Ask Us Anything! (Press & Partners)

Great! So it is whenever a journalist asks for an interview we point them towards this thread?

Exactly. Then they can see what other people have been asking about, and they have a wider range of different quotes and perspectives than from just one person. And when they publish the article, they can also link here, to its “source code”.

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@averillmb asked us about open source business models here:

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So, this is where to ask anything? First of all: Great idea! I love the concept of anybody being able to post questions as well as everyone of you having the possibility to answer!

So now, here’s my question(s): Do you plan on incorporating your Neukoelln neighbourhood in the OSCE Days? And how can Berliner’s contribute in general?

Thank you very much and see you soon!
Steffi :slight_smile:

@Lars2i has already prototyped a Circular Street Waste workshop with some schoolchildren in Neukölln and I think is planning to do this again in the local area during the OSCEdays, and we have discussed working with the supermarket right next to the venue in some way, but I’m a little out of the loop - mabe @simonlee @JuliaP or @Ina might have more concrete plans and ideas which they can share with you?

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/ A /

Berlin Neukölln neighborhood:
This is still a Question in development, but @Justine is planning on making the event a zero- waste one, meaning a lot of local in- and output (reuse, recycle…) like in the supermarket example

Berliners can help by:

  1. Participating in a “Question”/ Challenge now and during the event. Simply look for an interesting one here in the Berlin category, and ask how you can help!
  2. Creating a new Question! Open up a new thread in the Berlin category to find answers to your topic and co-challengers.
    1.+2. Come to our next open meeting - OSCE Potluck every second Tuesday, s. Facebook. Bring food and friends!
  3. Getting the word out! For example join our Facebook group and like, share :slight_smile: using #OSCEdays #Berlin
  4. Attending a panel discussion or similar during the event, i.e. the kick-off event co-organized with Sustainability Drinks on Thursday, June 9th. Program (in development)

Hi all

I’m doing a Q&A about OSCE Days for and @cameralibre suggested asking my questions here. Please include your name and role with the event in your responses. Thanks!

  1. How many OSCE Days events have their been and what was the original inspiration for it?

  2. What’s the importance of having an open network designing OSCE Days and for events to be distributed and open to local organizers’ vision and design?

  3. You hope to attract people from a diverse range of fields, how does this support your vision of an open source, circular economy?

  4. I understand that the plan is to share the ideas, projects, activities and solutions that are developed at each event, with all the other participants around the world. Has this been part of the event’s design from the start? Why and how do you share the projects, and what kind of results have you had? Any interesting stories or collaborations you can share?

  5. OSCE Days emphasized hands-on action rather that traditional conference presentations. What are some examples of these actions and what kind of outcomes do you hope to see?

  6. This intersection of open source and circular economy thinking is really fresh and exciting. It points to a new way of being in, and thinking about, the world. What are the most important aspects of this intersection? Why is it so inviting and who do you see getting involved on an organizational level?

  7. What’s the big picture for OSCE Days? What would you most like to see happen?


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Hi @CatJohnson - thanks for engaging in our experiment! :slight_smile: I am Lars, part of the OSCEdays Board of Stewardship (@BoST) and will answer 2 questions here. Hopefully some of the others will find the time to answer some more.

##question 1

Last year we had 33 locations on our map. This year it looks like we could get to 70.

The idea for OSCEdays came up in a call in autumn 2014 (November 7) between Paris and Berlin where 4 people were participating. Open Source and Circular Economy seemed and seems like the perfect combination. Both worlds have problems that the other world could solve. So a possible perfect synergy. But in late 2014 there was no discourse about it in the world at all (except from a small website/project I was running for some years). So we decided to launch this question together on a global level - with a global hackathon.

A hackathon seemed the best format. Because when there is no “Open Source Circular Economy” there is nothing to show and tell and talk about. So let’s use the energy of an event to create it.

There have been many different globally distributed events in the past decade. But I guess for us was the global FabJam organized by Justyna Swat and others a great source of inspiration:

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##question 2

I think in a globalized world a circular economy needs to work on a global level. It needs to be possible that products made in China can be repaired, reused, remanufactured and recyled also in Africa, Australia, Europe and so on and the other way around.

So we need to invent it to a certain extend together and in collaboration with each other. And we can probably learn a lot from each other. Working circular practices can be found everywhere in the world and can be exported to other countries.

Also, in my opinion, Open Source is born out of the collaboration possibilities brought to us by the internet. International collaboration is possible! And fuels open source. And when we start the OSCEdays on a global level we can start right away to experiment and develop international open source collaboration methods for the circular economy, hopefully.

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I’m Sam - we don’t really have ‘titles’ in the organisation, except for maybe our Country Connectors.
My role is mostly helping people out with the open source aspect, with documentation, working on our methodology and the technical infrastructure. I’m one of 10(?) people on the Board of Stewardship.

I’ll give my perspective on question 2:


We don’t have funding or institutional backing, so even if we wanted to, we just don’t have the resources to organise one single large-scale conference or to manage multiple events.

We can’t afford to spend our time making publicity material and subpages for local events, organising sponsorship etc. It is much more effective to provide local organizers with the resources and guidelines to do it themselves, and it’s also really fun to see what people do!
@OTTILIE created a modular system for this year’s design, and provided people with the files, some guidelines, and the permission (CC-BY license) to remix it.

Just look at the results!

It’s also more resilient this way.
If something happens to the initial organizers, or they decide to leave and work on something else, the network can adapt and continue.
Our working processes are pretty well documented, and responsibility, knowledge and power is gradually being distributed through the network, though we can always do better.

We may have less control of the brand and the people involved than, for example, the C2C Institute has over Cradle to Cradle™, but it’s not the name that matters, it’s the goal and the methodology.
Maybe one day, when we have an open source circular economy, we won’t call it an ‘open source circular economy’.
And that’s fine by us. Actually, if you have any better suggestions, please let us know!

a Global movement

Our goal with the OSCEdays event is not just to promote an idea, but to connect people who are doing similar things around the world, give them a framework, an effective methodology, make their work visible and build collaboration.

The initial group that kicked this off was based in Germany, the UK and France, but we wanted to build a global network. We cannot hope to know how to build a community around the OSCE idea in Shenzhen, or Togo, or Bogotá, so we shouldn’t force them to do things our way.

As an example, we had a discussion about whether people could charge money for tickets to OSCE events: we quickly realised that different cultures would have different expectations of what a paid event signifies in terms of quality and commitment, and there would also be different abilities to pay for tickets.
So each local organiser can make that decision for themselves - the wider network can share their thoughts and experiences, but only the local organizer knows what’s best for their situation.
We just share what works for us, and invite others to come up with improvements.
The main thing that we ask is that they share their ideas and results openly for others to learn from - it doesn’t have to be on our website, a link elsewhere will do.


One of the initiators of OSCEdays, @unteem, sometimes talks about trying to be ‘straight in my shoes’ which is when you’re practising what you preach, living according to your principles.
Our principles are that you can’t expect to know who may have a solution or idea for your particular problem - if we were to invite only people who we picked out as ‘relevant’ to OSCE, then we would miss people.
If we required that local events had some level of institutionality, or that they could pay a fee, that would exclude many people who could potentially unlock all sorts of interesting ideas and collaborations.

It also wouldn’t fit with our open source ideals if we tried to do everything ourselves, or didn’t give people permission to build on our work.

It also wouldn’t make much sense to organise an event on sustainability and then fly all the participants halfway around the world!

Question 7:

You should check out the OSCEdays Future Wishlist thread for details on some of the projects and resources which we would eventually like to see come out of this.

We have started this as an annual event, but the plan is to have more and more events in different places at different times, and ongoing research and development projects, and a transition from ‘event’ to ‘network’ to ‘movement’ to, eventually, ‘normal’.

Basically the long-term goal for all of us is a working circular economy and a more collaborative society that empowers citizens and regenerates our natural ecosystems. But that’s a long way off.

For me, the goal in the mid-term is that the idea of Circular Economy becomes linked to the idea of Open Source - for example, in the field of cryptography, it is generally accepted that open source software is a more secure option, based on a number of theoretical and practical factors. If it’s not open source, you can’t trust it.

Theoretically, it seems that open source should be an extremely valuable methodology for building a circular economy, but we’re still building the practice to test it.
If our hypothesis turns out to be correct, open source should become ‘standard’ for circular economy projects: if a company is claiming it’s developing a circular economy solution, but not making it interoperable with others, not transparently sharing information on its components and supply chain, not allowing others to be involved in the improvement and repair of the production process or the product itself, then we shouldn’t take their ‘circular economy’ claims too seriously.

And if public funding is being awarded for circular economy solutions, then of course it should be a prerequisite that they will be open source. Well, I personally think this about all public funding, not just for circular economy, but that’s just me :slight_smile:

Hi Cat, thank you for your questions and for writing about OSCE. I am Silvia, member of the OSCEdays Board of Stewardship and a local organizer in Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Question 3:
We view the open source circular economy as the solution to the enormous gap created by human civilization between nature and artifacts. Economy itself is an artifact which, in its current modus operandi, is leading the world on an unsustainable and dangerous path.
We want to bring people from all over the world to work and create as close as possible to ecosystems, where diversity and mutual benefits are fundamental to surviving and thriving. In nature, there are no patents, there is where open source comes into place. Patents and other forms of intellectual property protection are another artifact that first of all are based on everything we find in nature and second, prevents us from adopting, at global scale, the solutions to the wicked problems humans have created: climate change, wealth inequality, poverty, habitat destruction.
By bringing people from different fields of expertise and different places in the world we will accomplish several goals:

  1. Find systemic solutions to the challenges the OSCE community considers critical
  2. Make the path from idea to a real object or process or model practical and short
  3. Prove how important and successful inter-disciplinary collaboration is
  4. Help people who grapple with the open source concept, especially as it applies to many other fields than software, learn about it by applying it to their local events or learning form the OSCE community through out, what else, open source exchange
  5. Work with pleasure, creativity and passion and enjoy building the OSCE from the bottom-up, organically, voluntarily
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Thanks for your responses, Sam, Silvia and Lars. There are a few questions no one has answered. If anyone would like to chime in, to help Shareable readers understand OSCE, I’d appreciate it!

[?] I understand that the plan is to share the ideas, projects, activities and solutions that are developed at each event, with all the other participants around the world. Has this been part of the event’s design from the start? Why and how do you share the projects, and what kind of results have you had? Any interesting stories or collaborations you can share?

[?] OSCE Days emphasized hands-on action rather that traditional conference presentations. What are some examples of these actions and what kind of outcomes do you hope to see?

[?] This intersection of open source and circular economy thinking is really fresh and exciting. It points to a new way of being in, and thinking about, the world. What are the most important aspects of this intersection? Why is it so inviting and who do you see getting involved on an organizational level?

I’ll be gathering responses tomorrow (Tues.)


Hi Cat,

ok. I’ll take on answering a few more.

Yes. This was the idea from the start. Have an international hackathon. Establishing international collaboration and sharing.

There are some stories. Please look at the documentation of 2015 website to find some stories there (section is called stories).

Although there are other stories too, for some reasons I often till this one (see in the comments - A Board Game exchange between Chennai and Helsinki).

And the forming and continued collaboration in our Board Of Stewardship is another ongoing outcome.

Examples can be found in the stories of the documentation of 2015.

But OSCEdays 2015 was globally mostly about discussions. People needed to understand the concept(s) first.

This year I hope to see more practical outcomes. One of the outcomes that would be great to have is to see more open source documentation of existing technical circular economy solutions. (There are some in the making. A group plans to document a circular house in India for example. And Sam for example is helping with Open Source Documentation workshops.)

And that real hardware projects like @jaycousins house for example make huge progress in finding new ideas, collaborators and step more towards openness.

Also in Berlin (excuse my focus on this, I am located here and very involved with the event) we have a large Circular Textile group. They want to “prototype”/invent and exhibit whole new supply chains during the event with famous brands.

The Circular Economy has the word “economy” in it. And in todays world almost everything has to do with economy. So it would be great to have almost all organizations in - from small grassroots initiatives to large multinationals.

Some people are asking us, why we use “Circular Economy” as it is a term of the “big businesses” - think of the Ellen MacArthur Foundations Circular 100 with big brands! Why not Zero Waste, Blue Economy, Biomimicry, Cradle To Cradle, Regenerative Design and so on…

Well, there are many people working in this field for a very long time. I for example was looking for years for the correct english translation for our german term “Kreislaufwirtschaft” (“circle-run-economy”). Never could find it! I used “Regenerative Design” or “Ecoeffective Design” or “Ecological Economy” for years.

But in the middle of 2014 Wikipedia started to translate it with “Circular Economy”. This was because the EMF had made a lot of Buzz. They are working towards a critical mass and with their marketing skill they got big companies on board and sign up to the concept.

Now we take the words and connect it also to grass-root level. To establish a dialog. In a Circular Economy everyone needs to be able to talk to everyone. Only with collaboration we can achieve it.

And it seems unlikely that the big companies take a grass root term. But the other way around it might work. And it worked so far. We have small grassroots as well as some big companies beeing part of OSCEdays.

So already in our chosen wording our wish to establish collaboration across all levels is expressed.

And the intersection? Well I really like to put the principles of Circular Economy next to the definition of Open Source Hardware. – It is amazing how much overlapping there is. Both worlds share somehow the same goals. But both have also problems – that seem more solvable if you add the other world as well.

Sam and I talked about this comparison in our DIF talk and other talks as well. But for the DIF talk there is a video recording online (comparison starts at 15:30) as well as our Slideshow. Here:

I typed this very fast, I trust your editing skills :wink:

Hi all

Thanks again for helping me understand OSCEdays and your big picture vision. I appreciate hearing from different voices.

Here’s a link to the published piece. I edited responses for brevity.

Please feel free to share via social media, blog, etc.

Best of luck with the events!



Thanks a lot for this, @CatJohnson! we’ll share it far and wide.
One small addition: Could you please link to this thread from the article?
either where you say

during a recent Ask Me Anything on the organization’s community board

or in a separate sentence at the bottom of the article would be good. Just so that people can see the open and transparent process we use, and if they want to know more, then they will know where to ask.

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Maxine Perella (Greendipped/Go Circular) got in touch with some questions for an upcoming article for Ethical Corporation on how IoT and big data is enabling the circular economy, particularly around manufacturing in terms of closed loop models, remanufacturing, and servitization. She asked the following questions:

Question 1: How do you see an open source data approach benefiting moves towards a circular economy, particularly in the manufacturing space?

Note on terminology: I see open source mostly as a methodology for collaboratively creating and using commons, and open data as a public resource, as one of many types of commons which can serve the goal of a circular economy.

Most players in the circular economy field are struggling with a similar set of problems, and open source provides an effective methodology to collaborate together. A circular economy requires a radical shift and collaboration on a global, multi-level scale; we’re not going to get there any time soon if most of our energy is being spent on multiple redundant individual efforts behind closed doors. Not only does open source provide proven, efficient methods for global collaboration, but it also offers a unique range of business models which work not despite being open, but because they’re open.
Proprietary business models tend to focus on a single product or an individual company, but open source business models by necessity look at financial sustainability of the entire ecosystem in which a product exists - and the ecosystem perspective is what we need in order to build a real circular economy, not just circular products.

In order to begin to solve the wicked problems of our current economy, we need to go beyond the usual methods and include more than just the usual suspects. We can’t solve a problem without accurate information about it, and we can’t assume that we have all the right people in the room already. Opening data about materials, resource flows, and manufacturing processes is the first step - publishing information and giving anybody the permission to use it and contribute to a solution.

Question 2: What do you see as the main outcomes from OSCEdays? Will these outcomes be collated or streamlined in any way, to enable more focused analysis of the broad amount of inputs / projects taking place?

I have answered this on some levels in a previous comment, feel free to quote from that:

To build on that answer further, I would add that the network itself is the main outcome from the first two OSCEdays events. 18 months ago, there was practically nobody talking about an Open Source approach to the Circular Economy - now there are thousands of people around the world with aligned goals and interests who are engaging with this idea, and using the OSCEdays to get in touch and support one another, and to develop ongoing projects and relationships.
Other outcomes are documentation of new and existing projects and conversations - you can see the documentation from the first OSCEdays, and we’ll be putting together similar documentation of 2016 soon as well.

We are planning to focus over the next year on producing educational materials and other publications, which will involve collating results from existing projects and the first two OSCEdays events, but these projects will require funding and focus. Right now the OSCEdays project is still a volunteer effort, but we have a huge and engaged network, so we think there’s great potential for organisations to partner with us to make all the pioneering work that is happening in this space more accessible and easier to learn from and build upon.

In our conversation Maxine also asked about existing open source circular economy examples for manufacturing…

For existing open source circular economy examples, there are precious few at the industrial level so far- but for example, Levi’s is sharing a lot of their research and experience on reducing water usage in textile
manufacturing (PDF download). This serves two purposes: one immediate benefit is of course a bump in their reputation - this is a real concrete step towards sustainability, both in implementing these practises, but also in sharing them with others so the rest of the industry can adopt them. It shows they’re serious. Secondly they are setting a precedent and taking the first step in what can become a reciprocal process of other textile manufacturers reporting back on their experience with these processes and improving them.

There’s no open source license, a PDF is an inflexible medium, and there’s no clear process for contributing to this pool of knowledge, so it’s hardly perfect, but there doesn’t appear to be anything stopping others using this information for any purpose, so it is effectively open source, if ineffective in its execution. If anyone from Levi’s is reading this, get in touch and we can show you how to set up a real and effective process for collaboration around this :slight_smile:

is another open source manufacturing project which has the circular economy in its headlights - see more in this Guardian article or the piece I wrote for Circulate News.

If you have any further questions or would like elaboration on any of these points, just ask here and we’ll be happy to help!