Challenges on the ground - unMonastery in Matera

During our first visit to Matera we ran a series of co-design workshops, which produced incredible results due to the enagement and genorisity from the citizens of Matera. You can read about the overall event in a previous post here, during this first session we asked that individuals highlight every challenge they could think of from a citizens perspective in Matera. We ended up with an exhaustive list, totalling 43 challenges.

We’ve since tried to group these issues together loosely into a series of key areas. Next week we’ll be returning to Matera to host a second round of events that you can read about here. As part of the core event we want to hone in on what has already be highlighted and reduce the list to 20 well defined challenges. These will then become the core issues that applications to the unMonastery in Matera will be checked against.

In the run up to the event there are couple of calls to action for EdgeRyders that wish to participate, firstly it would be helpful to us organising to hear about projects within the EdgeRyders network that have dealt with similar issues.

Secondly it would be extremely helpful to suggest questions we might ask around each point to begin narrowing down each specific challenge, as it currently stands many of the issues are quite general. So with that said here’s the list!!!

Lack of space and/or participation for:

  1. No feedback system to location governance / No democratic process 
  2. No place for ‘citizens’ / No place to incubate citizenship
  3. No important roles for young people in business or politically
  4. No donors / philanthropy
  5. No spaces for innovation or adaptability
  6. No space for children
  7. Buildings not used properly
  8. No space to co-work for young people and when there is, it’s always the same people
  9. Too many houses not in use

Environment, Infrastructure and Innovation:

  1. No bikes or infrastructure to support them
  2. Poor transport links
  3. No recycling
  4. Wasted resources in general and a lack of transparency for their use.
  5. No ability to make transformation
  6. Schools are architecturally retrograde
  7. Sassi has poor accessibility
  8. No renewable energies
  9. No architectural innovation
  10. Access for information is difficult, events/places etc - no central information hub
  11. No wifi
  12. No industry
  13. Sassi is dirty

Cultural Devide, Lack of Cohesion and Social Issues:

  1. Poor transport links
  2. People don’t put themselves in the ring
  3. People complain a lot
  4. Tourists often treated as cash cows
  5. Abusive tour guides
  6. Misrepresentation and no representation for the cultural breadth and depth of Matera
  7. The council is not proportionately representative of the cultural diversity in Matera
  8. Endless internal complaining
  9. Too much focus on the sassi
  10. Young are just not involved
  11. Split between cultural groups and business groups (described as non-violent mafia)
  12. Able to attract people internationally but not from local region
  13. Few residents in the sassi
  14. Intergenerational divide
  15. People undervalue themselves and each other
  16. No volunteer or altruistic culture from young
  17. Old people have nothing to do
  18. Unemployed stay unemployed
  19. No social services for the disadvantaged / disabilities
  20. Addiction to gambling and drinking

Other Challenges Highlighted :

  1. No training for specific skills
  2. Too much love of foreign people
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List of Pressing Concerns

Ah -  so that’s the brilliant stuff we were on about.

A great help to underline where to stress initiatives.

  • Is this also available via M2019 ?

Ben - I’ve been granted some kind of moderator function on the web-page without any informed access to its innards.  It does yet strike me as urgent as most of the comments seem to be trolls after our corporate body.  Tell me what to do.

Spam Front!


I noticed this too, a terrible bombardment of emails - I’ve activated the spam protection feature now, so hopefully the torrent will cease.

As for the cross posting, I believe Andrea will be translating this today and cross-posting to MT2019 but asking for clarification, expansion on specific points and anything we’ve missed!

Cross-fertilization Edgeryders-MT2019 through unMonastery

Edgeryders - unMonastery - Mt2019. Networks, people, ideas. And now also online platforms. Through mt2019 a community of intentions has been launched and has been communicating for several weeks now: 118 users, 58 missions, 445 comments. The most important thing is that people which do not communicate offline are starting to do so online. another important thing is that there is trace of all this, and it cann be dispatched using social media and networks that go beyond the local dyamics. For Edgeryders this might seem normal or banal, but I can assure you that it is not for the Basilicata regione. 

Yes, we (mt2019 WebTeam) have been trying to keep track of the initiatives and link them together. More can be done, and better, but here is the list of different comments that have been building on the unMonastery on the mt2019 community: 

Here is the mission posted right after uM#1: How do we activate injection?  (Italian) “Injection” was the 4th dimension proposed by Bembo. Read 95 times, no comments. I guess I didn’t succeed in activating the injection :frowning: 

Here is the other mission posted right after uM#1: Mapping local resources. Let’s take out the poison! (Italian). List of the problems that came out during the workshop: the idea was to start from there and activate proposals, continuing the work done during the day. Read 198 times, no comments. I guess there was a problem here too. Maybe not clear? :-( 

Here is the 3rd mission posted right after uM#1: Real proposals. Release your imagination! (Italian). List of all the proposals that came out during the day and build on them. Read 1543 times, 40 comments. 

Also, it is important to say that many missions have been launched on the platform which answer indirectly those isses. For example “Piantiamola 100.000 trees towards MT2019” in which Pio (the guy from Legambiente that offered training courses in exchange of uM workforce in the field of emergency climate management) proposes to plant 100.000 trees before 2019. From then on a little group is working on that mission - from the local administrator Rocco Rivelli to the Legambiente group. 

And of course there is the moving mission written by Ben titled after the sentence Pio (yeah, the Legambiente guy again!) “Today we have given you a big gift” (Enligsh, Italian).  

Here is the mission on uM#2: Open Sourcing Matera (English, Italian).

I can testify with my personal experience how much through this MT2019 initiative the local territory is growing and being fertilized through cross-pollination. It started small-scale, home-made (it actually is like that still today): on a personal initiative we bring our contacts, translate, link, network. It is growing and it is impressive to read that trhought the uM one speaks about Matera during a OuiShare initiative. Because it confirms the sense of what we have been doing since 2009: using the excuse of MT2019 to grow the buzz of the territory and fertilize it with people, ideas and projects that take on from the experimental vocation of that area. I seldom speak of vocation, as it seems quite deterministic. But in this case it’s as if the unsolved, isolated and virgin dimension of Basilicata calls for innovators, creatives and makers. The Sassi are the physical representation of this way of living - or tentative of co-living!

On with the contamination!


Kudos for openness and transparency

… and a big up for your multilingual effort to communicate!

From where I’m looking it seems something big is cooking in Matera, and the fact that you’re bringing it online so that other European networks and communities can follow, learn from you or simply cheer for MT2019 increases its openness and transparency. Also, I agree that conversational metrics, like number of comments or Internet buzz can implicitly point to what most of Materians consider important priorities, or how they respond to inflowing ideas, it is feedback in itself.

@Ben, maybe a way to look at the challenges and try to priorities is discover the hidden links between them, especially causal links. For example it may turn out that if you guys are able to tackle the issue of youth participation, this will impact on increased inclusion, reduce youth unemployment, and maybe also increase volunteering, which in itself has numerous positive effects on other factors of wellbeing in society. At least in terms of social phenomena, it may be useful to look at it as a causal mechanism…

From the outside, a recurrent issue seems to be the relationship with international tourists, in that there seems to be unexplored potential there: much love for foreigners and abundant tour guides, but not well nurtured ? I find it intriguing…

Thanks a ton :slight_smile:

This is such an invaluable thing you’re doing with the web team, Ilaria – exciting and stirring the city, which also surfaces the pieces where unMonastery should start to work. I hope to be part of unMonastery when it launches, and it’s really great that you all have put in so much preparation efforts already. Many thanks!

I just had to think of a TEDx talk about education where the guy compared social situations in cities with plant life: the potential / seeds are there always, and given the right conditions, it all flourishes. Hope the Matera 2019 thing will bring on these “right conditions” even more, and I hope we from Edgeryders / unMonastery be a part of “right conditions” for the area …


Ilaria, thank you so much for this full and brilliant update on how ideas and conversation are spreading, I shall have to rely on my google translation for the moment to begin unpicking the comments made.

I have many questions and thoughts, prior to that though, my number one question is will you be in Matera this weekend? I do really hope so! If this is the case I would really love to set aside time on Sunday to sit down together with Andrea too discuss in more depth how we might ensure a better flow between unMonastery and the community site - perhaps also we could make part of this a online hangout so others can join us.

My initial reaction to 100,000 tree request for a workforce is yes but perhaps this is something we shall have to address once we’ve confirmed applications.

Joy ²

If only you guys could interact directly on th eonline community! There would be some great stuff going on. I guess no one has invented simultaneous translation for online networks, hein? Anyway of cracking something like this for mt2019? :slight_smile:

@Noemi: another language obstacle stands between those who do not understand Italian and the documentary “Il lato grottesco della vita”, filmed by Federica Di Giacomo (now persona non grata in Matera). Basically, she follows the illegal tourist guide which improvise not only the visits, but also make up stories - some of which are completely far-fetched (Salomon in the Sassi, for example). Some saw the documentary as a unilateral and univoque vision of a true reality; others like the evidence of live creativity! Nevertheless there are so many ways one could approach this issue. Last but not least, be part of the TrailMeUp initiative which seems to fit quite well in such a context.

@Ben: unfortunately resources are limited, MT2019 in the first place - and mine are not better. So Google hangout it will have to be :frowning: Really, I am more than willing to take the time to sit and discuss the whole thing, you know how much I am deeply fond of the initiative, and how much I do have a sweet tooth for that place. So tell me when is best for you and we will organize. Btw, I never answered the internal Edgeryders call in the first place, but I guess it is clear that I would love to go on contributing? If I can be of any help also for the co-writing session, although I will not be physically there I guess we can find tools to interact. In any case the most important thing is that the community responds.

Mind the gap (and solve by interface)

Actually we now do have an official unMonastery interface living in Matera: Andrea Paoletti, also in Edgeryders 1.

And that’s a good thing, because it seems that people are sort of growing into the idea that unMonasterians could be asked for skilled help. For example, in hydroponic agriculture in the Sassi: here’s a recent mission Ilaria forgot to mention, with a brilliant 12-year old showing off his hydroponic garden. The person who actually wrote the mission is a PhD in Earth Science or something like that. In the ensuing discussion (in Italian) I can’t help mentioning the unMonastery, and people like Darren or Simone Muffolini. So there is going to be a political choice: the unMonastery will have to choose one or two outreach projects and forego the others. Maintaining a close link pledging unMonasterians => Ben => Andrea (and Ilaria, and maybe myself a bit) => the Matera community is going to be critical to do this well.

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1-2 own or total?

Alberto, I guess you mean choosing 1-2 outreach projects which are executed fully by unMonastery? It’s true that there’s limited opportunity for large-scale, full outreach projects, but there’s plenty of opportunity for helping other projects along, like this young inventor with his hydroponics garden. Given its similarities with hackerspaces, I can well imagine a kind of cross-pollination events and hangouts where Materans and unMonasterians come with their projects and everyone can take away something, from learning to hands-on cotributions … . Or am I missing some social reason why this is not a good mode of connecting the dots?

No idea :slight_smile:

I don’t know what I mean. A lot depends on how many unMonasterians will want to do outreach. My take home point is that uM will have to go from a phase of “hey, a problem! Let’s go ask those nice unMonastery guys!” from one where some things are taken on board, but most are turned down. That transition needs to be managed not to lose the embedding effect, the nascent perceived interdependence between unMonasterians and Materans.

Simultaneous online translation

I guess no one has invented simultaneous translation for online networks, hein? Anyway of cracking something like this for mt2019? :slight_smile:

I tried hard to find an existent solution for this. There are some solutions for instant translation by chat, but prohibitively expensive. And a nice free P2P translation platform (Ackuna), but it might take days until getting a translation. For my full analysis, see here. The problem is basically only about writing in Italian while not understanding it … as understanding by machine translation works pretty ok.

The optimum solution would be a P2P translation platform where you earn credits by translating for others, and spend them when needing translations (it would cost more credits the faster you need it …). And those who don’t have the time to earn credits first can also spend money, which would be the way this translation portal can keep itself afloat. Seems like a nice little startup idea. And maybe an unMonastery interface project? Just wild thinking though …

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Edgeryders hack for this?

Edgeryders worked sort of ok across languages – certainly better than other solutions I have seen. Our hack is 1/4 technology, 3/4 social norms:

  • Google Translate 1-click integration
  • people can write in any language
  • if they know a little English, that's probably best, because it gives their content more audience.
  • "we are not stupid, we are non-native speakers": no one is allowed to look down on anyone else because of their language errors. And anybody making the effort to communicate in a foreign language should be appreciated and honored.
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Coming from the Future

Given that there are two complaints about complaining in the above “Matera list of problems”, maybe it’s a nice idea to invert the list and create a description of ideal circumstances in Matera. I can imagine it will also help to narrow down the list by tieing issues to a few coherent core areas of living in Matera. Add user stories about “Matera now” and “the ideal Matera” and you probably can see how current issues are connected; which is important for finding systemic solutions. (Put the other way round: These challenges are mostly symptoms. But the solutions should go at the cause, and ideally by fixing one cause would make many symptoms disappear … . Maybe that’s just my idiosyncratic way of approaching this, but maybe it helps: starting with the imagined optimum case, then looking at availabe opportunities / tools, and only then looking at the current situationa and where it lacks.)

Looking through the list of challenges and taking the opposites of them together in my head, I got already a rough impression of residents’ ideal Matera. And I like that city already :slight_smile: