Crowd-sourced knowledge repository of restoring water cycles in arid regions?

Hi, I’m Cindy Eiritz from Healthy Soils Australia. Ours is a wide brown mostly arid land. I’m worried about Cape Town and I’m worried about our globe. Please do come join my proposed project:

Challenge Addressed - Optimising and accelerating the global sharing of knowledge gained and lessons learnt in restoring water cycles in arid regions

Proposed Solution - Systematise it. Co-create an information architecture so it is searchable by component, by region, etc. Then crowd-source and crowd-rate the best wisdom and activities so it can be found by all.

Desired hackathon goal - Work out the best program/tool, set up the first iteration and start collecting. Explore the possibility of a professional tech person guiding us.

Resources needed - people and their applicable media content

  1. People’s thoughts and insights of what the main topic categories should be and how can we best tag within them to ensure that knowledge doesn’t get lost as the library grows large.
  2. People contributing the best water restoration case studies and insights they have found, including science and popular press articles, video, pictures, websites, etc
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From @William answering about this topic on another thread:

@Cindy I have been working on a data structure for knowledge gathering. Maybe we could have a chat sometime?
My model starts from the information gathering in communities in local meetings, where all are welcome but maybe not all can attend. The premise goes like this:
Topic: e.g Cape Town Water Crisis
Issues: What are the Issues you see regarding the Topic?
Ratings: How good/bad are these Issues?
Causes: What do you think the causes of the Issues are?
Effects: What do you think the Effects of the Issue are?
The idea is that we think deeply about Why? before we start making Proposals. That way the Proposals can be more targeted at either the Issues, the Causes or the Effects.
Proposals: Make one or more Proposals to deal with one or more of the Issues.
Pros and Cons and Ratings: What are the pros and cons and how do others rate the Proposals.
Collecting supporting data and links along the way.
Then sharing the outcomes with other communities in an open format. A test file is on
The basic meeting structure is described in

It doesn’t seem to work too well online - not sure why - maybe it needs time.
I ran it on Facebook last week and had pretty minimal input - though I did begin to compile a Google doc on
It’s a bit unwieldy trying to replicate a 3D data structure in a flat doc.
Re data - I have heaps but not so well collated because I came to realised that these are my take on what is needed, when really it would be more respectful to ask others and then add my thoughts.

Reply from @Cindy:

@William that all sounds great. I’m going to move this conversation to the Knowledge Management hackathon project, so as to not confuse this thread. Apologies to all for distracting into it here. William, @Kieara_Gunn and I have had some initial conversations over on messenger after we met on facebook. She is very interested too and plans to take the idea to Gunter Pauli

@William - are you at the face-to-face hackathon? Is your model being used there?

I had been thinking not so much about specific projects and teams but more general knowledge sharing, especially case studies. I wonder if it might be possible to merge both.

@Kieara_Gunn I’d love to see something like this, but for land and water restoration specialists - Incorporating best practice case studies in this sort of format

Walter’s suggested Specific Fields for Case Studes.docx (15.8 KB)
david marsh template for global cs db as at 18 Jul 16.docx (159.4 KB)

@Cindy sadly no I’m in the UK - 0 degrees C today. But I’m online! :slight_smile:
My big bug-bear is seeing this knowledge uncollated and (to be fair, unintentionally) siloed. I can think of half a dozen groups, conferences and meetings (and maybe more) where knowledge emerged and is now all but untraceable - such a poor use of effort.
I’m a long time fan of the semantic web, we just need to work out a vocabulary and syntax and get it out in the open. So it is discoverable, searchable and shareable - the centralised databases can come later - if needed.
That’s my raison d’etre.
I also take a remorselessly holistic approach, so when, for example, projects are hooked into the current economic model, that is an inherent weakness. The current model is part of the problem and also due to fail some time soon. With that, all the assumptions we have about “wealth” and status etc fail. I could go on - but I’ll save it for another time.

@William I totally agree. Such a missed opportunity and we don’t have time to waste. We need to get smart fast so that learnings can be shared and work expedited, accelerated and scaled.

What do you think of this one - ? I’d love to build something like this just for water restoration, but with an emphasis on case studies such as what we have proposed below

Walter’s suggested Specific Fields for Case Studes.docx (15.8 KB)
david marsh template for global cs db as at 18 Jul 16.docx (159.4 KB)

Totally agree - I’m trying to stay calm but it isn’t easy. The Water Network looks amazing but again - imagine I am a Cape Town farmer/resident/whatever where’s the data? All mixed up in comment, discussion, self-promotion and polemic. It’s undoubtedly there but…
I go back to the structure I’m working with. For any “solution” aka Proposal, what Issue(s) is it intended to address? As a farmer/business owner/doctor, do my Issues match? Are there Causes of the Issue that are not being addressed and if so why not? Where is the measured debate about the Pros and Cons for each proposal - it’s a bit nebulous - what we need now, and quickly as you say, is clarity, openness and across-the-board cooperation.
I have a favourite analogy - bodies at the bottom of the cliff. More and better ambulances are not the answer - sure they are needed but …

@William Yes I agree with what you say about The Water Network’s hub. It’s just the best sort of range of functions I’ve been able to find in one place, so perhaps some of it can inform our development, and not where we see it’s sub-optimal.

I really like your approach. Have you fleshed out the detail of the information architecture at all? Or considered what the best program to run it through would be? I’d love to collaborate more with you on this. @Kieara_Gunn is going to take a really rough proposal to her friend Gunter Pauli this Thursday. If you are interested we three could build some indicative information architecture frameworks and functions together these next few days…


I have to make you aware of three amazing potential collaborators. Of course it goes without saying that Justdiggit (@omaes72) and John @Johndliu should be part of this. But also we add:

@RicardoRug from Columbia, who is a researcher in university there and also on the board of stewards of OSCEdays with me, and facing the prospect of water shortage in Columbia, as well. Ricardo’s uni is part of the 125 university Lens network, which is committed to sustainable development. They are our allies.

Madelaine, David and Olle from Openhack Sweden are going to be doing a hackathon in March in which they want to support our projects here. I’m meeting them tomorrow to discuss a pre-hack meeting. I’ve asked them to join the community so that we can centralize all our project work here.

A lot of cool people from Design Academy Eindhoven and Eindhoven University of Technology are participating in the hackathon. They have already added their hack.

that @adamvan posted.

Hey Adam! @adamvan, can you introduce yourself to the group? Can your Eindhoven group contribute to this project?

Adam Jorlen is founder of Enkel in Perth, Australia. @adamjorlen, is this a project your Enkel group may be interested in participating in as well?

To my mind the real gap is not the people or the ideas, it is how we collect and curate the knowledge and enable peer to peer sharing.

A couple of us in different parts of the world are talking together about what the information architecture would look like and what platform might be best.

This sort of functionality - - could be good if it was simpler, cleaner and more social. Does anyone have know of any good systems or examples we could explore?

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Hello all and thank you for an inspiring project!

I’m in the community, a global collaborative commons effort for food systems. I would just like to share what tools we use and which together forms our “collaboration platform”:

We use Discourse for discussions ( as here and Slack for immediate chat. Have looked into and for open source alternatives to Slack.

Google Drive to collect documentation. A wiki could be added here as a complementary repository. A good example for gathering open design knowledge is of course Appropedia.

Github as repository and revision handling for code and design ( We mostly write software but I think something like Wevolver could be looked into for hardware designs.

We try to use Trello for project management.

We are looking into using Loomio for decision making (, Cobudget for collaborative budgeting and Open Collective for collaborative accounting.

We would of course want more of these to be open source but need to have a pragmatic approach to get things done, and look for and support open source alternatives when they arrive. I guess you all know most or all of these tools but I just wanted to share how we work :slight_smile: I don’t know if a “silver bullet platform” is feasible, but rather a collection of tools. @Cindy do you know what software is behind the Water Project platform?

@Cindy :slight_smile: I have given a LOT of thought to the syntax (I have a background in both linguistics and IT data etc - which is handy!) though I am still playing with structure. There is an example file on, if you view source you can see the data file.
I’ve spent the morning drawing up a sort of flow diagram below.

In essence - any community has a meeting to tackle a Topic (ideally using an Open Space Technology format) they or others gather the data and I, or whoever or a “tool/app” (which I have in my head but want to get the flow right first) convert to XML. This file can then be shared, added to a std database or just styled to displayed as a web page. There are standard techniques for converting XML into many formats; Word doc, PDF, JSON etc etc .
Thee are a lot of “parts” to this that I perhaps need to explain - a web chat being perhaps the easiest way.
But some aspects to be going on with - anyone can do it, there is a schema file to validate the data so in theory you don’t need to understand XML, just keep going until the schema stops complaining that the structure is invalid, it’s open source so anyone can copy use adapt whatever, it encourages the deeper questions of why X is an Issue and what are the effects (the chain of causality). It asks anyone with a Proposal what Issue they are actually trying to address (a rare thing), it allows for multiple Proposals without forcing adoption of one and one only (very often the case). Maybe most importantly it is ideology neutral - the theory being whatever angle a community comes from pragmatics, cooperation and fairness will out.

@sigmundpetersen feel free to use this syntax for exploring your Issues, Proposals etc. A couple of reasons why I developed this syntax.
I was in a group trying to address a single Issue. We had three very different Proposals and tried to meld them - it was a mess - I call this the three fishermen problem. Mixing three types of bait and standing an and out of the water is not the best way to catch fish. All fish require different techniques (apologies to non-fish-eaters for this blunt analogy). So SOS allows for many Proposals.
I also notice that many decision making techniques or tools do not look at what Issues are actually being addressed. I call this the ambulances at the bottom of the cliff problem - they may be needed but at some point someone has to ask "are they jumping, falling or being pushed - and why?"
SOS encourages examination of the Causes, Issues and Effects - not just the symptoms.
Loomio is great but it fails on both (Issues and multiple Proposals) counts. Kailo does handle pros and cos well but not Issues. Neither (none that I know of) are easy to share globally, search and copy/extract data for reuse - which, in my opinion is what we desperately need.

OFN FTW! Amazing stuff.
Have you come across Farm Hack and L’Atelier Paysan? There seems to be a natural synergy there.

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Hey Signmund!

Do you know Cynthia Reynolds and Andy Bennett of OFN? Andy actually came to Cape Town and we hung out for a night. Check out the Greenhouse climate battery hack, which regenerative architect Michael Thompson and Permaculturalist Jerome Osentowski are helping me to design for my open source cicular ecohome project I’m building in Cape Town.

I’m trying to build this green house and grow a 7 layer succession food forest with mango, banana, pineapple, avocado, nut trees to show people how to grow a tropical food forest in a Mediterranean climate.

We’re doing a Nexus design approach taking into consideration the Water-Energy-Food nexus (and urine for “waste”)

Hi @sigmundpetersen, no I don’t know what The Water Network runs off. But hey, your systems are really impressive! I know Open Food Network, I have been following you guys for a couple of years. Huge congrats for all you have done.

Wow @William, your diagram is great. And what a great skillset you have for this sort of challenge. I’m really humbled and honored to be in the company of both you and Sigmund. This is 10,000x better than anything I dreamed was possible!

William, Sigmund, I imagine a combination of your models would work well for what @Kieara_Gunn and I have been discussing is needed for Cape Town and also the world.

This need is to collect the best knowledge and the lessons learnt from water restoration projects globally these last 30 years, to inform the development of their game plan for their Cape Town project. The objective would be to assemble recommendations to inform both the team on the ground and their expert advisers. @Johndliu, Michal Kravcik, Walter Jehne and Olivier Omas have all volunteered their support and assistance.

Ideally, I think case studies, recording specifically identified fields, would be a good foundation. I think we also need to catalog video, audio and articles - scientific and popular - on both technical and social aspects.

The intent would then, also, would be that this information be available open source so everyone everywhere can kickstart / accelerate their own projects. Ideally, it would be good if information was easily extractable so people can convince governments, business, philanthropists, etc why these activities are so important. It would be good if the information was of useful for individuals landholders who do not have a local regeneration group available.

I’m extremely keen to start on this and also have recently been introduced to a new tech friend in the US who could feed in advice and thoughts.

I know it’s an impossible question but how much money would we need to start to build a really basic first attempt trial model that we could iterate from? @Kieara_Gunn has friends from Kiss the Ground who are interested in fundraising for this.

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Thank you @William! I’m really hopeful working as a platform coop in a collaborative commons way will turn out to be a solid and sustainable approach.

Yes I have heard of those 2 projects. We are of course in the same ecosystem, but ours is more on the distribution of food while those are more focused on production. But excellent projects of course both of them! :slight_smile:

Hey Gien!

Actually I work close with Cynthia Reynolds in maintaining the Scandinavian instance of OFN! :smiley: I will invite her over here, she will find this project amazing and she’s a great resource.

Right Arm! :smiley: There’s a number of blockchain developers who came out to the hackathon and are keen to participate with their skills.

I’m also working separately with another two groups for the last few years, that Olivier is aware of. One is developing blockchain for natural resources and the other, for global collaboration. We can converge this hydrological restoration / hydrological restoration / agroforestry food production project. It definitely has to be an open source platform to mobilize a massive.collective action campaign.

You know the story of the 3 blind men and the elephant? The hydrological cycle, agroforestry, food production, permaculture, land restoration…these are all just different parts of the same elephant.

How much money do we need,Cindy? I think you miss the point of this whole hackathon exercise! Maybe I haven’t articulated clearly enough the radical idea I am proposing with the hackathon…We are trying to demonstrate that we can do many things we though were impossible without funding. This requires some understanding of the massive potential that lay in massive networks. It’ requires enough of us recognize this potential. If not enough people recognize the potential, it won’t happen.

I’m going to upload my presentation here that I made for Open Hack Sweden yesterday. That will explain FULLY the vision. If you don’t understand after going through the powerpoint, I can present to you and explain. Quite simply though, it is the idea that by having massive online collaboration, we can bypass a large amount of financial capital and go straight to human capital. It’s the open source methodology, but framed slightly differently. The BIGGEST misconception of Open Source is that it’s “free”. But that’s because we keep comparing it the dominant capitalist narrative in which money is the de facto standard of value. Open Source is just another way to achieve the same result, but without financial capital. If enough people believe in an idea, they will contribute their human capital.

By the way, BIG thanks to David @DavidOH, for the opportunity to address all your Swedish colleagues at the university yesterday! Actually this is rev 3 of the prez, not prez 2 that I presented. I added one more slide…slide 36 to show how Dr. Roberto Valenti’s “Karma” can be used to compensate people using blockchain, as well as Envienta’s already existing platform on digital collaboration network…the user interface, of which @Gabor has already mostly finished. Everyone has valuable bits and pieces to the puzzle, but nobody has the entire puzzle pieces assembled into a coherent framework that can gamify saving humanity via a citizen-centric MOOCC approach.

SRG’s vision is to provide an open solidarity framework for innovators all over the world…to create a global governance structure along with a solidarity network of innovation / peer production hubs around the planet.

See the presentation I presented to Open Hack below to understand how we can create MOOCC (Massive Open Online Citizen Collaboration) platform. We are pushing the limits of Open Source. Try to imagine what Massive really means…there can be thousands or millions of highly skilled people contributing. That’s what Massive means. Once you reach that level of Open Source, you will hit a nonlinearity that will change the entire economic system…turning it from the competitive MEconomy to the collaborative WEconomy.

We have to create a new platform so that ALL solidarity partners coming into it are equal. The only way I can see this happening democratically is if we all vote on making a new neutral brand whose name convey s the global transformative intent so that no one existing brand can dominate.

If you look at the presentation, this is a evidence-based, ecologically based platform that can gamify saving humanity…but in a practical, collective action campaign involving every local action contributing in a measurable way.

openhack-srg-rev3.pptx (4.5 MB)

Wow really impressive @Gien. My apologies for not being across it all, it’s been a busy week since we met, I’m still playing catch up. The hackathons I’ve done before haven’t been so advanced in their thinking. Yours is just terrific.

Re: funding, many people around me need dollars before they can commit significant time windows because they’ve exhausted their and their family’s capacity. I do understand your assessment that there are lots of others globally who can team onto these projects and that together we can transform what is possible. Definitely I’m keen to work collaboratively to help build a tool to enable people expedite, accelerate and scale land and water regeneration/restoration.

One possible next step is this. Cape Town local @Kieara is keen to co-initiate a community based land and water restoration project in West Cape. She is meeting with her friend Gunter Pauli tomorrow. Kieara and I have been discussing how an embryonic version of this knowledge sharing hub we’re discussing might be able to help inform and enable the on the ground project. She’s going to discuss this with Gunter and we’re interested to find out if he would like to become involved and/or support. Would you be interested in collaborating to produce a paragraph or dot point to pitch for his possible involvement?