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Open Source Ecology

Open Source Ecology is a U.S. non-profit dedicated to creating an open-source economy through global collaboration. At the core of their work is the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS); open-source plans for fifty industrial and agricultural machines. All machines, from tractors to circuit boards, are considered fundamental to contemporary life— what would be required to create a small civilization with modern comforts. The 50 machines are modular and complementary so that they can be endlessly recombined to fit the needs of communities the world over.

Their designs for the fifty machines are open-­source and the materials are cheap and widely available. Notably, all designs are required to meet the same performance criteria as their commercial counterparts.

Marcin Jakubowski came up with the idea for OSE after he purchased a farm in Missouri and needed a tractor. This prompted Jakubowski to invent his own tractor in an open-source format. Eventually he and the early contributors to OSE produced a tractor that can be made in about four days for roughly $6,000 in parts; a typical tractor costs $25,000 to $120,000. The tractor success prompted OSE to create a list of other machines essential to civilization and begin designing them along the same lines.

OSE’s work is about autonomy and self-sufficiency. Developing communities are often hamstrung by the need for expensive equipment and patented technologies. OSE’s work puts productive power in the hands of communities themselves; they can design, build, and develop along the lines that are meaningful to them, even where resources are scarce.