P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

The idea many have long discussed in our network is how to integrate the many technologies and areas of expertise in this large network of P2P innovators globally through the deployment of some type of ecovillage development that could be rapidly replicated globally.

A key component of such a business and movement would be that it would operate as a social enterprise incubating businesses onsite that would incorporate relevant P2P technologies.

An additional component is the idea that the process would be designed also to consider how these incubation centers would create synergy among the various ventures being developed so that the waste of one venture becomes the food of another.

That is to create an ecology of commercial interactions within and between each of these ecovillage training centers, so that the seed that started the P2P movement is further propagated. A point of a critical mass could then be reached enabling this information to be disseminated as common knowledge and practice in the mainstream society.

The idea ultimately is to foster the convergence of sustainable technology with Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) so that it is clearly understood how technology is enabling human capacity development in a more socially and ecologically sustainable way moving us towards Doug Engelbart's vision of Collective Intelligence.

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Dear Jeff:

Many thanks for contributing to our community from the point of view of development and sustainability, it's a sensibility that has not been too present so far.

For now, I just want to make a 'theoretical' point. It is the following, any political economy has a core dominant logic, and though it co-exists with other forms of social life, will 'infect' them. It is no secret that the commodity logic of our current system infects many things that we do, and there is a often cited danger of cooptation. But the contrary point also needs to be made: that there are now forms of business and enterprise, which show that the logic of business can be subsumed to the logic of partnership and voluntary peer to peer aggregation and production of social value. I consider the current trends of social enterpreneurship, of fair trade, and very likely your type of project to be an example of this.

I would see a natural fit between the types of enterprises you want to foster, and the open design communities.

My key question is: how do you see the safeguards so that in time, these new types of enterprises do not become themselves vehicles for the endless accumulation of capital?

What kind of governance rules or immune system would prevent that?

Michel
Its a good question and not one I feel i have an easy answer to.

Let me start by saying that the first step is a strong set of organizational anchors to guide the organizations together in the process of administration and accountability. Once that system is in place and there is civil society structures to monitor things externally, then the tendency for abuse and corruption becomes less.

In terms of internal development and self policing, I do think the real inhibitor will be the intent of the people running/starting the effort/movement. Specifically an education system would be needed to ensure that those running these projects or ventures have a degree of consciousness to consider a human scale approach to development and that this is perpetuated over time. This is an important consideration in making decisions - the idea of continuance and sustainability of the legacy of the existing leadership structure and culture within an organization or movement. Leadership therefore must be selected based on the establishment of a core organizational culture that is based on the intent of the bylaws as well as the educational and training process that is needed to sustain the organizational culture.

A major consideration of the success in terms of avoiding any corporate takeover or empire building effort, would be the foundation of an educational system that was more comprehensive and holistic in nature. It is then that a critical mass in which people have the capacity to holistically and critically consider the full ramification of their actions seeing that they extend beyond themselves (an alternative to the egocentric view that sustains the mainstream society and its top down leadership structure).

For example the fact that LEED exams in the USA focuses more on traditional multiple choice questions. To me its a sign that they dont really get what ecological design really is about. So there emerges a contradiction between green design and green architecture and ecological or holistic design/integrated approach to sustainable development. The point is why not evaluate candidates for LEED certification by having them do projects that incorporate all the knowledge into a complete and holistic approach that includes all the design elements needed for LEED certification. This would be a more qualitative approach that would help to cultivate practical learning and problem solving skills rather than making the certification process boring, involving the accumulation of knowledge that may not be relevant and also a very reductionistic approach to learning that is not an effective way to solve the complex systems and problems that emerging from ecological design. Thus we see a way to evaluate how people think and thus assign a value to how that judgment or thinking process aligns with the mission.

I would conclude and summarize by saying that the key is really training people on how to develop and cultivate emotional intelligence so that they can evaluate accurately people's tendencies in terms of making decisions and how that impacts their work in an organization that has a higher value orientation than is the case in the traditional corporate system. We also need to move towards democratization of the workplace so that bottom-up accountability structures are strong and the people in them empowered.
taking it all in Jeff ... no response so far ..

Michel
To me, avoiding cooptation comes down to land ownership.

Land should not be privately owned. Rather, Community Land Trust-like models should be adopted where private distribution of profits/assets and not allowed and all stakeholders can participate in decision making. http://www.communitylandtrust.org.uk is a good resource.

I love what http://ecologicalland.coop are doing too (buying land, getting planning for low impact developments and then selling long-term leases for ecological use).

I think we need an investment model/ fund that:

1. invests in community ownership/ stewardship of land (e.g. Ecological Land Co-op and others who support the creation of Community Land Trusts).

2. invests in infrastructure (e.g. the Global Village Construction Kit Marcin and others are developing, and the open telecentres of opendigitalvillage :) )

I'd love to work with OSE, OVF and P2PF to make this happen. We're already doing it at United Diversity, albeit in a small and informal way at present (only about 20 of us so far).

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