Online and in personal emails it has been suggested to get a mediator to help in settling this conflict. We are open to this.


  1. Tom Lindsey

    I recommend learning and using the methods of Thomas Gordon. From the Thomas Gordon Wikipedia article, “His model was based on a strong belief that the use of coercive power damages relationships. As an alternative, he taught people skills for communicating and resolving conflicts that they can use to build and maintain good relationships at home, school and at work. These skills, which include Active Listening, I-Messages and No-Lose Conflict Resolution, are now widely known and used by people around the world.”

  2. Tom Lindsey

    I want to clarify that I am not accusing anyone of using coercive power. Active listening and no-lose conflict resolution are amazing for resolving conflicts whether or not there has been coercive force.

    I was thinking all night last night how I could offer something constructive to Factor e Farm/Open Source Ecology as I am (and will continue to be) a true fan. I hope this is taken in the spirit it is given as something that I think is truly helpful.

    I do remember reading somewhere on the site something about members of the team would all have to study conflict resolution. I think Thomas Gordon offers some of the best/most useful help in this area.

    And here is the link to the Wikipedia article that I quote in my last comment:

  3. Toby

    I think that to many outside observers it will not be clear what remains to be settled. Ben and Jeremy want nothing further from you, it seems, and thus there’s little basis on which to negotiate for whatever you might want from them.

    My $.02 advice would be to take the experience to heart as much as possible, and carry on with what you wish to do. I think that the less you chase the issue, the sooner it will become less painful for all of you.

  4. Franz Nahrada

    I think there is a lot to he mediated, and I welcome this idea. The first and upmost necessity for mediation is with Britanny, who has suffered a lot from similar experiences and has withdrawn – but is still unsure what this will mean in the long run. She still carries the principal economic decision power about the future of FactorEFarm, this has been mentioned several times but I wonder why everybody treats that as irrelevant and negligeable. Britanny might welcome the point of creating a mediated situation to sort out in a protected way what stake she still has in the farm. Maybe Inga is a good role model to renew her enthusiasm…. Mediation might also include those who were willing to help and support but have also withdrawn, not as bitter though as Ben and Jeremy. In fact, mediation could lead to a situation where there is really consensus and governance among people and not the arbitrary decision of a “leader”. I think if one separates between Marcins ability to develop the grand outline and critical details of technologies (where he is inspiring and brilliant) from Marcins role as community leader (where he has shown serious shortcomings in the way he handles people – to say it in a polite way – and therefore has definitely failed) there is light at the end of the tunnel. Actually the idea of Ingas coming to FeF was connected to such a shift in focus, this was already “in the air”. But Inga alone was not strong enough to effectively enact village spirit. Now imagine that Ingas dedication and zeal meets Britannys gentleness and experience and the two women (or more people) could agree, with the help of an experienced mediator, on a covenant that allows for both – the unfolding of Marcins ideas and creativity and the fair and caring treatment of volunteers and helpers on site.

    I think thats the way things should go.

  5. Franz Nahrada

    btw: sorry for the mis – spelling 😉

  6. shaggy

    Ok, so is the vault still on?

  7. Mark

    After watching the video, I concur that a mediator would have been helpful in this situation. I felt that involving the Sheriff escalated the tension. A mediator could have reminded everyone of the roles that both property and reputation plays in negotiation positions. I am pretty sure that a settlement could have been reached where each party was better off than what actually occurred.

    Mediation should not only be part of FeF, but also of the Resilient Community Construction Set.

  8. dRager

    I would ask you all to not judge the whole open source model by some unfortunate experiences within this individual project.
    Would someone explain the open source model used here to me and what the proposed licence (lesser GNU, Creative commons, MIT, BSD etc) is for this system.
    I am unable to find reference to the proposed licensing other than an umbrella reference to “open Source”.
    Microsoft recently open sourced some of its code.
    Does this make Microsoft Open Source?

  9. Franz Nahrada

    Thats totally up to Marcin. Everybody knows now in principal what they can expect at FactorEFarm and that they should really and definitely NOT expect heaven on earth or something that comes close to it. They also should not expect to become stakeholders or co-owners of the place until there is a different policy of which I dont see the slightest beginnigs yet. They should not expect to be cared for. Maybe its more for people that are ready for an adventure, a challenge. There will be enough of those,

    Half of my enthusiasm for FeF is gone, it will not become a community where you can – in the not too distant future – expect any progress on the social side so that would constitute an integrated living model. My mediation effort failed so far and I have given up on this side. I also dont believe in the model “technology first – social covenant later”. That has not really worked out in Arcosanti either.

    The other half says: Marcin is putting his energy in a commitment to deliver certain technologies. Thats the base. He will do it single handed or with help as long as he has the means. If people want to come there to help they know they better be prepared for some hardship and obstacles as was said. You have been warned. Hopefully and most likely such a blunder will never happen again. But know that there is a dark side also, and shaddow sometimes produces sharper image. Be aware. You are always part of the situation.

    There are places far more advanced in social structure. They have put community before technology. Lots of these places are right now discovering the opportunities of Open Source Village Technologies. There is more than one place that you can choose to support or choose as centerpiece of life. Its up to you.

    Nobody can hinder anybody to take the designs, modularize them even more, integrate them in a different way. Maybe even with better documentation. That is not even a classical “fork”, because the integration of technologies is up to each and every village and community by its own decisions.

    If so, one needs to consider what Marcin is offering. Thats maybe profound technical education and some skills, even if he is neglecting other things.

    A system integrator, wherever he or she works, needs to have technical understanding. Thats not what our culture cared for so far. You get specialized education, but little “passive competence”, which means simply understanding how things work.

    Educate yourself. Learn to achieve that competence. Find a place with better balance between male and female energy. But do it. Talk is cheap.

  10. Franz Nahrada

    post # 11 was relating to post # 9

  11. dRager

    I must agree with comment 11 in regards technical understandings. As a permaculture advocate I must point out that the problems here are neither new nor interesting. A little searching on interpersonal skills and group development would not go astray.
    Permaculture is one of the first open model community bases available. It should be used as a model of how a successful group behaves.
    Bill and Dave founded the permaculture idea, promoted it and then gave it to others to run with. Simple and easy.
    Linus did the same thing with Linux.
    Remember the Open Source Coders Motto:
    “KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid”.

  12. Shaggy

    I also agree with #11.
    Um farming communities existed for thousands of years without electricity. The problem is a human one. Where is Brittany Gill?

  13. dRager

    Watching the self destruction of this group is extremely painful.
    I have not been a member of this project and as such can look at it from an outsider perspective.
    It is obvious that there are problems that have been plaguing the members here for quite awhile.
    From comments posted there also seems to be a financial element to the difficulties.
    I have no idea as to the size of the remaining member base but note that there appears to have been moderate attrition rate thus far.
    There is also the issues raised periodically of land ownership and organisational control.
    These are complex problems that should have been resolved at project establishment with clear guidelines and estimated timings.
    The Open Source nature of the project as well as the continued financial obligations seem to be at the centre of the conflict.
    The unfortunate over reaction that has resulted in this split, seems to be a symptom of the underlying dis-ease.
    There is also an obvious lack of ethical and organisational foundation to the project.
    How is it possible to overcome all this without any party feeling as though they are “being taken for a ride”.
    Also fundamental problems seem to exist regards lack of proper site evaluation for the project.
    This has been voiced regards the siting of the workshop and drainage issues on site.
    I can see nowhere on the website a site evaluation or mapping of project.
    This is a fundamental flaw and leads me to the belief that none has been done.
    The siting of infrastructure and site setup is a long process of careful observation and evaluation.
    This appears to have been rushed resulting in inevitable failure.
    It is not a case of “I’ll put some fruit trees there and some vegetables here”.
    There is much more to it than that and it appears this is only now becoming apparent.
    No one can control nature, only work with it.
    This lack of experience and careful planning also seems to be key in problems having escalated.
    The financial element is probably the hardest to resolve as it involves a certain amount of trust and good will that is not in abundance here.
    I recall somewhere that the project is already a Not For Profit Organisation.
    If so then the easiest way to limit financial obligations would be the establishment of a property trust (if one does not already exist) run by the NFP.
    This property trust must be financed by the member base.
    This may not be possible due to a lack of willing participants from both the general member base and “management”.
    I am unaware as to whether there is a mortgage held on the land or if there are any caveats on it.
    The present owner/owners should be re-imbursed their contributions to the amount of their financial obligations.
    This can be done via a payment scheme for members or a one off payment, whichever is more convenient.
    The establishment of an elected board of directors from the members should be a first point of call.
    Marcin should retain a position as Board Secretary. This is the most important position.
    All positions must be volunteer based.
    Members with part ownership of the property would have an obligation for site participation and development.
    Establishment of an organic garden for direct sale to the public (delivered to their door) is an excellent revenue raiser.
    The utilisation of the WWOOFer (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) network will provide an abundance of temporary hard working workers who only require food and shelter.
    Be aware that WWOOFers will tell you to buggar off if they are asked to work more than half a day or the food is inadequate.
    They know their obligations under the scheme so don’t mess with them.
    It also is important to have evaluation sites for trials of varied crops and produce.
    Some grants or subsidies may be accessable under the NFP umbrella for these activities.
    I am unaware as to the distance the site is from an urban area for the farmlink proposed.
    If the distance is to great, it again shows a lack of foresight.
    With the financial injection (your own little bail-out) and sales from produce the site should be able to be profitable in a few years.
    The development of the mechanical and construction side would then no longer be a burden on any one single persons finances.
    With the success of the primary site the revenue raised would be able to be used in establishing further sites using the same “proof of concept”.
    As for the aggrieved parties. There is no excuse for the behaviour exhibited.
    The posting of the video on the web shows a clear lack of judgement (good or otherwise).
    I have no words to describe how I felt viewing that display.
    Incorrigible behaviour.
    My view is that the events took on a life of their own and that the two aggressors (to clarify Marcin and Inga) used their supposed positions of power in a display of delirium due to their inability to rationalise the situation adequately.
    A water pipe broke guys. Get over it. Happens all the time to me and I use proper plumbing attachments not hose clamps! All it takes is a little water hammer and before you know it pressure has built up way beyond the design specs.
    But a physicist should know that…
    Moral: Work out problems before they become insurmountable.
    I hope this proposal can at least point your group in another less destructive direction.

  14. Theodore Tso

    Inga made a comment on one of my blog postings (, which is how I came to find out about this community. I was distressed to find that she may have misinterpreted some of what I had to say about “benevolent dictators”, so I’d like to make some comments on that term, which in my original blog posting was only meant to apply to open source software projects.

    There is a huge difference between a virtual project, such as the technologies and “how-to” instructions on how to make a sustainable, off-grid community, such as what you might find at the Wiki site, and a particular physical community, such as the Factor e Farm. The fundamental difference is that you can make a copy of information easily. So if a benevolent dictator becomes abusive or unfair towards the developers in an open source project, those developers can easily leave, and the open source license means they can take a copy of the code with them, and start developing it in a new direction.

    Now contrast this with someone who has spent six months of their life working on a water distribution system, or building a Multimachine at the Factor e Farm. Even if they have not paid in any money into the enterprise, by virtue of their “sweat equity”, they have some moral, if not legal, ownership claim to the Farm. But since the Farm is a physical effort, if the benevolent dictator abuses his or her power, they can’t “take a copy” of the physical objects they helped to build; they could take the original away, of course, but they can’t take a copy. Hence, it is far more important to have established expectations about what happens in the case where there is a disagreement — and if the answer is that the benevolent dictator owns everything on the farm, because it is, after all, his land, it might be that others will be less willing to work on the farm, lest their efforts be taken for granted.

    So this is why I think benevolent dictatorships work much better in the virtual world than in the physical world. Becauses forks are so easy, it tends to keep the benovlent dictators honest; if they are unreasonable and capricious, or don’t have the social skills to keep the community together, the community will split. It’s much easier to discard an socially incompentent dictator in the virtual world, and that very fact tends to force project leaders to be more careful about how they treat their developers. Essentially, like all volunteer efforts, all an open source project leader can do is say “no”; he or she can stop some effort which is contrary to their overall effort, but they can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do. So long as the overall vision has been articulated clearly in advance, everyone who joins knows what the vision is, and if they have a different one, they can always take a copy of the source code and do their own thing.

    In the physical world, the “friction” of not being able to make a copy of physical efforts means that people will sometimes stick around even though they aren’t happy with the direction of the project leader. This tends to build resentments that grow and grow, until the explode catastrophically. Worse yet, following the princple of “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” the real-world dictator has more power since it’s harder for people to fork the project, which removes one of the forces to keep the dictator from behaving unreasonably.

    So please — don’t use my observations that a benevolect dictator can be a good way of running an open source software project as justification for trying to put down the need for democratic governance principles for a physical farm. Because people are contributing to a physical entity which can’t be easily forked,

    Finally, if I would be so bold to make some recommendations, if the goal is to make Open Source Ecology successful, instead of focusing on people making proposals to come to pursue their projects at Factor e Farm, it might be better to encourage people to try developing the technologies you think will be needed for Open Source Ecology at other settings. What’s important is the receipe’s — the intellectual effort; after all, that’s what you will need to replicate, so you might as well start with a distributed development model from the very start.

    In addition, you may want to define exactly what you mean by “off-grid”; to the extent that you are relying on technology to create things like digital fabrication, even if you aren’t “on the grid”, you are depending on the existence of high technology, with all of the ecological impacts associated with say, metal foundaries to create nuts, bolts, and motors, not to mention all of the ecological impacts of the silicon foundaries to create CPU’s, transitors, etc. I don’t say this critique the fundamental basis of your movement — but if you are willing to make short-term compromises to bootstrap the movement, why the strong emphasis on things ignoring like modern sanitation services out of some goal to be “off the grid”?

    One advantage of encouraging people to develop, say, some of the technologies associated with Open Source Ecology at their home, is that you will be able to leverage people who have brilliant minds but who aren’t willing to give up on hot baths, modern sanitation, etc., but who might be interested in helping your movement. Just a thought.

  15. Franz Nahrada


    thank you for all your comment, each word clarifying and enlightening. What you say about the imagination of being “off grid” is really exposing a substantial flaw in the whole mental construction of an otherwise brilliant endavour. To add a bit, Marcin is also using the Internet, so thats another grid of enormous dimensions that he would not compromise despite its current grave ecological implications. Or the airplanes which bring him to Europe and other places to spread the message. I am not talking about the Sheriff here that also appeared in that play, he was not supposed to come in, but that did not cause reflections either. Or the money M. wants to make, the goods he wants to buy. Therefore, the whole idea of a totally autonomous village is an unreflected contradiction in itself, while holding still so much truth in it that it requires at least some discussion and consideration and even support. It worries me, because – with all that background considered – efficiency could be raised enormously by understanding basic human needs will have to be catered for a long time with the help of external civilisation even on-site. I agree we should pursue the vision of ‘eating more and more of our own dogfood’ to alter Marcins standing phrase, but we should at least be able to produce it under human conditions.

    I have written a critical statement on the FeF principles here – hoping that at least there will be much more perception and clarity about the basics which will bring us further:

  16. vera

    Thanks Franz for the post in the other forum. Marcin says: “We are interested in forming a foundation for replicable, post-scarcity, resilient communities [on top of the technological quest].” To which I respond: Really? Show me!

    I agree with Vinay that consensus stinks. But there is another way to make decisions – consent circles – which works very well. Besides, very small groups don’t need much structure; but they do need people who care about getting along and treat their colleagues right, and attend to that along with the task at hand. Do we really need more clueless engineers telling us what they will do to save the world? Do we need more of the “technology first, humans last” kind of nonsense that is sinking us all?

  17. dRager

    I’m not really, really bright.
    Actually I’m probably not even ordinary by the intellectual standards set by Vinay Gupta.
    I can’t argue about political left and political right. It’s all politics.
    I can’t see how doing things the same as they’ve been done for years is going to solve anything either.
    I don’t see how people can participate in a consensus group decision process other than in very small groups.
    Corporate structures work.
    Co-operatives work (The Mondrogon Co-operatives of the Basque region are an excellent example).
    The delegation of responsibility and work is placed upon those who are able and willing to do, not talk.
    Problem is that sometimes two way communication is required between “management” and “workers”.
    When there is no two way communication and negotiation then sackings occur.
    When there is no two way communication and negotiation “workers” have the right to remove their labour.
    The Open Source community has adopted many facets of the corporate model.
    The use of a centralised point of contact allows for rapid development and deployment.
    The difference, as I see it (mainly) is through the way in which the information, technology and in this case plans are released and collaborated on.
    There are (usually) a “core” group who do the initial planning and evolve ideas.
    This “core” group are usually refered to later as “maintainers”.
    Consensus and group hugs are not an element of the Open Source model.
    Does every user of Linux have direct input into its development?
    Of course not.
    Before the shouting starts:
    They do have input through testing of betas and problem reporting.
    They can become active members of the group while not being “maintainers”.

    So while this little project is busy pulling itself apart by trying to adopt what we non-intellectuals call “feely touchy stuff” I might point out that while you read this (if
    you’ve bothered) between 500 and 1000 children starved world wide. No worries, I’m sure they are equally concerned as to how a consensus of opinion would benefit their cause.
    Keep things in perspective please and leave the engineers, politicians and philosophers to argue about whose right and whose wrong.
    At least that way they can let us get on with doing things they will eventually take responsibility for anyway.
    Finally a quote from someone who was quite bright:
    “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
    Albert Einstein

  18. dRager

    Re Comment #16:

    I couldn’t agree more. The distributed model would be a welcome addition to this project. It was what I thought was occurring from my first cursory peruse. This would further diversify the model and allow for development of equipment not specialized to the present site.
    In some areas the CEB would be impractical due to a lack of “workers” to fill the hopper (for one example). In this case a hand operated hydraulic version would be more suitable.
    Further it would not be suitable at my site period. I use rock and wood construction for dwellings. A cement sprayer would be a more appropriate machine to develop here for render application. However the cost of materials required for the R&D re the cement sprayer out ways the economic advantages gained (i.e. it’s cheaper to by one that has a proven track record and warranty).
    From this example the distributed development model proposed by Theodore Tso has definite advantages.
    Many different packages for many different circumstances (environmentally, financially and/or group size).

  19. Lukin

    As an outsider to this entire conflict, I must applaud your efforts to engage in mediation. I also must share how horrified I am by the immaturity of the behaviors and postings that have been published on this blog. As a Missouri native and a champion of sustainable building and farming projects, I have been sharing information about Factor E Farm with colleagues around the world. I now sincerely regret having taken this project seriously due to the level of communication I have encountered on this blog.

    Mental and emotional wellness as well as interpersonal skills must be learned before a project of this magnitude can be attempted. I wish everyone at Factor E Farm the best, but please take care of yourselves personally before advertising your project as a revolution in civilization.

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