How to fund the ODC

Last thursday, we gathered to think about longterm funding for the ODC. There were very different perspectives on the matter but one thing quickly became evident: money loves passion. During the discussion, we always tried to remind ourselves of the reasons behind the ODC. The most important aspect we had to focus on was staring us into our faces: the people.

Even during the introduction, it was obvious that ODC wasn't just about space, but about a community. Hence, the open design city didn't just need a space, materials, tools and a website; it also needed its citizens (image: odc needs). It wasn't just a physical space, but a mental one as well. As such, there were different opinions about the different opportunities for space use (and ways to monetize them). It was quite clear, however, that there were many ways to contribute beside money (image: use of space).

To the ODC citizen, it seemed unnatural to start out by forming a legal entity and artificially shaping the space in a meeting. It's the people who shape systems, create rules and guidelines, build communities and create spaces based on experience.  We had lots of that present: people from Betahaus and Palomar5, various artists, tinkerers, researchers... There were already insights from past experiences which could be used as a foundation (image: odc foundation).

That's why everyone agreed to let the ODC develop naturally for the first few months to see what kind of space use, community and legal entity would evolve naturally. While watching one's own activities at ODC, one might also do some research and look at similar "hackerspaces" around the world. At the same time, we realized that the space itself had needs and that the formation of any kind of structure would require a group of people to support the activities of / within the ODC. These poor bastards would probably not have all the fun it would bring to realize projects within ODC. On the other hand, they might just have the best project: to support and improve the ODC.

That would also mean worrying about money (and as we know that pretty often kills creativity). As worrying goes, the elephant in the room was pink and had bold red letters on the left side (i didn't get to see the right side), which read: "how do we get outside money?" (image: odc community)

The betahaus and palomar5 experiences showed that the interplay of various roles within such a setting may open up perspectives to "traditional" organizations which might be happy to pay for this insight. So the rather obvious answer was: doing workshops and consulting others. This funding model reaffirmed the need for administrative roles within ODC (which in turn led to a discussion about hierarchy and a socio-political discourse on existentialsti- oh, just forget about it).

While thinking about "outside" money, we also addressed the issue of "inside" money, which mainly referred to donations. Come to think of it, have you donated yet? (And if you haven't... why haven't you, you cheap bastard? Oh, come on, just fork up a euro or two already. Save the ciggies and give us the money instead.) We identified "making donating more fun and attractive" as one possible future project. We had some ideas on the spot - just add yours as a comment. We'll collect them in the space.

Strange enough, donating seemed a concept that was preferred over membership or fees for use by almost everyone. Presumably, paying to be allowed into the ODC cheapened the experience. To some, the ODC is "a dream come true", wherein there is transparency and exchange about the environment and the processes. Knowledge gained is to be collected, documented and shared. The way to monetize it is to be open about costs and the value that is created. (image: odc monetization)

That being said, we actually really talked juuuust a bit about actual funding models. Of course, we could use crowd funding (kickstarter anyone?), beg on hands and knees for rich sponsors, give workshops, raise member fees, establish a time or space use model, apply for research funding and federal grants or try to monetize the experience by creating a design publishing house. We did not go much into detail about THAT stuff... which is why we need YOU to sign up for the next session. Since it was generally agreed  that ODC should evolve the next two months, we will need to find a model to finance this initial start period. Join us this week to get to the heart of the matter!

Here is a doodle link - just mark time and date that is most convenient.

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