Design Global, Manufacture Local. (Or: Reimagine, don't seize, the means of production.)

Some amazing work coming from the Commons Transition Primer. This is a site set up to popularise and make practical the explosion of thinking around the idea of the "commons" - understood as a space of community-owned and -organised resources, sitting between state and market. (A "sharing" economy may be another way to describe it, as taken from the work of Yochai Benkler, though that term has been somewhat tainted by the antics of Uber and Airbnb). Much of this has been intellectually propelled by the late Elinor Ostrom, to date the only female winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, for (as the Committee put it) "her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons".

You can tell there's vibrancy in activism when it comes up with short zingers and phrases that describe what they do - and in this Truth Out article, written by two designers of the Commons Primer, they come up with a beauty: Design Global, Manufacture Local (DGML). They explain below:

One of the most difficult systems to reimagine is global manufacturing. If we are producing offshore and at scale, ravaging the planet for short-term profits, what are the available alternatives? A movement combining digital and physical production points toward a new possibility: Produce within our communities, democratically and with respect for nature and its carrying capacity.

...Here's how it works: A design is created using the digital commons of knowledge, software and design, and then produced using local manufacturing and automation technologies. These can include three-dimensional printers, computer numerical control (CNC) machines or even low-tech crafts tools and appropriate technology -- often in combination. The formula is: What is "light" (knowledge) is global, and what is "heavy" (physical manufacture) is local. DGML and its unique characteristics help open new, sustainable and inclusive forms of production and consumption.

Imagine a process where designs are co-created, reviewed and refined as part of a global digital commons (i.e. a universally available shared resource). Meanwhile, the actual manufacturing takes place locally, often through shared infrastructures and with local biophysical conditions in mind. The process of making something together as a community creates new ideas and innovations which can feed back into their originating design commons. This cycle describes a radically democratized way to make objects with an increased capacity for innovation and resilience.

Current examples of the DGML approach include WikiHouse, a nonprofit foundation sharing templates for modular housing; OpenBionics, creating three-dimensional printed medical prosthetics which cost a fraction (0.1 to 1 percent) of the price of standard prosthetics; L'Atelier Paysan, an open source cooperative fostering technological sovereignty for small- and medium-scale ecological agriculture; Farm Hack, a farmer-driven community network sharing open source know-how amongst do-it-yourself agricultural tech innovators; and Habibi.Works, an intercultural makerspace in northern Greece where Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees develop DGML projects in a communal atmosphere.

More here. (We have been exploring this topic in the D.A. - see this blog on the "phygital", as well as our mentions of "commons" in the blog archive.)