Bold Steps on Land Tenure

Introduction: At this time, we are developing the conceptual and legal structure for holding land, with a particular focus on post-scarcity, resilient communities. This applies immediately to Factor e Farm – to be preserved as a site of human heritage for all generations to come – along the lines of post-scarcity, resilient community creation. This definition is important because it helps to clarify our intent. The discussion also touches on the social contract for the community. If the Resilient Community Construction Set works, viral replication may follow. We hope that the legal structure under development may serve as a blueprint for many other communities. We look forward to creating a network of such communities as locations where full post-scarcity economic patterns can be developed and practiced. This is an invitation for others to become involved in developing the world’s first, replicable, open source, post-scarcity, resilient community – along with its legal framework, and its associated Construction Set.

This is a call-out for:

  1. Potential trustees interested in serving on the Board of Directors for the above entity. Qualifications include experience with land stewardship.
  2. Others interested in putting their land holdings into a similar legal framework
  3. Legal consultants who can help us frame the proper language and specifications of the legal framework for such an entity, utilizing existing law of contracts and of property.

If you are one of one of the above, please contact us. Simply put, this is of historic importance. Nowhere in the commercial world do we have examples of land tenure dedicated explicitly to post-scarcity via a viable and feasible program towards resource-based economics.

In a resource-based economy (RBE) of post scarcity, the distinction between owner and user is changed, where the owner becomes the steward who takes care of resources, including their use in production. The distinction between producer and consumer is blurred, and replaced by produsage with  prosumers – or producer-consumers. In general, there are no pure ‘consumers’ in the post-scarcity communities, since each community builds in production into its basic fiber, and everyone participates in at least a small amount of essential production. In this setting, production takes up only a small portion of one’s time. This may be abhorrent to specialist nonproducers – those who are not involved in essential production (production of essential need items such as food, energy, housing, etc.) but instead involved in the information, service, scientific, or other parasitic sectors. Such essential nonproducers will always abound in a successful, advanced state of civilization – simply because they are the hallmark of economic surplus. The place for such people is still there – only that the mechanism by which their surplus is generated is different in the RBE.

What does produsage look like for a fully-developed post-scarcity RBE with a multifaceted, metaspecialist (generalists who are really good in some of the things that they engage in) population? We don’t know. Not one of these communities has yet been created.

In short, the OSE post-scarcity concept of RBE has no precedent. There are some tangential examples, such as Chris Cook’s Open Capital framework. (see also See also Patric Anderson’s notions of user-ownership) This may be a transitional hybrid between ownership and usage rights, but the most robust and direct form of economic process is carried out when one closes the gap between finance capital and capital itself – in the form of a resource-based economy. In the resource-based economy, finance capital takes the form of open source human knowledge, linked to advanced and automated fabrication – which feeds upon nature as the most direct form of capital.

Therefore, access to land becomes the critical point of liberation – as it always has been in human history, whether people recognize their connection to their natural life support systems or not. This writing attempts to define the framework wherein a resource-based economy could thrive. It also builds on initial thoughts presented in the second half of the FSCONS presentation.

On practical terms…

The land is the source of all wealth. As we move forward to the creation of post-scarcity, resilient communities – one essential component of the game is a proper mechanism for land tenure. We want to transition to a land trust for holding land dedicated to the work of Open Source Ecology.

What is the work of Open Source Ecology? It is building post-scarcity, resilient communities. What does that mean? Resilient communities have been defined well by John Robb – as communities that are not only sustainable but also adaptable and regenerative. The word post-scarcity is rather fuzzy – because the general concept is not supported by any realistic program. The best site I know on the topic is, run by one of our True Fans. I think what we promote at OSE is the only explicit program out there, and in general, discussion on the topic seems almost taboo. Futurist utopian scenarios are a dime a dozen, but realistic paths towards implementation are scarce. Moreover, mainstream indoctrination shies away from serious discussion on the essential feature of economics – whereby resources are kept artificially scarce. Who would want to disturb the cornerstone of profitable economies where only some players win, and most lose?

The OSE program is about building post-scarcity scenarios according to historically proven principles for prosperity. Those principles are producing the most powerful denizens of earth everywhere – so they can seize the power of production for economic self-sufficiency on the smallest possible scale. This is the old news coming from the likes of Jefferson, Fritz Schumacher, Emerson, Gandhi, Buckminster Fuller, Martin Luther King, John Robb, and many others.

The mechanism for creating prosperity has always been and will always be autonomous, empowered people, utilizing their local resources to live. Now that we are in the digital age, this is not only possible, but it is also the only possible conclusion. The basic argument goes – if we can get one community right – ie, by designing it such that it does not need to take from others to survive – then we can get them all right. This is because the world is made up of communities. Technology imposes no limits that prevent the community scale from being a productively-effectively unit of social organization – because productive technologies are being miniaturized.

Getting one community right is the key, and that’s the task we set upon ourselves as Factor e Farm. Our basic program is to open-source everything, ie., unleash the means of economic production to everybody. We do this by starting with a small but critical subset of technology, the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), also called the Resilient Community Construction Set (RCCS). This is a basic tool set for producing the infrastructure of advanced civilization – including food, energy, housing, fuel, transportation, and technology infrastructures. In its initial implementation, prior to open source mineral-smelting processes – we simply rely on hot-processed scrap steel as the key industrial feedstock for advanced civilization.

Details aside, the land tenure question is a big one. The land is the source of all wealth. All revolutions start in the countryside – such as the industrial revolution – which relied on processing agricultural and mineral resources. Proper treatment and subsequent transformation of land tenure towards stewardship, as opposed to short-term extraction – is perhaps the key step in society’s transition to a peacetime economy and ecological integrity.

Stewardship of land is not a new idea. The natives of America, as well as most if not all indigenous cultures, stewarded their resources because they saw a direct connection between their resource base and their livelihood. It is desirable to reconnect as such to our natural resources – and as people transition from consumers to makers with the assistance of modern technology – there is a realistic chance to reinvent resilient communities. Now that we are wired globally, there is also a chance to tap into a global brain, or even universal consciousness – where we begin to recognize the connection of everything to everything as in general systems theory.

Still, the intent for this writing is to define the principles for a legal contract defining the land tenure pattern of post-scarcity, resilient communities.

We see a need to create a certain subset of land holdings which follow and support principles of post-scarcity and resilience. This is a worthwhile experiment in law within a bigger social experiment of Factor e Farm.

It is our role to begin defining, experimenting with, and living with the desirable change on land tenure – to create a viable and feasible framework for post-scarcity living.

The goal of the land holdings is to promote neosubsistent living – where people are enabled, as a first step, to provide basics of life totally from their immediate environment. This is not a radical idea, simply because technology today makes it trivial to do so. For example, by starting with scrap steel, one can readily process that steel to modern steam engines, cars, tractors, machines, solar concentrator electric systems – and to fuel the system with solar energy and pelletized biomass – to provide 100% of food, fuel, energy, and housing needs from local resources. This relies on the use of local plants, sunlight, and external metal. By invoking smelting processes – which are feasible if one has access to abundant energy – we eliminate dependence on external metal supply.

By utilizing the new neosubsistence option on the community scale, each individual is thus exonerated from having to work for others at a discount, and is liberated to pursue more meaningful pursuits, while not harming others.

The organizational size that we promote is the community scale, where a community size is from as little as about 5 people. These include an agroecology curator, engineer, architect, digital craftsman (fabricator, including use of skill with digital fabrication, and a choice of technologist, such as  a ceramics specialist, metallurgist, or many others. These constitute the minimum number of people who are capable of producing all food, fuel, energy, housing, and other resources necessary for a modern, advanced community. This is just the basic set of skills covered, and of course there are many others that arise as the community size increases. I think that at a threshold of 1000 people, one could consider clean room technology for producing circuits.

Why community scale? As I mentioned before, the world is made of communities – and showing one shining example could lead to viral replication. Moreover, new development or urban infill typically happens at the community scale of a few to a hundred or so living units. We see civilization as fluid – where structure is created and destroyed – and we promote filling the built environment with resilient, autonomous structures. At the very least, all habitat should have its own food, fuel, and energy production, and building materials should be obtained from on-site as much as possible. This is just a simple, readily-implementable formula that addresses many pressing world issues in one step.

The goal of the OSE land holdings is to guarantee permanent tenure of land to participants, under the oversight of a responsible body (Board of Directors or Stewards). The Board takes the land out of being degraded and destroyed and into permanent service to humanity.  When we say permanent, we don’t mean permanent in the legal sense, because the legal ‘permanent’ lasts only 99 years. We mean permanent as in all future generations.

Thus, the main points to consider for the land holdings are entry and exit of participants. We propose governance by a Board of Stewards (Directors). These Stewards, in general, must be chosen such that they are free from conflict of interest. The goal of stewardship is permanent preservation via economic (‘house-keeping’, as in original definitino) use – of right livelihood free of hurting others. As such, the quality of the natural and human environment is expected to increase with time – as people care about their environment. The land tenure model should assure that it cannot be degraded under any circumstances.

Entry is by contract and exit is by contract. Those who are interested in assuming a role of stewardship are invited to come in – and be part of a division-of-labor community where food-energy-fuel-housing are provided by agreement between participants, by leveraging division of labor. The point of this scheme is to apply modern technology – via open source, lifetime design equipment – to producing foodstuffs etc – while avoiding the dis-economy of scale or inefficiency of scale. Such inefficiencies include marketing, capitalization, stockholder profits, overhead, regulatory, bureaucracy, legal shenanigans, inventory, transportation, secrecy, and other ineffieciencies of global markets. We replace these simply by direct production – for the onsite user – via open source means. Surplus may be traded if desired.

One can make and substantiate a case that such production is competitive and superior to global trade at the very least for food. There is no better way towards food security than local, organic agriculture, supported by lifetime-design, open source equipment that can be reformulated from scrap steel – via meltdown of metal detritus into post-scarcity equipment.

The case is simple for food systems, and it can also be extended to energy resources – such as wind energy and solar thermal electric concentrators. This can also be extended to fuel, in the form of pelletized biomass for fueling modern steam engines from grass clippings. We are evaluating the feasibility of this process.

We have covered food, energy, and fuel. Housing comes out directly from our work on the high-performance Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) press , which combined with the sawmill, can provide modern housing at virtually the cost of dirt plus labor.

We have covered basic needs. To these, add the open source fab lab, RepLab. Then, we have unleashed local productivity, replacing 90% of all industry via local enterprise.

This notion might seem preposterous. It is not. An emergent phenomenon of the digital age and digital fabrication makes for a new norm: anybody can produce anything anywhere. Period.

To support this notion, please understand that all petrochemical industry and product can be derived from ubiquitous biomass. Aluminum can be derived from ubiquitous clay. Silicon can be derived from ubiquitous sand. Rubber can be derived from ubiquitous dandelion roots. Similar trends cover ceramics, glass, and other feedstocks.

The substance of resilient economies is here – with ubiquitous feedstocks and abundant energy as seen in the presentation, supported by digital age information flows of global design and local digital fabrication.

Let’s assume for a while that a room-sized factory can now handle 90% of all industrial production, minus clean room technology. I can explain this point briefly – see a previous video for a start. Now update this. Retain an induction furnace with scrap steel feedstock, and include a 3d ceramics printer for casting useful parts. Add a multipurpose machine lathe-mill-drill combination powered by modular motors that are already part of the LifeTrac power system. Add hot rolling of billet to make various types of structural steel. We have basics of metal covered – tubing, rod, wire, flat sheets. Add welder-CNC plasma torch table- and you have metal fabrication up to tractors and cars. Add an ironworker machine fed by existing hydraulic power. Add a 3D printer in plastic such as RepRap. Add circuit fabrication. Then you have all electromechanical devices, plastic parts, including scratch-built cars and tractors with modern steam engines and hydraulic power – fueled by pelletized biomass. The cost of all of the above fabrication infrastructure is about $10k in parts. Add a solar concentrator electric system, and you’ve created an infrastructure for producing food, fuel, power, housing, and other technology. If you can melt down steel, the entire set is self-replicating, and agroecology in itself is self-replicating as well. Read the entire wiki and Factor e Live Distillations series for more details in your spare time. We are not limited by technology in terms of producing a post-scarcity economy. As the technology set undergoes recursive development, we can make increasingly advanced technology – up to advanced materials processing such as clean room technology.

We have so far presented the crash course on the technological basis of a post-scarcity society. In the most general terms, we rely on agroecology and technology – within the framework of a resource-based economy. The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) provides the enabling tools for converting less processed resources into more refined ones.

OSE Community Basic Contract

The basic contract for the OSE-communities relies on people learning stewardship and practical skills, on their way to becoming homo sapiens intagralis – the integrated human – living with advanced technology integrated with natural life support systems. This is an antidote to learned ineptitude known as higher education in today’s world. We are interested in reinventing the evolutionary fork of a Renaissance human – as specialization is for insects (Heinlein) – and general systems theory of everything is connected to everything else is a sound concept. The critical danger in today’s civilization is the loss of connection to oneself, others, and the world – as people specialize in knowing more and more about less and less.

The above sums up the general principles of the OSE community. The basic definition of an OSE community is a collection of voluntarily-acting individuals aligned under the common contract for the common purpose of division of labor for effective survival as a stepping stone to more interesting pursuits of cultural and scientific advancement, by means of appropriate technology tool use within the framework of a global internet brain – minus support of oppression by purchasing goods and services that are obtained by hurting others or degrading nature. The basic contract of the OSE community is effective production for self-determination.

GVCS Applications

We should emphasize the realm of applications for OSE communities. The salient one in the industrialized world is new developments. What if we convert any alienating suburban, 40 acre, cookie cutter development with 2.2 kids and 1.8 cars – with a resilient community that produces all its food, energy, fuel, and builds housing from local materials? This could all be done under the guidance of master-builder for housing construction, under the guidance of an agroecology curator, engineer, and custom fabricator. 4 people lead the development, and provide its food, fuel, energy. This results in ample room for economic surplus far beyond agriculature. If one builds in the digital fabrication capacity – the result is a resilient community with most people making a livelihood on-site. Even if fuel is not produced on site- a carpool of 1 car per 10 people would be more than sufficient to provide all transportation needs. The GVCS is aimed at creating such developments – by providing the essential infrastructure building tools.

Another application is a local food system community supported agriculture (CSA) operation. Using the GVCS infrastructure of tractors-implements-haying equipment-combine-construction equipment and supporting items – a person can now start an integrated year-round food production operation – at minimum startup costs. To this, the flexible fabrication component could provide all types of supporting food-processing equipment. The result is a year-round, full diet CSA operation – and global food systems are a thing of the past. This is without need to invoke genetic engineering, unless there is a compelling argument to engage it.

A third application of the OSE community is development in the third world. Imagine the 40-acre development as above – which reinvents a complete economy via advanced fabrication – but which is located in a third world country. While many see this as the most suitable audience – personally, I see a need for these communities greater in the first world than in the third world – because eliminating disproportionate consumerism in the first world would eliminate poverty in the third world.

Another application is ecoindustry. With the eventual goal of ‘open everything‘  following the open-sourcing of the 40 GVCS technologies, it appears that the logical conclusion is reform of intellectual property concepts at the very least. Jefferson would be happy about distributive production – put in the hands of people in the global internet framework.

Design Goals for OSE Communities

To summarize: the goals for the OSE communities are several. First, we should start by stating that the legal framework for the OSE communities is that of private, voluntary, contract-based enterprise communities. Private contract means that several disparate, private individuals agree among themselves that they should get along and work together according to a well-defined contract or agreement. Voluntary, in that every feature of community design fosters voluntary (noncoercive) interaction based on one’s needs and desires. Enterprise – because people involved are enterprising, as opposed to supported by Big Brother or other brother welfare. Community – in that people recognize the value of teaming up in social units instead of going as solo warriors through life.

OSE Community Goals

  1. Resource-based economy: To extract and process natural resources – respectfully – to create a resource-based economy.
  2. Smallest possible functioning scale. To do this on the smallest possible scale. We propose that that minimum scale of organization is about 12 household getting together to master food, fuel, energy, and housing production duties as the baseline. We propose that advanced technological process, such as clean room technology – is engaged at the scale of 1000 or more people. The purpose of starting on a small scale is that it is a practical, feasible endeavor.
  3. Division of Labor. We propose that individual households do not remain antisocial – but that they collaborate with their immediate neighbors via division of labor to master, at the very least – their housing, food pruduction, energy, and fuel needs. Fuel can be addressed by telecommuting and car pooling at about 1 car per 10 people.
  4. Ideal size: we propose that the ideal size of a community is about 40-100 people – or about a 40 acre development – a scale at which it is easy for one household to take on the agricultural role via division of labor. In this community, one person is the engineer (renewable energy provision), one is a digital craftsman for providing all the technological goodies including cell phones, cars, and tractors. One person is the architect – the designer and builder of houses. These four people are the absolute minimum for producing a high level of resilience in the community. Moreover, 40 acres is an easily manageable size for one person doing land stewardship duties.
  5. Modularity or scalability: Communities are stackable – such that a collection of communities constitutes a city or region. The divide between country and city is annihilated, as inner growth of people minimizes megalopolis-building. People can build skyscrapers if they want to, but as the social fabric turns to resilience rather than aggrandizement, the incentive for megalomania decreases.
  6. Generalists:  The highest form of redundancy or resilience is found within each community. Each person strives to cross-train in as many disciplines as possible, such that there is no single failure point for meeting the needs of a community. This is just a practical application of lifelong learning and striving to be a dynamic human being.
  7. Clear entry procedures:  People enter based on a well-defined participation contract outlining voluntary duties and expectations. Basic participation contract sets minimum acceptable performance standards for maintaining resilient prosperity of the community, with ample room for error. The nature of each community is determined by the founding members of the community. The Board of Stewards makes decisions to assist in community management.
  8. Definitive community features: The definitive features of OSE communities are: (1), the resource based economy; (2), active pursuit of ‘open everything’ towards the point of economic significance (if ‘open everything’ has not happened yet); (3), self-sufficiency on essentials; (4), constant improvement of self-sufficiency, or trade with responsible other parties for the end of autonomy; and (5), non-participation in oppression (don’t get yourself into debt service, aim to discontinue use of unbacked currency and other funnymoney, don’t buy slave goods, don’t buy from people who hurt others or who damage the environment, don’t fund corporate armies but favor private conflict resolution and its tools, don’t fund corruption, don’t fund deliberate dumbing down of people, no murder, 10 Commandments or the like in general, etc.)
  9. Human relations: The basic human relations principles include right to privacy, choice, respect, free thought, freedom in general.
  10. Principles of Abundance: The basic tenet of abundance is to take it upon oneself to be able to produce in the most effective manner possible, such that it is trivial, voluntary, and indeed fun to provide for the entire community. Others may be recruited to help as needed, and the community should behave in a helpful manner in general, unless agreed otherwise. There is no substitute for such responsibility, and it’s the missing ingredient in post-carbon, doomsday, intentional community, permaculture, and other movements.
  11. Communities improve with time: Each participant should take it upon themselves to be in a state of lifelong learning. The environment improves in time with ecological diversification, increase of fertility, and other landscape improvement according to principles of diverse interconnection. The built environment improves and beautifies in time, like Japanese gardens. The perennial agriculture and edible landscape become more rich with crop and diversity over time. Mining operations are remediated. Density of people increases only to the point that the highest quality of life can be obtained without crowding out nature or life support systems.
  12. Rapid Learning: Participants are willing to accept that rapid learning is becoming increasingly easier with intelligent computing, thus learning of new things should get easier. Participants are expected to work on their frontiers of ignorance, to become homo sapiens integralis – mind-body integration being one of the frontiers. Poeple are expected to eat properly, and learn to use their body, mind, and spirit at ever-increasing levels of performance.
  13. Natural selection: In deciding who enters the community, natural selection favors those who are best qualified to perform as stewards. Therefore, the natural selection favors those with the most effective skills for carrying on the integrated nature of post-scarcity living.


In conclusion – the above is a brief overview to the workings of a resilient, post-scarcity community. The last frontier is the legal paperwork and agreement to make this formal. This is where we open this issue up to legal help from the rest of the post-scarcity-friendly community.

We propose that the best legal framework is a private contract trust – though we are open to suggestions. There is a debate whether corporate form is suitable for an essentially non-corporate endeavor. We are willing to consider incorporation as well. Since the issues under consideration are largely private and noncommercial, we favor a private contract trust as the flexible, legal instrument of choice.

Remember – we are after post-scarcity, resilient communities in practice. We are stewards, guided by a board of stewards with demonstrated ability to care for land, people, and the whole world. Let the details follow.


Let’s examine some other institutions as they will play out in the post-scarcity scenario of land-based, resource-based economies founded on open source design and advanced fabrication. Among these are education, insurance, law, government, the corporation, and hospitals.

Education. Education in a scenario of the ‘global brain’ internet infrastructure will promote auto-didacticism. The age of school-without-walls will reign supreme, as virtual reality classrooms will become available on everyone’s computer. This is the natural convergence of increasing access to open source course materials. Information should and will be free. The role for schools will be primarily those of social events and sports, as they are today already to a large degree. Many people will find the social aspects of compulsory education compelling, and will continue funding schools with mortar and walls. At the same time, it will be entirely feasible to get an education by using smart, rapid-learning materials that adapt to the student.

Insurance. In principle, the resource-based economy is the deepest form of insurance. That is, one is not insecure about belongings, because natural resources may be tapped readily to create any needed artifact that was lost. The need for insurance goes by the wayside. So does the need for banks for similar reasons.

Law and Government. Communities are guided by private contract. The police state goes by the wayside, as police forces are no longer required to maintain the wealth of rich of people. Various resource reallocation mechanisms are no longer needed – hence most laws and government disappear. Individual responsibility becomes the dominant form of justice, where people take it upon themselves to solve issues as they arise.

Corporations. Corporations are largely replaced by decentralized manufacturing and digital fabrication.

Hospitals. Medical services may be centralized at the level of 1000 people service areas. Good diet and elimination of alienation provide the most serious stimuli for healthy lifestyles. Bad diet is the number one cause of death, and it can be fixed by organic agriculture and a lifestyle of increased meaning. Most hospital services are therefore not needed, and essential ones that remain include a focus on preventive measures.


  1. […] initial thought process behind the land trust was outlined in this blog post. Now we need […]

  2. Mark

    I think property ownership is a natural and fundamental concept for managing scarce resources (particularly land). It is a human refinement of the notion of territory that all creatures make use of.

    There are lots of libertarian writings on the importance of property rights, but readers of this blog may especially appreciate Butler Shaffer’s “Boundaries of Order: Private Property as a Social System”.

    Is the goal to set certain standards for farms participating in a network of resilient communities? If so, you may want instead to define these standards as a certification. An independent organization can serve as auditor/awarder of certificates and monitor farms for adherence to the standard. This will allow more flexibility. If the standard ends up being outdated and inapplicable, then the owner can simply stop asking for re-certification–at least the title to the property hasn’t been constrained in some awkward way for perpetuity.

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