Open Source Ecology

Open Source Ecology is a creative lab and learning center established to create open source solutions to be applied towards the advancement of humanity. We prefer to look past what is, and strive to materialize what can be.

Open Source Ecology Open Source February 4, 2017 at 10:05 am
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Project Description

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What is Open Source Ecology?

Open Source Ecology is a creative lab and learning center established to create open source solutions to be applied towards the advancement of humanity. We prefer to look past what is, and strive to materialize what can be. We are a network of farmers, engineers, problem solvers and supporters building the Global Village Construction Set – a modular DIY, low-cost, open source, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The aim of the GVCS is to lower the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing. It’s a life-size Lego set that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, or in the developing world.

Our Mission

The mission of Open Source Ecology is to create the open source economy. By using The Distributive Enterprise Model, we can organize labor and use local resources to drastically reduce costs and maximize efficiency. An open source, libre economy is an efficient economy which increases innovation by open collaboration. To get there, OSE is currently developing a set of open source blueprints for the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) – a set of the 50 most important machines that it takes for modern life to exist – everything from a tractor, to an oven, to a circuit maker. In the process of creating the GVCS, OSE intends to develop a modular, scalable platform for documenting and developing open source, libre hardware – including blueprints for both physical artifacts and for related open enterprises.

The current practical implementation of the GVCS is a life size LEGO set of powerful, self-replicating production tools for distributed production. The Set includes fabrication and automated machines that make other machines. Through the GVCS, OSE intends to build not individual machines – but machine construction systems that can be used to build any machine whatsoever. Because new machines can be built from existing machines, the GVCS is intended to be a kernel for building infrastructures of modern civilization.

The Vision

We – the countless collaborators upon whose shoulders this Vision stands – imagine a world of innovation accelerated by open, collaborative development – to solve wicked problems – before they are created. We see a world of prosperity that doesn’t leave anyone behind. We see a world of interdisciplinary, synergistic systems thinking – not the isolated silos of today’s world.

This work of distributing raw productive power to people is not only a means to solving wicked problems – but a means for humans themselves to evolve. The creation of a new world depends on expansion of human consciousness and personal evolution – as individuals tap their autonomy, mastery, and purpose – bo Build Themselves – and to become responsible for the world around them. One outcome is a world beyond artificial material scarcity – where no longer do material constraints and resource conflicts dictate most of human interactions – personal and political. We see a future world where we can say – “Resource conflicts? That was back in the stone age.”

Open Source Ecology, Maysville, MO

Our Values

Our core values revolve around open collaboration – which implies the vulnerability to share work in progress, without ego, power struggle, and insecurity. Our core values are efficiency, and the ethics and wisdom to understand what we should be efficient about. In practice, we strive to find effective ways to document our work – to create an open collaboration platform – where we can bring collaborators on boards rapidly. While it is difficult to document – the realtime, cloud collaborative tools of the information age make this easier – and we aim to tap these new tools to document and develop together.

The end point of our practical development is Distributive Enterprise – an open, collaborative enterprise that publishes all of its strategic, business, organizational, enterprise information – so that others could learn and thereby truly accelerate innovation by annihilating all forms of competitive waste. We see this as the only way to solve wicked problems faster than they are created – a struggle worth the effort. In the age where companies spend more on patent protectionism than on research and development – we feel that unleashing the power of collaborative innovation is an idea whose time has come.

Community – Get Involved

The Open Source Ecology project is fueled by a community of countless contributors motivated by the open source ethic of collaborative development.

We are lowering the barriers of participation so that anyone can join: in areas spanning design, engineering, art, communications, video, writing, enterprise – and on to tangible outcomes of hands-on builds and pilot projects. We are building on commonly-available tools and creating processes that allow people with little prior experience to generate sophisticated results – using an integrated, interdisciplinary development process. We care about systems and ecologies – where we value generalist skills that transcends the limits of siloed thinking.

We are testing the limits of collaborative innovation fueled by open processes and open hardware – to accelerate innovation – to make a better world – and to leave nobody behind.

Our goal is to show that anyone, provided access to tools and techniques – can tap amazing productivity, creativity, and power – on a transition from consumer culture to a new level of responsibility. Our goal is to create a cultural revolution – where you can Build Yourself – and build the world around you. We offer Design Sprints, immersion workshops, and the summer of extreme design/builds. Our work is geared at students, professionals, and social entrepreneurs – and anyone looking to make a change in the world, reskill themselves, and collaborate in a growing community creating the collaborative economy. Our goal is to create a kernel for a Civilization Starter Kit, and to create a formidable, open source development platform to create the next economy.

For further information or to begin working on one of the following opportunities, please email info at opensourceecology dot org


Development on the GVCS occurs both on site at Factor e Farm and remotely via Design Sprints, university collaborations, pilot projects, immersion workshops, and other development opportunities. We publish Requirements and Requests for Proposals and encourage anybody to apply either to work remotely or on-site. On-site work includes prototyping, infrastructure buildout, Immersion Workshops, agriculture, and other education opportunities. Our unique approach is creating not single machines, but instead – modular, scalable construction sets for building any machine – to Build Yourself – to Build Civilization.

Design Sprints – We have held a number of Design Sprints where collaborators gather around a Google Hangout and work in real-time on collaborative documents for conceptual and technical design. The potential here lies in – for example a group of 20 mechanical engineering students working for 2 hours to generate CAD on 10 different modules of a machine – given that Requirements are provided and given that the event collaboration architecture is defined precisely. With team leaders emerging, we envision running such events in parrallel with a number of groups. For example, we envision 10 groups of 20 students coordinating development for 2 hours on a Saturday – to generate an equivalent of . Our University Tour is intended to identify and recruit groups for such work. If you are involved in a student group – such as ASME, AIST, ASABE, ASCE, SAE, AIME, TMS, EWB, ESW, AIAS, ASLA, IEEE, IACES, NAEA, AIGA, TAGA, IGAEA, Habitat for Humanity, Architecture for Humanity, public service, alternative spring break, or other groups anywhere in the world, please contact us to get involved in OSE Design Sprints.

Open Source Ecology, Maysville, MO

Internships – Summers of Extreme Design/Build – with the Learning Factor-e Model. Most of OSE’s development occurs at Factor e Farm near Kansas City, Missouri, USA. We have offered Dedicated Project Visits in the past year-round, and in 2014, we are focusing our development efforts on the summer – such that we pull together as a larger, interdisciplinary team. Anyone is welcome to apply. For university students – this is a great opportunity to gain practical experience, make a difference, or build your skill set and resume. See information about what the development process looks like at Development Method – we will be engaging in a process where we prototype a module or machine every week – spending most of our time on design and preparation, and one day on the build.

Alternative Spring Breaks – Interested in changing the world rather than going to the beach? Join us for Alternative Breaks. If you have a group that would like to participate, please contact us at info at

Dedicated Project Visits and Group Visits – You can plug into the Summers of Extreme Design/Builds, into our alternative spring breaks. If you are a special group interested in doing work on site, we can organize other special opportunities.

Residency Program – We are looking for rock star open source developers of hardware and systems to join us for a 3 month program, currently under development. OSE supports the individual in collaborating with us on site at Factor e Farm, plugging into our development process – to take technologies to product release in the framework of our immersion workshops model.


If you have organizational skill and you are interested in working more closely with the core OSE team – help us organize:

University Lectures – or other speaking engagemnents. This is a great form of outreach, intended to recruit participants to build the OSE team from within. We are continuing to find strong stakeholders with our College Tour – and we are actively pursuing Design Sprints, Summer Internships, and student projects with the new contacts.

OSE Chapters – We are currently working on the first OSE University chapters The requirements are hosting one design sprint per month. To organize an OSE Chapter, see the guidelines at the OSE Chapters.

Team Projects, Senior Projects, Capstone Projects, Design Teams, Competitions, Social Enterprise Challenges – many universities have team projects, and we would like to explore how OSE can be a client. If you are excited about the work of OSE – and if you are a faculty, staff, or a student and you would like to organize an opportunity with OSE – we would like to establish creative partnerships with you where students work on tangible projects that make a difference. There is a lot of momentum around distributed manufacturing, open collaborative processes, integrated design and systems optimization – and we’d like to work with you to push the limits in all of these areas.

Organize In-Kind Donations – Do you have a friend or family member who owns a company that can donate goods to OSE? See the OSE Wish List. Companies and individuals can donate materials and get tax advantages.

Open Source Ecology Compressed Earth Block Workshop


Open Source Ecology’s roots lie in crowdfunding. When the founder became broke because his tractor kept breaking down – he turned to crowd funding to bootstrap the project. He would blog and post videos (see Distillations Series) on all that he did, and then he put up a ChipIn to collect funding – on the order of $1-2k at a time. Then he turned to the 1000 True Fans – 1000 Global Villages concept to gather a group of supporters who fund the project with a small monthly donation for 24 months. We have since gotten our 501(c)3 nonprofit status, and continue to collect donations and foundation funding. However, in order to scale the project to the next trillion dollar economy – we would like to see the distribution of economic power to many stakeholders. This is why we publish open enterprise models – to lower the barriers to entry – with which a social entrepreneur can start a lean enterprise with zero outside investment. Such start-ups are a true test of our work. Our goal is to collaborate with other distributive entrepreneurs of this nature – to create an ecology of such organizations. Once critical mass is reached – which may be as few as a few dozen solid enterprises spanning different levels of open industry down to the production of materials – then the world may see the next industrial revolution. The world has already seen 3: steam, steel, and computers. The next revolution will revolve around Open.

Founder – Marcin Jakubowski Ph.D.

Marcin Jakubowski is a Polish-American who came to the U.S. from Poland as a child. He graduated with honors from Princeton and earned his Ph.D. in fusion physics from the University of Wisconsin. Frustrated with the lack of relevance to pressing world issues in his education, he founded Open Source Ecology in 2003 in order to make closed-loop manufacturing a reality. He began development of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS)—an open source tool set of 50 industrial machines necessary to create a small civilization with modern comforts. His work has recently been recognized as a 2012 TED Senior Fellow, in Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2012, as a 2013 Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, and a White House Champion of Change in 2013.

Our Past Workshops

For more information about Open Source Ecology, please visit our website: