Global Swadeshi

because one world is plenty

Hi Global Swadeshi. I have deep interest in what I think are main goals of global swadeshi: some kind of open source decentralized gandhian economy. But as we think and ponder on ups and downs of our goals, ideas and projects, life goes one. We have to survive and provide necessities for ourselves and our families. As some of you might know I m a member of Minciu Sodas network and our wiki where we try to teach people from around of world (many of them from Africa) learn how to use wiki and other Web 2 software tools. Minciu Sodas is what I would call a social enterprise, with a primary goal of encouraging independent thinkers to grow and develop. People do help each other, both online and offline. One of the more impressive things Minciu Sodas helped (organized, funded, supported) was pyramid of peace, which was a peace action which was in full flung during the terrible Kenya riots (almost civil war) during 2008 election crisis where Minciu Sodas and people close to it helped by sending money, opening roadblocks, making contacts between warring factions The list goes on and on. Please visit the website and connect with us! Now what I want to mention is that Minciu Sodas in order to be sustainable as a social business needs also some commercial jobs. So already there are some commercial companies willing to support our network by giving us work. For example at this moment we are collaborating on a task for an UK food company Mornflake They are helping us and giving us opportunity to work for them. We are making a directory (which is in the Public Domain of course) of online communities in UK among which some of interest and open to our proposal will be contacted and engaged. Mornflake is organizing an online video contest where participants from UK will be able to submit a DIY video on any area of interest, where Mornflake will be mentioned or seen. I (we) see this as an opportunity to link different communities in a synergy. By doing this we are able to promote our services and projects, like we did in my food story Larahna David Braden We have added Global Swadeshi food stories to my food story. Also we have an integrated system where we have advertised some of Global Swadeshi participants at this link and this appears in all of our websites. We wish to promote Global Swadeshi to increase its impact in the online world. Basically Mornflake is encouraging us to develop our contacts and network and by doing that we are also helping them ( Mornflake) and the Global Swadeshi network. Hopefully we will create a win win game where all participants are gaining. I hope this is compatible with Global Swadeshi goals and means. How can we help Global Swadeshi ideas/projects/people ? Thank you!

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Hi Vinay and all,

Sasha's bee hive was vandalized so he's been offline.

I'm excited that Jeremy Maso and Ben de Vries of Factor E Farm are working for us on this Mornflake project. Marcin also wrote a nice post at their blog about his visit in Vienna, thanks to Franz Nahrada, and our working together.

Here is a letter that Jeremy, Ben and I wrote together today to engage the UK Business Agriculture usenet:

Hi, my name is Jeremy Mason and I'm writing from Factor E Farm in
Missouri, USA. We're leading the Open Source Ecology movement
dedicated to building the first replicable, modern self-sufficient
resilient communities. See our blog
and our wiki for the open source hardware
we're developing, including a Compressed Earth Brick Press and a multi-
purpose tractor. 'Open Source' means is that it is free of charge to
the public.

We hope some of you find the project interesting and useful!

Thanks to Mornflake cereal and their online
video contest we're able to spend
time to reach out to UK online communities. The idea is that it makes
more sense for us to promote each other then for them to promote

We're looking for experts and researchers to help us create open
source plans for a Babington burner, a pyrolysis oil fast reactor, a
solar concentrator. We're working towards a Resilient Community
Construction Kit of 40 technologies. We're also looking for seasonal

I see this group has a long history and I am not sure who or how we
might help. If I knew more about your interests, then I could help
link you with other communities. Are there any that you might
recommend? I am reading about Steve Rawlings' tractor troubles. That's
one of the reasons that Marcin built the LifeTrac tractor.

Thank you and take care.

Hi Vinay, Jafra, Lucas, Larahna and all,

My online lab Minciu Sodas is working further for Leon Benjamin and Mornflake cereal and their online video contest. Earlier, we made a directory of UK online communities, in the Public Domain, and engaged about sixty of them. Now we're engaging the most responsive. The goal is to bridge online communities, to encourage working together, acknowledging Mornflake's support as relevant.

I'm organizing a Give And Take system to encourage sharing resources. Vinay, if you or others here are interested, I would provide you a 50 GBP credit to apply at our system, for example, for online assistants such as Sasha Mrkailo to do some work for Global Swadeshi or member projects. I invite our thoughts, what might be effective.
Andrius Kulikauskas: I'm making an effort to engage you and others here at Global Swadeshi and support Glue Sniffers as well, thanks to support from Mornflake cereal and their online video competition. We would gladly provide, for free, to Global Swadeshi / Glue Sniffers community and/or members with an online assistant and/or on-the-ground researcher like Sasha Mrkailo in Serbia or Samwel Kongere in Kenya for 20 hours or so. Is there any project that they might do for you or we might do together? In particular, Samwel Kongere is organizing a sustainability conference and he has dreams of an alternative technology center like Factor E Farm. In fact, he's taken some first steps.

Vinay Gupta: I've been discussing local infrastructure with Samwel - local power for charging phones, and super bright cheap LED lights from somewhere like - an interesting company in their own right, in that their business model relies on using a trusted third party (Paypal) to handle payments, and online review communities to credential their products. Maybe we could do something there?

Andrius Kulikauskas: Sure, those are good ideas. What do you think of Graham Knight's DIY Solar? Have you met? We met in London. I'd like to help him get more traction. What might we do online for Glue Sniffers and/or Global Swadeshi? It's great help for us (both Minciu Sodas and Mornflake) if we have reason to link others to you, your work, your participants and your community. Do you have any advise about electricity generation for one laptop or a small computer center? That's a problem we chatted about with Folabi Sunday in rural Nigeria.

Samwel Kongere, Fred Kayiwa and all, I invite you to reply further! What might we do together at and with Global Swadeshi?
Well I think Andrius you need to bring on here links for Graham Knight for new people to know what its all about DIY solar
Thanks Sasha for being active in the MornFlankes
I see its helpful to learn how to use online sites and get to know them and what they do
This looks like such a brilliant opportunity
Chief, could you elaborate, please? How might you participate?
Dear Colleagues,

I am very excited to announce to you that the Give-A-Book Campaign is slowly taking shape. Thanks to AndriusKulikauskas' Minciu Sodas network and our wiki have been able to start putting together some ideas of how the project will take shape. I must say that this project has been at the back of my mind for a long time, and it is my sincerest desire to see it take off.

To enable this, I am looking for people that may be interested in serving in the Board of Directors. Your commitment and time is all that I will require.

Give-A-Book Campaign seeks to be a strategy to give books to children in difficult circumstances, and also encourage literacy.

In return, I am willing to offer my writing, communication, research, journalistic, design, marketing, and creative skills to anyone that might need them. Come to think of it, I have already been participating to support Mornflake cereal and their online video contest

Its been a great opportunity that has allowed me to know a lot more about online social networks, and how we can use them to better ourselves and our communities.

I look forward to hearing from you

Many thanks

Masimba Biriwasha
Hi Vinay, Sasha, Masimba, Fred and all,

Here's a letter that I wrote about electricity projects that might bring us together (thanks to Mornflake).

Tomorrow I hope to overview the many small projects by which we're helping UK online communities thanks to Mornflake cereal and their online video contest which is underway.

I suggest one "electricity" project that would show how our communities might work closer together thanks to Mornflake's support. And this kind of project might lead to more support in the future from other sponsors.

I'm thinking in terms of an economy of dreams. We have different pieces of the puzzle that might fit together. I will infer some of our dreams, and look forward to interviewing us regarding them, but it would be great if we might write them ourselves in our letters and posts and we might organize them at our Worknets wiki pages.

Graham Knight dreams (I think) of people in Africa providing for themselves and developing their regions by selling useful, simple and inexpensive technology such as the DIY Solar for recharging mobile phone batteries. There are social challenges, why won't people start such businesses?

Marcin Jakubowski dreams (I think) of villagers being independent of mass-scale industry and being able to build their own tools and energy sources for creating everything they need to live and thrive. There are technological challenges and so much to do!

Vinay Gupta dreams (I'm guessing) of resilient solutions by which everybody can address their basic needs. There are mindset and heartset challenges.

Wendi Loshe Bernadette dreams (I'm guessing) of women being free to shape their own destiny. There are social challenges and poverty.

Samwel Kongere dreams of a rural life that is attractive and gainful so that people don't migrate to the city to look for work. He has land and would like to develop his home as a center for alternative technology. There are challenges of time, commitments, knowledge and resources.

Franz Nahrada dreams of global villages that are centered around knowledge, mastering it locally and sharing it globally. There are challenges of scale, of inspiring people and of showing real progress.

I myself dream of a knowledge of all things that informs a culture that encourages people to dedicate themselves to their dreams, and especially, to apply their creativity. I have challenges of how do we all make a living? and how do we learn to care to include each other and help each other?

I note two projects that might further our dreams because they address key obstacles.

1) We've spent a year trying out Graham Knight's DIY Solar for recharging mobile phone batteries and it seems like a very practical technology. Our African participants haven't demonstrated the aptitude for selling these solar panels as a business. I suggest that we practice setting up such businesses so that we can develop and share business skills. These skills are essential if we're going to do larger projects together.

2) We need to be able to generate electricity in rural Africa, for example, to supply ICT centres but also power all manner of machines. There is a shortage of solutions, but especially, solutions that don't depend on sophisticated engines that must be purchased and brought in from afar. Marcin Jakubowski is developing a solution that can make us technology producers instead of technology consumers. He is exploring how solar power can heat water to create steam, and steam can then run an engine that can produce electricity. He is showing that much of this equipment we can build or adapt ourselves.

If we develop our business skills with 1), then we can invest in each other and develop our technology skills with 2). Because some small investment will be needed. But its pointless to invest if we don't care to develop our business skills.

A major challenge that we have is that we're not skilled at sharing our opportunities and resources. I'm trying to show that the work that Minciu Sodas is doing to promote Mornflake and their online video contest, is an opportunity for us to work together. Mornflake benefits if we open channels between our projects and our communities, because if they are our friend, then we might share their messages, too. This makes sense for a lot of companies and we might find a lot of resources if we are skilled at working together and reaching out to others.

It would be great if Vinay might meet with Graham, learn of his technology, embrace that and encourage that in his work with Africans as a sound first step in working together. I appreciate Graham's persistence and I believe that the obstacles he notes show that we need to think broader and learn more about people's situations, that even though they may be surrounded by hardship, but that doesn't necessarily motivate them to have business skills. (It is strange to see entrepreneurship as commonplace in some parts of the world like India, but not in Lithuania or perhaps Kenya.) I believe that if we value the importance of DIY Solar for learning business skills, then we can make the investments of time and resources to work together. But such an investment has much more value for me if Vinay, Marcin, Franz and others appreciate that and consider that an important dimension of their dreams so that I can show to others that indeed they are relevant to each other. Appropriate technology must go hand-in-hand with appropriate behavior.

With Vinay's (and Marcin's and Franz's and Graham's) encouragement (at Global Swadeshi and other online venues) I can encourage (and fund, thanks to Mornflake) such small projects. They can include helping our African
partcipants develop business skills through DIY Solar, and taking first steps to explore Marcin's electricity solutions.

I conclude with an observation from our Mornflake work. I have sent a lot of money to Samwel Kongere, Dennis Kimambo, Fred Kayiwa, Josephat Ndiablema and William Wambura to help as online assistants. They simply weren't able to help very much because their Internet access is to slow and unreliable to participate at the forums. Sasha Mrkailo in Serbia, Masimba Biriwasha in Paris, Thomas Chepaitis in Lithuania, Jeremy Mason in Missouri were able to do the work because they have broadband access. It's not very effective for me to pay somebody in the West $20 per hour for such work. Yet often they can be very helpful with just a few hours. And my interest is always to build our assets with our resources, so I'm interested that we have as strong of an internal economy as possible. My
conclusion is that it's very good for us all each time we can trade a US/WesternEurope person's time as an online expert and an African's time in on-the-ground projects. And I believe that even small on-the-ground projects in Africa or elsewhere can add great value to the reality and attractiveness of Marcin's, Vinay's, Franz's vast projects. So I therefore also ask for our teamwork because that can justify me sending more resources to Africa.

Can we find ways to work more closely together? (I think we have this last month and I thank Mornflake and Leon Benjamin)
Graham Knight wrote:

Following the suggestion from Andrius of an "electricity" project that would show how communities might work closer together, I'm posting my latest effort at explaining what is involved in such a project.
If you can see any way of improving or adding to the content do let me know.

Starting a Project

Many people have difficulty starting a DIY Solar (microsolar) project. We do our best to help though it is not often easy. The most important aspect is communication.

It is NOT necessary to get big funding! If you were intending to sell a new sort of radio, for example, you might need to spend money on hiring a stall etc to explain how it is better/different than others but with something unknown, but useful, you can start by selling it to friends and neighbours!

We are willing to do everything possible to ensure good outcomes but contacts often fail to fully communicate with us. They seem to think they are too much bother - but we see it as our job to answer questions! DIY Solar is not like other projects and it often needs a lot of 'chat' with us, and maybe others, to decide how best to go ahead.

Confusion can be much reduced if just one person is put in charge - this is important! It is essential that this person communicates freely and concentrates their mind on deciding how things should work. It is also essential to start 'small'. Only when you have proved to yourself that this DIY Solar technique really works will it be easy to persuade others it is worth consideration!

Later you might look for funding but don't be in a hurry! It is not easy and often the demands of the funding agency are not simple to conform to! And loans often have very high interest rates.

Much better to make 'products' for local sale and use some of the proceeds to buy in more pv parts.
This is usually better than getting a loan which is often unaffordable!

What so many people ignore is the proper funding of a project! Unless someone is offering finance you will need to make and sell pv devices so as to raise money to buy more pv parts from us or another supplier!

What to first solar convert? Once a project is underway other people can be brought in - but not too soon! Ideally you need to convert existing devices, such as radios, by adding a small pv module.
You should have used the free sample sent on request to power a radio/LED so this is an obvious first step.

For radios it is best to have the pv module on a long lead so it can be put in the sun while the radio stays in the shade. Another, even cheaper possibility is a solar charger for your mobile phone. The cheapest solution is remove the battery from the phone and connecting it directly to a tiny solar panel!

Whoever takes charge of a DIY Solar project must make sure that they first fully understand how the free sample works. Then they can consider using it in different ways or increasing the size of the battery, pv panel, number of LEDs, etc!

A Project that went wrong

One recent attempt to start a DIY Solar project was supported by a $100 gift from Andrius to research the project but although much interest was shown no account was made of all the costs involved with a project where goods had to be imported.

It means that where we offer a set of parts for say $100 they have to be sold locally for at least $200 (and probably) more to make the project viable.


Some Western NGOs rightly use funds to help in emergencies but others are too willing to supply food etc where there is no emergency and so undermine local markets. Other again send money which undermine local initiatives.

Many people expect that Westerners should be generous to people in developing countries but as Muhammad Yunus, the inventor of Grameen, says, "I deeply believe that offering charity is not the way to redress the problem of the poor. To me, that ignores their problem and lets them rot. The able-bodied poor don't want or need charity: the dole only increases their misery; it robs them of initiative and, more importantly, of self-respect."

We offer DIY Solar not just because it gives some power but also because offers a chance for the poor to start the sort of millions of small enterprises that Muhammad Yunus has helped to introduce into many countries!
A reply by Janet Feldman at Holistic Helping:

Dear Friends,

Thanks much for this important conversation, and to Graham for outlining
basic and necessary steps in starting a DIY project. Can we link this with
what has been happening on the ground in terms of member research and
attempts to start projects?

For Wendi and Graham, I looked back at our initial conversations earlier
this year, to refresh my memory about why it seemed that DIY might not be
appropriate for Cameroon. Graham, you indicated--after seeing Wendi's
original research, posted here at HH--that you didn't think (in your words)
that DIY was "right" for AK's needs. You said you were sorry to sound
"downbeat", but gave the impression that their perceived needs (as
formulated in early research) could not be met with DIY products.

This is why I, for one, did not pursue the solar issue further at that time.
Do you have a different assessment now, and in what ways (ie could you
outline how you think AK might use DIY products)?

To Wendi and AK, I am very happy that you have continued to do research and
hopefully have a better and deeper understanding of solar, and perhaps what
you need to do to start a solar project.

I do wonder, as an aside, why you didn't share what you were doing with
me--as I had agreed to be a mentor--or at HH? If I had known that you were
continuing to look into solar, despite Graham's assessment at that time of
working with DIY, I would have been more "present" in terms of feedback and
advice. This is not really a criticism, but more a request for you to be
more communicative in future. As Graham says below, communication is very

Do either or both of you have a sense of whether you and we can work
together now? Wendi, did you finally get the or "a" package sent by Graham,
as one seemed to go astray?

I know that Peter Ongele, Pam, Mark and Jeff, Peter Burgess, Sam, and others
are interested in exploring the solar option, so hopefully we can get some
regular discussion going here now about that, and perhaps build towards a
joint project of some kind, as Andrius has proposed.

A suggested first step: can we link what Graham has said below with the
research and actions/steps taken so far by members here, related to DIY
and/or solar? AK, Peter, Pam, Sam, and anyone else, plz let us know if or
what you have done so far in terms of the steps Graham outlines, or what you
might do--if you can do this--to start taking these steps.

Hopefully Graham can answer questions here, and guide you/us through the
process. It's important that this be "visible" to all of us, I think, so
that we know what's going on, first of all, and secondly so there can be
shared learning and action, and also emulation by others.

We might even consider--based on these conversations and information--the
creation of a DIY manual, which would make use of DIY and/or solar more easy
and attractive, via clear and simple explanations, a "questions and answers"
section, and the like.

Thanks much to all, and look forward to moving ahead with this. I may be
here less for awhile (July-August-Sept), due to family matters, but I will
try to keep giving feedback and helping to move the conversations along, as
needed (though I'm happy to say they are starting to do that on their own

All best wishes and blessings, Janet
Hi Vinay, how are you? I will ask Graham Knight to join us here. I also talked about Marcin's work and "rural self-reliance" in my questions to an NSF leader at the latest COMMUNIA meeting in Torino. I would like to formulate an on-the-ground project that might interest you and others at Global Swadeshi.




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