Today, I am incredibly grateful to be writing this post on a dazzling Librem 13 laptop that runs on fully open source hardware and software. It’s an amazing computer, endowed with the best of vibes and a great story.
I use this sleek black machine to do my writing, communicating, web and app development. Its an essential tool in my quest to keep tons of plastic are kept out of the biosphere. I suppose if I were living in the world of the Hobbit or Game of Thrones this sleek, fast and lithe device would be my magic sword, shinning and cutting through the darkness.
Of course, like any magic sword… this one has a story.
I met Trisha on a beach in Palawan, Philippines back in 2014. It was a super intense and pivotal movement of my life as my time in the Philippines was coming to a close. Trisha, a retired New Zelander with a passion for living gently on the planet, happened to be visiting my friends at the Maia Earth Village on the island. It was one of those fateful encounters, that you have no idea will have so much consequence.
Trisha really liked the home-made solar charger that I had with me. The openCharger was indeed pretty cool– it was a village co-creation that my Igorot friends and I had made. It turned out Trisha had a passion for empowering social and environmental projects. She insisted that I make another one for her, and put down a deposit. I promised I would get her one!
It took almost a year, but I was finally able to get it to her in New Zealand. We’ve kept in touch over the last five years. In 2016, we realized that by complete coincidence, we both have homes in the same small town in Bali, Indonesia. Here in Bali, she has observed the slow unfolding of the work of my partner and I; raising ecological consciousness through ecobricking in Indonesia. She has watched our work grow from a few tepid Bali schools in 2014, to to a roaring social movement in 2020 involving millions.
Over the last years, we have stayed in touch with dinners and coffees. At key moments– inflection points– she would step in to encourage Ani and I with her good energy. When we were shy a couple hundred dollars for making posters and booklets for a convergence of ecobrickers in Jogja, one of Indonesiania’s main cities, she handed us some cash. When we were low on food, she invited us offer for dinner and surprised us with a bag of groceries. When we, were short of funds for a flight to Jakarta for an important meeting, she chipped in.
These influxes of energy at just the right moment helped us compound our impact by several orders of magnitude. That Jogja convergence? It led to the first Indonesian city to fully endorse ecobricking. The Jakarta flight? The meeting was attended by the top leadership of the world’s largest Muslim organization who have since been disseminating ecobricks to their 98 million members. The food? Well, that was a little more indirect, but it kept us going with our work with websites and social media that engages people we can’t meet in person (this video on our work has 47 million views so far).
Of course, even engaging millions of people with social media is a drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of global plastic consumption. This is why every big company invests tens of millions of dollars into app development to drive engagement (in their case to generate profit and capital). But how does a non-capital movement keep up with these big budgeted slick app and platforms? Well, thanks to the open source movement, comparable data technologies are available for free, and there are awesome services out there that empower the keen to keep up.
Of course, you need a good personal computer to take advantage.
And this is where Trisha saw another inflection point. Seeing us with the latent network, development talent, vision and drive… but just missing the tools, she offered to help me get me the needed computer. She asked me which one… and I immediately knew the answer.
Purism is a principled, social purpose company based in the US. They only sell one model of laptop– the Librem. Unlike the majority of big tech companies, their business model does not center around data collection. Consequently, with a focus on privacy and security they build with only open source technology. They cut no corners in their work and use the best components available that meet their principles. The result is a laptop that has no branded logo, kills switches for data and video, and running a super solid Linux OS. I let Trisha know that the 13′ inch model was ideal for both my work and travel and she ordered it for me. After some trials and tribulations getting it from the US to Indonesia (thanks Jack and Merlin!) it finally made it to my desk.
I use my Librem 13 aggressively everyday and it continues to run as smoothly and as fast as ever. Through it and Purism, I’ve connected with all sorts of other open source technologies and project. Using the machine, I’ve been able to lead the development of our GoBrik.com webapp. It’s now rocking with over 40,000 users.
That said, there’s been something even more valuable that I have gained through the process.
Trisha and I consciously established a safe space and encouraged each the other to express our needs.
In my case, if I needed help with something, I was to ask her for it directly. Meanwhile, if she had the need to allocate her energy elsewhere, or felt she wasn’t in a position to help, than she committed to expressing that clearly. This luminous arrangement empowered us both. For me, the hardest about my work leading a non-capital social movement, is asking for help. My ego and the notion that it clings to of being able to do it all alone, cries out in agony at the thought of admitting otherwise. Even if deep down I know that with the help of others something valuable and crucial can be realized, even if I know that there is a vast community of resonance out there eager to help, it is still enormously challenging to concede what my ego perceives as weakness and dependance. The safe space gave me the courage to articulate my needs and broke through the fear and ego that were holding me back. Once expressed, it almost didn’t matter if Trisha helped or not… I was past half way there already!
I’ve come to grasp that asking for help, and expressing my needs and emotions is not the weakness my ego thinks it is. Rather, for me, its been a road of cultivating a my power to cocreate with others. After all, asking for help is the other side of the coin of giving– the latter couldn’t exist without the first. In the end, giving and receiving are but terms we put on the ebb and flow of humanity’s co-creative process. To the extent that I can past my ego to ask for help, the more others can give and the faster we can get on with manifesting important things together– like open source, non-capital, regenerative solutions for the pressing challenges of our age!
Wooosh! Can you hear it? That’s my sword cutting through the dark night.
Thank you Trisha!
Our intention is to have everything freed down to the schematic level, but have not cleared all design, patents, legal, and contractual details. We will continue to advance toward this goal as it aligns with our long-term beliefs.