What the P2P Foundation Did in 2014 (1): founders’ report


This overview is meant to be for the P2P Foundation as a network but this first part focuses on my own activities, which is the aspect I know best.

A second part should mention our network’s participation in the P2P Value research project, the activities of the P2P Lab in Greece, the work of Guerilla Translation, and more.

My two strategic priorities for 2014 were the following:

* to contribute to the convergence between the open/p2p modes of production, and the cooperative/social/solidarity economy mode of production, and their respective social movements;

* to continue the work around a commons transition, following the experience in Ecuador with the floksociety.org project

In 2014, I continued to work on the convergence of the open/commons and cooperative movements, and I believe we made really substantial progress on this.

This convergence was prepared in late 2013 with my participation as attendee, speaker and scientific adviser to the Rencontre du Mont Blancs meeting 7-8 November 2014. This is a french network for the Social and Solidarity Economy. Following this event, we continued our conversations within that network, and met with the Frederic Sultan, Nicole Alix, and J-M Bancel, and others, to continue working at the institutional level. This will likely culminate in workshops in the spring and fall of 2015.

A separate line of communication and dialogue went through the english cooperative network, with members such as Pat Conaty, Robin Murray, Ed Mayo and Canadians like Margie Mendell, Mike Lewis, John Restakis. This network is now in alignment for this convergence. One of the highlights of 2014 was the ability to work very closely with John Restakis and many of his policy papers for the Ecuadorian FLOK project, also reflect this convergence. John is a great cooperative thinker and as he is influenced by p2p/commons thinking so am I influenced by his ideas on the Cooperative Commonwealth (also beautifully expressed by Pat Conaty). The dialogue with and within this network culminated in the open cooperativism deep dive in September in Berlin, which I co-organized with David Bollier, and in the subsequent 3-day ‘movement of movement convergence’ in Meisse, also co-organized with David Bollier. It was also the theme of a very well diffused lecture during the Degrowth conference, in which Silke Helfrich was an active co-organizer for the material on the commons. Finally, we organized a three day collaborative convergence festival, organized by the P2P Foundation and myself with the assistance of Kevin Flanagan and the participation of John Restakis, in the We Create green fablab at the Cloughjordan ecovillage in Ireland, which attracted many Irish nationals, especially young people. I was really very enthusiastic to see this green fab lab at work. Imagine in the middle of green Ireland, several dozens of smart and committed people!

Separate from the general dialogue and movement convergence, we also paid close attention to the development of systemic proposals, which can co-create an eco-system in which the open, cooperative and ‘sustainability’ aspects can co-exist.

The first such project is the creation of a commons-based reciprocity license or copyfair, which has received the endorsement of various activists, including legal experts, particularly in France (such as Lionel Maurel and Primavera de Filippi). We have created a network of interested parties, both experts and a dozen economic entities who are interested in the implementation of the license. We have run into funding issues to responsibly craft this license, but are committed to rewrite that license soon without funding.

The second project in the context of open cooperatism, is the creation of a commons-centric crypto currency for the cooperative commons, i.e. Faircoin. To this effect, we have aligned ourselves in a strategic partnership with the Catalan Integral Cooperative, and the fair.coop eco-system, which includes the use of the faircoin currency, has been launched this fall, with crucial cooperation from P2P Foundation associates in Catalonia and Madrid. We have been invited in the second half of April 2015 for more joint collaboration on this topic.

The second priority concerned the advancement of political and policy thinking around the commons transition.

The highlight was of course my participation, along with P2P Foundation network associates, such as John Restakis, as research director for the FLOK transition project in Ecuador. Other ‘p2p-f’ participants were George Dafermos, and Janice Figueiredo.

For the first time in history a commons transition plan was produced, accompanied by 18 legislative proposals and a dozen pilot projects. While the execution of the FLOK project is momentarily (or for a longer time) stalled at the nation-state level, the Commons Transition Plan has been consulted by nearly 65k viewers on the floksociety.org site; influenced the crafting of the Lemoine report on the digital economy in France; and is already cited as a reference.

The most promising concrete project is the open agricultural machining project in Sigchos district. The committed mayor has bought 2,200 ha. of land for experimentation, nominated a ‘sustainable development’ director, and with the help of an associate send there to assist in the planning , i.e. Kate Swade of Shared Assets, a full planning was set up, which includes a summer school process in the summer of 2015. The proposals are presently in process for funding by the SENESCYT innovation agency, but whatever outcome there, the mayor is committed to carry out this project.

After the final production in Ecuador itself, we continued working with the CTP as a reference for commons-oriented policy-making and political convergence. A 2 day workshop was organized with the assistance of the Reseaux Francophones des Communs, in la Bergerie, with French and Spanish commoners on September 22-23. This was followed by participation in a What the FLOK festival in Marseille (October 2-5), and a 10-day to Athens, Greece, which consisted of three workshops with cooperative/commons activist groups, one public lecture, and three workshops with Syriza officials, which were considered very successful by the organizers and the Nikos Poulantzas Institute. Being able to influence, or rather to open up to commons thinking, the new generation of transformative parties is high on my wishlist.

This work will continue with a visit in April 2015 to the Catalan Integral Cooperative, which will work on a civic transition towards the commons.

We have also carried out communication and publishing work, with the launch of an international website, commonstransition.org, and an ebook, will be available before the end of year or just after New Year, with the help of Stacco Troncoso, Ann Marie Utratel and Guy James of Guerilla Translation. Both will contain new versions of the Commons Transition Plan and the policy papers on the civic economy and the partner state, to make them more useful for a generic use outside of Ecuador. The papers are also already available. A full three months (and a half) of lectures and workshops was used for communication and diffusion of the FLOK and further commons transition efforts, in the fall.

One of the highlights of this trip was definitely visiting the ‘Tiers Lieux Open Source’ in Lille, i.e. meeting great Ouishare activists like Simon Sarazin and collaborative coworking spaces like Coroutine and Mutualab, where you can feel that the new p2p and collaboration driven culture is taking shape.

In addition, the P2P Foundation has been able to hire a full-time assistant since October 2014, i.e. Kevin Flanagan, to strengthen the organizational capacity of the P2P Foundation. We have now introduced professional governance software, Loomio, as a organizational and governance tool.

The post-flok transition work has a particular potential in urban settings and we started a first cooperation with the Co-Manua project in Italy, looking forward to further cooperation in the future.

We very actively continued our generic communication about the commons economy:

– the wiki of the P2P Foundation now has 20k articles, which have been viewed 27,385,944 times. The audience of the blog is estimated to be 100k per month. We have been able to collect 160 references to public lectures in 2014; and 80 video recordings, with appearances for Dutch, Belgian and Ecuadorian TV stations.

The Flemish book, De Wereld Redden, 200 pages of conversations, with Jean Lievens, on p2p theory and transitions, continues to do well in the Flanders and a bit in the Netherlands; and will be published in France next spring, by Les Liens Qui Liberent.

With Vasilis Kostakis, I published “Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy” co-authored by Vasilis Kostakis and Michel Bauwens. The scholarly book is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

With Penny Travlou and Stacco Troncoso we are working on a important list and directory of the 100 Women Who Are Co-Creating the P2P Society, the profiles of which will be published on our blog in 2015.

Here is a summary of the three strategic priorities of the P2P Foundation for 2015 and 2016:

* Stream 1: Co-creating and catalyzing the alternative eco-system for open and cooperative peer production, to enable reconstruction of economic and social power around the commons. This includes work on our Commons-Based Reciprocity License (or Copyfair License), Open Cooperativism and Phyles, to create ethical entrepreneurial coalitions that co-produce commons.

* Stream 2: Reclaiming political voice and power via bottom-up Assemblies of the Commons and Chamber of the Commons putting forward social charters, in conjunction with “top-down” progressive coalitions through existing political parties. These coalitions around the commons, or ‘the politics and policies of the commons’, will further our efforts to implement Commons Transition Plans.

* Stream 3: Creating synergies between cooperative peer production and sustainability, i.e. showing how a transition to the new modes of production, governance and ownership can solve the ecological and climate crises.

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