I, like many of you,am one of the two billion peopleon Earth who live in cities. And there are days —I don’t know about the rest of you –but there are days when I palpably feelhow much I rely on other peoplefor pretty much everything in my life. And some days, that can evenbe a little scary. But what I’m hereto talk to you about todayis how that same interdependenceis actually an extremelypowerful social infrastructurethat we can actually harnessto help heal someof our deepest civic issues,if we apply open-source collaboration. A couple of years ago,I read an article by New York Timeswriter Michael Pollan,in which he argued that growingeven some of our own foodis one of the best thingsthat we can do for the environment. Now at the time that I was reading this,it was the middle of the winterand I definitely did not have roomfor a lot of dirtin my New York City apartment. So I was basically just willing to settlefor just reading the next Wired magazineand finding out how the expertswere going to figure outhow to solve all these problemsfor us in the future. But that was actually exactly the pointthat Michael Pollanwas making in this article –it’s precisely when we hand overthe responsibilityfor all these things to specialiststhat we cause the kind of messesthat we see with the food system. So, I happen to knowa little bit from my own workabout how NASA has been using hydroponicsto explore growing food in space. And that you can actuallyget optimal nutritional yieldby running a kind of high-qualityliquid soil over plants’ root systems. Now to a vegetable plant,my apartment has got to beabout as foreign as outer space. But I can offer some natural lightand year-round climate control. Fast-forward two years later:we now have window farms,which are vertical, hydroponic platformsfor food-growing indoors. And the way it worksis that there’s a pump at the bottom,which periodically sends this liquidnutrient solution up to the top,which then trickles downthrough plants’ root systemsthat are suspended in clay pellets –so there’s no dirt involved. Now light and temperature varywith each window’s microclimate,so a window farm requires a farmer,and she must decidewhat kind of crops she is goingto put in her window farm,and whether she is goingto feed her food organically. Back at the time,a window farm was no morethan a technically complex ideathat was going to requirea lot of testing. And I really wanted itto be an open project,because hydroponicsis one of the fastestgrowing areas of patentingin the United States right now,and could possibly becomeanother area like Monsanto,where we have a lot of corporateintellectual propertyin the way of people’s food. So I decided that,instead of creating a product,what I was going to dowas open this upto a whole bunch of codevelopers. The first few systems that we created,they kind of worked. We were actually able to growabout a salad a weekin a typical New York Cityapartment window. And we were able to grow cherry tomatoesand cucumbers, all kinds of stuff. But the first few systemswere these leaky, loud power-guzzlersthat Martha Stewartwould definitely never have approved. So to bring on more codevelopers,what we did was we createda social media siteon which we published the designs,we explained how they worked,and we even went so faras to point out everythingthat was wrong with these systems. And then we invited peopleall over the worldto build them and experiment with us. So actually now on this website,we have 18,000 people. And we have window farmsall over the world. What we’re doingis what NASA or a large corporationwould call R&D,or research and development. But what we call it is R&D-I-Y,or “research and develop it yourself. ” So, for example, Jackson came alongand suggested that we use air pumpsinstead of water pumps. It took building a whole bunchof systems to get it right,but once we did, we were able to cutour carbon footprint nearly in half. Tony in Chicago has been taking ongrowing experiments,like lots of other window farmers,and he’s been able to gethis strawberries to fruitfor nine months of the yearin low-light conditionsby simply changing outthe organic nutrients. And window farmers in Finlandhave been customizing their window farmsfor the dark days of the Finnish wintersby outfitting them with LED grow lightsthat they’re now makingopen source and part of the project. So window farms have been evolvingthrough a rapid versioning processsimilar to software. And with every open source project,the real benefit is the interplaybetween the specific concernsof people customizing their systemsfor their own particular concerns,and the universal concerns. So my core team and Iare able to concentrateon the improvementsthat really benefit everyone. And we’re able to look outfor the needs of newcomers. So for do-it-yourselfers,we provide free,very well-tested instructionsso that anyone, anywhere around the world,can build one of these systems for free. And there’s a patent pendingon these systems as wellthat’s held by the community. And to fund the project,we partner to create productsthat we then sellto schools and to individualswho don’t have timeto build their own systems. Now within our community,a certain culture has appeared. In our culture,it is better to be a testerwho supports someone else’s ideathan it is to be just the idea guy. What we get out of this projectis support for our own work,as well as an experienceof actually contributingto the environmental movementin a way other than justscrewing in new light bulbs. But I think that Eleen expresses bestwhat we really get out of this,which is the actual joy of collaboration. So she expresses here what it’s liketo see someone halfway across the worldhaving taken your idea, built upon itand then acknowledgingyou for contributing. If we really want to seethe kind of wide consumer behavior changethat we’re all talking aboutas environmentalists and food people,maybe we just needto ditch the term “consumer”and get behind the peoplewho are doing stuff. Open source projectstend to have a momentum of their own. And what we’re seeing is that R&D-I-Yhas moved beyondjust window farms and LEDsinto solar panels and aquaponic systems. And we’re building upon innovationsof generations who went before us. And we’re looking ahead at generationswho really need usto retool our lives now. So we ask that you join usin rediscovering the valueof citizens united,and to declarethat we are all still pioneers.