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Category Archives: Open Source

Translating the lessons of Open Source Ecology to environmental justice

I’ve been increasing interested by the concept of applying the open source software model to the physical world that surrounds us. And Open Source Ecology (OSE), an organization that believes “everyone in the world should have access to technologies needed to escape poverty and generate natural wealth for themselves and their communities,”  is doing just that. On the Commons reports:

OSE’s ultimate goal is to develop 40 open source tools that could allow a group of individuals using scrap materials and other low-cost supplies to create an entire village. To date OSE has successfully created the plans for a drill press, a brick press that produces building blocks out of soil, a mid-sized tractor, and transmission-free hydraulic engine that powers the machinery. By utilizing scrap metal to assemble these machines, the end product is significantly cheaper than buying them.

On OSE’s Web site, Wiki-page and blog, interested groups and individuals can access detailed building and operation instructions as well as projected materials costs.

Now, I would be incredibly intrigued to see how an effort like Open Source Ecology could also be translated to urban or small-scale settings. Environmental justice is a critical issue, yet I’m a little wary of the concept of building new, intentional communities when so much work needs to be done in our existing ones. A few basic examples of pandemic environmental injustices across a wide-range of communities includes a lack of accessibility to healthy food within low-income neighborhoods in cities, environmental racism, the need for clean drinking water, poisoned soil, and so much more.

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