An Edgeryders Culture: what does it mean and how can it be expressed?

Arrival by night: a poem inspired by the journey to the retreat

6 weeks ago i went to Turkey to spend 3 days talking about what the Edgeryders world was, is and could be to me. It was an opportunity to reconnect with the people within the network, as well as make new friends.

Our discussions on the roadtrip to the venue were wide ranging. We covered the work of Carl Jung; the alchemy of communities; theoretical physics; and the practical applications of magic in the hands of the storyteller! All normal discussions to have in a car full of Edgeryders.

These topics provided me with a context for the following days. All my discussions and conversations then became viewed through these strange lenses. After a few months in the wilderness it became clear to me how much i value and rely on the Edgeryders community.

The next steps on the Edgeryders journey seem so exciting and challenging. So much of our current journey is looking at how we live together better - with discussions happening around the OpenVillage format; developing physical spaces that we can live and work together and improve the quality of life for both ourselves, and the communities in which we live. While this inevitably involves thinking about the technological solutions, the ways we communicate internally and externally, and the future of the work/life relationship, there are other factors at play as well. As a writer and cultural manager, i’m most interested in the ways in which we express ourselves artistically in these new environments. Where is the space for artistic expression (both within our own lives and in our external relationships with the wider world) within this framework? With increase time and scope for self-actualisation and better work/life balances, where is the gap for play? And what might that look like across Edgeryders spaces and places?

I see a lot of creative and cultural practitioners in the community, working in diverse areas; for institutions and for communities; artists; writers; cultural organisers; journalists; videographers; etc. The whole spectrum of artistic and cultural practice wither exists on the site, or has passed through our community either online or at live events.

I’m frequently asking myself: “what brings us together, here” and “what can hold us together, here”.

There’s evidently something within the discussions, practices and research on this platform that attracts those working within these intersections. So how do we find ways of tapping into that creative energy and provide opportunity to people from those backgrounds to explore their practice through the Edgeryders framework?”

It’s a series of big questions. Not all which we’re close to answering yet, but there’s a good core of people for whom these questions keep coming up, and i want to try to utilise that connection and the energy that comes from it to craft something magical. Something special. Something unique, that can only come together out of the alchemy of this community.

So what does that mean on a practical level?

We are looking for interesting partners and funders who are aligned not only with Edgeryders current goals and principles, but also those whose partnership and integration may help us to grow in the directions we are most drawn to. We look to people whose interests align to help shepherd that process.

Secondly, we are undertaking a comprehensive mapping exercise to reexamine the conversations and people in Edgeryders over the years, re-ignite interests and reconnect with people whose journeys with us may have been brief, and to see if this new strand of idea fits with their current practices. This is well underway, but any input into this is welcome, to ensure that we don’t miss out on the edges of our own Edge. Fortunately we have the option of using EdgeSense and GraphRyder to help us do some of the work! Score one for the data scientists!

Thirdly, we are looking at building a research project to look into how digital arts and artists can intersect with modern communal living. Edgeryders exists so firmly within the digital sphere but as we look to create more permanent real world spaces how can these two worlds come together. What might that look like? How do we marry the world of funded digital art with the ideas of ‘outsider’ and community arts practices? This idea is still in the creative and shaping stage, so we’re looking for input from anyone who feels like this idea has particular resonance to their own practices (whether artist, or living)

Finally, we continue to think about how the Edgeryders live event formats that we have run and loved fit into this project. There seems to be an overlap where those of us with cultural backgrounds are drawn also to the event production and the live spaces.

We see that there is a need to continue to provide the chance for people already within the community together face-to-face in ways that both support and challenge. We have ambitions to see these events grow and to remain a core part of the ER development process over the next few years. Without the obvious tenpole of projects such as OpenCare, we need to find new ideas that can act as the strong attractors for the community. There are already ideas in the pipeline, but more are always needed.

Example ideas: A Making-of-community-art kind of camp

Noemi and I are both interested in collaboratively constructed events that produce real world artefacts, as well as live experiences. We’re inspired by events like (among others), but with an interest in how these events can be used to solve structural social problems, or to investigate community cohesion through artistic and cultural expression. Encouraging participants to attend with their own ideas or practices and to expand them into finished artifacts whilst on site. Edgeryders interests and skills at capturing the processes could help create some interesting data as well as the finished work. Meanwhile, we all get to live and work alongside each other as people. Perhaps the camp expands after the final day to become something for the wider public? Inspired by the festival ethos of places like Borderland and Burning Man.

It’s a continuation of the LOTE idea, and the OpenVillage Festival design process. But, with opportunities for growth and development of cultural practitioners through creative means.

Similarly, we are in discussions looking at the next steps for the EconSciFi group. We are exploring how this reading and discussion group grows into a live event, with iterations over the next 12 months. With these events there is another chance to reach out to new interesting groups; participants; partners; and wider audiences. More ways to bring a small slice of the Edgeryders way towards the centre.

I know there are many other ideas like this bubbling under the surface

So how can you help? We have the 3 core next steps that you can respond to

Who could be good sources of funding to help support the development of the research project, and/or the live event ideas? Who should we be talking to that may be perfect partners for delivering either of these ideas?

How could we create a self sustaining research topic that can interest and engage as many people already within the ER network as possible, whilst also providing useful outputs to help us on our journey?

What do you see as being the next step for Edgeryders events? Can you help?


As we’re discussing face to face, some notes…

Here, I see the sparks that ignite what is happening in the Edgeryders network. And more specifically, the question I ask here is what is the “culture” itself of the Edgeryders community? The culture and conditions of this kind of work…
There’s an opportunity in aligned movements in terms of “next-generation” anything or “the future of work/ culture/ community” to be paying attention to the how we are together ass much as the what we’re doing together.
For example, my latest research project was entitled “Thinking-making-living spaces into biopolitical contrast.”

Can access my rich cultural network but foreground that I approach it based on relationships rather than sales.
Two different iterations I can think of:

  • Getting a project idea funded and then building the community partnerships to manifest it
  • Collaboratively developing a project idea and then a specific team/ steward sell it

Culture Squad as the core concept for now, a kind of alliance of Edgeryders cultural practitioners and organisations that share mutual interests, approaches… an evolution of the membership network.
What is the hook for them? What is in it for them?
What is the social contract and terms of involvement?
What spaces is it animated in?

A few initial thoughts for funding:


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Additional notes during our meeting:

  • For projects that are more driven to actual cultural outputs, suggest local and regional cultural agencies
  • Suggest submit proposals to a residency (there are so many!) to intensively develop a project idea and bring interested Edgeryders together
  • ResArtis
  • Contributing to cultural policy forums and advice is a potential but yes requires major effort to “specialise”
  • Experimental engagement and documentation approaches to sites and projects associated to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Intangible Cultural Heritage and museums in general (as per UNLIve)

Thanks so much for the advice @anique.yael, adding and crosschecking all of the funding sources with our current list.

The two ways of strengthening the Edgeryders Culture network are both in consideration - a project getting resources to get people to focus attention on something and see what comes next. The other one is to open this conversation, run the mapping in the background and get ideas about where our edge is, like Alex says.

We are definitely having the conversation, but spotting projects as we go along.


We are looking to join the Beyond The Obvious event in October, with @natalia_skoczylas. Anyone has references about Culture Action Europe? ping @rossellatarantino @Branka ?

@yannick since you were at POC, got a quick feedback on this idea of a making of community art camp, the equivalent of poc but with the ER due preparation and online conversation before and after?

Hello Noemi and @alex_levene

Yes i had the POC experience and loved it, changed so much in the way i look at community events and collaboration. It wasn’t the core of the event (building ecological technology for a carbon less future) but the way the community was organized: with enough space and time to change the form on the go. We had open discussions on why it was or wasn’t a good idea that the president of the republic came to the camp, on who wanted to take responsibility to bring meat on the table, on the philosophy of failing. All things that weren’t prepared before but were given the time to explore in those 5 weeks of camp. I think there is some of the essence of what made POC21 special, it was that the organization itself was constantly open for change and that people working on the technology could become organizers and vice versa. I think it was mostly thanks to openstate narrative organization that this succeeded, Ouishare was more the vehicule getting the funds and creating the financial and administrative structure, and openstate created the ‘user experience’, well that is how i felt it at least.

Hope you get something out of this short explenation, would love to see it used in other areas like art and culture


Key phrase.


Hi @anique.yael what was the specific residency that you suggested during our meet up?
I thought i bookmarked it, but cannot find it

There is an overlap in at least the basic core idea with the ECF Idea Camp:

For me this is too short termist, and also doesn’t lead to any kind of artistic or cultural artefacts at the end of the process. However it could create an interesting partnership possibility.
@natalia_skoczylas did you say that you’d made contact with these guys during your stay in Italy?

Found it. Think it was this one:

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Nope, these guys I haven’t met in person yet - but I tried getting their grants, hard one :slight_smile:

Yeh, i’ve tried and failed on the ECF funds as well.

This project offers some inspiration on how we could proceed to fund such a research+art action

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We know them: We are even partner in a H2020 proposal (did not go through). They care about artists working with scientists. This is really their niche.


When I look at Edgeryders I see not yet a fully formed culture, but a culture in the making. I see people who don’t just want their life’s work to be good and true and part of what moves all of humanity ahead. I see people who know that to accomplish something this profound it is necessary to fully embody in one’s person and livelihood those values which nurture and sustain life on this planet. I see people who know that doing positive things requires being positive yourself. I see people who know that to nurture a planet means nurturing each other and nurturing oneself. I see people who know that the journey and the destination are one. I see people who, without dogma or particularly overt spiritual explanations for their motivations, nevertheless demonstrate consistently that they are moved by a deep spirit that does not necessarily need to be named. Certain themes illustrate this consistency: un-monastery, care, community, openness, responsibility, civility, to name just some of them. Whatever direction this culture-in-the-making takes, it will be infused with people and actions inseparable from the core values expressed in its writing, projects, and events.


I should hope so. If a culture is not in the making, it’s dead.

Of course. I see it in its early stages still…

Wow. This is fantastic. Thanks @alex_levene for sharing your insights and projecting this toward the larger vision of Edgeryders, which it appears is evolving slowly. This is beautiful.

My immediate thoughts are to consider a Network Analysis of all persons that are active and interested in Edgeryders moving forward and to document these relationships, partnerships, outputs and the overall collaborative aspect of Edgeryders which is : a culture-in-the-making (Thanks @johncoate) and not void of evolving, by nurturing the self and each other and our collective values. Actually that’s the only constant I imagine, this collaboration which is shifting. By positioning us all on this map, we can better collaborate, share and progress this network. That’s my immediate 2 cents.

  1. Funders
    I am not too familiar with funders, as most of my work has been focused on Health/Public Engagement during the last years. I am in a position to present this collaborative approach toward Well-being to the Wellcome Trust if I can swing this as a Progressive Research or Project toward Engagement/Communication or similar. They’re very flexible and if we are speaking about co-creation and events that produce real tangible artefacts, we could argue this with this Funder under their Public Engagement grants. It will present a means of being, creating, collaborating and sharing that surpasses geo-territorial conceptions of community.

That’s an initial thought as I will be visiting the funder in September 2018. So let’s keep this open as I am on very good terms with them.

My second thought is: are there any single researchers interested in chronicling and studying the progression of edgeryders and understanding this network. This could be a really great research study and we could apply for funds for this to be done as a research project (Masters or PhD). This could form the basis for a research topic that directly benefits the network and all subscribers?

My third thought which is one that keeps revisiting me is the idea of Communiversities. These little hubs of knowledge run by persons who have experience and handing over that experience to a new cohort of interested persons. I’ve been following the model of the Fun Palaces, and have met with their leadership. Could something similar which brings together collective experience, expression, arts ad knowledge be of interest as producing a real world “artefact”. This is something that could be funded, as Edgeryders is (via one lens) a communiversity of sharing?

As for the next step of Edgeryders Events, I think these issues highlighted would be phenomenal to have workshopped. With a cohort of interested persons we could tease out the nitty-gritty, and define the next steps in a concentrated effort. We previously spoke about the potential of hosting a camp to this purpose (or rather developing certain ideas/projects further within the network) prior to the next Open Village. Would a concentrated exploratory workshop to this purpose be of interest?

I will give some thought to potential funders in the meantime.

We just had a small talk about networking and potential partnership building opportunities - besides Cultural Diplomacy and the event in Timisoara, where we’re both planning to go with @Noemi, I also found these two:

I’ll be applying for both, and I am asking Ars Electronica if they would like to have us as a team - possibly with Noemi, but maybe someone else, depending on the schedule. I missed Linz (Hitler’s favorite town on the planet btw :D) and I’d be happy to go back, would also be nice to refresh my cultural network in Ljubljana.

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I don’t have an answer but rather some unstructured thoughts.

been thinking how hard it is to adopt innovative solutions in our everyday life. I think about all the sustainability and environmental related events where we drink coffee out of plastic cups, or the fablabs/hackerspaces where we sit on Ikea chairs…etc
looking at our own place based innovation track and knowing that there are lots of scattered solutions everywhere, still it is hard to find a lot of them applied in one place.

There are reasons why some of the opensource solutions ( in house ) are not adopted even by the wider hacker community, and would be beneficial to try applying these solutions in a space with the local public participating in such a process to know for real how to build the infrastructure needed in a local level. As alberto was dreaming about the reef 2.0

the thing is there are solutions, yet not applied, not user friendly enough or need more infrastructure or need more time. It could sound as a boring project as it shouldn’t invent something new unless needed but rather collect the bits and pieces on the Internet and apply it and see how usefull/useless they are.

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