Readers of this blog will know that we have consistently supported the Open Source Ecology project, which consists of creating a full set of open source technologies for resilient communities.
We have not written this anywhere, but in conversations at the Oekonux conference we also suggested to Marcin Jacubowski that this was not yet in any way a true global open design project, since it all dependent on the leadership of one person in a particular locale. My own vision suggests that what should happen is that OSE should work through a ‘sourceforge’, where people in the whole world can contribute to the designs, while different locales try it out. And therefore NOT one locale trying to control and funnel all energies to itself under the control of one person. Such change has not happened and instead we have a long series of personal conflicts unfolding at Factor E Farm.
So to be clear, my take is that this is not a local leadership issue, as that affects only one locale, but rather the design of the project itself, which should be globally centered as a true open commons with different locales collaborating, and Marcin Jacubowski’s Factor E Farm as just one project, working with those who can accept this type of leadership.
So, here’s the documentation on the latest crisis.
“Inga” describes the last, more serious, conflict here and it is followed by interesting comments from which we select some material below. You probably want to read the official account first, before reading the comments here below.
Molly offers the following analysis:
“I was at Factor E Farm for the month of March when it was just Marcin and Jeremy at the Farm. I checked the blog because my boyfriend got a distressed message from Ben about leaving the site, otherwise I don’t like to follow the project anymore.
I left the Factor E Farm project because I do not believe that one dictator (Marcin) can save the world. The idea of creating an open source tool kit for building a global village is excellent, but it will take much more than one person to lead the project.
Inga I am very sorry to hear you have thoroughly absorbed Marcin’s dogma. In regard to the failure of the vegetable garden, have you ever wondered why a garden was created in such a lousy site? Why was a garden put on a slope towards the flood plain? Why are all the houses placed in the flood plain where mud is a perpetual problem? It was put there because Marcin decided to put it there without considering whether it was appropriate under the belief that there was “no time to waste, just gotta get going!” Marcin has been claiming there is “no time to debate” as a method of ending discussion, which effectively creates a dictatorship.
As for Jeremy and Ben, I don’t know Ben but Jeremy is a hard working guy who has put all of his energy into Factory E Farm since he arrived last November. I don’t know why he’s stayed at the farm, but I don’t think anyone should question his significant contributions. Jeremy did consistent and quality work on the MicroTrac, the website, the lathe and many other projects on the Farm while I was there.
I am sorry that Jeremy has had to learn first hand, like I did, that Marcin does not care for any one who helps him. Everyone who has ever worked with Marcin has now left. He’s been working on this for about 3 years in Maysville. Has anyone stayed with him? I’m not sure how many people have visited Factor E Farm since it started. There were 4 visitors the month I was there so at that rate he’s had 144 visitors. Many of the visitors wanted to contribute to the project in some way, but none have been able to stand his style of leadership.
Ben is exactly right in saying that this event shows much more about Marcin’s psychopathic behavior than anything else.
Inga you will be the next person to realize that Marcin does not care about you. He is only interested in using you to complete his dream. A vision as complex and ambitious as Open Source Ecology can only be achieved through debate, rigorous experimentation, genuine collaboration and a little love.
It’s interesting that Marcin has the power to attract new people which allows him a new pawn as the old pawns leave.
Jeremy and Ben- I am so sorry that Marcin and Inga treated you this way. The pipe problem would be solved if Marcin stored equipment properly. The airport problem (Mat and I had the same problem when we arrived), could of been solved with radios or cellphone communication.
Marcin- You’re right, one dictator can change the world, but it’s not always a good thing.
Inga- Remember that Marcin set up the environment physically and emotionally at FeF. His craftsmanship is poor, just check out his brazing technique, his writing is terrible but his charisma is amazing. He tells people what to do, but he blames them when he sets them up to fail (by providing poor quality supplies, tools or discouraging them from spending enough time on research) and takes credit in any successes. Watch out for yourself and pay attention to the physical details out there, they’ll tell you about Marcin.
I’m sorry to hear the equipment issues have caused so much drama and disrespect.
This project is officially discredited.”
Our friend Sam Rose also pitches in, offering the following assessment:
“When Marcin came to visit me here in the winter of 2007, I spent some time talking to him about the work of Clare W Graves. http://clarewgraves.com/ and Graves’s finding that people will not change in ways that they are not ready to change. Nor will people readily accept a paradigm being foisted upon them, that they see as being left behind for them in solving problems of existence.
Instead, Graves found that people will either “circle the wagons”, or they will regress back to earlier ways of solving problems, when people are confronted with change in ways that they are not resonant with.
I do not know all of the facts and circumstances. But, I do know 100% from watching this video that Ben and Jeremy are not resonant with total Hierarchical leadership over them. I can also tell from reading the exchanges over the last 6+ months, plus my own knowledge of open source software development, that a huge amount of the people who are attracted to “open source”, voluntary development efforts are people who are generally averse to hierarchies in social structures. Averse to being controlled. This, I think is the source of tension and problems(not just in this project, but around the world). Different worldviews are colliding. Different ways of solving problems of existence.
In simpler terms, if you try to control people who do not want to be controlled, this is what will happen. Clare W Graves observed this in hundreds of people over 15+ years.
However, by the same token, the secret to “Open Source” is that it is open. This means that you have the right to fork, the right to leave, the right to start a new branch with different rules and approaches. If you disagree with Marcin to the point that you feel you cannot work with him, I would contend that it is better to fork, to leave, than to spend time railing against him. If you believed in the ideals behind “Open Source Ecology”, the best thing you could do is work on what you were interested in wherever you are at, and under your own rules, and share that with the world.”
Franz Nahrada pitches in on the same leadership topic:
“In Open Source Development, there is the saying of the “benevolent dictator”. I think it is correct to say that in the development of a piece of software it is better to have one person finally decide. The consequences for the others are not grave. But the more we center our lives in Open Source circumstances (and people who decide to move to FeF do!), the more it is about a whole environment that is shaped by the collective action, the more a real commons emerges that requires responsible and caring leadership that seeks consensus and creative solutions.
I know this phenomenon from Arcosanti, a fantastic experiment that has fallen prey to the “lonely leader syndrome”. Lots of people there have had tons of creative ideas, and I met some of them. Instead of considering and incorporating them into the design, this way making it richer and more interesting, or instead of finding consensual ways to at least appreciate them, the stereotypical answer of Paolo Soleri and his people was: Go to the next mesa and do your own thing.”