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The Open Source – SELRS Update January 24, 2012

Posted by gfsa in Community Stories.

“Most people working in the non-profit sector would love it if their organization could do more with its existing staff and volunteer resources. We often care passionately about the work we do, but lament the wasteful ways we have to do things. Wasted hours, wasted money, wasted contacts, and wasted opportunities! We’re tired of being frustrated by the way things are. We want to make a difference, a bigger difference.” – Joseph Murray, PhD

It’s safe to say that this is how most – if not all – of us feel as members of the GFSA Network. And it certainly rings true for the coordinators and advisors of the SELRS project. Our asset mapping exercise has helped us meet many dynamic and committed individuals who helped us find some pretty cool ideas, initiatives and technology. We want to share one special one because its potential for helping us do what we do is quite amazing.

What we’ve found isn’t necessarily new – as a practice. But in terms of technology, it’s one of those hidden gems that make us wonder how we ever got along without it.

“Open source” is collective power in action. The power of a worldwide community of highly skilled technology experts that build, share and improve the very latest computer software together – then make it available to everyone. The term open source was coined in 1998 to remove the ambiguity in the English word ‘free’ and it continues to enjoy growing success and wide recognition. Originally coined in 1998, the term open source came out of the free software movement, a collaborative force going strong since the dawn of computing in the 1950s. This early community was responsible for the development of many of the first operating systems, software and, in 1969, the Internet itself.¹

The open-source community is thriving and today boasts some of the best brains in the business. The aim has not changed: free systems and software should be available to everybody, wherever they are. A great, although sometimes “geeky”, documentary on the Open Source movement is Revolution OS… take the time to watch, it’s a great story!

So, why is this relevant to the SELRS Project? Well, one of our deliverables is to share all of the information we’ve gathered in our asset mapping exercise and we’ve been wondering how best to do this; what format, what cost, how much, how to manage, etc. For a group without legal form nor reliable funding we can’t exactly take the conventional path (aka MicroSoft or other private service providers) – and we’re trying to set an example here for collaboration across a network. So, what better solution than Open Source? From complete operating systems to Windows-compatible office and network management software we can run high-calibre and effective organizations and projects at flea market prices.

Gathering for the few remaining Guiding Group meetings of this first phase of the SELRS project, we need to choose the right mix of available technology to share our framework and resources that will grow sustainable, equitable, local and regenerative systems for food. Whatever we end up with needs to make the most efficient use of limited resources at our disposal. Perhaps the open source solution can grow us in the right direction.

Submitted by Rene Michalak and Brenda Barritt




1. Rene Michalak - March 10, 2012

‘Occupy’ as a business model: The emerging open-source civilisation


2. SELRS at the Lake – SELRS Update | Growing Food Security in Alberta - April 1, 2012

[…] & Awareness – implementing open source technology to build more effective online communications and project […]

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