100+ makers, designers, engineers, scientists, and geeks gathered at POC21 and spent five weeks developing 12 sustainable lifestyle technologies.

When a group of talented and committed individuals puts their minds together to overcome our current “destructive consumer culture” by designing and building open-source solutions for a more sustainable future, great things can happen, as illustrated by the results of the participants of last year’s POC21 (Proof of Concept) camp.

In order to make progress toward a more livable future, it’s important to have a multi-pronged approach, with viable and affordable solutions developed for such basic needs as energy, food, transportation, and not just on a large scale, but also on a personal scale. Sure, it’s great that we’re seeing higher rates of solar adoption, and more innovations in low-carbon transport methods, but if all of these solutions are top-down (or capital-intensive, as a home solar array or a new EV is), then they will continue to be limited in their scope and their effects, due to the financial restraints that many of us come up against.

The folks behind the POC21 project are taking a stab at building alternative solutions that could have a significant impact on people’s lives, and are focusing their efforts on open source sustainable products that will lend themselves to “distributed fabrication” and collaborative production.

“POC21 is an international innovation community that started as an innovation camp. The camp brought together 100+ makers, designers, engineers, scientists and geeks. Late summer 2015, we have joined forces in a stunning French castle to prototype the fossil free, zero waste society. Our ultimate goal was to overcome the destructive consumer culture and make open-source, sustainable products the new normal. Over the course of 5 weeks we developed 12 sustainable lifestyle technologies and built an international community of innovators and supporters, that continues to grow.”

From a group of about 200 applicants, POC21 selected “the 12 most-promising open source products” in the fields of food, energy, housing, mobility, and communications, and the five-week innovation camp that was held from August 15th to September 20th brought together some 100 participants “create a proof of concept for a sustainable tomorrow.”

The final 12 projects/products can be seen on the POC21 website, some of which we’ve covered before, such as the $30 DIY wind turbine and the Aker urban ag kits, but there are also compelling projects for DIY solar (both PV and solar thermal), cargo bikes, 3D-printed water filters, home food production, and a pedal-powered tractor. Most of these projects also have tutorials posted online, so it’s a great jumping-off point for the doers and makers who want to get hands-on with sustainable projects.


By Derek Markham (@derekmarkham)

Derek is a digital dad with an analog streak, as comfortable with a smartphone as he is with pencil and paper. He’s got a soft spot for babies, bicycles and bouldering, and is the Head Shoveler at his mini-farm startup in New Mexico. You can also find him letting it all hang out on Twitter, Facebook, and NaturalPapa.

(Source:  treehugger.com; January 20, 2016; http://tinyurl.com/honkvcm)