blog so that we might learn, as we are, from his real life rather
than his crop yields. His blog is a great inspiration. I think from our
blogs it will be clear what it means to be a global villager. I think
that Zenonas and Audrone are much more relevant examples for the global
villages movement than Factor E Farm, they are real leaders who care in
real ways about real people, but they don't speak English. We can
identify and organize around such leaders.
* I support an alternative approach that focuses on the joy of a
creative culture as the most relevant dimension of a global village.
I'm building on Zenonas's Internet TV and home studio to make creative
philosophical films and there's real interest from the art communities
in Uzhupis, Smalininkai and other hubs that I think might each produce
channels at his station. This creative activity is I think what's
relevant for people to want to be together and live as community, fall
in love and raise children.
* Open source software is a poor model for a healthy economics, just as
computers are a poor model for people. The software community consists,
in my experience, of people whose social skills are less than average,
as reflected in social software which most typically forces people to
interact in very controlled ways. Software is really not that important
in life, and what may work in organizing software projects (where maybe
only 1% ever thrive), isn't relevant for on-the-ground problems as when
people live together in an intentional community (which must address
100% of issues).
* I welcome Marcin's participation in Worknets - I'm glad for Ben and
Jeremy's help to link us in our work together for Mornflake - but I
don't expect that Marcin cares about my efforts or the Worknets initiative.
* I prefer not to compete, but I am willing to compete. I choose to
invest myself in those who want a shared culture (which I am pursuing as
Worknets). I support Samwel Kongere's work on sustainability and I
believe that in a year or two we might organize around him a lab with
on-the-ground do-it-yourself technology that outshines Factor E Farm but
also is a real base for real activity and a real example of global
* I think that my approach will win for the following reasons:
1) I will find a way for our network's participants to earn as much
money as they need. I'm encouraged by our successes so far. If we're
financially independent, then we can't be stopped.
2) I will focus on the joy of encouraging each other's creative work.
3) I will explore and support God's interests as an investigator in the
variety of our values, questions, concerns, endeavors.
4) I will encourage the growth of leaders of our culture and subcultures
and be ever open to working with other groups.
* I look forward to competing (and collaborating or not) and checking
results in a year or two.
I share Mark's letter below.
Andrius Kulikauskas, Minciu Sodas, http://www.ms.lt, ms@...
Mark Roest wrote:
> Hello All (please post to groups Andrius included, which I am not a
> member of yet),
> Here are some thoughts in response to Andrius' question, "But can we
> find a way to
> acknowledge these misfortunes and learn from them? and evolve?"
> One way we might learn is to understand that "western civilization"
> was totally consumed by the dominator paradigm from a few thousand
> years BC to the present, and that the only places where we can learn
> what life /can/ be about are those people who are consciously
> pioneering the partnership paradigm / gift economy / communitarianism
> / mystical paths / new age / recreation of spiritual cultures /
> connection with all our relations (the other animal and plant beings
> with whom we share the planet) / deep science (from the latest physics
> to ecology and ethology), and in or from those villages where
> colonialism did not really intrude, and no one enslaved the people or
> conquered them or settled in their territory in large numbers after
> being displaced from their own homeland / ecosystem, and no major
> natural or man-made disaster destroyed their ecosystem, and a
> dominator class did not arise on its own.
> These are the places, along with looking deeply within our own hearts,
> and looking at our children before they get spiritually defeated,
> where we can find enlightened awareness of the oneness of all life,
> indeed of all existence. We can also find it in many spiritual and
> mystical teachers, which can include teachers of yoga and some of the
> martial arts.
> We might also look at nature videos of chimpanzees working to balance
> their social relations within their group, but killing male members of
> groups on adjoining territories to access their females and food, and
> male alpha baboons terrorizing all other members of their groups,
> solely concerned with their dominance. We might read Jane Goodall's
> book (I forget which one, but it was written within the last decade)
> in which she describes what happened when the group of twelve she had
> studied for many years, chronicling their care for each other and
> acceptance of her as a close observer, split up, with five setting up
> an adjoining and overlapping territory.
> She describes finding tracks, five times, that told the story of an
> individual ambushed by a group and having its limbs twisted and
> broken, attacked many ways, and being left maimed, dead or dying. She
> tells of adolescent males getting very excited before leaving with the
> older males on one of these hunts [this is just like young men
> volunteering for war, and mobs getting worked up before a lynching].
> She explains it as despeciation -- members of a group deciding that
> others of the same family, or known territory-holders or strangers of
> the same species, are 'not like us', not protected by a social code of
> interdependence, and subject to being hunted like meat animals.
> Among humans, despeciation was strategically refined into class and
> caste systems, and slavery. Instead of killing the 'other', dominate
> and subjugate them, 'assert authority and dominion over them', and
> exploit them for production of needed goods and symbols of power and
> status for the dominators -- in fact, by their existence and
> condition, they ARE symbols of power and status for the dominators.
> But whenever we set off to war, or subjugate and imprison
> minority-group males (as California does to such an extent that our
> prisons have twice the number of inmates they were designed for), we
> have plunged ourselves into the raw genetic depths of despeciation.
> Our entire culture is permeated by despeciation. I am old enough (62)
> to have lived as a child in a highly segregated place before the civil
> rights movement (Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.), where
> blacks were forced to use separate, unmaintained drinking fountains,
> parts of town, schools, etc., and forced to ride on the back of the
> bus, and lynched for looking at a white woman with interest (and
> anti-miscegnation laws were enforced and taught). Where the sheriff
> dropped in on us after ten at night to sit down at our kitchen table,
> tell my parents to sit down with him, and brag about catching a black
> burglar in his kitchen and hitting him on the head with his gun so
> hard he collected over a cup of blood from the floor -- while I
> watched in hiding, from the bottom of the stairs. Where in my first
> day at school, checking in at the principal's office, I saw two black
> girls deliberately humiliated by making them go back to class, after
> ten days at home getting rid of lice infestations, wearing large pink
> bandages on their heads. Where days later a girl told me, "you can't
> sit with us -- you don't have blue eyes," and when asked why that
> mattered, said, "my parents told me I can't play with anyone who
> doesn't have blue eyes." Where I watched two men on the bench in front
> of a store bragging to each other about beating their wives 'to keep
> them in line' -- just like baboons would do, if two alpha males met at
> the bar to get drunk, and could talk about their lives.
> Now, a few days ago, I heard a right-wing demonstrator telling a
> reporter for KPFA radio (94.1 FM) that there are 40 million people
> without health insurance, and there aren't enough doctors to treat
> those people without rationing care for those of us who have health
> insurance, and doctors are telling their children to go into other
> professions, so [essentially], we cannot change the system because
> that would compromise the demonstrator's resources. This person was
> knowingly saying that his well-being is predicated on consigning 40
> million people to lives without health care, hence much suffering and
> early deaths -- and the reporter did not even state that this is the
> real meaning of the demonstrator's words! Despeciation is so pervasive
> in our culture, and so dominant, that we do not even confront it
> openly wherever we see it. I knew at the age of 5 that if I did so in
> Maryland, I would be placing myself and my family in grave jeopardy.
> Any adult male I saw could be a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
> Dominance in the sense of authority, as in the government, or the
> captain of a ship, or "the king of my own castle", and the institution
> of property, are variations of the dominator paradigm, and a system
> for maintaining economic disparities. If you read an interview with
> Rebecca Adamson, by Sarah van Gelder, on page 49 of the summer 2009
> issue of yes! magazine (www.yesmagazine.org
> <http://www.yesmagazine.org>), on Age-Old Wisdom for the New Economy,
> you will find a systematic explanation of the philosophy of indigenous
> cultures, with an example of how they teach /toddlers/ to go out to be
> their own person, and come back to share. "Adamson, a Cherokee, is
> founder of the First Nations Development Institute and First Peoples
> Worldwide. She works globally with grassroots tribal communities, sits
> on the boards of the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the
> Calvert Social Investment Fund, and is an advisor to the United
> Nations on rural development."
> We can understand the demonstrator above through Rebecca's words. "We
> keep going into this paradigm of scarcity because fear is good for the
> capitalistic system. If you want to drive consumption, you've got to
> be fear based. But God is in the space and silence. That is where it's
> sacred. You look up on a starry night, and you feel yourself unfold,
> and that silence is where God is."
> Her juxtaposition goes to the root of humanity's development of
> spiritual traditions. We all have chimpanzee and baboon behavior in
> our genes. But we also have a wisdom and love that transcends the
> dominator paradigm! Jane Goodall wrote that after seeing [the
> genocide] unfold over a year and a half, she was unable to work for
> over a year, until she read about a female chimpanzee in a London zoo.
> This female would respond to two males starting to show signs of
> conflict with each other by moving between them, and then going back
> and forth between them, grooming each one and pulling it a bit back
> toward the other one, until the males are standing on each side of
> her, grooming her, [and the fight-or-flight response is washed away].
> So we have both dominator and partnership in our blood and genes and
> minds. We have only to learn how and why to choose, and how to embed
> partnership in our culture once more! A big hint: learn by doing. A
> bigger lesson: this comes from the same place as the human experience
> of spirituality, which opens us to the Ground of Being, where "no
> matter what we say, All is One" (Annie Besant, an early leader of the
> Theosophical Society, in a book whose title I did not write down).
> That is why mystics teach that all religions are branches of the same
> For more on partnership and dominator behavior, and dominator roots in
> our cultures and religions, you can read Riane Eisler's books, /The
> Chalice and The Blade/, and /The Partnership Paradigm/.
> For a list of potential partners for almost any project of healing
> each other and our world, check out Wiser Earth <www.wiserearth.org
> <http://www.wiserearth.org>>, which was inspired by the book Blessed
> Unrest, by Paul Hawkens.
> We need to combine our work in sustainable technologies with the
> indigenous cultures' lessons of cooperation and partnership with each
> other, and of stewardship with the rest of Life, in a context of
> spirituality, if we are to have any possibility of saving Life on
> Spaceship Earth from unimaginable, universal destruction, driven by
> human rapaciousness, selfishness, and fear, expressed as unbridled
> economic competition and as war.
> We are already on the path; let us be aware of its deeper meanings,
> contexts, and priorities. And from that study, let us transform human
> economic activity everywhere to working in harmony with the different
> nature in each place, and with each other, so we can practice and
> experience the great healing.
> Mark Roest