Open Eco Center Network:

A Social & Ethical Enterprise Proposal
By Richard Nelson, founder of the Sola Roof Community

This paper presents an initiative to BUILD a sustainable future and you are invited to team up with our Sola Roof Community to create a Social Enterprise Network with a mission to make Eco Living a reality for all to experience. I propose that the pioneers who are working at the leading edge of our community will establish Open Eco Centers in which they will live and work. Initially there will be a few associated residential projects and then, in a brief time, there will emerge hundreds and soon thousands of these Eco Living projects in a Open Eco Center Network, called the OEC Net all around the world. It is a great challenge to find investors that will accept the business philosophy that would empower this network, which includes a commitment to Open Source disclosure (no secretes) and the Pay It Forward concept that would shift "profits" to people in need rather then amassing the returns in the hands of the investors. Our projects can be very profitable - however our goal is not to maximize the concentration of profit but to balance the profit objective with the purpose of enriching the users of the technology.

It is also difficult for all of us to understand how a collaborative network of Open Eco Center and other kinds of Eco Centers (that can have educational, commercial or ecotourism purpose) will work together in the form of a financial "cooperative". I envision a completely flat organization with no concentration of power or money to any one of the Open Eco Center (no Head Office, Licensor, or Franchisor) but rather our associated enterprise would make voluntary contributions of profits towards cooperative work and joint ventures. The OEC Net will foster unity in diversity; a community where the individual person is empowered to contribute across the entire network and where each program or project originates from the grass roots and will be organized and operated without a fixed or formal structure. All the activities will be merit based and coordinated on a real time basis with support determined by the decisions of individual persons and individual enterprises to "subscribe" to support any particular initiative and with the for-profit OEC Net directing "Honor Payments" to meet any financial gap that may exist in the local funding available for each initiative.

The activities in the network can have many qualities, ranging from non-profit to commercial and will attract different kinds of financial income including “ordinary Exchange Economy earnings” that derive commercial profit from supplying services and products; but our Social Ethical Enterprise? standard will not permit income generated by monopoly and proprietary practices that are typical of the exploitive methods of the Command Economy. The Pay It Forward and Honor Payment practices are financial mechanisms of the new Gift Economy, which will become very important in the future. Initiatives can spontaneously arise from any individuals, teams or Eco Centers, who thereby become the "leaders" within the worldwide network, who lead not by command but by inspiration. All persons working in the OEC Net are effectively self-employed and “gift” their personal time and resources to initiatives that attract their interest and maximize their productivity. Avoiding the concentration of profits and power is an innovation that is particularly important to retain the purity of our vision as this movement grows and begins to manage large financial and economic resources. We should avoid the "administration" of Pay It Forward funds; and instead establish Internet based direct funding links between OEC Net people and the activities they are supporting.

This OEC Net will be self organizing and self directed from the grass roots level. Thus although we may build a leadership group at an individual Open Eco Center we cannot elect ourselves to be the "world headquarters" but rather we would simply make an effort to be a center of excellence and thereby attract the support of our activities by the larger OEC Net community because of the quality of our work and the results that we are producing.

Open Eco Center projects at university or school campus could invest in the design and construction of residential Eco Living facilities and the educational institution could underwrite the start up of the operation of the facility, with the understanding that the Eco Living project on their campus can become entirely self-funding and could become a center of excellence in the OEC Net and thus provide continuously expanding network of resources for collaboration. If such a project is one of the first Eco Centers to be built in a region, then its goal is to also give birth to other projects - some of which may be similar and others that may be specialized in others aspects of sustainable development or which may grow to provide independent leadership to the worldwide movement.

Below are some thoughts about building Eco Living residences on the properties of private foundations and Universities or Colleges and how these projects can become catalysts for change across a worldwide network of Open Eco Centers?.

Macro economic overview:

For the purpose of generating public awareness, and for providing educational opportunities for students at all levels and for training and certification of professionals, it is important to establish Eco Living residences at every College and University Campus. Each facility would be operated as an experiential “living laboratories”; a residential facility where the practical day to day details and operational knowledge of Eco Living can be developed, published and publicized. A for-profit, residential training centre can provide students, researchers and guests (academic, business and professional visitors) with short term encounters or the opportunity of living for some time with the technology – so that out of such experience a detailed knowledge base will be gradually built, which is the most important asset of Open Eco Center Network. Our goal is to openly and fully share the knowledge base, even as it is developing, with everyone and we are certain that this will be the key to the success of the OEC Net as a Social & Ethical Enterprise initiative.

Our worldwide marketing plan is founded on the assumption that every university and corporate campus, town and city “vision centers”, eco developments, and visitor/learning centers at major tourist sites and natural attractions should all build, as soon as possible, Eco Living residential projects that will assist the people that attend and visit these institutions and attractions to begin to understand the transition that is needed to begin to build a sustainable future. For example, an Eco Living residence that students and teachers can live in, on a rotation – so that all gain a first hand experience with the technologies that will form an important part of their educational curriculum.

We cannot rebuild our centers of learning or our cities overnight but we can place Eco Living projects in the heart of our strategic sites so that the exposure to a sustainable lifestyle is accessible to most people; thus the greater portion of the population can begin to envision and participate in the profound transformation of our built environment over the years ahead. It is especially important to reach young people and give them the knowledge and the tools to BUILD a sustainable future.

We will work worldwide with collaborative teams using advanced Internet collaboration and communication technology, conferences, workshops and distance learning systems that will grant various levels of certification. The most advanced Internet tools will be acquired and developed to build a vast user community of home and residential community owners, and also to enlist individuals from Private Enterprise, Educational and Research Organizations, NG Os? and Governments of all levels - that will collaborate in an Open Source environment. This collective effort will accelerate our work through the learning curve stages and permit the rapid diffusion of our products. This network will include certified professional representatives as well as qualified volunteer enthusiasts who have the capacity to provide technical support a multitude of projects. Studies will be coordinated that are designed to test, prove and demonstrate that Open Eco Design practices are superior to conventional building construction and show our climate control methods to be successful in each particular application and climate region. This methodology will facilitate a vast number of third party sponsored projects that will directly fund the development and construction of Demonstration Projects and which may result in subsequent commercialization investment in our Social Enterprise Network (SE Net).

Sola Roof Tech enables Eco Living Residential Projects

It is important that the Open Eco Center projects will demonstrate residential technology that is affordable and provides effective solar and ecological life support technology that can be accessible to the poorest of communities. The Sola Roof Building System can deliver value for money that cannot be matched by any other methods of building construction. Home owners, as soon as they are aware of the difference between a conventional residential investment and a Sola Roof investment, will universally opt for buying the Sola Roof home or residential project. Open Eco Centers? will be marketing an Eco Living lifestyle that has all the advantages of modern living without the drawbacks.

Furthermore our Social Enterprise Network will facilitate our workers to become owners of Sola Roof certified homes and communities and Open Eco Centers? will offer hands on training and certification to professionals in the building sector. The Open Eco Centers? will support not-for-profit projects; including collaboration with Habitat for Humanity and the development of emergency relief Eco Villages that can be rapidly deployed to not only provide shelter but to deliver comfort, energy, food and water resources to dislocated communities. OEC Net will work with sustainable development initiatives by Governments, such as the present UK and EU funding for development in Africa, which is intended to assist communities struggling with poverty and the AIDS crisis.

Not only is the investment competitively priced for the features that are delivered – but the Sola Roof home or residential project is an investment that is able produce returns that are very substantial - a combination of income and savings that can more than return the capital cost. The value of food, water, energy saved on air conditioning and other benefits is high enough to more than pay back the cost of the project in five to fifteen years depending on the optimization of crop, energy and water production for commercial value. Or, if this is not the goal, then at least the residents gain the security that comes with the self reliant living in a Sola Roof home. Thus, government and societal goals for reduced resource depletion, pollution and CO 2 generation can be achieved without the depravation or sacrifice and without regulations to force people in the direction of the social and environmental goals. These are business developments that actually build environmental benefits over time. Their operation serves to clean up and restore the environment to its natural, pure, non toxic state.

The Eco Living residential project is a model for Garden Homes? and Eco Villages that once experienced will be found to be the most comfortable and beautiful spaces in which to live. An Eco Living residence on the Campus will be the most attractive place to stay and the quality of life that is possible in such a positive, uplifting environment leads to stress reduction, healing and general wellbeing. The Eco Living environment is therapeutic and it is an advantage for the recovery of illness, addictions, depression and emotional disorders. Persons with Environmental Sensitivities should build non-toxic Eco Living communities in which to live full time. The goal is to create a dwelling and lifestyle that will nurture our greatest potential - a sacred space.