Michigan: The Transformation Manifesto

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"Michigan is Screwed"

See: http://www.youtube.com/embed/AUpO1QFMDtM


It's likely you are highly aware of the current political situation that people in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and other struggling industrial states are facing. In Michigan in particular it looks to me like the goal of Rick Snyder and the legislators that control the Michigan House/Senate is to tear down 20th century community infrastructures, starting from the bottom up.

The reality is that if the people in power in Michigan now fully succeed, private mega corporations will queue up to enclose property, extract wealth and resources at lightning speed, further impoverish our community's most vulnerable members, push out those willing to fight by making their lives and communities miserable, and put whomever is left on their knees. They want our money flowing out of our pockets and communities, and their cheaply made worthless crap flowing in. They want to grab our land, our trees, frack out our natural gas and deplete our water, and run our soil down to clay. They want to push people out of the largest cities, fence of the empty land, bulldoze the buildings and sit on the land waiting for a future day when it's value increases. They want to do all of this while paying next to no taxes, employing none of the people of Michigan, and investing nothing back into the communities. They already got a huge amount of the money out of our communities by way of fraudulant mortgage scams that destroyed the economies of several countries around the world. They can make it more miserable for any of us that don't pick up and leave by: increasing our taxes (the elderly and retired, the poor, etc). Making our schools so deplorable that no one will want to move to our communities. And, whenever possible, declaring an "emergency" and dissolving local government, installing private corporations in their place with license to do whatever they want without any oversight. I am willing to bet that most of you that voted for Rick Snyder and the people in Michigan Congress probably did not vote for what I describe above. I'll bet that your ancestors didn't fight to get you to where you are now, just to see us all start to slip back towards whatever they came here to get away from. However, the sad fact is that what I describe above is now upon you, and all of us.

Fortunately for us, we don't have to accept this reality. We currently have all of the building blocks we need to turn things around for ourselves here in a relatively short amount of time.

A clue comes to us from our own state's past. At the turn of the 19th-20th century, automobiles were prohibitively expensive for all but a few people. One of the reasons was a monopoly on the designs of automotive technology by George B. Selden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_B._Selden Selden and associate's efforts to protect their patents led to a battle with Henry Ford, which resulted in a decision by courts to open up automotive technology for those that were not using the Selden engine design.

From Open Source - History and Development Adrienne Walker San Jose State University http://infosherpas.com/ojs/index.php/openandlibraries/article/view/43/65:

Free sharing and open source are not 21st century ideas, we tend to think of open source as a way of being connected to the Internet as software but open source was in existence early in the 20th century although it took a different form. That form was automobile manufacturing. For those of you familiar with early automotive history, Henry Ford challenged the patent of George Selden. Selden had a chokehold on the automobile industry but Ford won a challenge to Selden's patent (The history of free and open source, 2009). Henry Fords breakthrough initiated the beginning of open source in the modern age and coupled with the formation of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association was influential in creating cross-licensing agreements. Cross-licensing agreements existed between the United States automobile manufacturers of the day. Each automobile manufacturing company modified the technology and filed patents, these patents were shared, and no exchange of money, no lawsuits and an industry thrived (The history of free and open source, 2009).


We can do this again in Michigan. We can start in our own communities, re-building our economies around sharing not just technology, but also production of food, energy, and knowledge.


There's enough wind and solar power across the state of Michigan to run the whole state on wind and solar energy alone. Open sourcing the technology for wind, solar, and batteries for hybrid/electric cars would create an explosion of innovation across the state and in the region, and eventually worldwide. If we really want to get into manufacturing green energy in the state of Michigan, the fastest route will be by way of creating sound design cores for small wind generators and solar collectors/solar voltaics and releasing them under an open license (like TAPR for instance http://www.tapr.org/ohl.html ) Our first step can be to install hybrid solar/wind in as many individua locations as possible (some neighbrhoods can team up and group buy for a whole block), and install them in a way that turns the current electrical grid into a "Net metering" grid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering

In the US, much of the electric grid is municipally owned, community owned (as in "rural electric co-operatives"), publicly licensed, and/or runs over public rights of way. This provides a great deal of public-interest policy leverage over the existing grid.

We can also create the basic building blocks for multiple open source technology storage options (such as hydrogen, water tanks, etc). And, we already have much of what we would need to turn our power grid into a "smart grid" in terms of software and hardware. The single most important policy for promoting p2p energy is already in place in many areas--that is "net metering" or "reverse metering". Net metering allows any peer producer to put surplus energy onto the grid. In many cases such locally peer-produced energy, reverse-metered onto the grid, is credited at a subsidized rate above the normal consumer rate for electricity.

Where net metering is already in place, an additional policy initiative could be attempted. This would entail allowing each peer-producer and consumer the option to negotiate rates among themselves. Some peer-producers might charge rates higher than the "retail" consumer rate. In this case such producers would operate much like existing "green power" producers. In other cases producers might sell their surplus to preferred consumers (say family-related households or eco-village neighbors) at a discounted rate. Such a practice could be implemented over the existing grid with little more administrative effort than existing "green power" programs require.

As parts of the existing grid are gradually updated and upgraded, it should be possible to build in direct p2p balancing, metering, and billing capability so that no institutional "middleman" is required for adding or withdrawing amounts of energy that are below some threshold adequate to prevent outages or overloads.

We can also start processing our plant and animal waste in open source biodigesters to produce electricity (example http://www.appropedia.org/Category:Biogas ) and our agricultural and surburban landscaping refuse into new soil and biofuel.

Much of this new infrastructure can be managed by user-owned cooperatives where needed.


We have a real opportunity with the collapse of the inflated real estate economy to cooperatively purchase land, and re-develop it for production of food, energy, and physical production. REsidential land can be contracted back to families, but this time with support from cooperatives and credit unions instead of big Wall Street banks.


It's time to create cooperatives where parents and teachers are the owners of school systems. Most cirricular development can be released under creative commons licenses (as seen with http://wikieducator.org/OERF:Home http://ftacademy.org/ http://www.oercommons.org/ etc etc )

A really compelling and immediately useful example is https://open.umich.edu/wiki/Main_Page

Parents can work with teachers and their students to adaptively shape learning over time. No more showing up in cinderblock buildings and being trained to be told what to do at the expense of truly learning how and why to do it. We teach children CRITICAL THINKING and skills to solve problems on their own with little or nothing to work with except their minds. Children are no longer raw material to be shaped into employees for big business. They are now taught to invent, build, experiment, create and destroy, co-manage and co-govern anywhere anytime with anything. They are taught actual history and left to decide for themselves. They are taught to produce their *own* food, energy, information systems as needed. They are taught to be programmers, not users. Makers, not consumers. Independent problem solvers, not employees. This is 21st century education in Michigan.


Manufacturing in Michigan will become small, distributed, diverse and massively adaptable and interoperable. Designs are shared and improved constantly. Technology cooperatives not only design and produce physhical hardware and software technology for people, but they also teach people how to do this themselves, and how to effectively use technology.

Existing manufacturing labor unions will help create these new technology cooperatives by taking their pension fund monies out of greedy wall street companies and re-investing in Local Economic Development. Tens of thousands of people who are laid off from jobs will also pool resources to create these Technology Cooperatives throughout the state. This could happen here in Michigan within one year.


Already here in Michigan, we are leading the way towards creating a plurality of currencies. We want to have more than one option for currencies, given the instability of US and global financial systems. Some existing examples include:

Examples of P2P currencies that work digitally from around the world can be found on the Category:Money page.

Research and Development

Michigan Technology Cooperatives can invest their surplus resources in ongoing open source research and development, driven by the needs of people in Michigan and throughout the US and world. Students learn to participate in this activity at as early an age as possible.

Michigan Food Revolution

Food cooperatives and community supported agriculture have proven themselves in places like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and elsewhere. As our world spirals into a collapse of global commercial energy and resource distribution, leading to increasing costs for imported goods, we can sidestep that problem and produce food locally and regionally. We can create enough food locally in Michigan to make imports a luxury-only source of food (instead of the majority of food source for our state). We can create community owned food cooperatives in every city in the state, while simultaneously bolstering the hundreds of thousands of LOCAL food producers and retailers that already exist in this state.

The federal government is moving towards de-funding programs like WIC, and other aid programs that help bring food to the poorest people in the state. 2011 is the year to find methods to connect people to people to meet food production needs.


NO. No more jobs. It is ALREADY fact that over 98% of businesses in Michigan are now small businesses[2]. This is in part because most of those who are left actually participating in economic activity stopped looking for a job about 5-6 years ago and started a business. So this is what we do, we start businesses, and we connect them together. Go pay the $10 and register a DBA with your name on it at the county clerk. You are now ready to do businesses. Team up with other people in your community to share what you are learning about starting and running your own collaborative business/enterprise. In some cases we start cooperatives, credit unions, and ways for people to invest and receive return on investment in their local community (and not just monetary investment). We stop saving our retirement savings in 401k and other Wall Street scams and we invest that money locally and receive a robust and healthy return on investment.However, where people must hold jobs, their right to collectively bargain is supported. We DO NOT want to slide back to Dickensian work systems. We want to support working people and their hard won rights.


Rich people will pay more taxes. Poor people will pay less. Want to pay less taxes? Make less money.

Health Care

Have I used the word "cooperative" enough in this manifesto? You are about to read it again. Why, you ask?:

Wouldn't you rather be a co-owner in the entity that helps you pool costs with others towards your healthcare, than deal with the corporate profit-driven casino model that currently exists for health insurance?

The time for Health Care Cooperatives in Michigan is NOW. Michigan Health Care Cooperatives hire doctors and their practices and take good care of them. They reject doctors who put profit over their Hippocratic Oath.[3]. In this way, Michigan leads the way in reforming health care starting with the doctor/patient relationship. Health Care Cooperatives in Michigan also FUND proven services, such as mid-wife-run birth centers, and other so-called "alternative medicine" providers.

We start with changing the law in Michigan to allow us the RIGHT to create these cooperatives.


When we're not busy having our faces shoved to the grindstone at a job, we're going to have some time to engage in Local, State, and Federal governments. However, we are also going to make them increasingly obsolete in the process. We are going to be able to come up with rules together via connective technologies like the internet. We're going to also be able to team up on government when we're not being listened to.

We can do it without political parties following The Political Principles of Peer-to-Peer Advocacy.

No advocate of peer-to-peer politics wants all communications or activity routed through them. Bottlenecks are weaknesses.

That being said, any politician *or* party that ascribes to the principles of openness, p2p and the commons is worth collaborating and working with.

Your additions here

This is what transformation in Michigan means to me. What does it mean to you? I want to know. I'll faithfully incorporate whatever any of you contribute, and I will spread it around. It's time to get real, dig in and change this place, now.

Other links


  1. Special thanks to Nathan Oostendorp who made me aware of this part of Michigan industrial history when he presented this at http://igniteannarbor.com see http://ingenuitas.com/
  2. http://levin.senate.gov/senate/smallbusiness/index.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath