Open Source Ecology


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.



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.
  • 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.



OSE’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.

Since the early Distillation Series, we have doffed our suits, got on the world stage, put more dirt under our fingernails, and continued to build. We believe that dog-fooding all of our work is a way that we gain deep understanding on all that we do. We dog-food our own economic models to develop open source enterprise models that work. We continue to crowd-fund, and we will experiment whether crowd funding can be integrated with our RFPs to reward contributors in our innovative, open design/build process.


We also accept In-Kind Donations. You can receive tax write-offs for donations of material items – for example, we are currently looking for a van to take our students on field trips and to remote design/documentation events as part of our swarming development method. See our Wish List.


OSE Apparel