Being shortlisted is good enough. Forget about this competition. Unless

The unMonastery is one of the 40 shortlisted projects selected (out of 600) for the last phase of the Che Fare contest: a competitive Italian competition which explores new ways of doing culture.

What is at stake? 100.000€ - but not only.

The evaluation process takes into account the project’s capacity to engage communities through creative communication. Only 8 out of 40 projects will make it to the final selection: the 8 most voted ones. We have 2 months to gather as many votes as possible. If we enter the final selection, the jury will evaluate the project mainly on its business plan.

So if it’s about votes and business plan, who cares. Communities are not about raising votes: no solid communities ever came out of online voting processes. A project’s sustainability is not only about economic indicators: many projects imploded regardless the fact they were backed up by professional business plans.

So let’s forget about this competition, unless…

Unless we take this as:

  1. a way to hack evaluation based on business plans: is sustainability only about economic indicators? Is there no other way to measure and assess a project's capacity other than quantifying foreseen unit costs and revenues in monetary transactions?
  2. a way to build a solid, convincing and purposeful communication strategy to spread the unWord, enlarge the community and channel interest (through votes) on the project. It can become an excellent way to diversify the unStorytellers, to produce more re-usable media and to back-up the prototype's launch with common knowledge (both from the locals and from the Net).

How can one committ to taking the lead for yet another energy-consuming adventure if there is no meaningful way to go for this? How can we turn this into a bonding experience for the Edgeryders community?

In my eyes, there is only one way to go for this, and it has to make sense. Turn thecompetition’s objectives (getting as many votes as we can and building a business plan), to:

  1. produce purposeful knowledge
  2. expand social capital
  3. create further communication material
  4. back-up unMonasterians missions (and more generally the launch of the prototype)
  5. enhance visibility of local heroes

From now, until the 13th of March.



WHY? We are all stretched thin. If further effort has to be put in the unMonastery, it’s in order to produce useful material for the community as a whole: tools which can be used by other to replicate the unMonastery in other places, processes which strengthen the prototype’s credibility in order to ensure replicability (and not scalability). If work has to be put in on a speculative basis, at least valuable knowledge has to be ensured in order to secure a meaningful engagement for the entire duration of the challenge.

WHAT? A business plan that fits the unMonastery looks more like a Sustainability Plan, made of sub-themes which are useful to strengthening and replicating it, based on other measures from € to evaluate the resources needed to lead an unMonastic way of life (such as calories, kilowatts, litres of water, m2 of land, ecc.)

HOW? A series of 30-minute-talks with mentors known for their knowledge and radical approach to specific themes (such as urban agriculture, waste management, water re-use): they will be live-streamed, channel interest because they produce knowledge. Each talk aims at collaboratively elaborating a chunk of the Sustainability Plan.

WHO? 4/6 mentors

WHEN? Each Sunday, for 4/6 times in a row (choice is on: 02/02 - 09/02 - 16/02 - 23/02 - 02/03 - 09/03)

This seems like something people might want to exchange votes for :slight_smile:


WHY? Communities are not a pool for scouting votes, exploiting skills or getting quality work for free. That’s a one way journey to burning social capital and burnout, tout court. However, if we stick to producing purposeful knowledge, then this can actually turn out to be a way of actually expanding social capital, growing the buzz around Edgeryders, enhancing its visibility, building new, tailored relationships. Because this is what it’s all about: valuable relationships and knowledge. Building the unMonastery’s Sustainability Plan becomes useful to an enlarged, global community because it aims at producing useful tools to tackle shared issues.

WHAT? A pool of senior/junior mentors picked both from abroad, Italy and Matera which will lead the thematic mentoring sessions. They will be picked on the basis of their knowledge, but also because they are influencers in their respective communities and are credible relationship multipliers.

HOW? Through Edgeryders.

WHO? To be decided (together with the themes)

WHEN? Each Sunday, for 4/6 times in a row (choice is on: 02/02 - 09/02 - 16/02 - 23/02 - 02/03 - 09/03)


WHY? The unMonastery has a strong yet complex narrative. It has to be pitched in different ways, to different audiences, in different languages as it progressively moves from online building to the offline dimension. ReWording the unMonastery is a process which can be part of the community engagement itself: school children or artists could be called upon to work on the narrative by using local dialect or simple images. The selected challenges have to be communicated and understood both by locals and the world: having faces, above icons, makes it more realistic.

WHAT? A series of short videos of: the unMonastarians which explain their missions? Local children which explain why they want unMonastarians? Local actors which use dialect to re-word the unMonastery’s narrative?

HOW? Through Matera 2019

WHO? To be decided

WHEN? Now. Or better: yesterday :slight_smile:


WHY? Although there is a clear expectation management primer, the most precious local connecting link and many other resources, backing-up our first unMonasterians with whatever they might need cannot hurt: and, once the basics are covered, what can be more useful than further knowledge and an enlarged community?

WHAT? Sub-themes of the Sustainability Plan linked to unMonasterians’ specific missions (solar panels, wi-fi, local crops)

HOW? Brainstorm on mentor, organize the thematic tall (Q&A), co-designing the related block in the sustainability plan

WHO? unMonasterians + involved Edgeryders

WHEN? Now.


This can be an excellent occasion to convey local knowledge on specific themes. For example, in urban agriculture Mimi Coviello is certainly someone to involve. Also, by engaging local actors in the communication process I am positive this will fuel more energies from the community.

To be managed by Matera 2019 (it also gives visibility to local creative scene, which is definetely something that adds valued to the bidding process).

This said, there is no work for free. At least, not on this part. The only thing I can ensure is a clear, open and secured speculative budget we all agree on.

Next steps, if you are interested:

  1. Step up and find your place in the process: let's build a team on this and push it forward :-)
  2. Evaluate the time you are willing to put in, and set a price
  3. Open up the open budget, add a row, put in your name, role and compensation (in €)
  4. Let's start!

There is a lot more to say, but first of all let’s see if this general vision is something that attracts you!

Breaking it down into bite sized pieces…

That’s the way!

Design is the way to make things clear. Thank you so much for this work Nadia: definetely better than a big chunk of written text!

This is definetely the basis to build upon :slight_smile:

Great post

I agree 100% with @ilariadauria - also thanks @nadia for a useful “bite”. Only a couple of questions:

  1. do we already have an idea of who takes the lead on what? In particular your point 1 seems quite difficult, though it is true we have quite a lot of expertise in the community (for example, we have permaculturists and urban gardeners)
  2. what do you mean by "this seems like something people might want to exchange votes for"?
  3. do you not think that the very tight time constraints imply we need to appoint top-down at least some of the people to work on this? The completely open, bottom-up approach might take two weeks to assemble a team: normally it would not be a problem, but in this case it is. We could instead reason by teams: publish the info that "X is leading on the sustainability plan, if you want to join that team contact her" or something like that.

That’s good news: I am really glad you like how the proposal looks like. However, again, this is only wishful thinking until we push it out in the real world. So here are my answers to you:

  1. No, we don’t. On the basis of the speculative budget I was thinking that people might want to hop on, commit to a “taking a bite” of the process and saying “this is what I am ready to do, in this time, with these resources. If we win, this is my price”. Of course, it’s useless to go for this if the 100.000€ are going to be used to run the race to the eventual victory: in my view, we shouldn’t ensure less than 75K to the unMonastery once we ensure on a speculative basis a sum for the speaches (say, 300-400€/speach), the graphic design, the social media strategy, the videos, ecc., plus the project management and the Edgeryders %. I am willing to take the lead on the project management, if there is a small team I can rely on, both in Edgeryders and Matera2019. This last point is crucial to me: there has to be some explicit interest on their side, as well as a direct involvement of Raffaella both in Social Media support and in videos of local heroes (school kids or artists). In the end, this stuff will remain to the Comitte (who, by the way, is the official promoter of the project, even on the platform).

  2. We’re inviting potentially the whole Internet community to our streamed videos on how to challenge business plans. Our own little version of Ted talks. But we’re offering it for free. We’re not asking for votes, we’re building capacity. However, there should be a contast call to action which leads to the page of the Che Fare bid where people can vote. In other words, this is like a fundraising campaign to gather votes which goes viral because we are actually producing knowledge collaboratively. We can also simplify point 1 and make it a series of talks on permaculture, monastic systems, opensource technology, presentation of the unMonastarians, brainstormings on the unMonastarians projects, ecc. But then we remain uncovered for the business plan.

  3. Yes, I really do agree on that. The only problem I see as a PM, is that I don’t have a specific idea of the ER community, so I don’t know how to get to the people who are not following the unMonastery, for example! In Matera I have less problems. Any advice?