Image credit: TED
"A newly relevant DIY culture can transcend the boundaries of artificial scarcity."
Marcin Jakubowski graduated with a degree in fusion energy. Discovering that it was little use in the real world, he took up farming. And his tractor broke. Twice. Realizing that the appropriate, low-cost tools for affordable, sustainable farming and settlement didn't exist, he decided to build them. The result, which I have posted on before, was a group called Open Source Ecolody, and an open source hardware initiative called The Global Village Construction Kit. From circuit builders to bread ovens to tractors to rammed-earth brick presses, the idea was to create an easily repairable, modular and scalable set of tools providing everything you need to build, or rebuild, civilization. Check out Marcin's TED talk for more details on this amazing project.
Taking Open Source from Software to Hardware
We've already seen many open source information and data projects that make the world a better place. What makes open Source Ecology different is that they are taking the processes more usually identified with software development, and applying it to the realm of hardware and tools. After all, a tractor is pretty much a tractor—why can't we share our expertise and knowledge to offer low-cost plans for building vital tools from scrap, recycled and locally available materials?
Design for Autonomy, Resilience and Sustainability
Mirroring the shift in focus by many activists in recent years from sustainability to resilience, the project is focused on tools for a society that is less vulnerable to shocks and disruptions. Because the tools are designed to be locally buildable and repairable, says Marcin, the concept of the Global Village Construction Kit offers the hope of a more resilient, more decentralized future in which communities can realize their own visions, rather than relying on the outside world for assistance.
Open Source Energy
Of course there is a strong energy component to the project too, with plans for a hydraulic power unit to be powered by a flexible-fuel steam engine, as well as a solar turbine. All budgets, instructions, diagrams and schematics have been published on the Open Source Ecology wiki.
More on Open Source Technology for Sustainability
What Does Open SOurce Mean? : HowStuffWorks
AWESOME: Global Village Construction Kit (Video)
11 Open Source Project that Make Free Information Rock
The Open Source House Project