Friday, April 18, 2008

Open Source Sustainability

We are quite pleased to announce that we are now moving into the second phase of our work as Detroit Evolution Laboratory. Please read the excerpt below from this week's Evolve Detroit!

Sadly we are no longer offering lunch!

We are very pleased to announce this shift and I want to thank you all, especially those of you who have been with me for quite some time. We've come a long way since D&G! ~Gregg

Validation of Our Work!

Last week we were honored and humbled to come together with our first investor. We have been blessed to receive a commitment that will allow us to lay a solid foundation for a sustainable yet ever evolving Lab! This initial investment also serves to increase our credibility to other potential investors but most importantly it supports and strengthens our developing community's vision of a Healthy and Sustainable New Detroit!

Verbose Explanations of Open Source Sustainability
While we were recovering from our shock and excitement, a great deal of our research into creating a sustainable space for the future Lab came to a head. Our exploration of sustainable business models led us down some interesting paths but these models didn't seem to fit our needs. While looking into pre-WWI technologies and culture we came across the idea of Town Meetings and made a connection between this community-based form of government and the communities that have emerged around Open Source Software Applications. Yes, we know, that is quite a jump, but further research has led us to create a new business model for the Lab we've dubbed Open Source Sustainability.

We know that a great many of you we're just looking for lunch, so we apologize if we lost you at the mention of software. What do software applications have to do with vegan and raw food? That is a great question and one that we'll continue to answer over time with each Evolve Detroit! For now, it is about creating a sustainable business that places emphasis on teaching our community how to support themselves and live more locally.

We'll share a basic example: Our focus at the Lab is less upon product, say a healthy vegan meal made with local produce, and more upon our sustainable services like sharing how to make the meal and where to find the produce. At the future-Lab, you'll be able to sit down and enjoy a great meal whenever you want, but you can also walk away with the recipes or come back and learn how to make the same dish at home. Those who choose to learn with us will also learn sustainable practices like composting, recycling and gain a greater sense of community involvement. With our emphasis on teaching the community, a vital aspect of the Lab's day to day business becomes adapting to their needs and interest. The Lab's success depends on it's ability to adapt to the needs of the people.

This concept mirrors many of the ideas behind Open Source Applications and their community, internet users and the IT world. In Open Source, the focus is less upon the application, which is often given away, and more upon services like support, training and maintenance. Due to this the services must be customer facing and are in fact driven by the community of users and their needs. The application must adapt as needs change and the facilitation of this process creates a culture of developers, user groups, discussion forums and peer 2 peer exchange. In this culture, people at all levels of the application lifecycle share and create new versions of the application.

We know that may be overly technical, but like any good yoga sutra, this model is open to many metaphors that when applied can bring deeper understanding. We will share these in the future as well.

We are inviting you to join us in creating the Lab at any level you choose, as a developer or as an end user who simply wants to have a healthy meal made with love or attend a yoga session. You may be an expert at something that needs to be done here and could grow your business by assisting us! After all, through our community outreach programs everyone will know you did it and want to support you because you did! As our natural resources slowly diminish and we become more local beings, the Lab and similar businesses will help facilitate the creation of a more stable and sustainable future.

We think we have sufficiently introduced and given example of where we are headed. This is an exciting new frontier that has huge potential for creating a viable yet flexible model that can be replicated in different communities and for different products and services. Adapting these virtual web-based parameters to the day to day operations of a reality-based business is radical, exciting and our work to advance these ideas in tandem with the urban agriculture movement will bring greater awareness of Detroit as the flagship of sustainable urban renewal.

Did we mention the windmills yet? :)

Shifting Our Drishti
In yoga the line of our gaze, our focus or drishti, is guided by our seat in the position or asana. As one deepens in the practice often the body will change and permit for the shift of the drishti. This week's activity has brought us to a similar point. It was fairly recently that we reduced our food service to 2 days a week in order to put energy into manifesting a full-service and sustainable Lab. With this great step forward it is necessary for us to discontinue our lunch service entirely. This pains us more than you can know. As you can tell by Angela's dishes we love what we do and love to share it with all of you. These coming months of doing catering, vegan and raw food classes and yoga will be wonderful but we will miss seeing you all on a regular basis.

Yes, we will still offer and actually expand our vegan and raw classes,
our yoga schedule, bodywork and other services!

Of course, due to this we'll be increasing the frequency of our vegan and raw food classes (the new classes are up, btw) and other events at the Lab. We'll also begin to facilitate regular discussions on Open Source Sustainability and how it can be advanced and applied in the Lab, the city and in your own home. We will be a regular presence on Saturdays in Eastern Market and you'll also soon begin to see Angela's Dressings in stores across Metro-Detroit! So, though this is a sad repose, it is a step in the right direction for the Lab and our community. We'll soon begin coding our web-based development tools and when it is complete we invite you all to participate in our virtual community as well as at the good old-fashioned Lab on Gratiot!

Gregg Newsom
Open Source Sustainability Development
Yoga, Bodywork, Reiki, NLP

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