An Overview of unMonastery:Matera - Focused on June & July

Note: This post comes from a modified version of a document prepared for Matera2019 to give an overview of current developments, plans for June and July and longer term possibilities. Not everything is set in stone (such as dates) but is derived from 3 days of solid meetings. The final part of the document focuses on the possible pathways for unMonastery in Matera going forward - at this time the question of the future here remains open. Our desire though is to press pause at the end of July, take a step back to analyse, synthesis, troubleshoot and admire what we’ve built together, with a view to reopening in Matera in 2015 alongside 2-3 other iterations of the unMonastery in Europe in the same year, but more on that will follow in the coming weeks and months. As it stands now we have 2 very packed months of work ahead of us.

The Prolongation of the unMo as Method Lab:

Many of us have become project beings.  The fascinating challenge put by the the long term direction of 2019, opens up many possibilities for how unMonastery can become a key piece of infrastructure for the development and vital hub for capacity building in the long term program; focused on ensuring that projects brought to the city have a deep grounding in Matera and Basilicata.

The unMonastery is at this time perfectly situated.  Having just spend 12+ months doing the groundwork; we have developed a working location and a contact net that sits where it wants to be sitting.  The idea of a future re-incarnation as a project development broker and hosting space is a natural extension of our efforts.  We have prepared the field for groups of people descending on Matera to get a decent head start in achieving objectives and ensuring a participatory approach to future development.

Existing Long Terms Projects of unMonastery:

  • unMonastery in-a-box - The overarching aims of the unMonastery are geared towards replication and expansion - this project is aimed at packaging and exporting the model globally to those whom may be brave enough to take up the endeavour. This will culminate as hackathon and full publication of plans, schematics and the living archive in the follow months.
  • Open Tech School - Continuation of the workshops and shared space for learning tech.  
    • CoderDojo:Matera - Continued support of the CoderDojo node in Matera for teaching kids tech.
    • Restart Project:Matera - Workshops focused on teaching people to repair and reuse technology.
    • Open Data Initiatives - Ongoing workshops and practice of making unMonastery data open.
  • unTransit - Real time transport App and website for checking bus timetables on your phone, aimed expanding out to nearby towns and transport links throughout Basilicata.
  • Mapping the Commons - Born from the combination of Katalin, Maria and Lucia’s projects, Mapping the Commons is a web-based tool and catalyst for offline events designed to map social, economic and cultural assets in the neighbourhoods of Matera in order to enable local initiatives and organisations to find solutions, connections, and grounds for collaboration within their neighbourhood.
  • Sustainable Tourism Public Meetings - Is a meetup focused on the development of a network of citizens, locals businesses and associations aimed at creating a more sustainable approach to tourism in the city. (Punctuated next week by International Sustainable Development Day on June 2nd)
  • Sustainable Energy Initiatives - Continued development of open source projects centred on sustainable energy production
    • Sunflower Project - Open source solar tracker developed in house by Marc
    • Kiderwind - Open source wind power, invented by Francesco from Altamura, the unMonastery is planning to support the development of a prototype and funding if the prototype is a success.
    • Open Energy Monitor - A set of open source components to measure (and therefore improve) our power consumption, installed and documented by Marc

Project by Project / unMonasterian by unMonasterian:

  • Marc Schneider: Continues work on developing the Open Source Solar Tracker with local businesses and social innovators based in Matera; objective is to develop a kit that can be bought or built by end of July. In conjunction with his core project Marc has developed several other initiatives centred around the theme of sustainable energy, including; Open Energy Monitor (a energy tracking system used within unMonastery), KiderWind (a collaboration with Francesco Muscio to develop a prototype and crowdfunding campaign for his invention) and an arduino based hydroponics system (in collaboration with AgriNetural)

    Links: / /t/open-energy-monitor/361/ / /t/open-source-solar-tracker/355

    Stay: 4 Months (+June&July)

  • elf Pavlik: Continued work at unMonastery is centred around 4 key strands: Zero Waste Management, Distributed Resource Management, Open Data initiatives and ‘unTransit’ an app for real time transport timetables. elf is working fast with Marco Steinco, Piersoft and others based in Matera to launch the transport app in early June. To be followed by his leadership in a month long hackathon with the OuiLabs team to develop a linked data platform for resource sharing across networks.

    Links: /

    Stay: 3 Months (+June)

  • Rita Orlando and Antonio Elettrico: Rita and Antonio have continued to be indispensable to the unMonastery project with Rita supporting and enabling partnerships, most recently with ensuring the use of unMonastery 2 in the Piccianello marketplace - her work has from start to finish been essential to our survival in Matera. Antonio has been working hard to connect the group with local designers and artisans based in Matera, most recently hosting a paper mache workshop at the Map Piccianello event - and perhaps most importantly introducing the existence of the Oblate to the group.

    Stay: 4 Months

  • Kei Kreutler: Currently working remotely in the USA Kei has been busy scheduling a series of workshops for Open Tech School Matera, including "love your laptop" workshops with Ugo Vallauri from Restart Project and Alessandro Contini from Open Tech School Berlin / TechLab, bringing new faces to Matera in July. In addition she has built the first iteration of

    OTS: / /t/opentechschool-matera/569


    Stay: 3 Months (+July)


  • Lucia Caistor-Arendar: Having gathered and listened to many Materans as part of the walking ethnographies series to understand the relationship between people and their neighbourhood. This method will be worked on with the architecture students of Unibas. Remotely, these insights will be integrated into the Mapping the Commons project. Lucia is working on the Centre for Narration with Emanuela Vita - two co-design workshops have been held so far. Lucia has also been working to establish a number of long distance working relationships to connect the UK and others European centres with southern Italy. In addition the Mapping the Commons methodology will be replicate in a series of neighbourhood projects in London.


    Stay: 2 Months

  • Cristiano Siri: Having introduced the most essential building blocks to the unMonastery’s daily practice - aimed at maintaining both sustenance and spiritual wellbeing, our dearest Cristiano departed us, however he continues to watch over and pray for us from afar.  

    Stay: 2 Months

  • Katalin Hausel: Having played a fundamental role in bringing together the Mapping the Commons project and the Map Piccianello event. Katalin’s unGuide project has continued to evolve, solidifying this weekend past with the first series of tours around the city. Over the next month the unGuide will be packaged and distributed online alongside the mapping the commons project.

    Links:  /

    Stay: 2 Months

  • Bembo Davies: Our in-house philosopher-come-archivist has continued for the past months embellishing the long history of the unMonastery in weekly blog posts and personal accounts. In addition to his supporting hand in recent events, he provides much of the conceptual framework with which we understand our efforts. He continues to pen our accelerating book of mistakes - set for a publication date in late July.  During his stay he has been carefully devising a series of rituals in concentric cycles to be introduced in Matera over the next five years in collaboration with local players.  


    Stay: 4 Months (+July)

  • Maria Juliana Byck: With 50+ online videos alone, the most obvious and vital themes spoken by the Materans have become clear - which now inform a series of advanced forms such as the well attended Sustainable Tourism Public meetings and the underpinning themes for the Mapping the Commons project. Over the course of June and July the video portraits project will be gathered into a single place online, so it be experienced as a growing compilation of work centred around a set of key themes, which can then become foundation for new project and collaborations between people and organizations in Matera.

    Vimeo Channel:

    Stay: 4 Months (+June&July)

  • Francesco Pellegrino:  Despite his distance he continues to keep in contact and visit the unMonastery for short stays, offering up a number of alternative possible sites for the project inside and outside of Napoli.

    Stay: Intermittent.

  • Maria Piera Sarra "Lois": Continuing to develop the short food supply chain to help small-scale farmers to distribute their crop for a fair price, Lois has developed many relationships with local farms and secured a series of products for distribution on the Epelia platform developed around the project. This week Lois was in Brussels with fellow collaborators as a finalist of the European Social Innovation Competition - this will be continued in a follow up workshop with NESTA in the UK at the end of June. Lois’s work in establishing a trust network with local farms and producers presents set of possibilities which could begin to unfold if longevity is ensured; firstly the possibility of trading with farmers for food supply, secondly the possibility for establish a wing of Open Source Ecology in Brasilicata.  


    Stay: 3 Months

Fresh Faces at the unMonastery:

  • Jeff Andreoni: Writer, research and master chef recently joined us at the unMonastery to share his experience and wisdom, having indulged us in pasta making workshops, humour and support in our ever present language barriers.
  • Juliana Van Hemelryck : Will be joining us in June and July to continue collaborations between existing unMonasterians and AgriNetural. In addition Juliana will be focused on expanding the unMonasteries focus on the re-qualification of public space, with a particular focus on urban agriculture interventions.
  • Alessandra Coretti: Will be joining the unMonastery to help support existing projects and to look at the impact of individual projects on the needs of the place, and to work towards ensuring the longevity of relationships being built in the city
  • James Lewis, Samuel Andert and Daniel : Will be joining us in June for a month long hackathon with elf focused on creating a linked data platform for sharing resources between networks.
  • Emanuela Vita: will be working both from the unMonastery and remotely to continue developing the Centre for Narration in Matera and the women’s guide to Matera. She will also continue working with Lucia on the creation of a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practice about social innovation between northern Europe and the Mediterranean region.  


  • GAI: Supporting the Italian artist network to realise a Basilicata wide happening, flash mob style performances - motivated by the idea of placing culture at centre stage.
  • Brazilicata: Housing and supporting the Brazilicata Festival
  • Centre for Narration: Supporting and assisting in the development of Emmanuella Vita’s Narrative centre in Matera.
  • CasaNetural : Working together to host events focused on tech, co-living, coworking, technology and disused space through the project PopHub Basilicata.

Schedule for June and July:

Projects and Events of unMonastery:

End of May / June:

  • 24th May-31st June:     unMonastery 2; events space in disused store in Piccianello Marketplace
  • 24th May-3rd June:     Real Time Transport App, Ongoing hack and mapping party
  • 31st May:         popHub event on disused space in collaboration with CasaNetural
  • 2nd June:         Sustainable Tourism Public Meeting and Dinner
  • 6th June (TBC):     Launch the unTransit - Real Time Transport App
  • 7th-31st June:         Web 3.0 DevSprint, Month Long Hackathon
  • Second Week:        Zero Waste Lab, analyzing sources of waste and learning how to avoid it
  • 12th June:         Brazilicata Opening Party
  • Third Week:        Restart - first workshop on \#DIY fixing electronic devices
  • 17th June:        De Waag Follow Up Session
  • 28th June:         unMonastery Open Data Event
  • Fourth Week:        Linked Open Data workshop on publishing 5 star linked data
  • TBC:            Epelia Dinner and Produce Sampling


  • 11th-13th July:        Event with Alessandro Contini from Open Tech School Berlin and TechLab
  • 13th-17th July:         KIDER Engineering Hackathon to build first prototype
  • 15th July:         Finish and distribute Mapping the Commons toolkit and Methodology
  • 18th-20th July:         "love your laptop" workshops with Ugo Vallauri from Restart Project
  • 25th July:         Launch First Iteration of Solar Tracker Kit
  • 29th July:         Publish print copy of The Book of Mistakes
  • 29th July:         First release of unMonastery in-a-box
  • 31st July:         Launch international call for next unMonastery

Development of unMonastery Model:  

  • 20th June:         Launch 1st iteration of unMonastery Wiki
  • 15th July:        Hackathon for unMonastery in-a-box, remote international participation
  • 31st July:         Launch first iteration of unMonastery in-a-box; Tech Stack, Book and Kit


It is inconceivable for those of us who continue to believe in the unMonastery movement that it can exist independent of its genesis in Matera.  Our first steps, no matter how blundering, are holy.  In whatever form the unMon idea re-generates itself, the reference to the core of the first experience shall inform all future growth.  We are inadvertently tied to the future of Matera.  The friendships formed, strategic alliances and the ideas abandoned as too complex during the upstart period shall continue to provide spin-off  to the point that it is impossible to evaluate the value of the experiment for the community before ten years have passed.   However, even if the psychological presence shall continue even as the physical presence gets stretched; it is desirable to help feed our legacy.  Several forms present themselves:

  • The Materan School of the unMonastery - During the LOTE#3 meeting one group session focussed upon writing the 200 year history of the unMonastery movement.  One group explored the expansion of the movement and the significance of the Matera School in shaping its early success.  The group’s chief perspective was that the rich associative matrix supplied by the ever present monastic tradition in the community provided a uniquely potent growth environment.  Maintaining the spiritual home of the movement as an active player in this environment would provide invaluable continuity.
  • unEmbassy - If the unMonastery is to downsize but maintain continuity in Matera, it’s a natural  that the project changes shape to reflect it’s scale. If MT2019 and the city wish to maintain it’s connection to the networks of the project and it’s partners who have bought it, it makes sense to instigate the first unEmbassy at the site of the unMonastery. Each project present will continue allowing individuals from unMonastery, EdgeRyders and other networks to further their work in the region on a more ad-hoc basis. The unEmbassy would house 3-4 diplomats at any one time, with additional support from a connection to other residency programs and spaces internationally.
  • Leaving our finest unMonasterian in Matera  Community development work defines its tangible growth one contact at a time. The unMonastery will most likely leave our most loyal and well-adapted unMonk behind for a good many years.


We see three pathways

  • Option A: Building on our learnings from the initial prototype, we will work towards opening The Materan School of the unMonastery in Spring 2015.
  • Option B: In order to ensure the ongoing continuation of the unMonastery’s work, an unEmbassy would be established in one room of the building, hosting 3-4 individuals who would maintain responsibility for the overall infrastructure that the building provides to the cultural program and adjacent events.
  • Option C: Continue funding for the unMonastery from July onwards.  

Very useful summary

I appreciate this, @Ben, thanks. It all makes sense. I will support any decision you guys (and the Matera people) make with respect to options A, B or C. I will be there on the 4th, and have elsewhere volunteered to spend a week or two living as a unMonasterian in July, as per your suggestion. More later.


@Ben, I intentionally postponed reacting to this post because it takes a rested eye (not that 11pm is the best time :))

Thanks a ton for this thorough update, it is so rich one can hardly try an articulate feedback.

I am amazed at the wealth of knowledge that you guys produced in less than 4 months! and feel a bit at a loss in terms of the little that surfaced throughout in terms of milestones achieved (some like Marc’s seem quite well packaged for outreach)- bits here and there, proof that so many things were progressing at the same time, which in itself it’s not bad. It also depends on where one looks - and I obviously look through ER horizons which some have rightly pointed out is far from THE channel or YOUR own channel (you meaning the unMonasterians). But I think it is why it feels harder for some of us working on different projects (eg futurespotters) to make connections and seed collaboration. Some unMon projects you think you know where they are, but then information as to where they currently are is lacking or by the time you ask and get answers it’s too late…

At the same time I tend to agree with @Alberto and others in the communication thread: it’s way costly to target all audiences and one needs to prioritize and conserve efforts. From that point of view @Bembo’s reflection on the Piccianello event really hit a chord because it was the first account -even if indirect- of local, deeper responses in Matera:

“It seems a combination of something low-key and organic made the evening work without PR flags and amplifiers.  The unMo lights were reduced to candles; the pomp was left to the performers. It was a simple but significant celebration of deep culture between young people who believed in the naked word, and a statistically moderately older people absorbing this belief.  As Nalia, one of the our crowd of loyal unMo friendly pensioners, whispered to Lucia : “Questo è il vicinato.” (This is neighbourhood.)”

On a more positive note, your thorough documentation of processes (I seem to remember you did it on several platforms) and that vast amount of data might be very valuable in the future… the only thing left is probably to digest everything and then package it.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is Congrats for the noble and huge amount of work done, and in the end you’re probably most accountable to yourselves, which should make you VERY proud for trying, and for staying true to the goal…