Pod0001 – Terms of reference

POD: One of the most common associations with the term “pod” is with groups of marine animals, like whales or dolphins, that travel together. These animals often operate in close-knit, collaborative groups that rely on each other for survival. The organic and cooperative nature of such groupings can be seen as analogous to how some teams or communities function. 

Photo by Wynand Uys on Unsplash

POD0001: Is a special project which is our bootstrap (verb/noun) project for the commons / community of practice.  It’s taken from computing in the context starting up an initial program to load into memory to then enable the main operating system (windows/macos/linux) to run.  Everyone has heard of the term “booting up a computer”.  This is the origin of that term. The term originates from the phrase “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps,” suggesting the idea of a process that starts itself, somewhat paradoxically, from nothing. 

:dart: Outcomes:  An initial functioning community (people, process, technology) whose purpose is to provide a commons where we balance the wellbeing of people and planet against our individual, organisational, national interests.

:file_folder: Deliverable(s)

    1. pod001 funding (see below).
    2. the onboarding process
    3. an open source, scalable tech stack (docker, github, wordpress, LAMP hosted on AWS) and a community AI model called vemappper.ai
    4. documentation and consensus on democratic principles, governance, pod allocation process and funding
    5. identify initial set of subsequent pod proposals and financing requirements as well as prospective funders.


    1. Rob Pye (full time), Annabelle Lambert (full time), Tony Clarke (advisor). These are the Ethos founders back in 1999.
    2. Other CoP volunteers – plan is no other paid resources until project is complete. Changes to this will be put to a vote.


:office: Organisation(s)

Pilot projects for open-source engagement models.  Will be updated as Pod0001 develops.

    1. Young Somerset being #1



Start XX September 2023 – finish no later than September 2024


:heavy_dollar_sign: Business case (justification), opportunities and Finances


Although Ethos VO ltd was first spun out of EY in 1999 it was not until 2010 that some of our most ambitious projects (such as TeamArmy) started to emerge. Since that time, we have directed the majority of our turnover (perhaps £15m) into conducting projects which experiment with helping people and organisations collaborate, trust and moderate their interests in order to deliver projects that benefit people and planet in general.  Up until now, our project and community has been largely “closed source” in that our values and principles were enforced only when you became what we called an Ethos Partner.   Since our Young Leaders project during the pandemic years we have been eyeing our most ambitious project which we started in November 2022 with the aim of no-longer incubating projects “in-house”. Instead, we committed to building a community of practice and open “commons” which would be free to participate in and open to all. Our development over the last 9 months has been completely funded by Ethos VO ltd and we now wish to complete our ‘bootstrap’ by opening up the approach and developing the platform to an initial level such that future scaling is likely. Indicatively, our budget of £240k will give us a 12 months window to build out the technology. The key costs for the projects will be people costs Rob & Annabelle. Other resources may be drawn in from our budget.  EthosVO ltd will manage the budget and provide open book reporting to the Commons.

During the project a pipeline of revenue opportunities will be developed with accompanying pod scoping documents.




:white_check_mark: Progress / Comments




Last update 07/09/2023 – First draft RP