Aaron, Jesse and Johnny - new alumni

by SF Team, 3 March 2017

Featured Image
Created by Sam Howzit (CC BY 2.0)

Twice a year some Fellows graduate from our fellowship programme. On 1 March, Aaron, Jesse and Johnny became alumni.

Aaron Makaruk

Something has got to give in how we produce, distribute and consume food. The current system requires too much natural resource while creating pockets of feast and famine, sometimes even within the same city. While large scale systemic change is needed, we believe targeted individual action can make a difference.

This lead us to Aaron Makaruk and his work on easy to do, affordable urban farming. He had 2 objectives - eliminating urban food deserts, and reestablishing a first hand relationship between people and natural food sources. His starting point was producing the kind of open design kits that you’d need to get started.

However, having access to kits has not sufficiently motivated people to engage in the medium term effort that goes into tending a food garden. It became clear that it will take much more than ease of use to bring about behavioral change around food production. We need to go back to the drawing board.

Based on our shared learnings, Aaron is adjusting his focus slightly. While continuing his work on the AKER kits and Open Source Beehives, he will be exploring the relationship between the food cycle and the environment, and the role openness can play in that more broadly.

Aaron fully embraces and actively seeks alignment between his personal and professional choices. Over the coming months he will be reassessing where he can make the biggest contribution to positive change for the benefit of man and nature. His thoughtful approach inspires others to be more considered in their everyday consumption as well as the decisions they make as social change agents.

Jesse von Doom

Jesse cares deeply about the part artists have to play in both shaping and expressing the mood and the culture of our time. This role is too important to be left primarily in the hands of capitalist corporations and the industrial machine.

The conversation artists have with us, with society, through their music, should be free to evolve, to come from left field, to honestly connect with what is inside or underlying, without the restriction of having to have mass appeal. Jesse’s vision for how this can be supported and enabled, is to help them connect much more directly with their audience, broadening their horizon for making a living as a working artist.

In CASH Music he has built the infrastructure for this, from the philosophy to the technology. Next is the know-how of what it takes to be a working musician. He engages makers and listeners alike on the tools of the trade, and makes available the resources for everyone to make more informed choices in music. An important part of this is inviting us all into the CASH Family.

Jesse believes everyone deserves to be able to pursue their dreams and live their best lives. Over the past 3 years we have seen this belief manifested in the way in which Jesse operates, specifically through CASH but also as a human being and a Fellow. He contributes a great deal to others within and beyond the fellowship by demonstrating the intrinsic values of openness and being part of an inclusive thriving community.

Johnny West

Johnny West does not shy away from things that are difficult. He readily acknowledges that achieving his grand vision may, probably will, be hard. But he always points out it is not impossible, which means it is worth trying.

One such vision is to have openly available, universal information about the planet’s natural mineral resources. The inner workings of the extractive industries are incredibly hidden, yet have enormous impact on our lives. Johnny’s vision is to demystify the extractive industries for everyone - citizens, governments, corporations, consumers and environmentalists alike. Openness levels the playing field for negotiations and sets the baseline for strategic planning towards a more equitable, sustainable world.

When we first heard Johnny speak about his idea, we were enthusiastic to work together on the challenge, but we certainly had reservations about the extent we thought it was possible. The field is seemingly dense with competing vested interests and incumbents not keen on relinquishing their privileged positions. He has truly risen to the challenge and more.

Johnny’s work through Open Oil is an example of how openness creates opportunities across the board. This is not about an expose or catching anyone out. It is about helping everyone make informed, contextual decisions by redressing the balance knowledge and power. The more we know, the better decisions we can make about how we manage these resources and the impact they have on our environment, societies and economies. It has shown what is really possible using publicly available data.

His spontaneous expressions of pure joy - jumping onto a swing or walking into the pouring rain - is so infectious, he really does make the impossible seem, and therefore become, possible.

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