Greenstand using OpenProject to battle climate change

OpenProject and Greenstand: utilizing open source software to battle climate change

Tiempo estimado de lectura: 5 minutos

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, and addressing it requires collective action from individuals, organizations, and governments worldwide. Working as a community has always been an integral part of the open source movement. It’s not just about creating great and freely available software, but also about collaboration, exchanging knowledge and ideas among individuals.

Introducing Greenstand

The open source project Greenstand addresses poverty and climate change through technology. Its mission since 2015: planting and preserving trees as well as improving the lives of people in poorer countries. The international, non-profit organization based in the USA and registered as a 501(c)(3), produces the Treetracker app and online map. Greenstand also actively explores market-driven approaches and sustainable business models. In addition to a dedicated team, this requires a solid organizational structure and an effective project management software. OpenProject, renowned for supporting NGOs and open source projects, is happy to sponsor Greenstand by providing an enterprise license for up to 50 users for their self-hosted OpenProject installation.

We had a chat with Sebastian Gärtner, Vice President Programs at Greenstand, discussing global reforestation, the amazing Treetracker, and, of course, their switch to our project management software.

Fostering growth while reducing poverty

Imagine a world where planting trees and restoring the land go hand in hand, all while ensuring fair compensation and payment. This very notion sparked the vision of Greenstand’s founders, Ezra Jay and Sebastian Gärtner, a decade ago. Sebastian explained the goals of the non-profit organization this way: “Greenstand aims to create a global open source marketplace, supporting farmers and foresters in reforestation efforts. “By digitally documenting planted trees and providing financial compensation to tree planters, we empower farmers to not only provide for their families but also combat the impacts of climate change. In other words, farmers receive additional income to feed themselves and their families while mitigating the effects of climate change.”

At the heart of it all is the Treetracker: Anyone who plants a tree can capture and upload pictures of their green efforts to the Greenstand cloud. The Treetracker thus establishes a digital bond between project managers, investors, donors, and the dedicated tree caretakers. By displaying trees and gardeners worldwide on an interactive web map, the Treetracker not only documents the growth of trees but also ensures transparency in the chain of custody, providing a chronological record of evidence. Moreover, the Treetracker tracks and facilitates payments for vital reforestation initiatives.

Screenshot Treetracker Map Greenstand Screenshot of Treetracker Map Greenstand:

The Greenstand core team currently consists of three people, plus 50 to 60 employees who work mainly on a volunteer basis. “In addition to software developers, the team also includes project planners and product managers,” says Sebastian. “Greenstanders are active on six continents and in various time zones—that requires a transparent and efficient project management solution.”

Embracing the open source spirit

During our conversation, Sebastian told me that the team uses multiple platforms. The developers primarily collaborate on GitHub; as of today, there are 77 repositories, 34 projects, and 28 active contributors there. Additionally, contributors communicate via a web-based instant messaging service and store their documents with a well-known cloud provider. Sebastian expressed his delight in the project’s remarkable growth, stating: “Now things are really taking off!”

“As you can see, the open source spirit is thriving within Greenstand,” adds Sebastian. “People are enthusiastic about getting involved and contributing to the project. It’s simply a cool initiative, and there are quite a few ways to get involved.” With the project’s significant growth, there is now a need to provide better guidance not only for new team members but also for those who have been involved from the beginning. Having explored and experimented with various project management solutions, the Greenstand team ultimately found their answer in OpenProject. “The other tools were either too inflexible or too expensive,” explains Sebastian. “Large parts of the team couldn’t get on board with it at all. OpenProject, on the other hand, is just right for us: clear, flexible and open source.”

Visualize, organize, succeed

Greenstand has been using OpenProject for approximately 3 months, hosting it on a dedicated server rented specifically for this purpose. The idea is for team leaders to create and manage all projects that don’t involve software development in the project management solution. In addition to a general roadmap, they will set milestones for each project, with the next step being to break down the projects into smaller subtasks. The visualization of project plans in Gantt charts, the representation of complex relationships and hierarchies also convinced Sebastian and his colleagues: “We need a better overview and the ability to define dependencies. Our previous solutions didn’t offer these functions or did so inadequately. It’s crucial to visualize things and make them more understandable for everyone on the team.”

We reap what we sow

Sebastian points out, “There’s always something to learn from other open source projects. One area where we could use improvement is document management. We want to get better organized and waste less time searching for files.” Luckily, the Nextcloud integration for OpenProject has been around for a while. It allows users to connect files and folders in Nextcloud with work packages in OpenProject. “We should definitely explore that option,” says Sebastian.

In any case, the first steps have been taken, and the Greenstand team is already thrilled with their new project management solution. “It finally feels like we’re in good hands. After a long search and experimenting with various tools, we’re finally heading in the right direction.”

Sebastian, thank you for talking to us, and best of luck with the Greenstand project!

Find out how other NGOs and foundations manage their projects with OpenProject.