PLAN B for the Future of OSCE ? | (CRCLR e.V. instead of OSCE e.V.)

Hi @BoST,

I need to share something that is heavy on my mind – regarding OSCEdays and the future of it.

I think, we all know, we are at a critical point for a while now. Sadly we have a pretty unhealthy project. With a lot of success, but without funding. And way too much work. The amount of work necessary for OSCEdays is already much to high to be done with unpaid work. And there is much more waiting for us in the future with our current plans…

And then stuff happens like that to a BoST call 2 weeks before the event only 4 (3) people show up with only 30min time. The time we have to build all of this shrinks.

And there is no one to blame for this, this is no ones fault, no one is doing anything wrong.

The only thing there is, is an insight to gain for us or a truth to aknowledge: Everything, the whole project, is blown out of proportion! The complexity is to high. It is far off from sustainability.

Adjustment is needed. We have to cut back. And this makes me ask a question:

##Should we really found an organisation?

You know that the founding of the OSCE association failed and that we have to do it again. So we are in the situation to not have an association yet. And maybe this is a good thing.

###Why do we want an organisation?
The goal of having an organisation was to be able to do all kinds of projects. Not just run an annual event, support the community, do policy work, design work, communication work; engage in international research clusters, house the OSCEdays infrastructure, and, yes, to get and process funding to do all of that.

For that we wanted to establish an independent organisation and structure where a real international community can onboard, make decisions online together, invent projects and so on… A real global, active community, exploring new ways for almost everything.

###What is the true situation?
But the situation is now:

  • We don’t have funding. And there is not really something on the horizon.
  • We don’t have this structure for an international members base and participation in the association.
  • And here comes the important bit: I don’t really see or feel a need for this international organisation. People love the idea. But noone is asking for it at the moment, really (which could be the source for making it happen.)

We could create this, yes. And it would work. But it is a horrible horrible amount of work (found again, set up a structure to onboard association members, advertise it, create a platform documentation and a process for an 8 week ongoing discussion and election process, have candidacies for the BoST, come up with ideas to talk about …). Wow! And we don’t have funding to pay someone to do it. And we don’t have enough resources in our group (free time) to do this as well. And no real need for this expressed by a members base – which could be translated into resources.

It is an absurd situation! Or, it would be absurd, if we were still going for it …

So maybe we got lucky that the founding failed. This gives us the possibility to step back from it. And approach it from a different angle.

So I’d like to suggest something different instead:

##OSCEdays Project – by CRCLR e.V.

The local OSCEdays Berlin event is run by the CRCLR e.V. – a new association about circular economy here in Berlin, founded amongst others by Alice, who was part of the initial OSCEdays group as well.

Simon from CRCLR asked me, if we can merge the two associations (as we have founded the OSCE e.V. here anyway in a presence meeting with the same community members), and my first response was:

No, we can’t! Because OSCE e.V. needs to be there to support a global community. CRCLR is focussed on Berlin! And how could I trust an organisation when I am in Shanghai, Lome, Bangladesh or wherever to serve my interests when that organisation is 50% focussed on Berlin…

That was what we said a year ago. Sounds good and smart, in theory. But – given the situation described above – I think it is … not that smart – it would be daydreaming.

So I propose to think about making the OSCEdays a project of the CRCLR e.V. – house it there.

The Berlin community is super active! Look at the program (still growing). And Berlin is an international city. So why not start here. And reach around the globe. And connect a global community. As a side project of an existing e.V.

I think it might be possible to make the OSCEdays a relatively independent project inside of CRCLR – with an own funding activities and an own governance – established through an own document with rules. There would still be the Board Of Stewardship. We would be members of the CRCLR e.V. with the powers to run the OSCEdays project on a strategic level – to make sure, it also serves a global community.

This all would have to be fledged out more detailed. But in general, it would be the same what we do right now I guess. Just money is run through CRCLR. And over time we can have a discussion how to formalize the BoST and OSCEdays project within CRCLR.

We would not need to establish an international members base and voting and so on…! We would get rid of a mountain of work that noone can do anyways! The better starting point to grow towards our initial goals.

And if there are one day problems we can still create a new association. When the need and the resources are there for it! (It could be part of the OSCEdays BoST job to always make sure, growth happens in a way that it is possible to separate the two associations in the future. We could start with a brainstorming to forsee problems that could come up and invent design suggestions to avoid them as much as possible. But this is already on the next page… )

I mean, that is all not optimal. The contrary. But I am not even sure if we can find enough time to maintain OSCEdays and get it to a sustainable stage inside CRCLR…

What happens to the bank account we already have? And Janosch? He got hired. And added work already. My suggestion: There is a small amount of money from Suez. It should cover his expenses – his work and the fees he paid so far. So let him close the bank account again. And we are done. We are not officially registered somewhere. Except in the bank.

Let’s discuss this, sometimes. Maybe after the event.

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####First thought:

Global OSCEdays is run by the Board Of Stewardship. People join the Board of Stewardship by invitation (establishes trust). Then in the future in a meeting of the CRCLR the members of CRCLR elect the BoST. So all BoST members are member of CRCLR.

Would that establish a power imbalance around the world? Hypothetically yes, why should I become a member when I am in Bangladesh and can’t be present in the meeting - to elect someone to the BoST from my city?

But we can’t do anything about that. People that get an invitation to the BoST would be handpicked by the people in the BoST. Like the invitation to Melanie or Tom for example. And it could be the ethos of the BoST to try to be as representative for the whole globe with new members as possible.

And the continued transparency of the BoST allows direct participation.

And when then over time problems pop up, let’s deal with them, when they emerge. But at the moment, they are hypothetical.


It’s very difficult to work with no funding. I think it can go either way. If the resources are there in CRCLR, then why not? If they can help access funding, that would be beneficial. As long as you can do the same work in that vehicle, or even better work, then it can make sense. We need to take the pressure off the main organizing people such as yourself (Lars) so that they can do the job more effectively. Some have already left BoST because they were already stretched thin.

I also think it would be helpful if we got more clarity about the actual vision of OSCE Days, especially in how it positions Open Source Circular Economy to be an important part in the rapid change we need to make for a sustainable future of humanity. Right now, we have top down approach driving everything - big biz, big govt, big policy, big infrastructure. The billions of citizens of the planet have been reduced to helpless consumers. There is a sense of powerlessness in this paradigm.

At the bottom, you have individuals and local citizens in communities trying to make change all over the world.There is a global shift from the bottom going on right now but the bottom still does not have the systematic community manufacturing systems to compete with the big industry players. This is where I can see OSCE Days playing a catalyzing role.

But currently, where does OSCE Days fit in this change spectrum? Is OSCE Days just a taster for people to try out and dabble in combining Open Source with Circular Economy, or does it recognize the potentially valuable role OSCE has to play for whole system change? In our own organization, we see Open Source Circular Economy is critical for whole system change…that’s why we joined OSCE Days in the first place. We still feel that way. We feel OSCE Days has got the right platform concept, even though it is still quite rough and not optimized. It’s got the potential to mobilize the planet for an organized, systematic bottom up approach that empowers citizens and keeps the wealth in communities. If we do it correctly, we may even be able to de-carbonize the planet AND reverse economic inequality faster than our private sector peers can.

We mustn’t be afraid to dream big because the stakes of not dreaming big at this time are very high…it could mean a very degraded planet for both people and other living beings alike. It’s our responsibility to dare to dream. I think if we can define our vision clearly, we can solve the funding problem easily. You have to have clarity about the direction you are going in first though, and then to convey that to potential sponsors.


###The Vision
I think it is a good point. Maybe not directly fitting to the organisational question above. But in an indirect way. But anyhow. I think to really be able to facilitate action around this vision we need … work. We are not short on ideas and vision I guess.

The question is how to make progress with the limited resources and invest in the right stuff.

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I think the other insight is that we all seem to want OSCE Days to become the event days of a year round initiative in open source circular design activity…so maybe OSCE becomes the virtual platform for continuous year round virtual and physical collaboration and OSCE Days is the one week gathering where we all come together to share and publicize our global work.When we are working during the year, we might not be focused on all the innovation going on elsewhere on the network.

Jepp, that is the plan I had in mind. After the event on the website is not info about the next event. But a timeline with next events. And then we invite everyone to run OSCEdays events - whenever they want. And plug in to other dates.

And facilitate them with methods to connect to each other. Like the global reporting. And of course the forum. And other stuff as well.

Well in Cape Town and Johannesburg, we are launching:

OpenC Cape Town and OpenC Jozi - about circularizing the city using industrial symbiosis
Hack-the-Shack Cape Town and Hack-the-Shack Jozi about find circular ways to solve shack and slum problems

We will launch these as challenges at this years OSCE Days. HOWEVER, after OSCE Days is over this year, we are going to continuing running them on a monthly basis so we get circular designers to continue creating and developing solutions all year round…and also networking with other OSCE groups to work on them in a year round fashion.

We can continue to use the OSCE Days website all year round for sharing information and using it this much will also give us an idea of how we need to improve it.

To me, the power of OSCE Days is in sharing. Last year, I got Gavin to come on about growing furniture and this year, I would like to explore growing furniture with invasive species in South Africa. Also, Jason’s Showerloop last year is going into our ecohome this year.

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To me the OSCE e.V. is still very important, particularly so that the open source aspect doesn’t get lost, it isn’t just a side project (and also so that our movement itself isn’t just a side project!)
However, maybe having our own association isn’t the most important step right now.

If we can first get some money (and achieve our other short-term/mid-term goals) using CRCLR e.V. as an umbrella organisation, that reduces the bureaucratic overhead, and then we can found a non-profit organization of our own when we have the time, energy and resources for it.

So as long as the relationship is not legally bound to be long-term, and as long as CRCLR is ok with us going off on our own at some stage within the next 1-3 years, then I see no reason not to save ourselves the stress and take the opportunity.


The starting point for good design is that people usually don’t know what they want or need…so people not asking for it is not really an issue for me.

I also think that there truly is a place for an OSCE e.V. now and in the future and there will be increasingly so as our work builds momentum and credibility, which I think it is.

That said, I agree that this seems like a practical short-term solution Lars, that can help us to get to our long-term goals.

However, I wonder what the urgency is to do this. I think the point about our vision raised by @Gien now and others over the last weeks is very relevant. It seems that we need to take a step back to look at some more fundamental questions about what we are doing, questions which won’t be answered by joining up with CRCLR e.V.


Let’s regroup after the event, sometime in late June and talk this through. At the moment, I think it’s best to concentrate on the success of this year’s events and stay away from any negative thoughts, even though they are justified. There are always troughs and peaks in anything one does, so let’s just carry on and revise later how to adjust our path.

I am working on the assumption that we are here to stay and achieve our OSCE goals, within the organizational framework that helps us the best, including a flexible one.


We can do that. But setting up all of this is at least 2 month full-time work. I can’t do that without funding. I have to go down to the level of contribution that most of you do. And if we combine all of our time … it will not even be enough, to maintain what is already there i fear. :frowning:

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That is true, we can not work without funds, all we need to have financial for implement the projects