Hey! I am Richard Schulte, a Web Developer and Designer specializing in Drupal & Wordpress theming and site building, CiviCRM, OpenERP and business application implementation, as well as one of the co-owners of the Flywheel Tech Collective. I am also passionate about alternative economy, social movements, and appropriate techology, and proud to live in Cleveland, Ohio, USA - and to be giving back to the city that raised me.
Announcing: The re.rooting collaborative - open source technology for new economies
So, a project I have been mulling on for years is finally beginning to come to fruition. Called the re.rooting collaborative, it is an initiative to combine the efforts of alternative economy practicioners, stakeholders and motivated software developers to begin a concerted, community effort to imagine, develop and extend open source software to enable everything from various types of co-ops, buying clubs, local food systems to microlending and community currencies.
Yes, there are already many projects underway. We will be featuring these projects and others, and offer an aggregated space for raising capital to develop specific functionality, and a space for combining ideas and documenting needs to better accomodate the wide array of businesses, organizations and efforts underway.
What was the impetus?
Hot on the heels of two events that I presented at, the Entrepreneurs for Sustainability Startup-Showcase, where I described this project, as well as the Ohio Employee Ownership Center Conference where I presented on our worker collective model for Flywheel Tech Collective, we found that there is substantial interest on the side of entrepreneurs, practitioners and stakeholding organziations in low-cost, appropriate open source solutions to meet the needs of more non-conventional business models.
We have already been working with our colleagues at the Future Forward Institute to begin imagining new frameworks and models, and to gather information about various existing solutions and how they could be adapted to meet the needs of these kinds of entities. We are already working with various business entities where we are adapting these solutions to their needs as co-ops or social enterprises, but our interest is growing in creating a community-driven platform from which to mobilize resources, input and stakeholders as new projects to begin to meet emerging or existing needs.
Where is it at now?
I started building a wireframe of the site (yes, if you see your name on there, I have my eye on you!):
I have already began building extensive networks in the co-op, sharing, commons, alternative/new/third/peer economy movements and other related communities of interest/action. I hope to leverage this network to create an adivisory council, with a mix of developers and other stakeholders to guide the formation of this collaborative and its vision, mission and founding documents. Please contact me if you are interested in this process.
There will also be a focus on making the project as international as possible. Much of this work is already being done in europe, brazil, and canada, not to mention around the globe. Networking these efforts, and localizing content on the website will be essential in really bringing together a global community of practice. Of course, all of the software developed will need localization (more than just translation - for example, adjusting accounting modules for localized tax treatments and business processes. Lots of this happening already with OpenERP.) However, it will be essential for bringing in the wide array of work being done that may not already be available in english.
If you are interested in helping to get the ball rolling, please contact me and/or sign up on http://squalidarityforever.rerooting.org for the re.rooting collaborative project. This is a custom setup of Open Atrium that Flywheel Tech Collective has made for activists in Cleveland, though it is growing to be used for other projects. Among other customizations, it allows for WYSIWYG editing, image insertions and mindmapping.
Our First Projects
These are projects that we have asked to work on, and have been notified that funding will be available for.
- Revolving Loan Funds
- LETS extension
- OpenERP application for food co-ops
- Software for group purchasing clubs
Stay tuned, there will be many more updates to come!