Nick Sellen

Software development and stewardship for commons and community oriented open source projects

nicksellen receives £1.45 per week from 3 patrons. Goal: £150.00
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I am a software developer and deeply believe in the potential of software that supports community-led projects to bring new ways to society. My focus is on projects that help people to do real things in the physical world together. The less time people spend with software the better!

I believe in a simpler lifestyles, more local and self-sufficient economies using co-operative and participatory methods. I want to inhabit the gift-economy where possible, participant in the commons to supplement that, and finally use state and market mechanisms only when needed.

My skills are in software, and I love to contribute to that, but also feel the importance to participate directly in my local place to support the needs of people and projects here.


I aim to live and work by these kind of principles.

  • fix, repair, mend, and maintain - not just physical objects, but software, don't always build shiny new things when there are existing projects and tools
  • "market rate" is not moral - as a software developer, I could earn buckets, but I don't believe in market logic, so why would I believe in market rate? I deserve no more renumeration than anyone else
  • radically keeping living costs down - finding and reusing where possible, aiming for simpler/basic more communal ways
  • doing things together - I would prefer to work slowly together, hearing and accommodating people's views and growing together than working quickly alone
  • no wage labour - I don't want to build things for people just because someone has access to money, I want to work on useful projects that already exist, and can make particular use of my skills, I want to live through "solidarity income", not wages
  • only produce for the commons - everything I work on is freely available under open source licenses, almost everything I write is publicly available
  • not side projects - I don't want to have a secret "real job", then work on what I really want to on the side, these projects are important and deserve being the centre stage
  • support training and ongoing learning - teaching others and sharing skills is vital if we want this new economy, I aim to put more time into sharing skills than using my skills directly
  • support people without my privileges - I was born with many privileges which gave me access to many things and I see part of my duty from that is to widen access to those things


I currently have no other income than what is listed here from these projects, I have a small amount of savings (a few thousand) which I am slowly depleting. I am aiming for a modest income that allows me to live comfortably with on a day-to-day basis using a resourceful approach to life, I am in a wealthy area and still experimenting, so not sure how much this is, but aiming for less than £1000/month, ideally more like £600/month.

If I can reach this income (either from personal donations here, or from donations to the individual projects), then I can continue supporting these projects to continue running and develop further. All the benefits from these projects are always freely available for anyone.

If I cannot, at some point I have to reconsider this life-approach. I am able to get paid work, so this isn't about my personal survival, but about bringing us closer to a better society.


I'm involved with these projects, also probably some others! My aim is generally to make myself as redundant as possible, so I can work on other projects too.


An offshoot of the foodsharing project was to create a new piece of software usable by groups outside of German-speaking regions. This is karrot! We have a small team, a modern codebase, and quite a number of independent groups using the platform now. In the last few months we started a monthly money call where we distribute some of our funding, currently I get some small costs covered and receive around 70EUR/month payment from this.

local activities

I'm now basing myself in one physical location (Bath), and getting involved with various things going on, in no specific order:

  • a food growing co-op (share the work, share the produce) (Dry Arch)
  • delivering items for sharing or repairing via a cargo bike (Share and Repair) (and helping them learn coding so they can improve their systems)
  • informal child care for some local kids
  • helping out with some woodland management tasks for a small local woodland
  • ... and building connections to more projects to see where I can get involved

I do all of these things as a volunteer currently.

Previous projects

I was involved in these projects too, but am currently not actively contributing to them.


social.coop is a co-operatively run mastodon instance. I support the technical infrastructure along with the rest of the (minimal!) tech team. For 10 months, I received $120/month to run upgrades as needed, develop the technical infrastructure, and build the tech team community further. We have now rotated the role away from me, although I still aim to provide support here and there for free :)


foodsharing.de is a great community project to co-ordinate the rescue of food from supermarkets, shops, bakeries, etc. that would otherwise be thrown away. I have been supporting the project for the last few years mostly with the focus of building up and supporting the developer community so that can keep the platform going for the long haul without me.

A few years ago I wrote a plan and I'm very happy to see this has become (mostly) a reality. I continue to support the team, mostly with infrastructure topics.


Trustroots is a non-profit and open source alternative to hospitality exchange networks such as Coachsurfing or Bewelcome. I am involved in building up the small team, with regular calls, expanding the technical infrastructure when needed, administrative stuff (server, accounts, etc), hackathon organising, and last but not least software development.


I have been a contributor to freegle, originally as an occasional volunteer, mostly supporting Ed with fiddly issues or discussing new ideas and tech. More recently I started as a paid contributor (at well below market rate). Currently though, I'm on a break and not contributing to the project.

Linked Accounts

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An open source community organising platform focused on resource saving and sharing.

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nicksellen joined 7 years ago.

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