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Open Source Ecology

Our friends at Open Source Ecology are doing great, ambitious work in the world, and they need maker volunteers of various skill levels to lend a hand. What is Open Source Ecology (OSE)?

Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, 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. Its a life-size lego set that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, or in the developing world.

In the immediate future, they hope to release the OSE Christmas Gift to the World, full product release and complete documentation (3D CAD, 2D fabrication drawings, exploded part diagrams, CAM files for open source torch table) of four machines, Tractor, Power Cube, Soil Pulverizer, and CEB Press, by December 24, 2011.

If OSE’s mission resonates with you and you have a little extra time on your hands, why not lend your skill to a project that will make a big difference in the lives of many? Check out this blog post for their goals and the 11 specific tasks they need help with, and then email them at opensourceecology at gmail dot com to get involved.

For inspiration and more info on OSE, here is founder Marcin Jakubowski’s engaging TED talk:

Goli Mohammadi

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.



  1. Caleb Jamison says:

    Once more into the breach

  2. Brian Bates says:

    I am torn about a project like this.  I am vehemently opposed to the methods of outdoor farming as they are today.  Food production and clean water are not sustainable in land based farming for the simple facts that villages grow, farming has seasons, and farms are susceptible to mother nature. 

    Outdoor farming is the number one cause of pollution and ecological destruction on the planet due to agricultural run-off of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and the eradication of natural environments to create farmlands.  20% of petroleum in the US is used just for farming.

    In 2010 we passed the 6 billion people mark.  In 40 years it is predicted to be over 9 billion.  The farm land required to feed everybody would be the size of the continent of South America.  And the petroleum used to ship the crops will tip the ecology over the brink.

    There is a better way.  We grow food indoors, in tall buildings using aquaponics (aquaculture and hydro/aeroponics).  No mother nature, no seasons, no dumping/runoff.  Blackwater from the village is recycled.  Powering the vertical farm is a combination of wind, solar, and geothermal hydrodynamics.  Because the farm is in the city it greatly reduces oil used for shipping.  You can feed your populace year round and clean the water improving sanitation and overall health of the village and the ecosystem.

    Obviously the initial costs for a 5 story building in West Africa are unrealistic.  That’s the end goal.  Inexpensive vertical aquaponic kits and greenhouses that are open source is where we start.  I love the idea of open sourcing equipment needed to build and sustain a village.  But responsibly.

    And that’s where I come in.