Bilal, a quick introduction


I’m Bilal, I’ve met a few of you I believe before somewhere in the world.

Currently I’m living in Beirut, I used to work with and Altcity and have been working with people who want to set up hackerspaces in the Middle East and beyond.

I’m curious about a balance between open source modularity and focus and depth, decentralization and inspirational leadership, libertarian ideals vs cultivating true community, “open source family” vs responsibility to parents and actual blood family, exploring spirituality and religion.

Lots of things. These days I’m developing a tool ( which tries to help people develop mindsets that can be useful as one attempts to enter the ever changing landscape of entrepreneurship - which, from the forcast of the growing # of freelancers seems like it will be many of us.

Anyhow, that’s a bit about me and what’s been occupying my mind these days. Thought I’d stop by to say hellooooo! If you’re in beirut, come to Lamba Labs, it’s where I hang out and make things. Hugs!


Hi @Bilal, nice to meet you, I am one of the early movers in Edgeryders - I live in Brussels with Nadia, whom you probably met at the workshop. By the way how was it ? what did you learn?

I checked out Nawaya, and was intrigued that it was in English (perhaps oriented towards fundraising from abroad?). Lamba Labs seems like the place to be.

What do you mean by responsibility to parents and blood family? Is this a cultural take or your gut?
While we are discussing our personal visions for OpenVIllage, @baderdean is the only one I remember to have raised the issue of other close circles:
“my personal aspiration is not to form a new ad-hoc community that will replace my other belonging but to find a network of “colleagues” or like-minded people that share the same approach, tools, resources and bonus have fun together.” (source)
I’m not sure how I feel about family or other (extended) versions of it, so very curious.

PS ping @max_perry who is heading to Beirut and could enjoy meeting you :stuck_out_tongue:

It is my experience that with the help of good online tools - like this forum - one can “live” in more than one community simultaneously. While it is true that we can only really put our attention in one place at a time, and that with a lot of media one’s attention can switch from one thing to another in ways that could promote a form of ADD (attention deficit disorder), I never neglected my family, stayed close to my “Farm” tribe (with whom I lived communally for 12 years), developed and later maintained relationships at the WELL, and moved on to other involvement in communities - like this one. It takes some discipline to be fully present with whomever needs or should have your attention in a given moment, day or week, but it can be done.

So yes I agree with @baderdean on this one too. It does not have to be mutually exclusive.

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Thanks for your introduction and kind words @noemi! Nawaya is certainly much more arabic in the workshops than it is online :slight_smile: - peeps be great actually :). I have simply finished my gig with them and am looking to take what I’ve learned forward :smiley:

The workshop with Nadia was awesome! I learned that my project isn’t as convoluted as it can be in my head if I can articulate it clearly and that people from outside my areas of interest can understand and appreciate it. I learned that letting someone have a meta conversation about the conversational style we’re having is helpful to create more productive conversation (if someone says they can talk forever if we let them, then it’s easier to remind them of what they said rather than telling them "you’re talking too much"which can be insulting. I learned about the cards which help one focus on a variety of business areas @nadia showed us. I learned about letting the “users” gather their own “data” in a way that’s more easy to collect in real time rather than sending surveys. And that mixing Zaatar and oil before serving it makes a cement that’s almost impossible to extract, so keep them separate.

In terms of family… my parents have been having a tough time due to a brother who is a “failure” in their eyes. No job, keeps getting into trouble with the law / courts, accidents, broken bones, and they’re very concerned. I left Michigan due to feeling very bottled up due to the conservative attitude they held, only to find that I miss them, and that the conservative attitude sometimes feels like a warm blanket for me in the cold open air of questioning, doubt, and a nomadic life. In terms of communities, I have many, and friends - who would open their homes to me. Yet somehow I do not feel close to many people. I’m not sure what the reason is yet and I’m thinking perhaps it’s due to my lack of stronger family connections. There’s this idea in the muslim tradition that before you go help others, help those closest of kin to you, then move out. I see them getting older and I feel that there is something I must do, we will see.

Yeah! I guess I agree with baderdean - that I’m not replacing other belongings, but to form a cohort, or a crew, a set of likeminded people who can support an evolving vision. I do have some communities like that. Perhaps I need to be clear about that for myself, so I don’t wind up feeling like:

Also! Max if you’re here! Come to Lamba! We’re right next to the American University near Bliss st!


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[quote=“johncoate, post:3, topic:7180”] I never neglected my family, stayed close to my “Farm” tribe (with whom I lived communally for 12 years), developed and later maintained relationships at the WELL, and moved on to other involvement in communities - like this one. It takes some discipline to be fully present with whomever needs or should have your attention in a given moment, day or week, but it can be done.

Habibi, it firstly honors me so much that you took the time to read my post and to respond. I literally have your community building doc opened as a tab, and rather than reading it, I’m glad to be able to feel it. You’re right, it’s about the discipline it takes to nurture true relationship, to have real conversations and to stay connected to those you love is important.

I have a question… do you have some sort of (excuse me if this is crude) scheduling system. I had this thought the other day about how much one’s community influences their thinking. So I thought that I’d pick the people I’d love to be influenced by and put it into my calendar to reach out regularly. Then I felt that was quite arrogant and got confused.

Stay wonderful you all!

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@yannick is someone who cracked this i think - learning from people you are curious about or look up to. He makes time for regular coffee chats and is masterful at building genuine relationships. He also blogs often about creating a culture of learning and collaboration in communities, and is generous in sharing about his own intellectual heroes…

My family is not at all conservative, but I could not relate more… thank you for this. I left my hometown where I lived my entire life (Cluj, Romania), earlier this year. In Brussels I am still adjusting to living a different life, in a much tighter community, in an edgeryders spirit. As much as this is like climbing stars, I cant tell yet if this is for me - that sense of home and emotional confort is very hard to replace. I find myself not being able to manage different selves in different communities. @johncoate we will need to have a long conversation about this, I want to know more.

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Amazing @yannick I’d love to get some advice. I once made a serious mistake when I finally met someone I had been longing to talk with for months. I got my breakfast meeting… Got down on one knee and asked “will you be my mentor” … needless to say, it didn’t go very far. Haha!
Regular coffee sounds like a great idea, too often I try to loop people into heavy duty conversations without connecting deeper first, haha! :smiley:

I don’t have a schedule like that, but it is not a bad idea. And I think reaching out like you say is excellent. if you want to keep your network alive and vital, you have to work it and not wait for others to reach out to you.

A long conversation with you is something I definitely look forward to. I do think it is important to hold onto your own center in the midst of any community or social situation.

One concept I have found useful for myself is to try to be what I call a “net energy exporter” for other people. bread on the water - put it out there and it comes back, though not always or even often in the manner one envisions.

Family and friends like you have back home in Cluj is very important and hopefully will always be there for you. And of course nobody can decide any of this for you.

I think when throwing in with a community or any group that is new to you, even with a strong commitment, it is not quite like a marriage vow - till death do us part. I don’t see things that way, although it could end up being that. The way I see it is, you jump in fully, take the journey, surrender, in a way, to the relationships and let it change you, without worrying that something critical will be lost in the process. And at some point you may decide to do something different. Or go back to your original home, or move on completely. I don’t live collectively now, though I had years where I never spent a minute considering any other way of living. But times changed, I changed - still, that experience never left me.


Thanks @noemi for the friendly introduction, i appreciate that :slight_smile:
my morning coffee routine is quite simple. Before my day start, between 8h30 and 9h30 i ask people i’m genuinely interested in hearing their story to share a coffee. It can be philosophy writers living in Brussels, project holders or random people i once met put want to hear. I try to put the focus on listening and asking questions, a lot of the time it answers questions i myself i’m searching an answer about. I don’t fix a specific agenda, even though sometime i want to talk about a specific topic, if the discussion goes of about something else i let it go, till the other person comes back to the topic, or not. It’s important to give it an organic feel, even if it is the biggest hero you have in front of you, they are all humain, and it is in a humanistic persprectif that you have to see these conversations. If nothing comes out, no panic, you still have a great hour of discussing topics and it gives you an intelectual boost to start your day.

Sidenote: your projects look really interesting, for 3 years i constructed some open source hardware for cargo bikes with modularity as the center fabric. From there i was involved in the fablab movement in Brussels and see Open Source as more as a simple methodology, but as a complete philosphy that can be used to structure communities as well. So will dig deeper into your projects and come back to you about it later, looks promising.

Kind regards,


Hello @bilal, I am Alberto. We have never met, but I have heard about you. Welcome from me too.

@yannick this is super interesting. How often do you do that?

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Hello Bilal,

I read your story with pleasure and find the exchange here between you and @johncoate very representative of the warm of this community. Here, on this forum, one find himself really welcome.

I’m very curious about your project. I tried to subscribe to your pitch development software but it seems to be mere mock-up. Yet, my imagination is alive. Does your tool helps generating some common useful documents (Words, PPT) like project charter?

Do you know about this one ?


hey @bilal I am just following the discussion and I can relate to it specially in the part of family ties, leaving for a while, or not. where to settle for relatively longer time, many people and friends whom I can stay with, but do I want to leave or not. I am not looking to replace my family, this is something else.
well I am trying to surrender to the process as @johncoate mentioned, as whenever I tried to plan it, it never works out.
so am writing this from my [parents]living room in Cairo with the lound sound of the Tv in the background, while most probably will stay most of the coming year outside of Egypt, or …

am interested to have a longer discussion about how the openvillage will fit in this different complexities. are you coming to Brussels ?


Thanks @baderdean it’s shaping up and currently under heavy development, we’ve locked signups to prevent new users till we have spent 2 weeks using it ourselves - hoping to start on monday :slight_smile:

It’s true I’ve found the responses and conversation here warm and intelligent and am very happy to be here. It’s been a busy week of travel and I’ve just made it to Paris, looking for a way to integrate this platform and community into my patterns.

Also, I’ve seen similar sites, but this one is awesome! Especially the information it provides on people’s engagement. Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:

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Thanks for sharing @hazem :slight_smile:
Where will you be for most of this year if outside Cairo? My father (trying to get back to his roots - I think) has recently bought a tiny apartment in 6October, haha! I think you know why that’s funny :slight_smile:
Personally, I lived with my family till I was 24 and the idea was that I would stay till I was married… That didn’t work out ;D

There’s a lot of complexity about where one lives, what communities one feels drawn to, and where one may consider offering the gift of presence and physical contribution. I’ve lived a long time in the states and wanted to spend more time in the Middle East to be a part of life there, although now I’m feeling the tug elsewhere as my work shifts from contribution to creating. From looking to share with others, to connecting and building family. It’s all in flux though…

I would love to discuss these ideas with you I am considering coming to Brussels and I currently don’t have any income, so I will inquire with someone about potential train/flight finances.

Stay wonderful y’all :slight_smile:

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Thanks @alberto! I’m surprised you’ve heard about me, haha, from whom - I’m curious :slight_smile:
Thanks for the warm welcome!

@yannik - that sounds like an amazing routine - especially for a start to a day. The way a day starts really affects the tone of the whole day at least for me :slight_smile:

I’m curious - do you do any of this over the internet? Perhaps scheduling a coffee? It’s different I’m sure when it’s not in person. I wonder… Wow, as I wonder about this right now I’m realizing how my travel has made me so uncurious about the people and activities around wherever I currently am. My mind is busy thinking about your activity and who in the whole wide would I’d want to listen to as curiously as you described rather than realize I’m in Paris, a city full of new and amazing people who I could share this moment with. Perhaps this lady to my left with her daughter… haha ;D

I met some people from Brussels at POC21 who were building these sorts of open source modular cargo bikes, were you a part of xyz? Hugs!

Hey Bilal,

i did that also some times over the internet, i still have difficulties to become custom with the practice to talk over the internet, but if i train myself maybe more it can become more logical :slight_smile:
Really best tip is: you read an article from somebody that inspired you, or a book, or something else. Just send them a message to tell how you appriciate their work, never hope for a response, just see what happen. It’s like throwing bottles in the ocean. The most important movement is the fact that you send out the message.

You met maybe Florent and Milena then? they are my teammates :slight_smile:

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haha funny

for me I also lived with family till 25 but in Cairo, and yes left without getting married :smiley: but I was always in between, I travel for a while and come back due to studies, work, and so…Cairo was always my base, or at least I considered it to be so although I have been spending less time in.

It took me a long time to accept the idea of not being based in Cairo. for this year, I would say will try to be based in Berlin as it is the second city I spend most of my time in, but no clear plan though.

hope to meet soon