2 days at the Open Village: my journey between Sidi Kaouiki and Essaouira (Morocco 2018)

I now have left the Open Village since 6 days. I have been there from sunday 1st Feb to wednesday 4th Feb. In all aspects of the journey, it was a discovery. Here is the story of my 2 days in Dar Nezza, the house of our morrocan Open Village in Sidi Kaouiki.



  • initial steps:
    I was contacted last year just before winter by @unknown_author He was trying to build a team around a project, and reached both @SyMorin and I in order to be a part of it. That project was to create a meshnet to host an independent radio in the area of the open village. I slowly but surely took the lead in this project, and we tried our best to keep in on tracks, though it was quite hard because of last minutes changes. This is written in this post right here.
  • initials ideas:
    If we all discussed the radio project, we also shared secondary options related to our main field of competences. As my main field of action is writing about local scale, and investigating both its related concepts and how they’re activated in the parisian area regarding food (vegetables and milk), it appears natural to me that I could also study the fresh food cycles patterns near the Open Village, and see what it’s all about. In my mind, I had the plan as option B, knowing that 2 days there would be short, and not knowing it yet that it would be activated in the end… I also had the motivation to document EVERYTHING
  • initial team:
    In the discussions we had on the several ER tools, the team was supposed to gather @matthias @unknown_author @SyMorin @hazem and I… I never worked with/via ER before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I quickly decided to wait and see once at the location. I was not disappointed, yet I was definitely surprised.
  • initial feelings:
    How not be ecstatic about such project? In my mind, and for the first time, I was switching from writing my reflexions on my blog to actually investigating their fields of real “activation” somewhere else, with the excitement of the analysis, the ethnographic work, the documenting. I was looking to do what I thought about. To check the patterns, to learn from others, to discuss the topics, and enhance the visions I had about my fields. I was ON FIRE !


  • plans change, insights change too, but the drive?
    As the time was closer and closer to my journey there, the initial plans tangled, switched, twisted. With them, the insights that motivated them changed too. I was discussing both with the team in its full collective intelligence, and also with separated people that went in and out of the main discussion. As I said, I was a newbie, and as a newbie I needed to understand how ER worked, how all of this would eventually work. It wasn’t doubt though. I never doubt anybody nor anything but the timing, because sometime, this little one is a tricky bastard. Both @anique.yael and @hazem answered many of my questions, and the more we discussed things, the more I was into the project, whatever event would eventually make me think that I wouldn’t be able to fly over there. But the DRIVE to get there was too deep. It finally cleaned out everything with the help of ER admins of course, and there I was… In the plane.

  • looking for the best way:
    At the last moment, Daily informed us that he missed his plane. And wont be able to reach Essaouira and the house before tuesday night… @SyMorin and I were planned to leave the house on Wednesday so, it was short, but both @SyMorin and I didn’t overthink about that, as we both were in the same taxi, reaching Sidi Kaouiki from Marrakesh.
    It was a 3 hours ride with Samir, our driver. A drive that obviously has been more a brieffing than anything. Naturally, we both came out with the same purpose, drive and motivation: in the absence of @unknown_author, we would investigate Essaouira and the fresh food cycles, as much as possible in such a limited time. The whole independent radio project was out of our minds. For the best of our trip there I presume. As Sy was telling me that he started digging restaurants in Rabat (Morocco, where he lives since 9 months) that were cooking local products only, I was discussing the concepts around local-scale power. We agreed that working together on that could be awesome. I definitely has been during two days at the house.

  • finally getting there
    After quite a long travel (especially for Sy…), we arrived for dinner. Hazem was our first contact there, coming to the gate and opening us. It was a cold, humid kind of night… The blue door of the house opened and I saw alberto, then Ahmad, then Matt. Everything was so quiet and calm. Diner was already served and we didn’t miss a minute before getting around the table and having our first chat. On a fait connaissance, as we say in french. The food was awesomely cooked by @hazem and Ahmad, and we shared our first jokes around that very spicy salad that Ahmad cooked for us. We were a bunch of guys coming from Tunisia, Italia, Germany, Egypt and France, from different cultures, with different backgrounds and experiences : I am a french cheesemonger, former music industry worker with Anthropology and Sociology masters, looking forward to developp more about local-scale… I mean, these guys could be ANYTHING! (and they actually are!) Anyways… as our first meal was on, I understood that more than a collective effort to make a bunch of projects, if was more like the gathering of individual projects, in the same room, to maximize the effect of the collective intelligence on each journey. @matthias would work on the coffee sorter, @alberto had his own projects and thesis to write, @hazem was handling the organization of the house and of the Open Village, and so on… At the end of the day, I jumped into bed with the following goals: learning the ethnographic tool of ER with @alberto, going to Sidi Kaouiki and Essaouira with @SyMorin , cook a meal for the guys… And document everythaaaaaaang !!!

**Let's go !**

Stay tuned for part 2 ;) _(french love teasing... eheh)_


waiting for the 2nd part

was really nice having you here, btw thanks for leaving the note and the password on the wall. now the wiki is complete with the physical wifi password on the actual door :smiley: :smiley:
and as @alberto was saying [quote=“alberto, post:1, topic:8068”]
Food got better
when you guys arrived which was a well appreciated contribution.

Today we are waiting for the “Egyptian crew” and start another episode of the house.


It was so great meeting you and Sy - wished it was for more than one night! The pattern will repeat when Matteo and I leave tomorrow after one night with the Egyptian crew set to arrive tonight.

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The best one night stand in my life :joy::wink:

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Until we meet again then…

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  • early bird
    After that long trip from Paris to the house, a good diner and the first chat with the guys, I was looking for an early waking, enjoying the silence of the surroundings. And I wasn’t disappointed. @alberto woke up earlier than I did, if I remember well. I went straight outside with my audio-recorder and my smartphone, to get some sound and video recordings. It was quiet, calm, quite cold but the sun was there too, and warmed us. Alberto and Ahmad eventually went to the garden too, and we were the three of us, walking around the house peacefully. Besides the pool, lots of tress, herbs, and somebody did some gardening as well. In the background, you could hear the ocean’s waves smashing. Hell of a good morning.

Everybody was up in the hour, and we quickly started discussing the needs of each to go to Essaouira. You have basically 2 bus in the mornings from Sidi Kaouiki to Essaouira, so you have to be prepared and time your schedule properly. After little chats, it appeared that the rest of the guys didn’t need to go to Essaouira that much, and the rain kept their motivation down. But both @SyMorin and I needed to go there anyway : we only had two days to « investigate », there was no time to waste then.
We obviously checked with @hazem for any needs : vegetables, fruits, bread. Perfect. Let’s go to Essaouira.

The first step to get there is a 30min walk from the house to a small town named Sidi Kaouiki. And how much did we enjoy that walk ! I needed that walk. To clear my brain and organize it, after the changing plans and all… The road laces almost followed the beach all along on our left, while we had a rocky plane, with couple of bushes and argan trees on our lefts. We crossed the path of some people of course, but also donkeys, dogs, unfinished desertic buildings, clouds and rain also.

  • Sidi Kaouiki in the morning: waiting for the bus
    Once arrived, we checked for a fresh orange juice in the first café at the entrance of the town. Young moroccans were cleaning a place that was like a trendy place to get out when summer is here. Sidi Kaouiki is known as a surf spot. No doubt it will triple its population when the temperature grows… While sipping my juice, a small sheep herd passed in front of us. I counted them, wrote the coordinates of our location, and watched if the shepherd was there too. Now, the first questions of my research started bubbling: does this man only need the whool? Does he make anything out of the milk? Is there any milk production from this herd? This is the kind of questions that would need to get their answers, but later on. In my head, I was more into mapping and documenting first, in order to know where to go, and check any existing patterns. Anyway, the bus was about to take us to Essaouira, our main purpose this morning.

  • Essaouira’s medina
    The bus takes 20min to go to Essaouira. It gets by small roads at first, stops by here and there to take people. We arrived at the entrance of the medina. And we were definitely hungry. In our hunt for a place to eat, we crossed the path of many fresh vegetables and food shops among the many types of shops you could find in a medina: butchers, bakeries, grills, phones and tech little shops, souvenirs of course, … But nothing related to cheese. We ended eating a nice tajin in a nice hotel (without knowing it was an hotel before getting at the table ahah). Right after that, bellies full and frenchies at their best, we started to check the surroundings of the medina. Little streets, little shops, alleys, turns, going from very peaceful and quiet places to noisy ones in a second.

  • digging further
    We eventually met Khadija. She was cooking sardinas on her grill, at the entrance of her very small cantine. The smell was just too good, that was what drove us to her ahah! We asked her if she had any infos about cheese in the region. A man passing by on a bike stopped as well and said that we could find some in supermarkets. That was it. Seemed like all the cheese you can get in Essaouira was in supermarkets. It didn’t surprised me actually, but I was definitely sure that it wasn’t the case at some point in the past: there is no reason, in a region of sheeps and goats, of many herbs and bushes, even grass fields sometimes, that there were no transformed milk farm and sellers here. Crossing lots of small Danone trucks and lots of big brands yogurts and panacottas in some little shops here and there finally made me sure about my hypothesis. Global markets at their best, could have destroyed or swallowed the small productions of the areas…
    We also went to the port, as the sound of the ocean pulled us to him. The boats were back from the morning fishing session. Plenty of birds, people, tourists also, and this little grill smelling so nice. We didn’t stay too long though.
    Because time flies. So we ended our afternoon in the medina by buying some food supplies for the house. Bread, fresh vegetables and fruits. Enough for 5-6, for two days. I noticed a lot of what we call exotic fruits in France, specially bananas. Lots of bananas. It intrigued me because in France, they’re quite bigger and come from far far away (Guadeloupe mainly…). But kept my questions for the next day. We were already on that bus for the drive back to Sidi Kaouiki.
    The 30min walk back to the house helped us to debrief what we saw, and what needed to be explored later. Hey, those donkeys from the morning were still on the road. A little closer to the house, still cosy behind the last sun lights. We also watched another and bigger sheep herd, with a couple goats in it as well. The shepherd seemed to be a young girl this time. They were between the road and the beach, the panorama was unreal.

  • back at the house
    The guys had an electricity shut down that day. They used the day to clean the house and arrange / fix some things. @SyMorin and I naturally ended in the kitchen for a 4 hands cooking session. Potatoes in the hoven, vegetables and spices in sauce, and some rice. Turned out to extend from pure cooking to large discussions. And I remember my chat with @alberto about our visions of globalism, and how we both gives this term/concept a definition of our own. We were that close from a debate, but we had more to share: experiences, memories, … And from that all, I learned a lot in two days.

At the end of the diner, I started the fire, because this very ER forum has a campfire, so the house of its moroccan Open Village needed one as well. @SyMorin and I went all around the house and garden to find dry pieces of wood. Not quite easy since the last days had been all about rain… At last, couple of branches and some old things to break made it ok. The first fire was there, putting a warm feeling in the living room.
I went to bed very excited about everything. Life in a community, our Essaouira investigation, my inner questions about the milk process here, … Tuesday is gonna be awesome.

Part 3 to come soon :wink:


Part 3


  • morning, questions, and bus again
    Everything started to be fluid for me at the house. Small breakfast with the guys, short briefing with @symorin, lots of questions to ask all of them. About Edgeryders, about their projects, experiences, and about mine too. Confronting and discussing our different ways to put something in perspective.
    We all needed to go to Essaouira that day. Lots of things to do there. Mainly, it was about getting and welcoming @johncoate from his arrival by bus. All the way from California. I was looking to meet the man and have some time to chat with him. And it turned out that he was also looking for the same with me (wich still seems a little incredible but… okay! ahah). We also needed to go to the supermarket, and to the tool shop / mechanic shop to find some pieces for the bikes.
    So we all, except @matthias, went to get the bus. 30Min walk again from the house to Essaouira. I was basically going from a discussion to another. @SyMorin and Ahmad were chatting about the situation of engineer employement in Tunisia, and I never figured what @alberto and @hazem were talking about, as the panorama still amazed me and didn’t help my focus that much… Obviously, I also was recording the sounds around us, taking pictures, and videos…

* **_Khadija’s sardinas, obviously, and the fruits and vegetables flying shops_** As soon as we arrived at Essaouira, @alberto and @hazem plans our afternoon there. We didn’t have that much time actually, so we had to figure out the best way to do everything. But it started like the day before: grabbing some food. We definitely went to Khadija’s little cantine, and asked for those sardinas. We had to. Just after finishing his tajin, @hazem headed to the bus station earlier than us in order to catch @johncoate as soon as possible. We eventually met them back at the entrance at the medina. Along the way, I checked many small street “flying” shops selling fruits and vegetables, just like the day before in the medina. It’s crazy how many they are. Though the quantities of fruits and vegetables sold, and produced then, have to be impressive as well. But the distribution network was the one question that I kept in my head for long. Definitely not the same patterns as we have in France. And then, as I presupposed before traveling there, definitely not the same semantic and words regarding its organization and labeling.

  • Supermarket time baby
    Anyway, @johncoate was now with us. We walked quite some time across the city to get to the supermarket. We went through different neighbohoods, with different architecture styles. Middle class houses and residencies, commerces and services, shops, and this big big recycling area that looked like paradise to me. @hazem then told me that @matthias and himself found every tool they have now at the house in this recycling zone: I BET YOU DID! (I was very jealous, and still am…)
    A few adventures titled “@hazem and the bike pieces” later, that actually left @johncoate and I enough time to briefly chat about our radio experiences, we finally attempted the supermarket. And its cheeses… horrible vision for the cheesemonger that I am. Everything from the butter to the “local” things was industrially made. So, that was it. Basically, it closed my folder. If there was any local cheese made in Essaouira’s region, the only place to find it would be directly at the producer’s place or a weekly farmers market somewhere. And of course, I had no time to dig further in that direction. Frustration frustration. But hey… I had answers and leads. In two days, with such a switch in the initial plans, it had to be satisfying.

  • back at the house, last evening with the team
    As we were one more, and probably not fitting the little bus, we chose to get back to house by taxis. I went with @SyMorin and @johncoate. As soon as we were back at the house, my plan was basically to transfer all the recordings and footages I had in my equipment to my hard drive, and then, set the fire and take some time with the team for the last evening with them. I missed making a proper fire, and John joined me for some help. That’s how our discussion started. We obviously ended talking about the local-scale and related concepts. He catched quickly my vision of it as both a tool and a solution to confront the emergencies of the present, and build a more inclusive future. And he also enhanced it with his own experiences he humbly shared with me. I couldn’t hope for a best way to start the evening, and I look forward for our next meeting John!
    The fire was burning, and @alberto was in the kitchen cooking some classic italian student plate. The atmosphere was cool and warm. @symorin was on the desert: strawberries and chocolate. The main event of the night was Space X. @matthias was connected to the streaming and we all watched it before dinner. That was my last meal with them all, and your pastas were awesome @alberto. As a daily routine, I made some infusion with plants. We had fun around that thing, because the first one we did was with tap water (ping @symorin ahah), and tap water is very salty there…
    After discussions and discussions again, I went to bed exhausted but feeling great. My first experience with Edgeryders had been as cool as possible. I could have used a few more days, but hey…

  • trying to get back to France
    Well, everything is said: TRYING.
    As both @symorin and I were heading to Marrakesh in Samir’s taxi (our driver from the beginning), I learned by text message that my flight with Transavia was cancelled due to the snow in Paris. It drove me nuts, since I already landed in Paris under a snowstorm… I had another flight to catch the day after that, and plenty of stuff to do with that short time in between. So I bought a Royal Air Maroc ticket for the afternoon. But guess what: as I waited as chill as possible at the airport, writing down the summary of this article, and a couple reflections about a project, the speaker said my RAM flight was also canceled… Hours after that, RAM finally said that we (all the passengers from that flight) will be taken care of, in a 5* hotel for the night, and then we’ll take a place in the morning, for Paris via Casablanca. This plane got it to Paris. I arrived at my crib 2 hours before my other plane. And as they say in sports: the rest is history ahah!


  • @unknown_author, for introducing me to this ER platform and community
  • @symorin, for being a great partner in crime during those two days, and for what’s yet to come
  • @anique.yael, for our patience and answers during the whole set up
  • @nadia, for that chat in that café in Paris. A discussion that resonated a lot during my days at the Open village.
  • the whole team in the house: @matthias, @hazem, Ahmad, @alberto, @johncoate, and the cat behind the door. You all rock!


  • @symorin and I are still investigating fresh food cycles in Morocco. We’re now digging contacts and trying to put a workflow in place in order to write and do things. We are also interrogating the semantic used, the terms and words that reference everything there. And of course, the laws. Future will tell what will eventually come out of this.
  • I’m developping my mapping project more and more, and look forward to pitch it to you all here. I don’t know when, but I will.
  • I’m opening the access to everything I recorded and collected from my days there, to anybody that would like to use it on/for this platform. And I’m also trying to find some time to edit some of them in shortcuts.

Hope you enjoyed that little feedback, and that it will give you the feeling that you should be a part of that Open Village.

Cheers from France.


Hi @gregoiremarty It is so interesting to read. Felt like I was there and yes definitely gave me feeling to be part of Open Village :slight_smile:


Ah! thank you @anu !
i’m currently editing the footages I have shot during these days. And probably will release some kind of a video version of this post at some point. :slight_smile:


I hope you do.

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FYI, a first draft of the video has been sent to a music producer for the musical illustrations.

a month later, the musical illustration has landed in my hard drive.
completing the video edit tomorrow.

it’s quite late, I know. Specially with everything that happened since I left Dar Nezza.

but it will introduce something bigger, to come just before the summer. So if you’re interested, stay tuned =)