How does it work?
The Whole Earth project is a unique emergency response platform that facilitates a dialogue between designers, makers, and people working on the ground. Inspired by the independent production of face shields during the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact this had, the Whole Earth project deals with the analysis, consolidation, and creation of networks dedicated to the idea of Think Global, Make Local. It follows the approach of a decentralised production system, with ideas that are shared globally. The concept of open-source and the common creative licence allow blueprints of products to be shared freely as digital data via the internet and independently produced on-site following a demand. This gives rise to the possibility that not just one or a few actors, but a global process can emerge—with people from various backgrounds working on it. The Whole Earth project puts this approach into practice in the context of responding to humanitarian or ecological crises.
Why is it needed?
Working in the humanitarian sector - the refugee crisis in Greece, and an environmental and global network-driven project - Precious Plastic, proved to us that a community of enthusiastic people can efficiently provide good solutions - from products to processes.
Finding these solutions is not that simple and we believe that only a global network of innovators has the view range and collective experience to do so. The target group of the project are people and places who need support and this could be anyone or anywhere; crises can and do occur in any place. But the project is also for the creators who want to use their skills for the better. Every important idea is stored in a database as a global public good; over time, the platform can react quickly to crisis, and solutions can be built upon existing ideas. Freely available knowledge and blueprints enable local production, so crisis solutions can be manufactured regardless of location. Digital fabrication gives people the means to do it.
A global community-based approach is able to analyse situations through local actors and use a global network to find solutions. The result is a globally developed product as a solution to a local problem. Creation defines us as human beings, and the combination of this accumulated knowledge and skills in a global network, together with people trained in these areas, creates a tremendous power of democratised production. This enables independence through a common will to do good. It can even enable people to support themselves by initiating a design process and becoming a local actor. The project does not aim to create individual property, but to be a tool for humanity to help itself. There is great power in design, and perhaps open-source approaches can be the way to fully unleash it. A platform like this can be a new way of thinking, starting with crises and urgent needs and eventually providing answers to the problems in a broader area of our lives.
The platform is the centre of the work. Solutions are developed and applied. The difference to traditional methods is that these solutions are stored in a database on the platform and can be reused for future problems. At the heart of this platform is a community that is responsible for finding new solutions together.