Being a being on the edge

Hello! Kia ora! It’s great to be acquainted with this community. I feel it’s only fair that I make a mark of my existence here, particularly since I’m nomadic and experiencing a lot of disruption in my personal world. Finding this community feels like I have a chance to base myself somewhere digital, while the learning and the working that I’m called to enact reveals opportunities one by one.

I come from New Zealand and am European politically through my deceased Dutch grandad. Currently I’m based in Stockholm and doing remote Social Permaculture work in India.

I am calling to collaborate, and to meet collaborators.

What skills do I bring to the picnic?
Since I’ve prioritised authenticity over image for the majority of my adult life, my knowledge is generalist, varied and mostly experiential - I haven’t completed any formal higher education and I haven’t felt called to coding. Yet since falling into networks of ‘change-makers’ (of which I regard this community as the berries on the bush), I’ve found a few key roles valued by academics, social entrepreneurs and designers, which I can offer; facilitation, connection and storytelling.

I have hosted events, parties, cafes, tea ceremonies and most notably a co-working, co-created experimental space in the city where I’m from (Homies Cosy Teahouse, in Wellington).
By working in hospitality for 7 years I have discovered this crucial point of transformation between our food distribution systems and our sense of culture, community, self and belonging. I tapped into this curiosity by taking a PDC in 2016 and have since been studying and practicing permaculture. I love the tools in permaculture but I also know that it’s not everything, so I have started to dip into holacracy, sociocracy, agile design, responsive org, Teal and every other relevant socio-ecological work that I can find.

I want to weave opportunities for empowerment.
Following what I have come to realise about distribution of power, education, healthcare, food, technology and natural resources (I know you know it so I won’t elaborate), I’m now driven toward a project which enables grassroots action effectively through hijacking the model of startup incubators. Along the way I hope to demonstrate the potentials for homegrown and local food, medicine and energy, to bring a global sense of alliance and attention to local heroes and to cultivate mindfulness in the communities that I connect to as I move around the planet.
More generally, I want to open gateways between the local and global divide and I see food and community as the keystones to my part in this play.

What am I doing on Edgeryders?
The future is not something anyone should build alone. I’m here to meet you all, to engage with your projects and to find co-conspirators for mine. I’m here to lend, learn, build and share. Currently in the beginning stages of my project, I am researching deeply as see this network as somewhat of a key study in demonstrating the relevance and effectiveness of the network that I’m weaving. That means that I want to be here when it’s messy, when it’s loud, when it’s dull, when it’s quiet. And I want to see how I can be of use to the collective.

I trust this gives some idea of the person behind the avatar, when you see me around the forums giving winks and nudges. Give me a bell if anything here resonates with you and freely ask any questions or favours.

Love in advance,

Naomi

Has Likes

Waw! Nice inside Naomi, glad you tell us more about you! About New Zeland, it’s really a country that i want to explore, from next year to the next 5 years.
Your nomad track inspire me and I want also to do so and to be a world expat (originally based in Belgium for… too much time, now I want to fly on my own everywhere!)

Permaculture, and renew the link to the nature, is really important for me. It’s enough to destroy, to pollute, to create chemistry or human-made stuff that destroy/alter the nature. We have to renew the link to the nature and to involve any human being in the nature. The most important challenge will be, for any city in the world, to provide enough space where nature can regain its kingdom among thousands of buildings. Human have to change and get back to reality, or the branch will be cut and reverse is more difficult than destroy…

Wish you the best!

Has Likes

Great, yes, I was in Antwerp last month and couldn’t feel at home there… New Zealand has highs and lows like anywhere else but if you do go there, I recommend spending more time in the South island and (although it is getting quite expensive now) Wellington is an amazing, thriving, cool/cosy/cultural place with amazing restaurants.

I agree with you that urban farming is a really important topic to bring forward, as is the idea of wildlife corridors in these places. But mainly I worry for the suburban sprawl. The more opportunity we have to work remotely, the more freedom to choose where to live. I see that as the future, so I am creating a co-working space with dorms in India with my partner, to investigate this population of nomadic entrepreneurs and how they may connect with/inspire the communities where they come. There’s a piece about sustainable tourism in there, too…

lmk if you have more queries about NZ or want to work together. I’ll be here :relaxed:

Has Likes

Welcome, then, @Phoresced. I am Alberto, one of the old-timers (relatively to the history of Edgeryders, which is still quite short).

I would like to know more about this:

Thanks in no small part to @matthias’s extra clear thinking, many of us are quite skeptical of the business incubator model. What we think might work is the part of it where people spend time interacting in an aligned way around a project, and they develop professionally (and often personally) as a result. But that is done best by a different technology than the incubator: the home. So we set out to reinvent the home. It makes sense anyway, since we want to live in a space that suits our lives, and then started to test whether this new model can also perform some of the functions of a business incubator.

In fact we have a prototype running right now, on the west coast of Morocco. I visited it in the early days, but now, from my base in Brussels it is not clear how well it is working. There are so many dimensions to it, from food preparation to interacting with local people (apparently discouraged by local authorities) to, of course, developing products for small businesses. Sometimes I think it’s going great, sometimes I feel pessimistic. The reports from @hazem and @HadeerGhareeb seem on the positive side. What is sure is that we are far from having a smoothly running model.

So … what does your project look like? What can we learn from you? Have you documented it anywhere? Here you can find a lot of stuff in the #openvillage category or searching for “Kaouki” on the platform.

And also, I’m curious: how does permaculture happen in remote? :slight_smile:

@zmorda and @hazem are doing something related I think.
As for food: https://edgeryders.eu/t/an-openvillage-food-culture-sidi-kaouki/8345/18

:slight_smile:

Hi and welcome.

Has Likes

hello @Phoresced, very nice to meet you - as I read your introduction, I see a familiar person :wink: Tons of different interests and passions, yet I didn’t narrow mine to a single project that I’d like to develop for years. Still searching for it. Fortunately, edgeryders is quite a foraging space to feed my mind and look for the right plan to come out of it.

If you’d like to elaborate a little bit on how you envision your project, that would be fantastic - it sounds like something we’re also very much interested in these days. we’re also toying with ideas of creating a network of spaces, and solving the problem of expensive loans and flats and inaccurate earnings of the young people to allow them to do both interesting works and afford a decent roof over their heads. Plus the food, which we discussed many times while organizing our conferences and doing co-living. We always try to find a way to provide sustainable, affordable and responsible food for the participants of our projects. This was the case in our festivals (which I had a pleasure to coordinate twice already), and other projects - for example in Nepal, where I and @Matthias were lucky to have a cook at home, whom we could pay a decent wage and hire for our smaller events, allowing her to make some extra money. It was a way for us to spare time, learn a lot about local cuisine and plants, and support an amazing girl (not to mention give her some breathing time from the social tensions she experiences as a member of the lower class from her local employers).

welcome to the community :wink:

Has Likes

Well hey and thanks for the warm welcome!

I would be happy to elaborate a little on my project. It is a decentralised incubator so perhaps most of your skepticisms don’t apply! Let me note before I start this tangent, that I was drawn straight to the Sidi Kaouki project when I first came to this platform and it’s just this interlapping of interests that had me convinced I am in the right place. I would love to be involved sometime down the line.

So, while I am wholly committed to the project I am about to share with you all, I’m also very open in sharing all that I have schemed and learned in the trust that we are working together to benefit society and ecology - so hopefully it is of use to you :recycle: :raised_hands:

On the one hand, I have set the intention to write a blog for each major chapter of our development on this website, so a lot of the more formal/clear information that I have ‘documented’ can be found on this first post.
The other answer to documentation, aside from our trello board (where we now employ interstitial journalling), is that as a first iteration we are building a database which is currently open for anybody to add to or draw knowledge/inspiration from. It’s a massive documentation of data, on its way toward becoming an open-access directory.

The goal is to remove the barriers which keep common citizens from taking action in their communities and empowering them with accessibility, tools, support, training and finance when it is relevant. Hence the first step is to create a directory of sorts, pointing to valuable information.

As a global body (at least in time the idea is to transcend borders), we act as an ‘incubator’ modelling a sort of ‘venture capitalism’ which I think of as venture relationalism (term pending).

I mirror your insight into remodelling the collective space of home and work, and we also want to be as self sustainable as possible every step of the way. So, we have recently acquired some land in Gujraula, near New Delhi, to offer as a co-working space and to rent out in Air BnB, looking to attract nomadic entrepreneurs and grow our network. This won’t be a place for residencies as your model has, though I like the idea and may try it down the line. Instead the idea is to create edge between our projects and the wider, global community of social entrepreneurs.

In this building, which is designed to showcase sustainability in many forms, we will open a rooftop cafe, growing plenty of our own food on the roof, and connecting in the emerging organic food distribution system of this area while supporting local farmers to transition portions of their land to an agroecological model. Our site will also have an auditorium space for workshops and presentations; we intend to invite locals in for monthly film screenings and hire the space out to companies who come to the industrial area for business – this is filling a void that one local has identified.

So, basing ourselves here in the beginning, we will then flesh out the following model;
Client A has an idea (based, at first, on one of our 5 key tension areas: education, healthcare, organic farming, waste and alternative energy), yet she has no business background and limited funding. She has heard about us from school or family, so she gets in contact.
We assign her a non-specialist coach. This member of our team has gone through a training programme which identifies key tools and frameworks that can fit different situations. This person is hired if they have ideally both a background in entrepreneurship or management, and communication (NVC, deep listening, etc). We supplement their business knowledge with a course and this team (the leaves) connect to a stem (a professional advisor), meaning that the flow of knowledge is providing continuous training for our leaves while not overloading the stems.

Meanwhile, our root system plugs away at the level of government and investors. They seek grants, organize citizen resistance, make visible the struggles which emerge from data collected from our Clients’ pitches and shuffle the legal backbones of the small projects we are supporting.

Our network (The GRDN) would be financially self sufficient through the business of co-working spaces and sustainable tourism ventures, potentially even an investment in alternative energy. Yet we receive stakes in the companies which bloom under our coaching, so that revenue can build into supporting more projects and expanding into other communities. Eventually we will be able to pay local representatives who wish to start a GRDN chapter in their area. This person will collect relevant cultural data for the directory, host events to bring citizens together over empowerment and manage a team which can grow into a version of our prototype leaf-stem coaching model.

However, we continue to apply for grants to distribute to project applicants based on criteria influenced by Effective Altruism. We use our core team to siphon donations into the most effective local projects which are still being ultimately led by and developed by locals, who obviously have the most intimate understanding of their community’s needs. Yet we can choose to put a portion of this funding into courses / trainings for these local leaders, equipping them with long-term benefit (rather than taking over when they reach the limit of their existing abilities).

I think this covers the main structure, if I’ve left anything out or you have further questions (I hope!), then we’ll continue the discussion. But I am very interested to hear your feedback @alberto and @matthias or whoever else. If this is something you think you’d like to co-create then I’ll gladly invite you into the Trello board; currently it is mainly myself, with a partner in India who is making connections with businessmen and politicians of the area and overseeing the co-working site, with our friend Trisha who has been helping me to categorise the directory. I’m sure some of you will have great suggestions for entries into the directory, don’t be shy to add anything as the google folder is open for editing :wink: (Here’s that link again.)

PS Permaculture works anywhere that there’s an ecosystem! I guess I’m more of a pollinator for now but social permaculture happens a lot online and wherever the workshops are ((everywhere)).

Has Likes

I resonate a lot with all that you have said! It’s strange to see how the necessity can breed a return to collective living and behaviour. Ultimately so much better for our health, too, I believe. We learn from each other, we play many roles rather than fitting neatly into a cubicle and we can realise the interdependent organism that I believe we truly are as a species!

I look forward to getting up to mischief with you :wink:

Has Likes

Do you have the coaches, trainers and advisors to make this work?

Hey John, thanks for your question :smile:
So far in Stockholm I’ve met two potential and confirmed collaborators who each run companies which I’m planning to outsource some of the training to (the business model is focused on collaborating, i.e. not competing, everywhere possible and to provide freelancers with more regular work too). Then we have Trisha who is a psychology major, she will be on the frontline as our prototype coach, but the rest will only come with time and particularly at the right time for scaling.
Our priority now is to create a functional directory, the hiring and ally-acquiring will be second stage. Definitely not afraid to outsource in the beginning.

I’m really interested in the potential to matchmake some mentorships but not sure how to pull that off. It seems they’re usually organic and perhaps more meaningful if each person is the discoverer their mentor/mentee… :thinking: could be cool to encourage the process though!

I see some parallels between your work and what we are working out with our Reef houses and Open Village projects.

Understood.

What we are struggling with: there are very few paying clients for incubation/biz dev services. If they have money to pay, it means they already have developed their business, and they do not need us to do so. Hell, we never paid for any such service. We considered acceleration programs etc, and in the end we decided they were not worth the money.

So, the money to fund these activities has to come from somewhere else.

We are kind of resigned to that. The Morocco prototype is aimed at:

  1. Figuring out a way to offer biz dev services for cheap. Permanent staff, spaces etc. are a no go, because they would put a lot of financial stress on operations. We are trying for peer-to-peer to play a large role.

  2. Figuring out what demographic we should attempt to serve. How many budding entrepreneurs are there? How can we weed out the fickle/unreliable ones early on?

  3. Figuring out how to serve them. In Sidi Kaouki, we tried to make them learn by working on each other’s projects. That did not work well. So what? Some combination of one-on-one coaching, teaching skills, presumably. How do we deliver? We have a strong online community: how can we use it? I mean, even now you and I are discussing our business ideas, and hopefully developing through such a discussion.

Of course, another possibility is to drop this area of activity altogether. :smile:

Has Likes

Hi and welcome! I’m a fellow Edgeryder, based in Stockholm. With Edgeryders I mostly work with @nadia and @matteo_uguzzoni on a new Edgeryders project that’s still in early phases, based on how to scale up the SSNA ethnographic tools and methods to accelerate sensemaking. In Stockholm I’m involved with running the Node in Sickla and I’m also on the board of the Borderland event, which is based in Denmark, with the current board being based in Stockholm.

Funnily enough, I’m actually at a permaculture project in Portugal right now called Permalab. But I’m back in Stockholm end of April. Let’s have coffee?

Has Likes

Alberto, Hazem and I had a fairly long voice call yesterday, ostensibly as a progress report about the Sidi Kaouki house, but inevitably moved to where Matt laid out his views about what does/did and won’t/didn’t work there. As Alberto mentioned, “we tried to make them learn by working on each other’s projects. That did not work well. So what? Some combination of one-on-one coaching, teaching skills, presumably.” Or as Matt said, “people like to be shown how to do stuff.” In other words, this resonates with your (@Phoresced) assumption that mentoring, training and advice is necessary to succeed.

If we, ER, agree that this is required, then how to assure and maintain that kind of support for young and inexperienced but smart and talented entrepreneurs is something we have not yet worked out.

Has Likes

There is prior art to look at though for how to bring people into projects, acquiring skills along the way. But it requires the project owner to put in some work of preparing a couple of weeks of curriculum. We should probably look deeper into giving the project owners some tools and methods for how to bring people on board.

This is a problem we face all the time in volunteer organizations that I’ve been a part of, as turnover is high and you often need to make sure that someone else than you mirrors your skills and knowledge and can take over. In that case, it’s all about the social contract.

Has Likes

Hence I’m looking at other means of income to support our support team ;D
Long term something ‘like’ venture capitalism, an investment in these directors to develop companies whose future revenue can support our wider mission, a membership; seems to be a viable long-term strategy.

Meanwhile, we stand on the profits from the rooftop cafe, rental spaces and events. Then the phase of applying to investors kicks off.

I agree that no one should pay for biz dev in the beginning, particularly since our clients are low-income as it is. But our investment in them should be acknowledged as a seed that will once day feed many more mouths than their own. (The garden metaphors just keep doing it for me!)

P2p is another key component, for sure. Let’s all not keep reinventing the wheel.

How to use the asset of an online community? Participants for trial runs, partners in projects, and more and more of the discussions we have here. It’s truly valuable to compare notes and when I have more documentation I’ll be linking it in, too. Let’s keep exploring until there is an open source working model.

Has Likes

& @johncoate , here’s a theme I see in a lot of new-era organisational management, the emphasis on ongoing training. It can be useful as a tactic for keeping skilled/familiar people in the organisation, alongside more flexibility in their roles. It could also work well in volunteer organisations, depending on the reasons volunteers fall out of course. From my experience, volunteer programmes function best with some proportion (maybe 1/4) on pay roll; those who collect feedback and develop curriculum accordingly, those who have seen the highs and lows of the operations. I think listening to feedback is the best way to ensure a culture of ongoing learning, but that doesn’t necessarily mean developing the curriculum in-house; sometimes it’s worth identifying where the individual can benefit from further training and sponsoring a course or suggesting a free online course. But for more specific learning about the organisation, a curriculum developed from the feedback could work.

So here’s what I want to work on now (for ER, for GRDN and for Noden): a structure for documentation, so that crucial information is accessible to more than just the inner circle / leader. I have a few questions to follow through, with your help, if possible:

  1. What online tools do we already have for accessible documentation?
  2. How to manouvre the time commitment of reflection: both committing to writing reflection and combing through these entries to compile & propose new guidelines for the role/organisation. Is this a full-time job in itself? Data analytics with follow through.
  3. Can we represent prior knowledge visually, so anyone taking over a role has a firm understanding of how their personal strengths and weaknesses compare to their predecessor?

As for bringing new people in, the Permaculture CoLab have mentioned keeping the Form, Storm, Norm stages to the existing team and opening up to new people during Perform. In this context, I interpret this as meaning: make your framework, have your processes of operations and documentation, and only then is it time to recruit.

Has Likes