Distributed Manufacturing // Bioregional Production – August 2020 Theme Call

Distributed Manufacturing // Bioregional Production – August 2020 Theme Call

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

Open Source Ecology’s DIY farm machines

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 

a map of 1/3 of the Northeast bioregional food system actors

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.

Bloom’s wiki article on local production lists more projects who are actively working in the areas described in this blog.

Predictions for the next 15 years

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.

Additional Comments of Interest

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

10 Things you can Do to Save the Amazon

10 Things you can Do to Save the Amazon

This is a view of fires burning in the Brazilian state of Para on August 20, 2019. Image courtesy of Planet Labs Inc. and the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.

1. Fund Forest Protection


Let’s start with the most direct route. One of the most effective organisations to contribute to is the Rainforest Trust. Their project in the Peruvian Amazon supports the local indigenous communities to getting recognised as having land rights and is seeking to give the title for more than 6 million acres to 220 communities. An acre of rainforest can be protected for a donation of $0.76 and 100% of your project gift directly funds vital conservation action. 

Making sure that forest protection happens where it is currently possible, is the lowest hanging fruit. Yet, often, this isn’t happening to scale that it could be. Donate your money now and make a direct difference. 

2.  Support Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous peoples of Amazonia have lived in a symbiotic way with the rainforest for Millenia. They are the keepers of deep knowledge about the eco-systems they live within and are indispensable to its effective protection. Protecting the rights of indigenous people and their land claims in the Amazon can be one of the most effective ways of halting deforestation.

Amazon Watch is a pioneer in this area and has been working to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin for the last twenty years. It partners with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.

The Guardians of the Forest, a volunteer monitoring force of the Guajajara tribe, are one of the last lines of defense for the rainforest in the heart of an industrialized Amazon. The Guardians, led by international activist Sônia Guajajara, struggle to leverage what few resources they have to fight for the life of the planet. You can watch the film about their work here.

Traditional fire management practices may also hold many answers. Controlled fires, which were widely banned by colonialist authorities, had long been used by indigenous peoples to maintain their land and forests and to protect their peoples from large-scale wildfires. Watch the film from If Not Us, Then Who here.

3. Fund this Independent Fire Service in the Amazon

The Brigada de Alter, or Forest Fire Brigade, are an independent group of firefighters operating in the Alter do Chão region of Pará state in the East Amazon. They are dedicated to fighting fires in the forest, which they call ‘our only and one boss’ and are in the process of training another 30 people to become fire fighters. The website is in Portuguese, but contributions can be made online by Paypal to contato.marupiara@gmail.com

4. Stop Eating Beef

No product creates more deforestation than Beef. It has been responsible for 75% of the deforestation in South America between 1990 and 2005. Brasil is now the world’s largest exporter of beef and its cattle herd has grown from 158 million heads in 1996, to 219 million in 2016.  Cattle ranches require big open spaces and the fires used to clear land often get out of control and destroy areas much bigger than were intended. Indeed, 80% of the deforestation happening in the Amazon is illegal, with 80% of that land used for cattle ranches.

5. Boycott Burger King and Support the Soy Moratorium

The problem with beef is not just in the deforestation that is required for grazing, but also the land use and deforestation that is motivated by soybean production for livestock. 

80% of the world’s soybean crop goes to feed cattle, so making sure that the supply chain that is used for any beef that you are eating, even if it is not from Brazil, is essential. Some organisations are doing better than others at this, but none are doing worse than Burger King. 

The organisation Mighty Earth have used to identify Burger King’s biggest soy suppliers as the culprits: Cargill, the largest privately owned company in the United States, and Bunge, one of the biggest players in South America. Collectively, they are responsible for over a million acres of deforestation between them. 

If soybean agriculture was redirected away from deforestation towards degraded land in South America (of which there is 500 million acres), it could completely change this dynamic. The Soy Moratorium, a voluntary zero-deforestation agreement enacted in 2006 and renewed indefinitely last year, brought clearcutting in the Amazon to historically low levels, until last year. But while deforestation in the Amazon plunged, agricultural production expanded.

6. Support Rainforest Alliance and Rainforest Action Network

Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests. They are directing 100% of the funds donated in August via their Instagram to frontline groups in the Brazilian Amazon, including the Brazil chapter of their Indigenous federation partner COICA and their longtime sustainable agriculture partner IMAFLORA. Rainforest Action Network are directly supporting communities effected by the Amazon Fires and have a campaign to contribute to here.

7. Join the Global Climate Strike

To really address the issues behind deforestation and climate change, we need comprehensive action from all the World’s governments and peoples to effectively organise for the reality of a world with a disrupted climate. This is what Global Climate Strike, led by young people from around the world, is calling for. On September 20th, millions of people will walk out of their workplaces and homes to support the youth movement, who have been organising school strikes every Friday.

It’s an act that can really help to show the scale of the movement and to underline the magnitude of the urgency that is called for to deal with global situation.

8. Join an Extinction Rebellion action

If you want to act even more directly to protest the slowness of the global response to the threat of climate change, Extinction Rebellion (XR) have been organising highly effective actions of non-violent civil disobedience. XR began in London on October 31st 2018 and then organised an action in which six thousand people participated in shutting down five bridges over the River Thames in London. The movement has now spread internationally, co-ordinating itself around a statement of 10 shared principles and values.

XR are focused on actions that, in their own words are ‘more likely to take risks (e.g. arrest / jail time)’ than traditional campaigns, but if you are ok with a risk of being arrested and passionate about these forms of civil action, XR could be for you.

9. Join the Regenerative Culture Movement

To combat deforestation and extractive industrial agriculture, we don’t just need better legislation and a political will to do more. A fundamental shift in worldview is required that moves beyond ‘sustainability’ and into regenerating the planet we live on. This may seem obvious, but regenerative design, meaning the design and building of whole systems that support life and respect and rebuild the environment that sustains them, are in their infancy. 

One great starting place to learn about this is Daniel Wahl’s book ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’. The book covers the finance system, agriculture, design, ecology, economy, sustainability, organizations and society at large, not just regenerative agriculture.

The Bloom Network is an international network of people who are committed to building new models of regenerative culture. From preventing food waste, to creating new forms of collaboration that incentivize and reward regenerative actions, Bloom is connecting initiatives around the world. You can join here. 

10. Sign the Petition

It’s not much. You can barely call it an action at all, but here’s at least a click that you can use to sign the Avaaz petition. Maybe if you’ve read this far, do it anyway, but please don’t stop there!

Pollination 2019 Workshop: Buckminster Fuller Institute Reportback on Ocean Health Think Tank Research

With Amanda Ravenhill, executive director, Buckminster Full Institute

This workshop will present Buckminster Fuller Institute’s think tank research on ocean health indicators and initiatives that are well-positioned to repair ocean ecosystems. Followed by an invitation to participants to contribute to the Cooperative Manual for Spaceship Earth.

Comprising 1.3 billion km3 of water, the ocean is the world’s single largest ecosystem and plays a central role in supporting all life on Earth.  Our present moment finds us at a point of current suffering and loss and impending peril. Never before have we had the quality and diversity of tools for sense-making and understanding the declining state of the one world ocean and the potential approaches, strategies and techniques to restore and regenerate its health and fecundity.

There is a tremendous body of literature, science, indigenous wisdom and other ways of knowing, describing, categorizing and picturing the ocean and informing humanity of the states, processes and functions of the ocean and its impacts on all life.  Whereas none claim to be fully comprehensive, some stand out examples that are worthy of review as efforts to repair the “Seascape”

Pollination 2019 Workshop: What Could Migration Also Be?

By Tom Atlee, Co-Intelligence Institute

3 20-minute rounds of World Cafe dialogue. We’ll explore the question ‘What are the most creative, life-affirming things you can imagine being done regarding the growing migration crisis?’ When thinking about this, keep in mind migration’s many causes, its many impacts, and any positive possibilities you can imagine, as well as the experience of the migrants themselves.”

After these rounds, we will do a special process to quickly and easily find the best prioritization of action, given the knowledge we gathered together during our dialogues. This process is called “35.” Participants will have 5 minutes in silence to write on a 3×5 card their short answer to the question ”What could be done with the with the challenge of mass migration that would advance the development of regenerative culture?” That is followed by five rounds of rapid card-trading and one-minute deliberations in pairs (two people divide up 7 voting points between their two cards), and then finally we publicly harvest the top vote-getting actions.

We have the possibility to publish everything that is written on the cards, and to share this process to more people to do in short or as a much deeper 2-day deliberative process, to help humanity through this transition as well as to help those of us in stable places to filter through how to make a difference. If you know of resources with great research about migration and what communities and institutions are gathering best practices and possible plans, please send those to production@bloomnetwork.org and we will add them to Pollination’s research and outcomes that will be published after the event.

Pollination 2019 Workshop: Tech Animism and Decolonizing Emerging Technology

by Anthony Sirios West

WORKSHOP OVERIEW

In this talk and the following discussion, I will discuss the potential of emerging technology from a decolonized and pre-imperialist perspective.

– What happens when the desire for power, prestige, and the pursuit of capitalism is removed and these technologies can be truly used for their natural and inevitable purpose?

– The spirit in the machine is inevitability moving us towards a decentralized and sovereign
existence…will we resist it? Or can we set aside our culturally embedded ideology of extraction and use the knowledge of our sovereign ancestors to push humanity towards a golden age of cultural and technological advancement?

To do this we must listen to the internal remnants of our ancestral voices and awaken the knowledge that lays dormant inside all of us. We all crave to be the creators of our own destiny. It is time now for us to work with the technology that creation and spirit is offering us and build a better future for ourselves and the next seven generations.

I will present in depth, the potentials for truly decentralized social media and value exchange systems. As well as the potential of XR technologies to share and transfer information in a truly holographic mode – closer to humanities native cognition. I will explain how these technologies can be used to enhance learning and understanding as well as expand the bandwidth with which information can be shared with one another.

The Objectives of this presentation are to:

● Present an alternative viewpoint on the use of emerging tech for crafting cultural mythology
● Explain the concept of Tech Animism and the importance of maintaining a spiritual relationship with technology
● Bring awareness to the cultural viewpoints underlying indigenous information and governance systems
● Explain how we can merge the realms of indigenous culture and emerging technology to
empower individual and cultural sovereignty
● Raise awareness around the systematic destruction of indigenous cultures and why it is so
important to empower them before they are lost

Pollination 2019 Workshop: The Layered Architecture of Resilience

by Lorenzo Kristov

A framework for exploring strategies for building resilient communities.

Complex living organisms and natural ecosystems embody layered architecture. We live in human-made ecosystems that also embody layered architecture. Resilience is the ability of a complex system to maintain essential functions and system integrity when a severe disruption occurs. Disruptions always have local impacts and require local responses, even when they affect large geographic areas. Resilience must therefore be local and everywhere, and must permeate all the layers. This session offers a system-architecture approach to build community-level resilience in concentric layers. The first or central layer of the human-earth system is me, the individual person. Next is my household, then my block, my neighborhood, my city, my bioregion, my state, and so on. Each layer has its own resilience strategies, and what happens in one layer affects the other layers more or less, especially adjacent layers. All layers involve human interactions and thrive on social and economic interdependence.