Dominik Wind: cooperative design for the climate

Posted on 28 January 2016.

Meet Dominik Wind, the POC21 organizer, a unique innovation camp serving the climate.

Dominik Wind is a dreamer. He dreams of a world where everyone, everywhere, can build a house, grow food and produce energy – in a people and environmentally friendly way. But the young German eco-hacker isn’t just a dreamer, he’s a doer too. This summer, 80 days before COP21, he organized the POC21 (for proof of concept) alongside France’s OuiShare. For five weeks, more than 100 designers, engineers and geeks of all stripes converged on Château Millemont, near Paris, to eco-hack the future. A more sustainable and equitable future, made possible by open source.

You organized POC21 within OpenState, how did it get started?

One day I was having lunch with some colleagues in Berlin and we were talking about our work [Dominik is a consultant and organizes problem-solving working groups, Ed]. Organize workshops, develop communications campaigns for NGOs... What else could we do? So we came up with the idea of an innovation workshop lasting several weeks. I had already organized something similar, Palomar5 on the theme of "the future of work". The experience was amazing and I learned so many things! I had the feeling that if we could reproduce the same sort of thing for climate change, it would be really powerful. So in 2012, OpenState was set up.

These days we can build almost everything we need ourselves.

You firmly believe we can change the world with open source. How?

When you design an open source product, you do it so it’s easy to make, disassemble and repair. Which means it will last longer. You also let other people adapt and improve your product. They might decide to use only local and sustainable materials but still keep the same functionality, or might make something better - for example more energy efficient. They simply grab hold of your plans and as long as they leave them open, they can do pretty much anything they want! Open source makes it possible to do things differently and can even create a new model of society where people get more involved. These days we can build almost everything we need ourselves, using tools such as 3D printing, laser cutting or NC machines.

What was the idea behind POC21 ?

The idea was to show people that we could have an impact on climate change without waiting for COP21 and government decisions. There is a wide spectrum of things that we can all do. One of them is to develop more sustainable products for everyone, everywhere. With POC21, my dream was to create an open source infrastructure that meets all basic human needs: shelter, food, drinking water, energy, communication and transport.

My dream is to create an open source infrastructure that meets all basic human needs.

What are the concrete results of the innovation camp? Can you give us one or two projects that particularly caught your attention?

I think Showerloop is the project that best represents what can be accomplished. With this system, water is collected, filtered and re-used while you’re showering. It’s a great idea because it saves 90% of the water and uses 70-90% less energy without changing the shower experience. The other project is FairCap, a water filtration system that can be screwed onto the top of a plastic bottle. It was developed to cost less than a dollar and you can reproduce it freely.

What's next?

We’re trying to document what we did: what we made, the tools we used, the decision making processes... Everything! We want to make it as easy as possible for others to set up their own innovation workshops, drawing on our experience, but without repeating our mistakes. So the organization of POC21 is itself open source (laughs).

For 2016, we are working on two projects. The first is to create permanent hackerspaces in France and Germany. People talked a lot about POC21 and now we want them to experience it in the long term and develop projects in a more academic way in these spaces. Secondly, we’re trying to prepare training for making sustainable products, so we can share all the knowledge we have gained, in particular about design and communication. There are also some interesting things to explore in the area of operation and business organization... How do you build several small structures capable of producing locally rather than one large centralized business? Or how do we distribute the value created more equitably? There’s still lots to do!