19 Shades of green

The colour green is well-suited to many philanthropic organisations. As funders, it’s hard to ignore its strong association with money, and its connection to nature and our changing climate is a constant reminder of some of the urgent problems the world needs to fix. Green is also symbolic of growth, regeneration and renewal, and of vitality, harmony and freshness. The Portuguese use it to represent hope, while the Scots wear it for honour. In Japanese culture, green is regarded as the colour of eternal life.

Interestingly, specific terms for green have only recently been introduced to the Japanese language: before the Second World War, all greens were thought of as variants of blue. Anthropologists have since discovered that cultures undergo an evolution of words for colours when introduced to new ways of thinking. And once that green/blue distinction has been made, it paves the way for the creation of even more terms; new-found words for purples, browns, oranges, pinks.

There are similarities between this cultural development of colour terms and the Foundation story. Funding telecommunications technology has led us to explore the emerging languages of small scale manufacturing and open source conservation tracking. Backing open education projects has tuned our ears to important voices leading the charge for access to knowledge and fact checking.

Our experiment began in South Africa over ten years ago with three core team members exploring four thematic areas with five fellows. We now have 46, covering themes we couldn’t possibly have imagined when we started. Over the years, this combined cast of characters has helped open our eyes to many of the new, growing challenges we all need to address as a global society.

Every individual listed below – each Shade of Green – has contributed to the growth, regeneration and renewal of the fellowship, while offering vitality, harmony and freshness of thought to the world with their projects. The fellowship is a place for hope, and the Foundation’s transparent practices promise honour as a minimum. The Japanese green of eternal life may be beyond us, alas; but, the work fellows leave behind is there forever, to be used, built on or adapted as needed.

01. Helen Turvey

Helen is the executive director and responsible for the strategic direction of the Foundation. Educated in Europe, South America and the Middle East and with experience working for a range of international NGOs and agencies, she has overseen the transformation from the old Foundation model to the current over the past decade.

02. Karien Bezuidenhout

Karien is an advocate for openness and supporter of social entrepreneurs. She has played a wide range of roles within the Foundation and is now a director, focussed on the fellowship pogramme, engaging with issues of openness and social change, identifying potential investments and working closely with fellows towards realising their vision.

03. Jason Hudson

Jason is an open source enthusiast, highly qualified Linux professional and a director of the Shuttleworth Foundation. He founded the Freedom Toaster project, which was incubated by the Foundation in its earlier incarnation, and now Jason plans and manages all areas of information technology strategy, development and implementation at the Foundation and advises on these issues within the investments.

04. Andrew Rens 2007–2010

Our first fellow, Andrew defined the legal foundations for our work in access to knowledge, intellectual property reform and open education in South Africa. He went on to establish opencounsel.net to help social changemakers and activists with licensing matters. Andrew continues to work with the Foundation as counsel, and over the past decade has helped us apply open licensing to the emerging fields of open data, hardware, and biotechnology, and created the innovative Open Locks legal mechanism.

05. Mark Surman 2007–2008

Mark became a fellow in 2007 to help us apply open source principles to philanthropy. He provided support and thinking to help us increase the impact of social innovation through community, transparency and all things open, and his work helped define the core methods, principles and philosophies that underpin much of what we do today. A community technology activist for over 20 years, Mark is now the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, promoting openness, opportunity and innovation on the Internet.

06. Steve Song 2007–2011

Steve also joined us in 2007 to break down the barrier of expensive communications in South Africa. Founder of the Village Telco project, he built affordable community telephone networks – without mobile towers or landlines – using open source software and low cost wireless mesh technology. Steve is currently a fellow at Mozilla and a research associate with the Network Startup Resource Center. He is hugely influential in the global telecoms space, and now works at a policy and regulatory level.

07. Steve Vosloo 2008–2011

Steve enjoyed considerable success with his M4Lit platform, delivering short, compelling stories via mobile phones: 63,000 young South Africans from a diverse range of social backgrounds signed up to read the stories in the first month alone. Post-fellowship, Steve left South Africa to work for UNESCO, before returning for a role at Pearson Publishing. He recently took up a position at UNICEF as policy specialist for youth and digital connectivity, returning to the area of work he explored with the Foundation.

08. Mark Horner 2007–2012

Mark became Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources in 2007. After our transition into the new fellowship model in 2009, he took ownership of the Siyavula project, and it became a for-profit social enterprise in 2011. To date, Siyavula has put 10 million openly licensed and free textbooks on school desks in Africa and has pioneered machine learning technology to offer affordable maths and science practice services on any device.

09. Philipp Schmidt 2009–2012

Philipp cofounded Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) as a non-profit, grassroots, open learning institution to fill a gap in online education: social, peer-led experiences for self-learners. At its peak, the community swelled to over 100,000 active users, and P2PU has since grown into a worldwide community of educators, learners, librarians and technologists, all focussed on opening education to as many people as possible. Philipp remains on the P2PU board, and his experience has led to a role at MIT Media Lab as Director of the Learning Initiative.

10. François Grey 2010–2011

François became a Shuttleworth Fellow in 2010. His vision was to promote the concept of citizen cyberscience with Citizen Cyberlab, combining the fast-developing technologies of the web with citizen science practices to benefit the humanitarian development world. At the time of writing, François and Citizen Cyberlab were heavily involved with the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative, creating a comprehensive challenge-based learning programme for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

11. Rufus Pollock 2010–2013

As the second fellow in our first intake of the new international model, Rufus spent his fellowship pursuing change in the way governments collect, order and share public information, while establishing the Open Knowledge Foundation as a leading organisation in its field. He introduced new ways of thinking about public data in governments and established OKFest, the leading international event on openness. Rufus continues as a champion of openness and has recently outlined a big vision for an open economy in his book The Open Revolution.

“There is no other funding community that I have stayed in touch with – by any comparison. The Gatherings are such an important space to refresh myself professionally.”

“There is no other funding community that I have stayed in touch with – by any comparison. The Gatherings are such an important space to refresh myself professionally.”

Gavin Weale (2011–2014)

12. Gavin Weale 2011–2014

Gavin’s Live SA project trained young South Africans as content creators and published influential content to an underserved sector of the community where resources are scarce and unemployment is rife. Gavin immersed himself into the lives and social challenges of young South Africans and built up a credible, highly engaged youth audience. Live SA has now grown into Digify Africa, a social enterprise furnishing over 85,000 young people in ten different countries with training in digital marketing skills, helping many find permanent employment.

13. Kabir Bavikatte 2011–2012

All over the world there are communities of indigenous people whose ecosystems are threatened by global corporations and government expropriation. Kabir founded Natural Justice to help. His fellowship involved developing biocultural community protocols and reinforcing ideas of stewardship rights, shared governance and management over collectively held resources. He is now the executive director of the Christensen Fund, advocating for protection and access to knowledge at the intersection between people, place, culture and ecology.

14. Kathi Fletcher 2011–2014

Kathi’s idea was OERPUB: a set of open source tools and architectures connecting different softwares and enabling usable, shareable editing experiences for academic institutions and teachers. Her work was important technical plumbing that simplified authoring, adapting, repurposing and sharing. Kathi is now with Openstax, an organisation offering students no- or low-cost textbooks, and much of the interface work she did is still in use. At the time of writing, the Openstax team were helping over two million university students save around hundreds of millions of dollars per semester.

15. Arthur Attwell 2011–2014

Arthur worked on Paperight, a rights clearance house for literary and educational works. His idea was to enable on-demand book printing in any location – a photocopy shop, for example – and widen access to reading in remote, underserved areas. He introduced new thinking and important conversations in the industry and is still driving the change he felt was needed in 2011 with his current ventures: Electric Book Works, Bettercare and Book Dash.

16. Paul Gardner-Stephen 2011–2012

Paul’s Serval Project focussed on developing, testing and deploying WiFi technology and software to allow the use of mobile phones in remote areas without a network. This had enormous potential to be useful in disaster areas where cellular networks fail but was also used by human rights activists in Nigeria and the New Zealand Red Cross. Paul continues to fly the flag for open telecommunication with Serval from his Australian base at Flinders University, Adelaide.

17. Catharina Maracke 2012–2015

Catharina’s fellowship involved building a sustainable framework to manage legal risks in collaborative development initiatives, including developing the next generation of standardised contributor agreements. Her work was important in making legal boundaries clear, so great projects would not falter due to technicalities. Catharina is currently associate professor at the Graduate School for Media and Governance at Keio University, working on copyright law and policy and the interaction between law and new media.

18. Marcin Jakubowski 2012–2014

Marcin’s fellowship focussed on the Global Village Construction Set: a set of 50 affordable modular machines needed to start a new, small civilisation, based on an open source economy that works better for people, society and the environment. He was hugely successful in laying the groundwork for other innovators in the emerging field of open hardware. Halfway through his twenty-year plan, Marcin has recently started immersion workshops to train enthusiasts and expand the reach of Open Source Ecology across the United States.

19. Esra’a Al Shafei 2012–2015

Esra’a is the founder of MidEast Youth – now majal.org – and our first fellow from the Middle East. Her project was CrowdVoice, a crowdsourcing platform mapping and contextualising human rights violations happening around the world. It gives an accurate historical sense to the vast flow of info across the web, using witness reports, articles, blog posts, infographics and timelines. CrowdVoice engages a membership of 30,000 people and gives a voice to the underrepresented in some of the most highly surveilled, censorious regions of the world.

20. Jaisen Mathai 2012–2014

Jaisen was awarded a fellowship to develop Trovebox, a service that preserved personal and societal media for prosperity and a place to ensure media archives can outlive even the owner. His work was important in highlighting how the big problems with ownership and preservation on the Internet are present at such a small and simple scale. Jaisen is currently working as a product manager for Google but still flies the flag for Open, particularly with his Elodie project: a photo assistant, organiser and workflow automation tool that offers a new approach to the original intent and goal he had with Trovebox.

21. Dan Whaley 2013–2016

Dan’s idea was Hypothes.is, an annotation tool that promotes a more open web and aims to improve the quality of online discussion and discourse. Built on Philipp Schmidt and Rufus Pollock’s Shuttleworth-funded AnnotateIt project, Hypothes.is grew from an early stage idea to a fully fledged organisation in three years. It has been enormously successful as a mission-driven non-profit and now has 150,000 users making over 3.5 million annotations.

22. David Wiley 2013–2015

David became a fellow to work on Lumen Learning, a for-profit social enterprise seeking to make open educational resources (OER) part of the mainstream. He proved OER could replace expensive textbooks – bringing costs down for students, schools and colleges – and demonstrated that students using OER would improve their learning outcomes. In 2018, David and Lumen Learning supported 230,000 students with course materials and with estimated savings of over $23 million.

23. Jonas Öberg 2013–2015

Jonas developed the Elog.io project and built technical infrastructure to provide instant credit and attribution to creators of openly licensed digital works. While his project did not prove sustainable as a business model, it is still an ongoing endeavour, with its image recognition and similarity matching databases still in use today. Jonas went on to an executive position at the Free Software Foundation Europe after his fellowship and recently joined Scania AB to build support structures for managing the company’s internal open source program.

24. Daniel Lombraña González 2013–2016

Daniel’s work with Crowdcrafting, PyBossa, and the human data mining organisation Sci Fabric demonstrates the power and potential of citizen science and crowdsourcing. Through its consultancy service, Sci Fabric develops and modifies PyBossa in seemingly infinite ways to fit the needs of its clients. Daniel and the SciFabric team have used volunteer communities and computing to deliver social impact in incredibly diverse areas, which include improving health outcomes, helping with humanitarian disasters and uncovering political misdemeanors.

25. Moxie Marlinspike 2014–2015

As individuals we should all be able to share our thoughts and feelings, actions and ideas with those we choose, without fear of surveillance or judgement. Moxie’s fellowship aimed to address this issue with Open Whisper Systems, developing frictionless applications for secure communication, aimed at end users and providing an overall experience that is better than the non-secure defaults.

“The fellowship has totally changed my life – and it’s still one of the biggest things in my life. It’s my heartbeat, a guiding light, and gives me an environment that fuels me, and I can pay back into. The Gatherings are so important to do this.”

“The fellowship has totally changed my life – and it’s still one of the biggest things in my life. It’s my heartbeat, a guiding light, and gives me an envir­onment that fuels me, and I can pay back into. The Gatherings are so important to do this.”

Peter Murray-Rust (2014–2016)

26. Jesse von Doom 2014–2017

Music has the power to help us tap into new ideas and perspectives, but voices of resistance, protest and dissent are increasingly muted, whether it be a result of major labels playing it safe or the need for artists to take on multiple jobs to survive. Jesse worked on CASH Music to provide musicians with free and open source tools, support and a platform to give them more career control and independence. Today, he remains on the board at CASH and recently finished a digital directorship at Mozilla. Jesse also plays an important role at the Foundation, acting as “buddy” to each new cohort and helping them in the early stages of their fellowship.

27. Johnny West 2014–2017

Johnny’s Open Oil project focussed on bringing openness to the extractives industries. By mapping purposefully opaque corporate networks and making data searchable and understandable, we all have more power to manage our finite resources more efficiently and profitably. His fellowship made significant progress in building a for-profit enterprise with an important social mission and, recently, Open Oil provided data analysis and financial models to secure an African government an extra $7 million in negotiations with an oil company.

28. Peter Murray-Rust 2014–2016

Society depends on scientific research to make progress. But when studies are locked behind expensive paywalls, only publishers and their shareholders benefit. Peter’s fellowship focussed on the development of Content Mine, a platform and set of tools trying to liberate facts from scholarly articles and contextualise information to help researchers make sense of what they find. Despite huge preventative pressure from publishers, Peter continues to fight for his idea that “the right to read is the right to mine”, and remains a committed and engaged fellow.

29. Rory Aronson 2014–2015

Rory’s idea was FarmBot: a scalable, precision farming machine, built on open source principles. His aim was to challenge the growing problems of food scarcity, security and supply quality, and the effects of climate change by enabling people to grow their own food at a local level and offering them more control over their diets. Rory continues to work on FarmBot – currently popular with the global hacker/maker crowd – with a new focus on making the system more attractive to the mainstream.

30. Peter Bloom 2014–2017

Peter founded Rhizomatica to create low-cost, community-owned, open-source cellular infrastructure for rural areas. His fellowship was a huge success in democratising telecommunications access, decreasing costs, and shifting the debate at policy level. Rhizomatica was granted the first community cellular network licence in the world, awarded a donation from the Mexican government for satellite capacity, and has replicated its work in different areas across continents, adapting as needed for each community’s needs.

31. Seamus Kraft 2014–2017

After discovering Rufus Pollock’s Annotator project, Seamus included its code as a core piece of the OpenGov Foundation, bringing openness straight to the heart of government. His fellowship idea was to encourage better lines of communication and engagement between citizens and elected representatives by offering tools to local civic institutions. Seamus remains executive director of OpenGov, while also establishing his new project – Article One – to help governments communicate better with constituents and be more effective and accountable.

32. Sean Bonner 2014–2017

Sean’s fellowship project was Safecast, a volunteer-centred environmental data initiative. His fellowship focussed on the design and production of open sensors allowing individuals to measure different environmental factors and gather verified environmental information on a highly localised level. Safecast has collected the largest ever dataset of background radiation measurements and developed sensors for measuring air particulate, helping change the narrative in the field and empowering communities to better understand their environments.

33. Luka Mustafa 2015–2018

Luka began his fellowship working on Koruza, an open source 3D printable wireless optical system to enable “last-100m” Internet access. He ended it with his engineering company – Institute IRNAS – expanding way beyond telecommunications. Now, Luka and his team are able to solve complex and exotic problems in a variety of diverse fields, including the design and creation of Internet of Things devices, conservation technology and 3D bioprinting for several Shuttleworth-funded projects.

34. Adam Hyde 2015–2018

Adam’s fellowship gave him an opportunity to put many of his long-held ideas about improving scholarly communication technology into practice. His work on the Coko Foundation involved creating open, shared infrastructure and methodologies, suites of tools, and frameworks, introducing them to a thriving, collaborative community. He has created a unique space as an innovator in the academic publishing world, and researchers, academics and society as a whole are all reaping the fruits of his labour.

35. Astra Taylor 2015–2018

Astra Taylor joined the fellowship to empower people to take control of their financial data, and shift public thinking about the nature of debt. With The Debt Collective, she has mobilised thousands of people to defend their rights, exposed predatory lending practices, and pierced a hole in the bureaucratic systems that protect profits over people. Astra and her community have won relief for student debtors worth over a billion dollars – giving an astonishing social return on our investment – and forced policy change at government level.

36. Waldo Jaquith 2015–2016

Waldo founded US Open Data to help the US government modernise its use of technology at all levels, specifically around opening data. During his fellowship he garnered widespread support for open data across a variety of departments, proving the value of openness inside and outside of government. After a single funding year, Waldo had achieved his primary aims and made the decision to join 18F, an organisation supported by the US government to pool funding between states and enable the development and procurement of open source software.

37. Aaron Makaruk 2016–2017

Aaron’s AKER Kits aimed to encourage a new wave of urban agriculture. His idea was to create a set of open source methodologies, tools and kits in an attempt to deal with the growing problem of food deserts and reset our increasingly distant relationship with food. While this idea proved unsustainable as a business model, Aaron has now shifted his focus to OS Beehive, which enables beekeepers to monitor hive conditions remotely and intervene to prevent bee colony loss.

38. Peter Cunliffe-Jones 2016–2019

Peter became a fellow with the aim of becoming the first fact-checking organisation to cover the continent of Africa. His work on Africa Check has been a huge success, resulting in a transparent, open platform that exposes misinformation and biased reporting in four countries and is now recognised as a global leader in the field. Peter stepped down from his position after achieving sustainability for Africa Check and recently became the International Fact-Checking Network’s senior adviser, helping the organisation review and establish its new code of principles.

39. Tiffiniy Cheng 2016–2018

Tiffiniy is the cofounder of Fight for the Future, a small, agile group of Internet freedom fighters who mobilise and empower millions of people to stand up for their digital rights and organise against threats to an open web. Her fellowship tackled the pressing subjects of net neutrality and online surveillance, while building a sustainability path for Fight for the Future. Today, Tiff remains on the board of Fight for the Future, and works on replicating its successful model of online activism to enable teams in other critical-issue areas to be more politically effective.

40. Achal Prabhala 2016–

Private interests dominate the global development and manufacture of medicines, leading to fake innovation, bad patents, and the blocking of affordable versions of life-saving drugs. Achal is challenging a system encouraging profit over people with AccessIBSA, advocating for intellectual property reform and increased access to medicines, especially in under-resourced countries. His work has exposed and led to change in patent “evergreening” – corporations exploiting lax drug patent laws to protect monopolies.

41. Isha Datar 2016–

As the world’s population grows, food insecurity is becoming one of the biggest challenges we face as a species. Isha recognises that we need to rethink the food supply chain and as director of New Harvest is leading the charge. Her work enables research and builds the foundations for a post-animal bioeconomy, and her fellowship touches on funding collaborative research, building a multi-disciplinary community, and educating stakeholders and the general public about the necessity for cellular agriculture.

42. Ugo Vallauri 2017–

Our current relationship with electronics is based on a marriage of convenience and short-termism: designs are becoming more disposable and less repairable, built within closed ecosystems that actually promote the idea of obsolescence. Ugo is providing the world with grounds for a divorce. His Restart project provides an open solution, reducing electronic waste and promoting repair, reuse and sustainability. And he attacks this growing issue from all sides, involving everything from repair workshops up to advocating for policy change at the governmental level.

43. Alasdair Davies 2017–

Alasdair’s Arribada Initiative is bringing open source, affordable, customisable technology to conservation. Starting out with the creation of a turtle tag, Alasdair has refined and fine-tuned the device, giving researchers the ability to collect turtle behaviour data at a cost 90% less than commercial alternatives. His work – some of which is co-created by Shuttleworth Fellow Luka Mustafa – has now expanded into a variety of themes, including camera traps and thermal imaging for human-wildlife conflict environments.

44. Anasuya Sengupta 2017–

Just as history is always written by the victors, the Internet is created by those with power and privilege. In a rich, multicultural world, we only see a small part of the tapestry. Anasuya is re-imagining the web with Whose Knowledge?, an initiative designed to drive inclusiveness and diversity into the content we all consume online. In championing this cause, she represents and promotes marginalised, unheard voices to nurture a more inclusive and diverse perspective.

45. Mad Price Ball 2017–2019

Mad’s work with Open Humans questions current thinking on health data. There are inherent risks around privacy, security and discrimination surrounding this personal information, motivating a siloed approach to data gathering. But what happens when people can manage and share their own data? Over their fellowship, Mad and Open Humans have demonstrated that giving people control and power over health data can be empowering. Not only do contributors become active participants, but they also help to advance research.

46. Tarek Loubani 2017–

Tarek is designing, creating and testing low-cost, open source and universally accessible medical hardware. His organisation – Glia – builds a range of medical devices that equals or exceeds the quality of premium brands at a fraction of the price. These include a $3 stethoscope built to the same standards as the $300 market standard, a $7 3-D printed tourniquet tested in the field in Gaza, and a $15 otoscope. Tarek’s work expands into enabling independent development, particularly in conflict zones and under-resourced areas.

47. Jenny Molloy 2018–

Jenny is exploring the viability of an open and sustainable bioeconomy for the public good. Her aim is to increase participation and innovation by solving the distribution problems faced by grassroots scientists, while encouraging policymakers to build open thinking into their innovation policies. Jenny’s project challenges the current narrative in biotechnology where proprietary models, patent protection and profit maximisation are the norm.

48. Karla Córdoba-Brenes 2018–

Karla is cofounder of BeSpiral. Her idea is to enable communities with a shared purpose to create digital, complementary currencies based on self-determined values and rules – to achieve social and environmental goals, for example. Using blockchain technology is an innovative take on complementary currencies, which studies suggest have many positive impacts on local environments, economies and societies. This idea is potentially transformative for communities everywhere, particularly those that lack resources.

49. Andrew Lamb 2018–

Andrew is shifting thinking in disaster relief procurement and logistics with his Massive Small Manufacturing concept. Using 3D printing and open source designs, the idea is to distribute manufacturing capabilities in disaster zones and enable partnerships between local factories and relief agencies. His work aims to put life-saving equipment into the hands of those who need it faster, better and cheaper, while saving lives and providing opportunities for economic recovery in disaster-hit communities.

50.      2019–

Our fiftieth shade of green is, as yet, out of view. But we know they are out there, ready to unveil solutions for the world’s emerging challenges. It could be anyone reading this right now, with an idea, fresh perspective or as yet unproven solution that questions conventional wisdom and solves real world problems. We seek individuals – regardless of location, qualifications, gender or age – willing to take a risk and benefit society. There are no specific themes. Our only requirement is that potential fellows commit to openness and the fellowship with 100% focus, bravery, and a broad and generous mind.