A few of us. living together (somewhere) and changing things?: The (un)Monastery

Re: Rural-Urban?

Lucas! We’ve been thinking about assessing the cities according to a couple of criterias. Matera that Alberto mentions connects well with the point that we put up!


# Location

  • Good connections to other countries/cities (Train & plane)

  • Central to the city - well placed for community integration

  • Not too cold or dark (but location in the north possible but not as only choice.)

  • Especially sunny or near a river (hydro)

  • Fertile soil and no water shortage

# City council

  • Lots of excess capacity ( publicly owned buildings)

# Facilities

  • Internet: existing or good way to bring in fast internet into it.

  • A room that can become a good kitchen / or are one already. (many people might visit)

# Culture

  • Not many skinheads around.

# Network

  • Places where Edgeryders already are present or have network.


It depends on what building they can give us (if, of course, they like the idea at all), but I would say most of the items on the list are there. Except good connection: the connection is really bad. The nearest airport is in Bari, about an hour drive out, with quite poor public transport; there is no railway station (it is the only provincial capital in Italy, out of more than 100, without one), and the nearestone is in a town called Ferrandina. The Materans share rides (rydes?) a lot.

But that may not be a big deal in this case, because the whole Unmonastery idea as I understand it, is to go deep into something, and only come out at the end.


I think the need for ‘good connections’ is minimal…

the concept intends for people to come and stay for a solid length of time …at least one month, many for longer than that…

we are all working to a future that will be energy poor and where we will not be endlessly jumping onto planes and out of cars…we will be ‘moving electrons more than protons’…so an un-Monastery that modelled that future and expected to people and gave people the opportunity to be still and calm and stay in one place to reflectively purposefully do useful …

does not need to have a Ryanair jets or motorways…IMO, anyway…

I might have a backer

Edwin, I am impressed! I did not know you could be so eloquent.

Some of you know I have been asked to help a small city in Southern Italy, Matera, to prepare a bid for European City of Culture 2019. My role would supposedly be to make the bid “more cutting edge”. They are working on the concept of making the city “editable” by its inhabitants, like a wiki - in fact they are asking me because, in Italy, I am associated to decentralized, wiki-style governance models (I wrote a book about it, long story).

I think the Unmonastery would be a fantastic enabling factor for a local community, and I would like to ask the good folks in Matera if they would be up for doing an experiment. Maybe they can find a place where 15-20 people can live, and a little money to give them bed, board, connectivity and pay a modest salary to some Unabbott or Unabbottess to give the evolving community some stable point of reference. So, unless you really object to me coming into the picture, I will just show them this report and tell them a little about the conversation and make my opening gambit. I can make no promise: maybe they will say no; maybe they will say next year; maybe they will have slightly different parameters in mind from the ones spelled out by Edwin, six months as an experiment rather than a year, or something like that.

The city is absolutely beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage (it is the location of Mel Gibson’s Passion), and I can guarantee the Unmonastery would not go unnoticed - it’s small enough. Another bonus: good governance. If some unmonk or un-nun comes up with some brilliant idea and can show a prototype, it is not out of the question that the city or the Region (who are collaborating closely on the bid) might like it and ask the person to deploy it.

Do I have your blessing?

Matera, seat of the Unmonastery?

sounds good

you have my blessing :slight_smile:

i would even suggest setting up a dedicated campaign for this theme so everyone can make a dedicated mission report for varoius opportunities to manifest this vision…

for sure!

hey alberto,

thanks for the compliment. i’m not too sure i can claim to be eloquent - maybe i just got lucky, like the millionth monkey on the millionth typewriter - but i’m sticking with it!

the matera thing sounds awesome. i knew a small amount about it, but nothing about their plans for wiki government… that’s really exciting, and something i don’t think we should miss.

i’m guessing others agree but it’d be good to have people’s views, and it ties well into part of the discussion we had in strasbourg about the way we were aiming to build a model, or a prototype, rather than ‘installing a solution’… a municipality that would be willing to take that kind of managed risk, and take the findings seriously, maybe even roll out a programme, is pretty exciting!

count me in too:.


count me in too:.

Perestroika grad: aquainted with fuzziness, corruption, creative and other types of chaos. Swear in Russian.

hey all,

really psyched at the positive response! i think we really need to get the word out, my guess is there are lots of people who were in strasbourg who would totally get involved if they knew, and it’d be really awesome to make contact with some people who weren’t there too.

there are gonna be points in the near future where practical things become known: like, “we’ll be in this city between these dates” and that’ll make definite commitment easier for everyone. i think the commitments a lot of people have given already are both really awesome but also helpful, because we can work out together what kind of things we can bring to a city.

the dynamic ben mentioned is really important, and something we talked a lot about in the initial discussion… we want to build something that’s multi-disciplinary, so whatever we find in the city, we have something relevant to bring to it. also we’re gonna make significant advantages from our ability to put people together with different skills to work on a problem. basically, if you’ve got any particular focus and there are things you can imagine offering a community, lay it down!

This sounds very exciting guys. Although, like some others here, I will not be able to commit lots of  time to be there (uni, work etc) I would be very happy to contribute to the conceptualisation of the project (Edwin and the other London crew we could perhaps organise a meet up?).

count me in for sure

Just catching up after some busy weeks following the Edgedays in Strasbourg and as one of the 10 people from the session I hereby confim my true interest in this. I still love the idea and actually even think of applying it to the area I wil be moving to in Berlin (Schillerkiez).

Berlin itself obviously is not an undeveloped place in general but there are areas where gentrification is getting started, where anger and hatred is on the streets and people are not really interested in a dialogue. They prefer distruction and threat towards people who are not interested in them to leave but much rather in an interaction and integration. There are funding programmes for this specific area from the city of Berlin that support projects with integrational purposes and I am starting to think about what it could be.

Coming from a background of design and more recently the world of yoga and spiritual work I am visualising a place of learning, playing and craft for personal empowerment as well as offering introductions to body work and maybe even meditation, if that is not too much to hope for. Anyways, I hereby also present my “skills” that I can offer at any Unmonastery and I am also very keen to learn about farming, herbs and food in general.


Hey guys, CIAO!

I think I am the only one of the Edgeryders Community that actually lives in Matera. I moved here 3 months ago (from Milan) because i can see many opportunities. The town is small, all the people are very well and easily connected, and it’s a perfect place where to experiment, because is almost a vergin territory. 

The town is composed of two parts: one ancient (i Sassi) and one modern (built from the 50ties). There is a big gap between the 2 parts, grown even faster after the decision of include Matera ancient part into the UNESCO list.

People in general are not really proud of their town and the sense of trust between people and politics is very weak.

Students are pushed by their family to go away and study out of the region and most of the time they never come back. 

There is a quite good and strong cultural scene but it’s made of very individual groups and they don’t create networks or collaborative way of exploring new possibilities.

There are some local communities( farmers, couchsurfer…)quite active.

All these aspects (they are just some of a bigger number) may sound crazy but for me they represent a unique opportunity and not a problem. 

What you have talked about so far, the Unmonastery or whatever name we want to give it is a great thing to bring it here in Matera. 

The project need to be characterized by an informal space in a urban/rural setting. Matera has this unique opportunity to be a town where the rural aspect is still really strong. There are some modern suburb still very rural, with big communal area, public gardens that we could transfrom in urban vegetable gardens and through them build up strong sense of community and inpsire feeling of commitment and trust.

It can have a very strong potential, because  it can provide a tool by which improve the social conditions of the communities in particular the ones that have been abandoned, with the ambition to make a real social innovation: on the one hand supporting the development through local businesses, the other pushing the creation of new business through a transfer of skills and examples of production based only on the exploitation of local resources.

People that will partecipate to the new community will be able to create/inspire/trasfer projects intercepting the typical problems of urban and rural underdevelopment that prevent any local economic businesses and agents to be connected, informed and integrated in a reference network, capable of supporting the needs.

The project will give the chance of building national and international networks in order to learn about innovative experiences, experiment advanced partnerships and accelerate the design and implementation of concrete solutions.

Working on a real territory will trasform it in a experimental stage.

The project can take in consideration the issues of:

(a) the redevelopment of some specific urban areas,

(b) the provision of basic infrastructure to fill the digital divide,

(c) the development of a reference platform in order to get available resources and tools online (mapping local economy as u said already)

(d) the improvement of the economic performance of typical local products and resources

I think Matera (in the Basilicata region) can be the first reference prototype, and then it would be replicated in other regions with similar situations in an international context.

I think that that we have already lost hundreds of billions of euros in terms of wasted opportunity, bacause of the absence of real services to meet the need expressed by most of the areas with problems of underdevelopment and economic backwardness.

This project can have a strong social impact about:

- inspiring disadvantaged categories of customers, such as young people in trouble, creatives and freelance people unemployed

- automatically relevant social consequences to the local community

- this links can generates new jobs in a high unemployment rate context

- it promotes the development of know-how and expertise

- the use of environmentally friendly technologies

- products and production processes are clean-technologies

I like the idea of having a minimun duration of 1 month and maximun of 6 months.

Please feel free to answer, make questions, ask more details about Matera and I will try (not sure) to answer!

--I have already started a small project call CASA Netural in the core of the Sassi area. Actually It's my house, but i let the wifi open and I invite people to work together in the space. Still weak partecipation but these things need time and care. Take a look at this !


This seems like an incubator actually asking for positive changes :slight_smile:

Giving the couchsurfing community, it seems there’s openness to people coming from abroad and them/us feeling welcomed? Does this mean we can discard language as an issue, as most of us are non-Italian speakers?

I used to live in northern Italy for a while, in Genova to be more specific, and could not get over this barrier. Then I found out people there were more conservative and that Genova and Liguria region in general have an exceptionally large percentage of elders… not sure if there’s a connection, but was wondering about youth in Matera : when you say much of the young population doesn’t come back after university, do you mean a majority?

An issue indeed

Noemi, in my experience Matera (as the Italian south in general) is very welcoming towards people from outside. Andrea forgets to mention that his neighbor, signora Maria (82 years of age) cooks for him and the other Andrea his neighbor, and that tey grow tomatoes together in the yard. There is a small population of expats that fell in love with the city and stayed, or spend here (I write this from Matera) part of the year. Also, the European Space Agency has a facility here, so there are some more expats.

But language is a HUGE issue. I am hoping the Unmonastery might be a driving force in promoting multilinguism, which is badly needed to promote. I am thinking of a Edgeryders-style online platform with multilingual support and conversation in Italian and English.

matera again!

Matera is a very particular town, looks like very simply but it is deeply complex. There are differnt people coming from abroad that decide to live here for a while and they mixed their experience with the locals one. Language can be an issue, but various people can speak english (at least at beginner level). Nowdays we can find solution for this issue and create some interesting courses mixing different languages! Connections can be seen as difficult but in my opinion they are not at all. Yes, Signora Maria , she is great she cooks every day something and people are curious to see people from outside. For some of them it’s the only way to get in touch with difefrent persepctives and make their eyes open!

Current Collective Locations

It seems there are several proposals for locations.

Are you aware of “Nomad-Bases” related to


I know of at least two nomad bases who are searching for people to take over the rent contract.

One in Italy ( in Casale Monferrato, north west of Italy, 35.000 inhabitants )



and one at the border with Geneva, Switzerland. ( its “nomad base like” http://www.objectifgaia.info/ )

I also know a third operational Nomadbase in Leipzig.

For those of us who would want to converge in Leipzig, with free residence, let me know.

We could then work on the extension and more durable approach , including by enabling each to have its own appartment and building a local economy together - more details, see :




Count me in too

Was in that fascinating session at the unconference, and glad to see it continued here. I can imagine to be a short-term member of this when it fits in. Which means, fits into my by then nomadic life. Such spaces to come to for doing meaningful community work while at the same time knowing that food and facilities are provided is just what nomads need :slight_smile: I fear however I can’t help much currently with making the (Un)Monastery thing happen, as there are too many competing involvements currently. But I’ll gladly follow this and contribute when I have an opportunity!

Announcing: Emerging Leader Labs: A Social Incubator Running on the Gift Economy


I look forward to peer with this project and super creative and active folks behind it :slight_smile:

Newly opened Warsaw location!


If anybody is interested, we may join forces and start some FreeLab/unMonastery unit there.

Quick thinking & acting required.

Don’t really understand…

Hey Petros, the automated transation is really not that great. Who is inviting squatters? The city? The school? Why do you think it is important to act quickly?

This reminds me of a recent policy rolled out by the City of Milano. They are offering 100 buildings to civil society organizations for the long haul (up to 30 years). No money on the table: even any repairs you want, you have to do yourself. Still, a great opportunity.


The precinct authorities offer

Shortly, it’s local authority that makes it available. The building was the school recently, but the school moved to another spot. For the next year at last, there are no plans/possibilities for the location. The city has funds allocated for maintenance, heating, security and so on, but they want the place to be alive. Thus, they published an open invitation for all cultural/social activists who want to contribute to the local community - we can get the place (part of it) for free and apply for project funding as well.

I can imagine there are many people in Warsaw who will rush for it, that’s why I have already sent the cold mail yesterday and I hope some Edgeryders would join. It is the opportunity!