Guilds

Guilds: restoring soil by being fully human

Łódź, PolandŁódź, Poland
Year Founded:
2007
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Culture is a civilisation operating system. Ours need reboot and update. By harnessing the power of average human daily routines it's possible to create a regenerative habitats, that reconnects humans with natural resources and makes them soil, water systems, nutrients re-cultivating agents.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if every human being could choose the living circumstances where daily activities benefits soil, biodiversity, water and other beings around ?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Large number of people are willing to make a change with their own hands and resources but the fear of loosing their life savings makes them reluctant, unable to take risk and go forward. They continue to operate within city systems transforming imported resources into waste simply by trying to meet their basic needs. This disconnection from natural cycles gives resource scarcity, water pollution and soil loss as a outcomes.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Service lowering barriers and financial risks of stepping into the regenerative farming, living and practical education. People willing to make a change by transforming their lives will have opportunity to join community of work near them with the same amount of money they usually spent on living in the city. This'd give access to environment designed to build soil while producing food, energy from biomass and shelter from natural materials. By using property leasing model it would be easy to quit without loosing big investment if one discovers that new context does not fit to expectations. After 5 to 7 years in the project participant will be given with full co-owner rights.

Awards

Project was awarded by Region Authorities in 2014, supported by UNDP Project Office Poland in 2012
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Imagine group of 16 people which lived in Warsaw in Lodz moved to the unit with the aim of regenerating soil on degraded land. Their monthly living costs are the same for the next 7 years but they are now feeling that each month is a step further towards owning a house and garden in co-op they now live in. They use shared resources like tool workshop, co-working office, car-sharing, community kitchen because they value smart convenience of having an access over ownership of expensive things. They meet all their food, energy (biomass) and water demands in-situ while creating fertility by closing nutrients cycles and observing increase of soil fertility every year. They connect with people in nearby cities and offer them food via CSA model.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

To date project was focused on equipping people with knowledge and language needed to plan and understand their desires. In last three years we have sent over 3k books about natural building with plan for the next 10k in three years. Over 10k of people participated in our online semminars about regenerative systems - beekeeping, permaculture, natural building, herbs, energy democratisation. Main future impact of this project is to regenerate soils of large areas of degraded land by transforming the daily routines of average person into a regenerative action simply by putting a person in the right context. By creating a network of this kind of habitats we will solve also other challenges connected with food and energy security.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Because of designed-in community work, open-source solutions, sharing facilities project will be able to create offer much more competetive offer to standard market housing options, giving opportunity to be self-sufficient at the same time. Every new settlement will be cheaper and faster to build because of accumulated experience in networked community. By attracting new investors and extending community microfunding project will be able to construct new habitat every two years and educate people willing to replicate this economic model in other countries and regions.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

There are planned three phases of funding. In first, preparation phase (now) funding is organised by running a publishing company within a foundation. Second phase is all about microfinasing - recurring, monthly donations from our 5000 true fans interested in outcomes. In third, last phase funding comes from impact investors and start up scene. All these steps are part of our social entrepreneurship manifesto.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are no other organisation in Poland willing to work at this scale, although there are number of small companies and NGOs specialising in their field. This makes them crucial partners of this project. Property leasing service is very new idea in the country and only organisations with strong social trust can approach this market. This is our advantage because we have long successful project track and people trust that we are able to achieve success in even very experimental fields. Because we are also creating a interest niche in natural building we are perceive as a trusted leader.
Team

Founding Story

A was studying architecture and it was there where I discovered that people who suppose to be ones who understand complex problems and design solutions to them are educated into being specialists for development industry. I left school at the last year and founded natural architecture design company. While working with real people willing to invest in change I discovered that natural architecture is only a part of bigger thing emerging. They were concerned about food, energy, children education, economy and being able to address only one or two areas. I came into idea of community living units which gives all being beneficent for the environment at the same time.

Team

Execution of this start-up idea was proceeded by number of component prototypes (MVP's) in recent years. Architectural design studio created team of skilled designers, Fabrication Laboratory gave experience in hardware prototyping and community of work facilitating, natural building company gave knowledge in building process and working with real people, books and magazine publishing activities resulted in vast network of experts willing to be involved in execution stage. At this point in time project is equipped which all necessary experiences and qualifications. Organisation formally is very small with one full time worker, two board members and around 40 partners working in different activity of the foundation. Project is planned to evolve in Lean manner which means we start with small prototypes, learn and then scale up. First stage is about building interdisciplinary team around creating very first small self-reliant living unit for 20 people.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

ASHOKA Newsletter

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

We are the first publisher in Poland releasing engineering books about natural building, complementing national and technical libraries. We were first organisation in the country who organised big, successful crowd-funding campaign for a festival, and probably the one which did it successfully three times. There are at least 4 major spin-of organisations that emerged from our activities - national society for natural building osbn.pl, fabrication laboratory fablablodz.org, mieszadlo foundation mieszadlo.waw.pl, social natural building company Witalizacja. We pioneered natural architecture services in Poland since 2012 and practical education by organising workshops in construction sites in Build & Play project in 2014 which resulted in two building being built by amateurs. We also organise online education by connecting large audience (500 - 2000 people online) with uniquely skilled people.

At this moment we are one of the very few NGO's in Poland that are self-funding and not using national or EU grants.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I'm connecting with leading experts from around the world in the fields of regenerative design. Publishing their books is part of this work which creates also a great opportunity to focus attention of such a person on polish context. We have relationships with european organisation for straw bale building, Ukrainian network of hackers for energy democratisation (Energy Torrent), permaculture farms like Ridgedale in Sweden and companies around the Europe like Straw Works from UK as well as open hardware technology organisations like Open Source Ecology from US.