R&D infrastructure for resilient development
The goal of the project is to build a technological facility in Greece, as a part of cooperation between Rojava and its European supporters. The facility (Techno-Hub) will be also first node of the planned network of solidarity economy entities throughout Europe and Kurdistan.
To suport Rojava recovery and redevelopment we need to test and implement technologies specifically designed both for political context and local resources.
The goal is not just to make Rojava alive and sustainable, but also to make it resistant against future disasters and assaults.
We need to convey knowledge and skills to Bakur and Rojava people as much as we need to learn from them.
Our ultimate goal is to empower Kurdish communities to create their own centers and to start contributing to the global cooperation.
We plan to achieve it by using open source approach and by implementing values of hacker culture: free and shared knowledge, practical approach and constructive critique of existing solutions.
Technology is political
From Kropotkim, through Bookchin, to contemporary libertarians, the technology is always seen in close feedback loop with politics. The whole paradigm od the technology development is usually an emanation of political one. Particular solutions empower politics, by providing tools to perform political tasks.
Both processes have their own dynamics and momentum and if we intentionally change one of them, the other may hinder – or speed up – it. Thus, Rojava development needs specifically tailored technologies and their general framework, known as appropriate technology2. Refined with the newest achievements (open source hardware and software, 3d printing and biomaterials) it will give powerful boost to the economy of Rojava. It will support decentralised, locally controlled and people-centric political structure.
Sustainability AND resilience
The goal is not just to recover. It is also to shape Rojava infrastructure into balanced, sustainable and resilient one. It is not just about providing services, and providing them without harming the nature. It is also to make any attempt of destroying them, through a natural disaster or human assault, nigh to impossible.
Knowledge transfer gateway
A fundamental assumption of cooperation between Rojava (and Bakur) and Europe is the equal basis. As John Holloway phrased it, “We are here not just to support them, but because in them we see a hope for ourselves3.” We have a lot to give and a lot to receive. At least in the area of technology (pretty broadly defined) the Hub is intended to be a link, a meeting point, a gateway between the two worlds. We hope to host people from both sides and to facilitate their cooperation, skill sharing and getting to know each other.
The Hub is intended as a temporary solution. Its ultimate goal – in Rojava context – is to trigger creation of its equivalents throughout Rojava and neighboring regions. Hackerspaces, Hacklabs, Makerlabs – they will form first layer of technology development structures. Decentralised and grassroot culture, derived from hacker philosophy, will fit the political framework better than hierarchical mainstream structures.
Praxis: The Road Map
To make this idea reality, we need just start doing it. We need a place, knowledge, people, priorities, funding ideas and transcending vision.
Location location location
I believe there are strong reasons to locate the Hub in Greece, possibly either in Thessaloniki or Crete. Here is a “top 5” list.
- Greece is the closest EU country to Rojava. It is relatively easy to get prople from Kurdistan here. It is also easy – especially in the winter – to get here people from “mainland” EU.
- Greece, under Syriza government, is naturally closer to Rojava and (Syriza-styled) HDP then to the rest of EU. They are also interested in any solution that could diminish the stream of refugees – also from Syria.
- Current Greek situation makes a lot of resources and people easily available. Most of services are also much cheaper than anywhere else in Europe, considering their quality.
- Natural environment, especially weather, is the closest equivalent of Rojava one we can find in Europe. It is important, especially considering wind and solar energy.
- Greek solidarity economy is pretty well developed. It means that there is a friendly ecosystem for the Hub to get into relationship with.
We have it all – and more
There is an abundance of knowledge available in the realm of appropriate technologies and open source hardware & software. We are also in touch with some top specialists in this area, engineers and scientists, developing disaster recovery projects of various kind. The list contains as well “nomadic engineers”, traveling from community to community, sharing knowledge and skills in a form of workshops and demonstrations. Some of them already promised their support for the project.
Except for a skeleton crew, needed to coordinate and provide general troubleshooting, the Hub will be based on volunteer work. For every specific project we shall get involved people from local hacker/maker environment, guests from Europe or USA and Kurdish team members. The Hub will have to provide basic food and lodging and sometimes to cover travel costs, but that’s basically all.
The major work in the Hub will be to get to the working prototype of any given solution. There is a multitude of possible solutions for every problem. They need to be analyzed in local context, reviewed in terms of sustainability and resilience; finally, one or several of them have to be selected for testing.
After successful tests of a prototype, the whole thing has to be converted into a practical know-how for manufacturing and conveyed, by way of practical training, to the people who would start actual production.
This is what normally R&D entities do and this is the core function of the Hub.
First things first
We already know the short list of solutions that are needed.
Power to the people
Energy in its various forms needs to be generated in Rojava. Renewable sources, like sun, wind and biomass are supposedly our priority. From them we shall need to get electricity, heat and mechanical energy. There is a number of solutions to choose from. We shall be focusing on decentralized, locally serviceable and easy to replicate solutions.
Water is life
Water collection, storage and purification as well as sewage treatment are critical to the health conditions of a community. Here also we have a wealth of traditional and modern low-tech solutions to select from.
Secure and independent communication infrastructure is a key to development and security. We are going to develop a set of services and applications to create Rojava regional internet infrastructure. The Hub will be able to add hardware platform to this project. Together it will create actual backbone for all IT communication in the region.
Money grease the wheels
First stages of operations have to be funded from grants and project-oriented money. As soon as possible we shall start getting into commercial relationships with other entities of solidarity economy. There is no clear funding program for now. It has to be developed and verified in next versions of this document.
Into the future
The Hub is not only going to work for/with Rojava. The very same solutions will be useful locally in Greece and possibly in the rest of Europe. By adding manufacturing capabilities, we shall become a node of international network of new, solidarity driven economy.