With panelists Kevin Carson, senior fellow of Center for a Stateless Society & author of The Desktop Regulatory State Josephine Watson, a researcher organizing regional food system networks Lorenzo Kristov who facilitates transitions to localized renewable energy grids.
2020 has been a year of impetus for localised production to start happening, and we have seen across the USA, and indeed the world, people with 3D printers creating much needed Personal Protection Equipment for their local hospital using open source designs. We have also seen a surge of interest in and support for regional food systems. This emergence is known by a few names, distributed manufacturing, localised or bioregional production. Our August call discusses theoretical and real world examples of this work. For a fuller version of the text head to the truncated minutes here.
Localized production is a form of production that gives people control over their own livelihoods and the material preconditions for life. It keeps materials, production and consumers within the local context of a bioregion. It uses less materials and has less overheads compared to traditional mass production. It follows a ‘just-in-time’ production model and doesn’t need to invest in marketing or shipping because consumption stays close to the point of production. Because it has evolved in a resource constrained context, needing to extract maximum value out of every unit of input, localized production usually has less waste and tends not to engage in planned obsolescence.
‘Common Space’ or the ‘commons’, is often discussed with distributed and relocalized manufacturing. This is because capitalism purports the artificial idea of abundant materials that are ‘free’. Common space means the local economy is reintegrated into the natural surroundings and production is oriented towards local resources and watersheds and what it can handle. There is more incentive toward things like circular economies, recycling materials, cradle to cradle design.
Open Source is a big part of micro-manufacturing. It actively facilitates the rapid diffusion and use of knowledge, cooperation and collaboration with no monetary exchange. This more agile response can rapidly change and adapt. When new innovations arise they can continue to be shared rapidly, because there’s no intellectual property and other legal monopolies to create barriers.
Examples of Open Source production: Open Source Ecology and their Global Village Construction Set uses open source 3d printers that can be built for $500 worth of materials. Routers, cutting tables, laser cutters, drill presses, farm and construction machinery that can be built for less than $1,000, much cheaper than their commercial counterparts. It is now possible to build a garage factory in six months, instead of building giant factories with million dollar mass production.
“The old mass production economy is like a T-Rex floundering around in a tar pit. It’s just dead.” – Kevin Carson
Every aspect of the regenerative movement would like to see more citizen and community participation shaping the policy and the law that governs the way they live. Bioregional conversations are at the core of this and are going to be important in our future.
“Whenever we’re talking about bioregional distributed manufacturing in a farming context, we are talking about giving communities agency over the food that they’re eating, which is such an intimate part of our lives… working towards a feedback loop, that connects with the way communities would like to eat and how they would like to have relationships with their land” – Josie Watson, Northeast Healthy Soil Network
Bioregional conversations can be tricky without a level of coordination and shared values. Josie shared about the response of the Northeast farmers to the pressure of the government subsidizing monoculture growing. This flow of cheap food to the Northeast is making it tough for local and organic growers. Many collectives, associations and networks have sprung up at local, regional and state levels to address this problem. Inadvertently, multiple movements have formed without communicating with each other, and each of them hold a piece of the puzzle they are trying to solve.
The Northeast Healthy Soil Network was formed focussed around Healthy Soil, to help bring all these groups together, because healthy soil is a common goal across the organisations.
“We wanted to incorporate working with soil as a living complex entity with millions of microbes. This is something that was not studied during the Green Revolution. We didn’t ask how the soil system lives and breathes and functions. We need to relearn and embrace these things rather than focussing on pure food output”. – Josie Watson
You can read more about the Northeast Healthy Soil Network here
Often State policies and ownership models need to be changed to achieve bioregional success. Lorenzo Kristov has been working hard at shifting State structures to allow local energy planning and production to take place at the neighbourhood level. This planning would be tailored to the energy needs of that neighbourhood. The plan also utilises existing energy companies to provide funding and expertise to teach local neighbourhoods how to plan and run their own power grids and/or develop resilience requirements when the grid goes out. Shifting ownership models enables the revenue that would normally flow to monopoly structures to stay in the neighbourhood.
“Rethinking how we do energy becomes a critical enabler of just about everything else we want to accomplish… When I think of bioregional, I think of the many local communities and neighbourhoods that participate in that bioregion. Part of this transition is to go beyond the economic dogma of the individual household as the unit of analysis, and shift to a neighbourhood as the core unit of analysis”. – Lorenzo Kristov
Lorenzo firmly believes that neighbourhoods, and the relationships that people have in them, are crucial to the next step of bioregional production. In those relationships we can develop collaborative projects that make our neighbourhood better and stronger. Neighbourhoods is where we will start to create the alternative to what’s happening. Lorenzo encourages us to get out and build relationships with the people that live around us, and see what projects flow from that.
“Neighbourhoods are seeds for creating a successful way around the extractive dysfunctional systems we have now. Rather than obliteration, of seeing the systems failing and going through their end of life and self-destructing, we can view them as compost, which becomes fertilizer to grow the new thing.” – Lorenzo Kristov
There were mutual calls to make sure that people of colour and Indigenous nations’ leadership is visible in helping lead the way in these transitional times. It is recognised that it is a difficult time to reach out to Indigenous communities and ask for aid and research when they’re so financially strapped. But we know that Indigenous groups throughout the world are bastions with the most important knowledge about how to steward ecosystems. Josie reminded us that the United Nations perpetuates this idea that members of Western academic institutions are the ones to create global policy and law. Media groups need to bring Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour leaders to the forefront and put spotlights on their knowledge and projects.
The FAO has a project called World Agricultural Watch (WAW), which is creating a database of collected knowledge and setting members of indigenous groups who are willing to engage as the experts that they are.
2020 has sprung upon us an incredible number of Black Swan events; no one could have foreseen that and the incredible impact they have had. There is also no way of anticipating what other unforeseen crisis events are going to happen over the next 15 years.
In the last 15 years we have had two major recessions, both of which were the worst at that time that the United States has been through since World War Two. Kevin expects to see more of these tumultuous events over the next 15 years. There has also been an arc of movements like Arab Spring, then Occupy, the anti-pipeline movement and Black Lives Matter movements. Large left-wing movements are on the rise, as are right-wing ones. The municipalist movements across Europe are interesting trends to watch as well, and these are expected to continue.
“We’re going to see continuing chronic unemployment and underemployment. That makes it a matter of necessity to turn to all these economic alternatives that we have all talked about today”. Kevin Carson
All the panelists agreed, there is a lot of work to be done, but it can be done. Moving from thinking in the old mass production capitalist mindset is what needs to be shifted, and necessary relationships and economic alternatives need to start being understood and worked on by more people.
Being Part of Bloom Network allows you to be part of this process. Sign up for our newsletter, and consider being a financial contributor to help regenerative culture ripple around the world.
Kevin’s Observations about Federated Cooperatives around the world:
The Mondragon system and the Antigonish both have a federal structure with their own financial arm that provides capital for enterprise incubation.
New municipalist movements are springing up all over Europe, in Spain formed by post-M15 and activists, Barcelona and Madrid.
Bolonia has had a really strong cooperative economy for the last couple of decades.
In the United States, Cooperation Jackson, and the Evergreen project in Cleveland which was influenced to some extent by the Mondragon system.
Anarchism is something Kevin Carson is well known for, so we asked him “How does anarchy sit with bioregionalism?”
“The importance of distributed manufacturing and relocalized economies leads to anarchism in a sense, at least that’s true the kind of anarchist model that I subscribe to. How real localization takes shape, will inform the direction that post-capitalist and post-state transitions are going to take. We are seeing commons-based institutions (like community gardens, neighbourhood workshops, local currencies, co-housing projects for sharing costs and risks, pooling income and localizing energy production) forming out of necessity right now and these are basically the seeds of a successor society. But they are forming out of sheer necessity for survival rather than any particular ideological motivation. I think it is important for anarchism as an ideology to be moving in the same direction that people are spontaneously moving in already out of material necessity and do things to facilitate that”. – Kevin Carson
Cover image by Ane Eline Sorenson and David Hodgson
For the first time, the number of people in the southern hemisphere equaled those in the North on this community call! Our topic this month was focusing on climate change messaging and the vision casting we wanted to create as an alternative narrative to the future.
Why the narrative is important? – fromClimate Justice Alliance – “The narrative: our story and vision for the world we want and know is possible. Short, medium and long term organizing strategy—indeed, entire movements—grow and are derived from narratives… The seeds of our narrative form the roots to weather the many storms ahead.”
Language used in climate change campaigns began our conversation, comparing agencies and the words they used on their websites. You can read the research presented here. In the conversation that followed, the participants highlighted the following things as important:
Main Observations and Concerns
Concern in greenwashing by interest groups, an emphasis on technology, or using narratives of fear with alarmist language. Focus too much on tech to save us, or focus on the problem rather than the solution generating ‘warning fatigue’. “People are sick of the alarm, it’s been sounding since we were born.”
People who use alarmist messaging don’t tend to have a stable connection with nature. They can have lack of grounding or a clear message about who they want to reach, eg they want to shake you into ‘waking up’ and are often aggressive about it. Receiving alarmist language sets off the nervous system, making us anxious, tired, desperate.
We’re collectively doing things no one wants to do individually. Colonization and commodification of nature is still happening. Language can be racist, divisive. ‘For and against’ arguments do not help.
The carbon cycle is abstract. It also doesn’t capture the full spectrum of problems arising from human activity. Some research shows it only affects 4% of the Earth’s heat cycle, and the focus would be better restoring the disrupted hydrological cycle.
There is a need for:
A narrative that is irrefutable. This is because the “climate change” and ‘global warming” terms can be too easily argued with because the Earth is naturally in flux with temperature and conditions.
Elevating the messages of indigenous people.
Changing our relationship to nature/planet. We’ve lost that connection to ourselves and to the planet through the narrative of separation. We need to understand the barriers that are stopping people having this connection.
Understanding the co-dependent relationships between life and living creatures and that we need to include other beings in our sense of self. Shift focus to care of ourselves and other beings.
Connection pathways to help people connect to Nature/Mother Earth.
The call ended with the question “How do you personally connect with nature?” Nervously, people shared the activities they do to connect. Internally, we thought we were weird (some voiced this too). Through sharing stories we realized we all had a deep connection to nature, and take time to commune with it regularly. We are not weird, but actually share a common thread which we believe is part of the answer. We only think we are separate and weird, but we are actually united. Being ‘weird’ is becoming the new normal.
The conclusion of this conversation reflects what Daniel Christian Wahl, regenerative author, talks about. When you are in a ‘regenerative’ mindset you understand that humans are part of the system. We are not apart/separate from it. More individuals are remembering this connection. And now we are remembering how to also transform the systems we hang our lives off.
How is burner culture transitioning to regenerative projects?
Bloom’s monthly theme is about sharing our platform with our partners, and this month we brought Bloom and Burner networks together to mutually share intelligence around regenerative projects. Some burners shared about the regenerative projects they are involved in, we heard an update on how the 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap has progressed in the past year and Molly Rose chatted about the amazing Covid-19 response happening through Burners Without Borders.
This was the beginning of a long term goal to share our platform with other organisations that Bloom Network partners with, to boost the signal and solve problems together by jamming often.
Christopher Breedlove, Director of Civic Activation for Burning Man, International
Leave No Trace has been the primary example of Burning Man’s environmental commitment, and has a good track record. But looking forward, BM recognises that Leave No Trace means something very different in the future.
1) No Matter Out of Place – Handling all waste ecologically, (completion goal 2–4 years),
2) Be Regenerative – Create a net positive ecological and environmental impact. (completion goal 5–8 years),
3) Be Carbon Negative – Remove more carbon from the environment than we put into it. (completion goal 8+ years).
It is believed that the carbon footprint of That Thing in the Desert is around 100k tons per year (historical carbon is not included). Because Burning Man is cancelled this year, they have to wait until next year to complete a planned piece of research, building a comprehensive carbon map of the event.
The LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch is a multi-disciplinary challenge that seeks to attract entries of regenerative infrastructure that is both an artwork and functional. This is a great opportunity to do some creative R&D onsite as well as forming the foundations of Fly Ranch. There are 5 categories, with 2 winners per category – who will all be given a space on the ranch and a stipend to make the visions become reality. Submissions are due 31 October 2020.
Will Heegaard, Footprint Project, USA
Will Heegaard has worked with Black Rock Solar and now heads the Footprint Project, providing rapidly deployable, clean energy resources in first response to disasters and recovery phase situations (eg Tennessee Tornadoes). Will had just dropped off a solar trailer in Florida, and was enroute West to move other solar units before the wildfire season. Will knew 2020 would be busy, but of course had no idea what was going to hit the world. “It’s fantastic that communities are rallying around mobilizing clean energy versus traditional energy after disasters.”
Footprint Project plans to keep building portable and mobile solar kits as fast as possible and deliver systems to as many ‘problems’ they can find, as long they have a mobilized network of volunteers. People wanting to help with the Footprint Project can sign up to volunteer and donate on their website. Will is also keen to hear about storage ideas for the units in the NorCal area.
Molly Rose, Burners without Borders, USA
There has been an outstanding response from burners resolving Covid-19-related crises in their hometowns. For the past 3 months weekly Community Roundup Calls have been held to profile these projects. Over 80 projects have been presented in this time, as well as continuing to strengthen and build networks within the community. This great example of the burner “do-ocracy” spirit can be read more about on the new BWB project search engine and get involved via their Facebook page.
Lumi Ricardi, Positive Postits, Australia
A heart of hearts has been created in Canberra, Australia, with Positive Postits. This street-connective art uses postit notes with positive messages written on them to foster a sense of connection and hope within neighbourhoods. Lumi and other Positive Posters have ‘drawn’ a heart across north Canberra, picking suburbs to post the notes on lampposts and walls in the shape of a heart. The project has even been picked up by the local radio station. Lumi hopes that people in other cities will take up the idea, so many ‘heart of hearts’ can pop up around the world. Watch Lumi’s tutorial videos on the website, or connect through the Positive Postits FB page.
Hannah Mitchell, Northland Burn, New Zealand
Sharing a vision for a new kind of burn, Hannah (Community Support for Bloom Network), outlined how she wants to use the Burn concept to create a Burn 2.0. Her dream is to create an immersive festival experience of a temporary city which embodies a 50:50 collaboration with Maori, the local indigenous people of Northland, New Zealand. There are 4 proposed pillars of this Burn, Ti Tiriti o Waitangi (the founding document of NZ), Regenerative Culture, Whanau/Family Friendly and ‘Beyond the Burn’. This vision is in research phase, because there is a lot to learn before approaching Maori communities with a meaningful proposal. Some great work is being done by Maori in the area that Hannah lives around “Papakaigna” design (pre-European villages). You can also find out more about other interesting conversations happening in New Zealand in this blog.
Magenta Ceiba, Bloom Network
Magenta rounded out the call with talking about the regional and international regeneration and resilience coalitions that Bloom Network is connected to and works with on a regular basis.
“What’s great about these coalitions is that they highlight the importance of climate justice and economic equality as important aspects of regenerative cultures”, says Magenta. This is important to Bloom because it is common to think that ‘regeneration’ is focused on the environment. Regenerative culture is also about connecting multiple different social movements that are needed to shift our society as well.
“Yes, we need to regenerate our ecology stat. But the means through which we’ll do that is by regenerating our social and societal fabrics to be healthy ones”.
Alongside that Bloom is creating media structures that support constructive dialogue and action. One goal is to flip the mainstream narrative away from fear and disempowerment, frozenness… which ultimately involves changing our media structures and providing alternatives to the current social media networks (because they can be unhealthy and unhelpful). Bloom is in the process of building its own DAO – Decentralised Autonomous Organisation – to create a cooperative that works both locally and for international collaboration.
Here are some of the incredible networks Bloom works in coalition with:
Two people were invited but were not able to make the Community Call. Their projects are:
#FarmNextdoor by Carl Freedom, at Freedom Farms, New Zealand. Researching how to build micro-local vegetable farms and customer-base in the suburbs (in New Zealand the typical house has 1.4 acre land).
Regenesis Reno with Gordon Gossage, USA. Connecting people, place, and potential and inspiring Western Nevada to flourish by co-creating a sustainable, equitable, and regenerative community.
With New Zealand is entering its 3rd consecutive week with no reported Corona-19 cases, conversations around the island nation are rising about how to use this time as a spring-board into a better and more just society.
Since April 15, young local councillors Tamatha Paul (Wellington City Councillor) and Thomas Nash (Greater Wellington
Region Councillor) have been convening panel discussions with some of New Zealand leading researchers, thinkers and politicians covering a range of topics, which all have Ti Tiriti o Waitangi* at its heart, (*the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding
As the Covid-19 lockdown closed everything in NZ down, the inspiring meetings and conversations that Tamatha and Thomas were having in real
life ground to halt. They decided to regenerate those conversations in the digital world, creating a weekly panel called “The Aotearoa Town Hall”.
“Being on council means that you hear from awesome people all the time, locals with deep knowledge, high-level experts, people working hard
in the community. We wanted everyone to be able to access the korero” says Tamatha.
“We know there can be no change without constitutional transformation, and this only comes from spreading the knowledge and having conversations”.
Conscious that only a certain type of people engage with the current political system, they wanted to find other ways to share about how change can come through leveraging off Ti Tiriti o Waitangi, as it is the foundational document that NZ laws can give effect through.
Some panel topics have covered Economics (with guest Kate Raworth author of Doughnut Economics), Universal Education and Income, Public Health,
Whanau (Family) Focussed Responses, Climate Justice and Transportation and Urban Design.
“These conversations show how Ti Tiriti o Waitangi is relevant across all different topics and spaces, and the Town Halls show an alternative
reality if it underpinned everything. These conversations are keeping people motivated and pushing for change”.
We’re adding an extra call to our line-up and moving things around. Here is the monthly call schedule for the rest of 2020. All these sessions are free to the public. To find out more about our paid membership perks, head here.
Call times are fixed to USA times. Other countries will vary according to shifts in daylight savings. Keep up with the changes and plan ahead by doing your own calculations according to the USA times stated. As Bloom Network grows we will add sessions time-appropriate to the parts of the world that need them.
1st Mondays – Open Mesh Platforms – Fixed Time 12pm Pacific
These sessions will be a mix of 1. “Introduction to the decentralized web” so it grows beyond early adopters, 2. Jamming with both software development communities and regenerative leaders on the ground, and 3. Utilizing existing decentralized web infrastructure to support collaboration among regenerative projects locally and internationally. Come and geek out with Bloomers who care deeply about data sovereignty, transparent governance and peer-to-peer networks. To find out more go here: https://bloomnetwork.org/the-decentralized-web-for-regenerative-projects/
Local times: First Mondays in Western Hemisphere: USA 12pm Pacific (fixed time), UK 8pm, CEST 9pm, East Africa 10pm // First Tuesdays in Eastern Hemisphere: Japan 4am, Australia 3am Western, 5am Eastern, New Zealand 7am.
3rd Mondays – Theme Calls – Fixed Time 2pm Pacific
A time for intense learning, these sessions bring key people in regenerative cultures together to chat about their focus area and share their learnings with the community. With plenty of time for questions, these sessions allow us to zoom in on specific topics of interest, and the video is often worth a rewatch because of all the fantastic information shared. These sessions are on a 6 monthly topic schedule. All sessions are available for Bloom Members for post-event watching. https://bloomnetwork.org/community-calls/
Local times: Third Mondays in Western Hemisphere: USA 2pm Pacific (fixed time), UK 10pm, CEST 11pm // Third Tuesdays in Eastern Hemisphere: East Africa 12am, Japan 6am, Australia 5am Western, 7am Eastern, New Zealand 9am
Last Thursdays – Bloom Buds – Fixed Time 6pm Pacific
Bounce into Spring and share Autumn harvests* with Bloom Buds! Stop and smell the flowers in our casual catch-up sessions (optional: with a beverage of your choice). Share stories and creative endeavours from your part of the world, come together and break bread with other people doing regenerative culture. (*for our Southern Hemisphere Bloomers).
Local times: Last Thursdays Western Hemisphere:USA: 6pm Pacific Fixed Time, UK 2am, CEST 3am // Last Fridays Eastern Hemisphere: East Africa 4am, Japan 10am, Australia 9am Western, 11am Eastern, New Zealand 1pm
As Bloom Network Membership grows we will add sessions time-appropriate to the parts of the world that need them. Looking forward to chatting with you all soon!