In 2010 & 2011 I  worked with residents in the villages in East Devon that had been demarcated as without community and therefore fit  for industrial development. We worked together to co-host a series of skill sharing events and establish an online archive of practical know-how.The project adopted the principles of open source technology as a model for collaboration, namely: sharing information, resources and tools, de-centralising authorship and applying communal effort.

Free/Libre/ Open Source

Since the development of Free/Libre/ Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities, FLOSS members identified they had created organizational forms and principles that could be adopted in other fields with success . Much research on these forms and principles have focused on the potential outcomes for industry. Instead this project addresses the concept of code sharing as Communities of Practice (CoP’s) (1) through an arts based research project ‘The Recipe Exchange’.

Expanding on the notion of a ‘recipe’, The Recipe Exchange draws on the age-old tradition of the community cookbook, through which detailed information is broken down into a series of sequential steps and shared socially. Recipe sharing can be seen as a sociable, everyday model of ‘open’ culture.The Recipe Exchange proposal was to explore being ‘open’ as a way of ‘being together’. The idea grew through collaboration with residents in Farringdon, which is five miles from Exeter and enjoys ready access to the city but still maintains a rural setting. Population in this community is less than 300.

Common Resources

A website was designed to serve as a common resource and a platform through which participants can read and share advice with their neighbours, in the form of recipes. The recipes are not just limited to food but  extend the idea of a recipe to embrace a diverse range of how-to’s, such as home made solar panels, dog grooming and spinning wool. Many of the events and recipes engaged with DIY bio work exploring the land, plants and animals in the village. Over the course of the project events were developed and co-hosted by residents in and around Farringdon, for sharing skills based on a particular recipe idea. The project took a participant led approach, providing a space for decisions and bio culture to be produced by the consumers of culture themselves - in much the same way that individuals produce digital content to distribute their own culture online.

The Recipe Exchange was commissioned by Spacex as part of their off-site programme and this paper was developed as part of postgraduate studies at HighWire,. RCUK Grant EP/G037582/1).

1) Lave, Jean; Wenger, Etienne (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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