Last week I (Kat Ying) attended a Transitions conference at Concordia University, a really active University in Montreal where I live. Some students, staff and organizations at this school are undertaking a big project to transition the food system of this campus to a local, sustainable, with student and community run and owned enterprises. It is a great dream.
So the majority of the people at this conference were people who have a hand in growing food, social enterprise, academics, activists, community organizers and farmers. They are my kind of people 😉 And they are really great people to collaborate on OpenFarm. They have a lot of knowledge and networks to share with OpenFarm; and OpenFarm could be a great platform for them to share their knowledge, work and projects with each other and more people too.
But I wonder how much can they connect to the OpenSource Ethos of OpenFarm? When I first hear about this project I had a lot of questions to ask about opensource. Basically I wanted to know, what makes this a community business, and not just-another-website. But after talking to Simon and Rory about the open source aspect of the website I began to see how we are so aligned. In fact, among gardeners, permaculturalists and community organizers, there is a lot of talk about ‘openknowledge, and openeconomies’ in our work. But I wondered, how much do the gardeners and community builders who could really use OpenFarm know and understand opensource and the creative commons as is meant for web site developing and intellectual property online? Especially since these are big tenets of the OpenFarm project? Continue reading Transitions Conference Survey
One of the core and inspiring principles of OpenFarm is the Open aspect. I work in community development and gardening. This project has brought me into another magical realm of human creativity, the internet. Through this I have come to see how gardening, community organizing, and the internet are structurally analogous, networks. In all three the strength and the value grows when we network, and even more, when we share. In all three there is an inversion of how a capitalist system creates value. The more you hoard, the less abundant and valuable your product becomes. The more you share, the more you network, and the more you network the stronger and more abundant the products of the network become.
In Gardening and Farming we work with the soil. A couple weeks ago I attended a great conference about soil to kick of 2015 as The Year of Soil. The panel was almost as diverse as the complex substrate we were celebrating. An indigenous seed saver, a social entrepreneur, an artist, a local organic farmer, a social organizer, and a soil scientist. The social organizer called herself a soil worker. I found this a powerful metaphor. I like this thought of people and micro-organisms being functionally so similar, linking living things, structures, organizations and aggregates that together weave a complex, mysterious and wonderfully habitable space. Continue reading Network for Networks
Without community participation, OpenFarm would be a mere shell. It must be fleshed out by the people it is designed to serve. So who are these people and how do you connect with them?
I was recently invited to an event through my Facebook network that was geared towards connecting and encouraging collaboration between social entrepreneurs, green businesses, non-profits, healers and farmers. It was hosted by a man I had only ever seen on Facebook, but that some friends had met. He is a self proclaimed lover of laughter yoga, creating space for deep conversations, and social connection. He is the kind of person who (over)zealously posts on Facebook, leading many of his friends and followers to think he’s spamming them. Perhaps its a generational thing. Nevertheless, Rob (let’s call him Rob) is a valuable ally for the community developer. Rob represents the hub that has the potential to connect you to the far reaches of his wheel of influence and connection. Continue reading Navigating the Networks in Your Community
You’ve probably begun to notice, but an overarching theme in entrepreneurship is customer development, more specifically what we’ve dubbed GOOBing or Getting Out of the Building. The purpose being to listen to what people have to say about their problems and how they currently go about solving them. The best way to do this: face-to-face interviews.
After we identified our two target customer segments of beginning gardeners and experienced gardeners, we decided it was time to get GOOBin’. We set out to venture to places where we would find a mix of both starting- out gardeners and the more experienced. Over the course of a few weeks the team got out to multiple Farmer’s Markets in and around SLO, various nurseries and DIY stores (i.e. Miner’s Ace), and reached out to gardeners of SLO’s very own community gardens. We made connections with many active gardeners in our community including a network of Master Gardeners with whom we were able to talk with on multiple occasions. Continue reading The Interview Process