hey all, so this is my first post since Edgestock, although like a lot of people i’ve spent much time thinking and talking with people about what we all did. i wanted to write, on behalf of a few people, about something really exciting that came out of the unconference. no-one could be everywhere, so the following is an invitation to get involved in something super-awesome that you may have missed:
We had a discussion about a currently un-named idea, which was first called The Monastery and then, because it’s not actually a monastery, called The un-Monastery, and then later called The (un)Monastery because, y’know, it neither is nor isn’t a monastery. anyway the point is that whilst it has nothing to do with religion, it is totally Righteous. if you agree, consider getting involved.
here’s The Deal: everyone felt that they knew of places around Europe with serious structural problems, which were often the same - things such as underused building stock combined with homelessness; a feeling of community breakdown and lack of rootedness; high levels of youth unemployment; low levels of computer literacy, meaning low take-up of low-cost technical solutions to social problems; lack of socially-conscious arts infrastructure. at the same time, we each felt that we had a set of skills that were under-used, or which we could put to use in a socially-conscious way.
the solution: decide on city that needs help with those sorts of problems. talk to local authorities and city leaders. persuade them to give us a space to use, as a co-operative live/work space, for at least a year. we move there as a small-ish group. we work, alongside local residents, to help the community adapt in a positive way, using the specialist skills that we would bring.
how to do it right: we’re not patronising anyone. we’re under no illusions - we’re a small group, and we don’t think we’re going to solve problems overnight. but we’re going to work, for free, to support a community in achieving its aims, and in doing a load of cool stuff along the way. in return we’d ask for an empty building, and an arrangement that takes care of our living needs for the year (there are plans afoot). edgeryders have a lot of very specialist skills, that are often undervalued - whilst at the same time often being in a state of precarious employment themselves, or striving to make a difference in the face of the wider economic situation.
a year? no way! that’s right. but that’s just the length of the project - we’re thinking about ways to make it work for different people, and we’d like your help there too. we face two competing challenges: we know that to really make an impact, a timeline of at least a year is necessary, and so is a feeling of continuity and commitment to the local community. so we’ll be there for that long, and at least some people will be. for some of us, this will seem like an amazing opportunity, and we’ll want to be there even longer if we can. others might feel like they’d like to take part, but can probably only do so for, say, three months: so we’re designing a system where people can take up short-term ‘residencies’ to bring a particular focus to a particular project. at the moment, we’re imagining maybe five full-timers, with at least one of them there for a full year, and a whole rolling programme of residents, there for maybe 3 months at a time.
what would we actually do? it could be anything - from networking local people with particular skills together, starting or supporting local groups with specific positive agendas, facilitating open local discussions about big ideas, supporting people with new online tools that we build or bring in - and anything more you can think of. the building would function as an open-access hub where residents could come to take part in workshops, have informal discussions, give ideas and feedback. we’d also hopefully have some level of leverage with the city, that we could use to the residents’ advantage, because of the city’s commitment to us.
sweet! sign me up! done. a few of us have had a couple of brief discussions since Edgefest, but things are at an incredibly early stage. we’ve found out a few things, and are pursuing a few good leads in different directions, but we need more. the level of detail is greater than i could outline above (i didn’t want to overload anyone - and i’m sure people will be able to chip in more), but it has a lot that’s needed. most of all, we need willing volunteers! we need people to help draft documents, forward good leads to funding, partners, collaborators, cities, spaces, that sort of thing. we need people who are able to say that, pending our collective plans coming to fruition, ‘i will be there, standing on a doorstep in an unknown city on the day that we agree, and i will help’. if you have things to say that you think might be useful, if you’d like to be involved on whatever level, or if you think you might be one of the people described above, then write it down below. over and out!