First meeting: soup and spelling

DevSurplus harvest #1
The harvest from our first meeting.

Our first wednesday night meeting was very inspiring and brought a lot of insights. After having answered the question “Why are we here?”, which led to different but alike motivations, the following question arose:

“Is DevSurplus a place for everybody who feels invited to contribute? In other words: is there only place for digital development? Or also for other disciplines of work?”

We agreed that we somehow should cater to those who feel the calling to join, but also agreed to see DevSurplus as the cockpit / headquarters where all hands on work is identified for those wanting to take ownership. DevSurplus will function as the brains of the community, starting up projects and collaborations, and functioning as their backbone. We will host open spaces, and might do hackathons, but we expect those taking ownership of projects to take their required actions to the streets and into their own homes/workspaces.

We then kicked off with a little brainstorm around the concept of a hypothetical “local” project, to see if we can further clarify the DevSurplus process.  Arlo asked what we could do for the “soup for homeless people” project, which was discontinued at some point.

“Should we go to the initiators of the project? And if they wouldn’t support it any more, would we do it ourselves?”

Here we agreed that whatever we do, we have to put any projects purpose above those who want to carry it, so it would supercede anybody’s ego. And that involves inviting anybody who might be interested to become a potential project co-owner. Including those attempting anything alike, be it in the past or in the future. Always try to expand the group to increase the potential for success.

“And what if a project would generate money? Is that allowed? How do we deal with that?”

This topic had us hooked for long time. We felt that if we don’t clearly have an answer, or a philosophy to deal with these questions, we might get overtaken by individuals trying to see DevSurplus as a way to generate income.
The current paradigm with regards to money involvement in do-good organisations might be summed up as this: “It is ok to make money off idealistic endeavours, because it might help the sustainability, and might lead to efficiency in the process.”
But we saw that this type of reasoning was born from a non-sustainable system of expansion and economics. We felt we needed a paradigm shift.

“What if we can enforce another payment model, like the pay it forward principle? Where each person or entity uses their skills and strengths to reciprocate any help given by DevSurplus?”

Models like these are coming into fashion more and more. Gifting circles ask participants to step into the circle with one or more qualities/services they are willing to offer to those in need within the circle, and to take this philosophy with them once they leave.
Wouldn’t it be very clear and inspiring to all involved with DevSurplus that we work from this pay it forward perspective? But not only that. Whatever originated from DevSurplus, will be kept in a digital paper trail because we use a method called “harvesting”. And everything generated within the DevSurplus sphere is testimony and evidence to our philosophy. This could guarantee avoidance of abuse.
We do understand that times might come when side projects are started by individuals to generate income for themselves, but we have no objection to that. As long as they do so outside of DevSurplus, and respect our philosophy. Abuse of our resources or open source initiatives will be dealt with by the tribe of elders, and might lead to exposure and discussion in on- or offline media.

“But what about donations and such? We will make costs when organising events.”

Surely we must be able to accept donations, but only if they are used to cover expenses, or to kickstart projects. But the latter would be decided by DevSurplus as a whole, so no single person or interest group would have access to or claim funds without backing.
We understand that this grey area is in need of specification, be it in principles or down right rules. We are of course open to suggestions.

“And who decides what is a good project or organisation?”

We understood that matters such as these can be discussed by a group within DevSurplus best described as a “tribe of elders”. And, as with any group within DevSurplus, those who feel a calling to contribute can join.

That kind of sums it up, but for those still reading and interested in the ‘spelling’ part, please contact Arlo, as he was strongly advocating the correct use of spelling throughout our process ;)

On to next wednesday!