Cosmolocal Reader

Futures Lab presents the Cosmolocal Reader, over 40 cases and examples and 12 essays on planetary mutualization.

We spent two years (through a pandemic!) looking for the best examples and ideas we could find. We reached out to researchers and frontline social innovators from around the world. We gathered example cases and essays, both not previously published and exemplary examples to republish.

Field Ready

The Reader includes diverse framings, which provide space to explore the ideas from a number of perspectives. Instead of locking down and defining cosmolocalism, it provides a space to explore and create the future of it. Different framings include: Design Global Manufacture Local, Open Design Distributed Manufacturing, Maker Cities, Fab Cities, Do-It-Together, Planetary Bricolage, Cosmopolitan Localism, Peer-to-Peer Production, Commons and other ways of understanding our emerging potentials.

Precious Plastic

The Reader is a call for transformation, bold thinking and action.

Our challenges are unprecedented, and the solutions of the past will not solve the problems of the present and future. The essays and examples in the Reader invite us to rethinking our political systems, economies and cultures, and use the collective intelligence and creativity of humanity to address the issues that matter.

The Cosmolocal Reader features 50 chapters documenting and discussing theory and practice. From modular automotive manufacturing, to agri-robotics and peer to peer farming, community driven wind power and housing construction… to biohacking, furniture fabrication, upcycling, prosthetics, and disaster relief, over 40 cases and examples from around the world provide a foundation to consider what exists and what could be, and 12 essays provide thought provoking ideas, reflections, critique and imagination.

​Cosmolocalism stands for a transformation in how we produce the stuff of life. It is a contested space with no guarantees. There are patent wars and appropriations of IP, the challenges in building and financing open source and open design start ups, creating urban commons ecosystems, and a variety of other challenges. But we see possibilities bubbling through the surface. And, the challenges we are facing are asking for bold and transformative thinking and strategy. Today we also hold new technological potentials, creative human labor that can be mutualised, and new modes of economic, political and cultural organisation. The ingredients for change are sitting before us. In this book we bring many of these ingredients together for us to consider how we use these to shape the world we want to become.

The Reader is also available through the community platform. Add yourself to the community to get updates.

This pop up community was created to:

  • provide archives of book versions
  • keep people informed about new book versions
  • let people know about upcoming events (presentations by authors, networking events, conferences)
  • allow people to connect with each other

We hope you find it inspiring and useful.

FuturesLab Enterprise Model 2.0

Over the past year I’ve been struggling with the future of FuturesLab. I started FuturesLab in 2015 as a new approach and strategy to getting ideas out of my head and allowing them to play within the field of collective social intelligence. The experience was amazing and life changing, leading me into new domains of practice. At the same time, by the middle of 2017, I had reached the end of a certain phase of the journey. I had become overwhelmed with the quantity and intensity of the projects. FuturesLab seemed to have become a treadmill of ideas, design processes and experiments, all wonderful, but missing strategic clarity, coherence and a supportive structure. I needed to do a stock take of what FuturesLab has been and could be.

The problems and challenges that I have felt have been:

  • A need for a problem and vision context for the work. A comment Jim Dator made to me (at the Gaming the Future conference) that (paraphrasing) “the world does not need innovation for innovation’s sake, we are all tired and fatigued from an innovation world, disruptive innovation…” a great comment pointing toward the question ‘innovation for what’?
  • A useful structure for people to be members of FuturesLab – how might this work?
  • A collaboration context for FuturesLab, how can FuturesLab partner with organizations to support experimentation for transformation?
  • The question of intellectual property – it does not feel tenable to have no policy in respect to the ideas that people put up on FuturesLab, so some framework that is both aligned with supporting the ‘commons economy’ and which also protects ideators is needed.
  • How might governance and equity work in FuturesLab? If people support it and contribute to it, how does it do justice to these people’s needs, rather than merely capturing value, as so many platforms do?

Over the past year I’ve been struggling with these and other challenges. It has felt at times as if I’m wading through a fog like process of figuring these things out.

As has happened quite a few times before, it was during a 30 min meditation that the idea came to me to subject FuturesLab to the exact same process I have subjected all the ideas within FuturesLab. What does this mean?

For an explanation of how FuturesLab ideas have been run over the past few years, this micro-story provides a good starting point. To summarise, ideas have moved through four phases:

  1. Anticipate
  2. Design
  3. Connect
  4. Evolve


Things start with a vision or an image of how the future could be. This is the seed of an idea. This then gets fleshed out in a design process (usually through co-design conversations). The design is then ‘connected’ through some test. Evolve is the adaptation  of the idea/design, which can entail extinction, mutation, proliferation, replication, etc.

This post launches FuturesLab into a second “2.0” iteration. The 1.0 iteration is documented in the essay. This 2.0 iteration begins with this post, as an anticipation of the future of FuturesLab with the seeds of some ideas. As with all other FuturesLab ideas, this is made public, disseminated and shared across social media. We will also have some kind of public meetings in Melbourne (at the 888 co-working space which is FuturesLab’s current home). This will transition this FuturesLab 2.0 Enterprise Model from an anticipation phase to more fleshed out designs, as people have an opportunity to provide feedback and ideas. This will eventually lead into a ‘connect’ phase, likely through the middle of 2018, where it is hoped the design will lead to an actual enterprise model that will be enacted through law, and through the community (whoever that is at the time), that want to create it.

The context for FuturesLab – a “Thing from the Future” 

I have recently articulated an approach which I call the Anticipatory Experimentation Method (AEM for short).  I see FuturesLab 2.0 as an example of what might be called “vision driven experimentation”. This means that experiments are the way in which we instantiate and bring into the present the preferred future (our vision). In this way FuturesLab is a “thing from the future”, brought into the present in the form of an experiment (with due acknowledgment of Stuart Candy and Jeff Watson’s “Thing From the Future” game).

AF core method - bridge labels - oct 2017

FuturesLab is an experiment for bold experimentation. It is an experiment that comes from the vision of a transformed world. In this case it is experiment through an enterprise model.

In the rest of this post are two key dimensions to consider.

The first is the preferred future that this enterprise is a small piece of (an example of). This provides the guidance and compass for the experiment. As a summary this includes: 

  • A Commons Transition
  • Collaborative Urban Governance
  • Platform Cooperativism
  • Open Cooperativism
  • CBRL / copyfair
  • Cosmo-localization
  • Transnational production networks and a global co-op credit system
  • To Be Wise Technological Beings

Secondly, the actual design elements that comprise the experiment that instantiate the vision at a small scale – the enterprise. Overall, how might the vision be instantiated through small experiments than can scale? 

The overall (summary) design of the enterprise, using the Futures Action Model scaffold of 1) purpose, 2) resources, 3) governance and 4) ecosystem is thus:

FuturesLab’s purpose is to bring together an ecosystem of organisations (gov, business, universities, civil society), with citizen ideators, innovators and experimenters, to generate cross sector partnerships for the ideation and implementation of bold experiments (pieces of the commons transition future), which can be scaled for social impact. FuturesLab is established as a platform cooperative, with sweat / bootstrap equity going to the organisers, with subsidiary decision making by two other classes of members: organisational members and citizen innovators. Futureslab uses membership money to run events that link people and organisations, and gets paid for projects by key partners and clients to facilitate the development of collaborative experimentation.        

The Vision that Drives the FuturesLab Experiment

There are a number of intersecting elements to the vision that inform FuturesLab. These have mostly been implicit over the past 2 years. However over time they have become more explicit and coherent. Here is a brief overview of some of these elements.

Commons Transition

Commons Transition describes a number of shifts. At one level it envisions a society wide commitment to protect our shared ‘commons’, from the atmosphere, oceans, to digital commons, and all the other things that we mutually depend on for our survival and well being. At another level it denotes a transformation in governance, typified by a new political contract where citizens and the state become equal partners in steering polities toward wise transitions (equitable, sustainable), and a new political culture of citizen led leadership and social innovation. At yet a deeper level it envisions a transformation of society, the core operating principles and the paradigmatic boundaries by which we ‘do society’. The best website that spells much of this out is  Darren Sharp and I recently wrote up a commons transition vision and pathway for the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab’s Pathways 2040 project. A summary video was produced depicting it.

Here is a sample:

“The City is a network of ‘Commons’ where local communities organise themselves to manage key resources and systems of provision,120 in collaboration with business and government. The pervasive ideas, models and technologies of P2P—collaboration ‘peer-to-peer’ or ‘personto- person’—have evolved to transform how decisions are made and who is involved. The will of the ‘people’ has been clearly and loudly expressed in actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 80%, as the focus on creation of common value for everyone has trumped creation of private value for a few. The City is ‘post-growth’, ‘post-smart’, ‘post-hierarchy’ and ‘post-pollution’—with the new structures and institutions that make sense for this new world continuing to emerge. People consume less, work for themselves and their communities, and use much use less energy.” From Pathways 2040.

Collaborative Urban Governance for the Commons

Our cities are understood as urban commons. A cross sector collaboration approach allows cities to develop many pathways to creating the common good. A “quintuple helix” model of collaboration is what creates value, nuanced and complex configurations of people, groups and institutions come together to solve problems and find ways to “common”. As Christian Iaione writes:

“…collaborative governance of the commons could be conceptualized as a “quintuple helix.” This is an iteration and expansion of the proposal by Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1998) that we are engaged in a transition away from an industrial society ruled by a partnership between industry and government towards a “triple helix” relationship between universities, industry, and government: a “knowledge society.” In order to spur innovation and development in this knowledge society, universities must not only work with industry and government, but also take on a more significant role in this relationship. While universities have always focused on teaching and research, the Triple Helix Research Group (2014) argues that universities must take on a “third mission” by actively engaging in socio-economic development to “generate new institutional and social formats for the production, transfer, and application of knowledge.”

With this triple helix in mind a “quintuple helix” approach adds a fourth mission for not only universities but all knowledge institutions to take on roles as members of the community and public-private- community/commons partnerships. This reconceptualized “university” works with government, industry, nonprofits, social innovators, and citizens in order to mobilize knowledge and create impact (Bauwens 2015). Collaborative governance of the urban commons requires relation- ships among citizens, knowledge institutions, civil society organizations, private businesses, and other groups.” From “The CO-City: Sharing, Collaborating, Cooperating, and Commoning in the City“.

Platform Cooperativism

A world where platform cooperativism is the norm. Platform Cooperativism is an approach to enterprise ownership and decision making. When people contribute to the development of a community or enterprise, they are decision makers and co-owners. Mutualism is a central philosophy of the new economy – to create value for each other, organizationally and socially. 

“a vision for online platforms that share democratic ownership and governance among the people who rely on them, especially those who contribute their labor and personal data.” (From the Internet of Ownership).

Open Cooperativism

Open Cooperativism is a deep solidarity approach to cooperative enterprise. It means that cooperative enterprises are not just profit oriented toward members, but form transnational chains of solidarity and support within a broader economic and political project for commoning.

“1. coops need to be statutorily (internally) oriented towards the common good

2. coops need to have governance models including all stakeholders

3. coops need to actively co-produce the creation of immaterial and material commons

4. coops need to be organized socially and politically on a global basis, even as they produce locally.” P2P Foundation

CBRL / copyfair

CBRL / copy fair intellectual property systems are commonplace and operational. There is an internal value exchange globally that potentiates commons based enterprises. Revenue comes in for ideators and designers when commercial entities want to use something.

“a type of licensing or agreement that aims to re-introduce the principle and practice of reciprocity in markets that use mutualized knowledge (commons), by regulating contributions to these commons for those that commercialize it.” P2P Foundation


Cosmo-localization and the circular economy are quickly advancing and maturing – becoming dominant and driving down energy use, resource impacts, costs – providing millions of opportunities for people and enterprises to create value. Cities are scaled incubators of Cosmo-localization.

“cosmo-localism describes the dynamic potentials of our emerging globally distributed knowledge and design commons in conjunction with the emerging (high and low tech) capacity for localized production of value. It exists today in many quickly maturing forms such as FarmHack and L’Atelier Paysans, communities that manufacture their own farm equipment, AbilityMate, a company that supports people with disabilities to design and manufacture their own prosthetics and assistive devices, Wikihouse, a foundation which supports people to design and build sustainable housing, RepRap, an open source organization that designs 3D printers designed to replicate themselves, and OSvehicle, a company that supports the open source manufacture of vehicles. Cosmo-localism takes place when easily accessible designs are paired with localized and distributed production capabilities using new breakthrough technologies that facilitate local manufacture / production.” From “Cosmo-localization and leadership for the future


Transnational production networks and a global co-op credit system

A co-op credit system straddles the planet – with co-ops trading value both locally and globally, that drives the endogenization of the exchange of value. The credit system gives bonuses for those that help to run and expand the system. The system helps to build and drive a commons economy that is equitable and ecologically in balance. 

“A phyle is a confederation — which is to say, a network with no higher structure — of conversational communities with their own companies, which share a series of common funds in a transnational space: basically, “social security” and mutual economic support systems.” From David de Ugarte 

“As the cooperative and platform cooperative movements matured, they became more profitable for member-workers, and a strong competitor to the corporate-capitalist incumbents. With the crisis, people flock to the cooperative form. Alternative currencies had developed, increasingly high tech, leveraging block chain and other technologies. The global knowledge and design commons had matured even more. Through open cooperativism strategies a resurgent transnational sector called ‘The Global Coop’ emerges. It helps to transnationalize value exchange. Coop currencies trade across the globe, creating a planetary sub-economy that flourishes amid the economic mess left over by neo-liberalisms GFC wreck. Institutions that support Commons Based Reciprocity Licenses (CopyFair) provide ways to maintain the strength of design and knowledge commons that underpin The Global Coop. The Global Coop, by virtue of capturing and circulating value, is able to increasingly build and maintain the open global design commons that increasingly potentiates distributed localized production.” From “Cosmo-Localization for the Anthropocene Transition

Wise Technological Beings

I recently wrote an article in The Conversation where I argued that, despite the various anxieties and challenges with technology, we must not reject technology, but rather mature in our capacity as technological beings.

we need to ask the question: what does it mean to be a responsible, mature and wise technological being? 


The Design Elements of the Experiment

Given the vision for the future, the challenge is then to bring this future into the present –  at a very small scale – through an experiment, in this case the FuturesLab 2.0 Enterprise Model.

Design Elements

FuturesLab as a Platform Cooperative

  • For the people who build the co-op, it is a platform cooperative, using a contributory system to allocate value. When people make contributions for things the community / organization needs, and when there is an agreement on the value of a work, e.g. project, task etc. – there is a reciprocation. As people fulfil tasks, project and roles, they are rewarded proportionally as owners. Basically, people are rewarded for building the enterprise. Therefore the first membership type would be member-owners

FuturesLab as Platform for Collaborative Urban Governance

  • A second type of member would specifically be to generate cross sector partnerships and meant for supporting collaborative urban governance processes (university, gov, community, business etc). The point of having this membership class is to bring organizations together that would not ordinarily come together to discuss commons transitions and experiments. These members would not be “owners”, however, they would have some decision making capacity in terms of the direction of the enterprise focus. The might be called member-collaborators.    

FuturesLab Empowers the Citizen Innovator  

  • To realise Iaione’s vision of quintuple helix urban commoning, citizen innovators  must have a foundational role. This third class of membership would be citizen innovators who drive particular social innovation processes. They are the active ingredient, the catalysts. They are also content contributors, that add to the cosmo-local body of knowledge. These members are able to contribute ideas and run experiments via FuturesLab, however they do not own any part of FuturesLab. They would however hold the license for their ideas as a CBRL/copyfair. This means that other co-ops can use their IP, but commercial entities must pay. The majority payment goes to the ideator and the minority payment goes to FuturesLab. FuturesLab acts as the steward of the ideas, designs and experiments, promoting the ideas and protecting the ideas if the need arises. These would not be member owners, but would have some decision making power for their membership group.   




Democratic Decision Making, The Global Co-op, and FuturesLab as part of Phyle  

  • These three classes of membership would use an online democratic system of governance. However, it is possible that the systems would be separate, have sub-governance capabilities, as each of them would deal with different issues. A governance board could be created that brought together representatives from all three. 
  • FuturesLab would need to explore the broader co-operative ecosystem distributed globally, that can form part of a co-op currency or credit or value exchange system. In this sense FuturesLab becomes a member of a transnational value exchange system, and able to use a coin or credit method to provide and purchase services from other co-ops around the world, forming a solidarity economy system.
  • FuturesLab as a transnational “phyle” would explore what other organizations around the world have similar and overlapping commitments and values and where complementarity is needed. FuturesLab might fit within a broader umbrella phyle – the members of FuturesLab may be distributed globally, but held together in a phyle like transnational solidarity co-op enterprise system of membership.


So what would FuturesLab actually do?

So we have all kinds of visions and design elements floating about, what would FuturesLab be designed to actually do?

FuturesLab’s purpose would be to bring together an ecosystem of organisations (gov, business, universities, civil society), with citizen ideators, innovators and experimenters, to generate cross sector partnerships for the ideation and implementation of bold experiments (pieces of the commons transition future), which can be scaled for social impact. While urban settings are an ideal place for this to happen, because of proximity, the same can happen for projects for the global commons. For example, the Pax Pacifica project was conceptualised for a commons which can be understood as peace between nations (e.g. USA and China). Cross sector partnerships for the ideation and implementation of bold experiments for the protection and production of commons is needed at many scales.

FuturesLab would be established as a platform cooperative, with sweat / bootstrap equity going to the organisers, with subsidiary decision making by two other classes of members: organisational members and citizen innovators. It is envisioned that a core group of establishers would bootstrap the enterprise and gain some sweat equity in the process. This core group, once project work began coming in, would also run project for partners and clients.

Futureslab would use membership money to run a lean organisation and host events and processes that link people and organisations. Money would come in through projects generated by the labour of the platform coop members, by key partners and clients to facilitate the development of collaborative experimentation.

Futures lab started off as a personal journey and personal process of applying principles of open innovation and open foresight. The results of this experiment with my life were incredibly positive. And yet, I found myself on on ideas and prototyping treadmill,  requiring a context and a support system, and wanting to cultivate a community of co-innovators.

Futures lab 2.0  provides context and organisational grounding to what it means to do ideation, design and experimentation. The purpose of futures lab thus becomes

To cultivate communities of co-creators who can launch bold experiments in transformation for the commons, that are aligned to visions of deep ecological sustainability and social justice. 


Commons Hospitality Network meets AnyShare

Late last year I posted an idea for a commons hospitality network that Sharon Ede and I had discussed. It was just at the concept stage and we were just gauging interest and useful feedback.

Then, a few weeks later, Eric Doriean visited me in Footscray to demo AnyShare for me – the new “build your own sharing platform” service.

As we were discussing potential uses for AnyShare – he suggested “why not use it for that idea you just posted”.

I said: “what idea?” not sure what he meant.

“You know”, he said, “for the hospitality thing” [I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist].

“Oh…. Oh!!” I replied… “I hadn’t really considered this”.

So we agreed to give it a try. He needed to work through a few bugs with the new release of AnyShare, and then created the website.

It was yet another example of what I’ve been experimenting with on FuturesLab. If and when I release the idea to the world and my networks, the world / networks (they / we) become the larger problem solving unit. A solution invariably boomerangs back, propelling the innovation forward. So here we are folks, from concept to design in a few short months.

This stage is really design to connect. Having started at “anticipate”, Eric quickly propelled into a design and connect process. Design via AnyShare parameters, and connect  via peoples’ experience with it.

Lets see how it goes.



The Commons Game Proposal (version 3+) for Feedback

Ever since being invited by the Commons Strategy Group to attend the Economics of the Commons conference in Berlin in 2013, I have been contemplating how the commons as a message and practice can be developed and extended. How can we encourage collective action and a ‘commons movement’ to better govern shared resources for the benefit of all? How can we exploit the power of the internet and online games in contributing to a ‘commons movement’?

The basic idea of the commons game is the development of a social process that rewards individuals for completing a “commoning act”, as defined by the collective group. Individuals are rewarded for their actions through the allocation of credits. Participants can use these credits within a ‘commons’ marketplace to access and offer services and goods with other commoners.

Potential Software/Platforms:

I have found two systems that, in combination, may provide the required functionality for the proposed game.

1)    Co-budget:

Co-budget is a good system for deciding on commoning acts through a democratic process as it allows users to suggest and decide on the commoning acts that will be funded.

Thus, Co-budget solves the problem of how to decide and reward commoning acts in the commons game system.

2)  Neeboz:

Neeboz is an online marketplace that encourages the sharing of skills and resources within local neighbourhoods through the allocation of credits for trade.

As a marketplace, it rewards users for offering and exchanging skills/services/resources in their neighbourhood by providing credits (which they can then use to access the resources of their neighbourhood). This credit system ensures that people can hold the value of a service or offer they provided in credits, and use these to elicit a service from a third person.

Neeboz tracks the credits and all other marketplace activity so that it may be gamified.


Co-budget and Neeboz would be used to run a small-scale test of the Commons Game. This is how it could work:

•    Develop a crowd fund campaign, asking for $10 to play the game. (the game is time limited and would go for 6-10 weeks)

•    Start with a modest target of 100-250 players. We could scale it up later once we became more confident the system works well. We would likely start with Melbourne to do a small scale test, then Australia wide to reach bigger numbers.

•    If the game were funded, the money would go into social media, administration, and gaming support.

•    Each of the game players would be allocated a set number of Co-budget credit. (to know about how co-budget works, see this video).

•    Players would use the Co-budget system to propose and vote on commoning acts.

•    Players would fund any of the commoning acts they want to.

•    Once a commoning act is funded, the proposer would carry out the commoning act, and would be rewarded with the credits they wanted for that act. (for example if they promised to clean up the local creek for 50 credits – if and when the act was funded, then they would get that credit as soon as the creek was cleaned / they provide a short video or photos of their commoning act).

•    That credit would then be available to use on the trading platform Neeboz.

•    Players would use the Neeboz platform to trade and exchange skills/resources, and receive bonus points for various categories (eg. most diverse trading / highest quantity of trading, etc).

•    People could use their Neeboz points to put back into the Co-budget system, to fund more commoning acts. Thus, technically a player could focus on providing services on the Neeboz platform to earn credit to fund Co-budget commoning. Commoning acts are verified by a twitter or blog post by the doer with a picture or video of the act.

Jodie and I are building a team around this idea with the expectation of carrying out this experiment in 2017. Please post feedback, questions and contact me to become involved.

Have a look at this visual representation for more clarity:


Commons Hospitality Network


This is an idea that Sharon Ede and I worked up earlier this year, but just posting now. The main idea of a Commons Hospitality Network is for an easy to implement and functional hospitality network that serves the purposes of:

1.     lowering travel costs for commons activists and advocates

2.     helps build relationships between people in the commons space across states and countries

3.     helps build knowledge of what is happening ‘here and there’ such that inter-state and trans-national coordination and collaboration for commoning projects becomes easier.

How it works:

A group of commons activists and advocates who have spare rooms in their homes sign up to the network.

Ideally we would have 3-6 homes in places like Melbourne, Brisbane, Wellington, Jakarta, Dili etc. where people could potentially stay without having to pay for accommodation (but perhaps contributing for food).

(note: starting scope would be Oceania to be both culturally diverse and inclusive without trying to take on too much).

When a person from one city wants to stay in another, they would contact an ‘ambassador’ from that city that will help facilitate the stay.

The explicit quid pro quo is that the guest needs to develop a (short!) report, presentation or workshop that they can give to the host and their community. Thus, there is a built-in and agreed upon knowledge exchange so that people can become increasingly aware of non-proximate commoning activities.

After the presentation, report or workshop, the guest also needs to give the ambassador their presentation or report (why are they traveling and what are they doing?), which then gets shared with the whole hospitality network. Thus every time someone stays with someone else, everyone knows and everyone gets an update on activities happening. (A video of the presentation might also be made and made available to the network.)


Ideally several people would be an ambassador in a given city. (But start with one)

They would find, from among their networks, several possible places a guest could stay on a short term basis (from one night to up until a week).

Ambassadors may or may not have rooms of their own to offer – their role is to find accommodation for the guest.

The contact details of Ambassadors would be made to the wider network, but not the details or locations of the host venues. When a request is received, the Ambassador(s) then tap their local network of existing offers to determine current opportunities.


Host venues would ideally be near where presentations are most likely to be held, or at least within walking distance of good public transport networks.

At a minimum, the guest must have their own room. This is to minimise any disturbance from either guest or host, as the guest is likely to be managing a degree of travel-weariness and needing sound sleep and focus in order to deliver.


Does their have to be a purpose for their visit ie. in the country or state for a specific event?

Or can it be a network people can travel in because they wish to, so long as they contribute something of knowledge to the host community (a workshop, presentation)?

How is this information stored and who has access to view or change it?

LEGAL: This is an information exchange only, which seeks to make more systematic informal arrangements of this nature which are already occurring – the organisers of this network and ambassadors accept no liability. The onus is on the guest and host to ensure both are happy with arrangements etc etc


  • Visiting guests pay money to stay in hotel rooms.
  • Locals have rooms for guests.
  • Local organisations need funds.
  • Guests could stay with locals, either at no cost, or donating all or part of what they would have spent on a hotel to their host organisation.

Using Neeboz and Co-budget to Run the Commons Game

This post follows on from previous posts that have detailed the design of the commons game (and assumes some prior knowledge of the idea).

The basic idea of the commons game is a social process that rewards people with credit when they produce a commoning act. Players can then use this credit in a ‘market’ of players to exchange services or goods. The gamification aspect of it is in rewarding players that carry out commoning acts, or players that fund commoning acts, or that exchange credit on the market.

One of the challenges in the design is to simply find the systems and platforms that can functionally run the game. Enter Co-budget and Neeboz.


Recently I can across Co-budget on a trip to Wellington NZ to find out about Enspiral. Mix Irving gave me a patient and in depth tutorial. I was really impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of the system.

Co-budget is the system that many Enspiral ventures use for sourcing and allocating funds. It is like participatory budgeting, it is also like internal crowdfunding. It is a good system for rewarding commoning acts because it allows any user in the system to suggest a commoning act, and then relies on voluntary and distributed contributions for the suggestions to get funded.

Thus co-budget solves the problem of how to decide and reward commoning acts in the commons game system.


Neeboz is an Australian based platform that incentivizes a sharing economy within local neighbourhoods. It was founded by Jodie Hampson and was established in Melbourne as a testing ground for its development.

Neeboz has some very good features built into it. First, it has a map that lists users by geographical area (if users wish to be listed). Secondly, it asks users to list several services they can provide or resources they can share (users earn bonus credits for providing this), and allows users to contact each other via the secure platform (this acting as a social network). Thirdly it has as credit system, meaning that people can hold the value of a service or offer they provided in Neeboz dollars, and use this to elicit a service from a third person.

Neeboz therefore solves the problem of a platform that can act as a market place, elicits peoples service / goods offers, has a needs board, can track credit, and can track all activity so that it may be gamified.


Co-budget and Neeboz would be used to run a small scale test of the commons game. This is how it would work.

  • We would develop a crowd fund campaign, perhaps asking for $10 to play the game. (the game is time limited and would go for 6-10 weeks)
  • Jodie’s target for critical mass is 1000 users. We would start with a modest target of 250 players. We could scale it up later once we became more confident the system works well. We would likely start with Melbourne to do a small scale test, then Australia wide to reach bigger numbers.
  • If the game were funded, the money would go into social media, administration, and gaming support.
  • Each of the game players would be allocated a set number of Co-budget credit. (to know about how co-budget works, see this video).
  • Players would use the co-budget system to propose co-budget buckets. These buckets would represent commoning acts. It may be that existing community programs use this (such as community groups needing help). And group based commoning would also be good to do (but figuring out how to do this in the platforms is trickier).
  • Players would fund any of the buckets they want to.
  • Once a bucket is funded, the bucket proposer would carry out the commoning deed, and would be rewarded with the co-budget credits they wanted for that deed. (for example if they promised to clean up the local creek for 50 credit – if the bucket was funded then they would get that credit as soon as the creek was cleaned.)
  • That credit would then be available to use on the trading platform Neeboz.
  • Players would use the Neeboz platform to trade and exchange things, and get points or stages for various categories (most diverse trading / highest quantity of trading, etc).
  • People could use their Neeboz dollars to put back into the Co-budget system, to fund more commoning acts. Thus technically a player could focus on providing services on the neeboz platform to earn credit to fund co-budget commoning. Commoning acts are verified by a post by the doer with a picture of the act.

Diagrammatic description


Livelyhood: designing through narrative experience

FuturesLab will be running a design/connect session with the Livelyhood community, to test their Livelyhood System with friends, colleagues and the interested public.

The event will be held at Ross House off of Lt. Flinders Lane on October 11th at 6PM. RSVP here.


Livelyhood is a utopian community economy project. The aim is to build an alternative economy that meets the needs of participants in a way that is as joyful, fair and sustainable as possible, whilst still being pragmatic. We want to demonstrate what’s possible in terms of joyful work, self-organisation, sustainable low-tech lifestyles, egalitarian economics, community building and conflict resolution. The current consumer capitalist system is actively damaging for people and the planet, we need alternatives that can really show what’s possible, especially in terms of economics. There is a huge number of people who would happily opt out of the current system if there was a viable option available to them.

We’re talking about bringing intentional communities to the suburbs, without us all having to live together. A ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’ economic model that actually works, that is easy for people to get involved with at different levels of engagement.

Some of the sorts of things a community might share include regular home-cooked meals. home-grown/made food (including vegies, fruit, poultry, fish, honey, bread, eggs, cheeses, preserves and more), housing/bike/car/appliance/furniture/computer repairs, child-care, massage, mending, books, dvds, tools, toys, workshops, and recreational community events.

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Empower West: Citizen Policy Action Platform

Empower West is a platform for citizens of Maribyrnong and surrounding area to propose policy ideas to to be enacted as law. Once a proposal is put forward Empower West members can deliberate on the idea and vote on the idea. If the idea is voted on and passes, then people are invited to meet in a live + online format and can discuss the details of the policy proposal. Once a policy is developed it is then presented to council for discussion. While it is being discussed with council, Empower West can continue to build support for the policy.

Empower West is a social learning and action process to empower citizens to shape their cities in partnership with government.

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Designing a Melbourne Assembly of the Commons

Over the past several years a number of calls have been made to develop better coordination and advocacy for promoting and building a commons economy and cities as commons.

A few years ago David Ronfeldt put out a proposal to create “Chambers of Commons” which would be commons based business coalitions / networks similar to Chambers of Commerce, but with a commons ethos.

In lockstep Michel Bauwens then made the proposal to create “Assemblies of the Commons” which would be citizen based models for promoting, advocating and coordinating for commons at a regional level.

More recently, Assemblies of the Commons have emerged in France, as chronicled by Maia Dereva. She details what they are, why they operate and how they function.

All three of these are discussed in the recent publication The City as Commons: a Policy Reader. (see: pages 71, 144, 150).

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The Futures Action Model game – connecting it

On the 13th of July, Gareth Priday, Bridgette Engeler Newbury and I got a chance to finally test the Futures Action Model game that Gareth had designed back in feb 2016.

We beat the drums and invited as many people as we could through the FuturesLab group and word of mouth. While I only anticipated about a dozen people, in all we had 22 people and a full house!

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