Community Call Minutes and Actionables - 3rd July

Today’s community call discussion was centered primarily around fleshing out and interrogating what’s meant by the term ‘Stewardship’ and how a narrative can be built around the LOTE4 event which will takes it as it’s theme. We discussed at length the process for building the event, what the key questions are that we should be asking, formats that might work and existing initiatives that might be involved or we can learn from. The minutes are as follows.

I’ve taken the liberty of refining a set of actionables relating to each area that either came out of discussion or refined from suggestions!

Defining the Stewardship

Initial conversation focused on an explanation of what myself and Nadia have built so far for the LOTE program. The first provisional draft can be found here: lote4 the stewardship program and the organising space can be found here: /t/lote4-the-stewardship/359-the-stewardship

Victor suggested that MBA lecturer Mintzberg had written and researched extensively on the topics we are poking at and recommened this phamphlet - rebalancing society pamphlet.pdf - he suggested there was a chance we could have him skype in to LOTE4. More can be found here:

Dorotea: “I think the Mintzberg pamphlet is really worth a ready, it gives a strong theoretical/intellectual basis to this discussion I think”

Nadia proposed a straightforward definition to be: Stewards: individuals or groups of individuals who feel a sense of responsibility towards the commons.

In discussing this, Jeff highlighted that there is a risk through the use of the term “community” that could result in a sort of segregation or exclusivity: “you’re either in the community or you’re not”

In order to avoid getting trapped by semantic segregation or a flimsiness to the idea of ‘Stewardship’ my suggestion was that we act with clear and concrete examples when we discuss the topic in order to contextualise and begin bringing people in to participate and build traction for the event.

My examples was the Heygate Estate, a public owned housing estate which was sold off to a private development firm at a loss but also at the cost of displacing many families - in the years that follow a community has sprung up around the estate to organise events and community garden but the property developers plan to demolish the building to build luxury flats continues.

Other examples given:

Nadia: impossible living

Maria: New York: community land trust.

Nadia: Milan’s transfer of disused properties (Note In relation to Milan, we had one of the people from the municipality responsible for giving out property come for dinner at unMonastery and he said he’d be happy to help in future.)

Jeff: Digital Stewards /

Talking through such examples, Nadia posed the question ”is it viable that people behind those initiatives would come and share their experiences in exchange for people with skills working on their projects?”

Victor: “I like the idea in general, but need to think what concrete things we could work on in the project.

the topics need to feel very relevant to the participants, and make clear where there is overlap. plus good facilitation. It might make sense to pick focus areas in each topic. e.g. need to be online and offline these days, and here edgeryders has a lot of experience.”

Victor went on to emphasis the interesting angle and strength of EdgeRyders is in combining offline and online in community stewardship of assets and communities. Hybrid commons projects that acknowledge what’s the right tool/strategy (online&offline) for each context.

EdgeRyders itself is exploring how you take largely online community to do offline things. How to close the online offline loop/cycle effectively, which Victor pointed out A) very interesting B) very timely C) something that edgeryders has experience with

Jeff highlighted in respect to this anthropological research on artistic communities, which he’ll share.

Encouraging the idea for us to make individual calls and figure out where these group are or/and go and visit personally. (Thought: maybe we know people who already visited them)

Some debate focused around the motivations for our framing of ‘The Stewardship’ and it’s goals, provocated by Jeff’s assertion that currently it reads as a very interdisciplinary approach and which risks being amateurish unless there is substance behind the concepts you want to throw out there. The main points of divergence which can be summarised as follows: Critical vs. promotional discourse / people doing things vs theoretical discourse / positive outcome vs necessary outcome

Victor point: focus on the practical stuff, getting things done via makerfox, setting up international mentoring and coaching. Especially online and offline. Dont try to do abstract theoretical stuff.


  • Create a wiki for collectively listing case studies and examples.

  • Jeff to share anthropological studies that he’s been researching.

  • Maria to approach groups in New York.

  • Construct an initial questionnaire so each of us can go out and interview groups, online and off.

  • Potentially set up a road trip to go and visit initiatives and invite them (similar to

  • Create group hangouts as ‘Stewardship Summits’ inviting the initiatives we want to work with, as sorts of online panels.

  • Natahalie offer to do communication, writing, social media support and search for people in Paris that meet our criteria.

Following this we begun to discuss financial viability, raising the examples of Goteo a commons funding site and the example of our collaborators Las Indias; Who raised the question with us last week “Who knows the interesting initiatives invisible to the anglocentric internet?”

///// Thing Nik joined the call. After short summary of our discussion I tried to make the approach specific to the context Nik is operating in, the conversation ran as follows:

Ben: When we were at Vake park someone asked us what other initiatives and strategies currently exist that aim to overturn development plans? Who can help us with that? What we were saying is projects like unMonastery and occupations of space might fall under stewardship. So how do we create a viable event that can support those projects, but also advance the conversation and concepts…what do we mean by stewardship or custodianship in these contexts?

Nik: Are we talking about organisational issues or what kind of people you want to be involved? In case of vake park I could give concrete examples of stuff we do in certain cases, but don’t really get how concept of stewardship applies.

Ben: The approach we want to take is to 1) gather case studies and different groups 2) we haven’t defined what stewardship means yet, this is part of the event and one of the tracks would be dedicated to that, asking questions like: Do we think this bottom up management/taking care of public spaces is a good thing? What is required for it to be successful, metrics of success? E.g Vake park: keeping development out, getting public to develop understanding and attempts of social activism: other groups using vake park as example to set up local protests in other parts of the word

Jeff to Nik: your park is an example of geometric capitalism, it’s happening worldwide. it’s an attempt to further constrict the captive markets of urban space…

Nik: to people like us, regular citizens who don’t have political power as individuals, only when come together. We ask them to come around and find out what we do, and join forces with us if they find the cause worthy. The other category of people who help us in fighting the establishment. They don’t work for free, we have no pro bono lawyers. So we have to fundraise to cover the costs. We’re not an organisation and we are trying not to cross that line into becoming an NGO. We gather donations, and money for certain causes e.g. taking company to court and winning.

(Thought - OK so we need to do a stakeholder mapping.)

NIk: We have to make it known to our government that there is a desire or demand for what we are asking of them e.g. the EU association agreement or through other govt reps.

Nadia: Can you speak about how the futurespotters event is useful in this respect? So we can think of it in relation to LOTE4.

Nik: The networking component, and meeting all the people who have a range of ideas that sometimes do apply to our cause. I distilled some things from most of what I heard into things that will work here. I also met people who live in Georgia but never knew. We live next door but never meet, our outlooks are so similar and we have so many resources we could use to help one another here. Essentially networking, new information, good experience doing the session.

In doing the session I managed to organise the theoretical stuff and knowledge I had about the movement and sort them into a system in order to make it clearer to people who were not part of this. When you teach a course you learn a lot more about the subject than as a student. That gave me a new outlook, what we have done, what we have achieved and where we have failed . Which I wouldn’t have done if I hadnt done the session.

/////// The conversation then veered into discussion of how others might join and what’s at stake for them - we spent sometime discussing the use of MakerFox as a ticket barter system for the event.

James responded by saying: if people are not already aligned and working on projects when they arrived, then people will spend 50% of their time communicating and working out what the project is before you even begin. It has to be initially enabling people to communicate what the project is about, what skills they have to share and what skills they need. This is hard, people don’t do it naturally. Makerfox might be a useful tool for this.

If we help people to communicate in an open way at first, and then allow structure to emerge after… It may be that an idea you have dormant is suddenly actionable because of the skills available in the room.

approach 1) we have a need, if people cannot do it we need funding 2) we have a need and it cannot happen unless there are the skills voluntarily contributed. If offers aren’t there a project doesn’t happen.

Dorotea: The MakerFox approach could work, if people putting out the offers and needs. If it doesn’t work in the process we could say “but we still need that”. a process which is adjusting itself while still underway

Ben: My general feeling is that we’re prototyping 1) use of makerfox 2) new style of event not legible to everyone. My expectation is that people will get a sense of possibility for organising things in that way but it won’t just all fall into place. The greatest gain will be in creating visibility for all the work and effort that goes into an event like LOTE. As a result we will likely have more helping hands to get things moving because the actionables are much clearer.

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If anyone wants to help, the follow up work from this call…

…is already happening here.

unPacking Stewardship

I’m editing the unMonastery text and found this floating until the Book of Errors is circulating, I shall not turn much attention to the LOTE#4, but I wanted to add what I can…

unPacking Stewardship

The currently latest incarnation of the unMonastery is as host of the fourth ‘Living on the Edge’ gathering of its international mother organisation Edgeryders.  This time we are dedicated to exploring ‘Stewardship.’

Even for a native English speaker stewardship is not immediately an accessible concept.  Before boldly flagging it everywhere we need a clarity of vision as to what the issue is we seek to address…

[ Being Edgeryders we’d preferably insert a brilliantly facilitated group process here.  But do we have time ? the call notes are very useful.]

Declaring ourselves stewards has far-reaching implications and demands a core-level rewrite of our claim upon being the central occupant of our lives.  The caste of the Steward has all but disappeared from my world; I know no one who is either a servant or directly employs one.  However attractive the concept, to contemplate declaring myself a servant of something larger than myself flies in the face of all my education as a democratic ‘free man’.  I suspect that the idea of being bound to the future would meet similar psychological resistance with many of us.  Such a surrender provokes a powerful confrontation to the neurological wiring of any of us with prolonged exposure to civilisation.  It is a beautiful challenge…

This dismantling of the essence of the modern self cannot go smoothly.  The world’s ‘system’ has been fabricated by the damaged to accommodate the damaged.  Towering hierarchies and a culture of rampant acquisitiveness can only become rational in an atmosphere of oppressive childhoods and fear of impending unmet needs.  It is built upon our neuroses.

Stewards play by different rules.  As stewards we act not on our own behalf but for the good of a more powerful absent entity.  Stewards know their place in the hierarchy; as agents of a coherent external force their individual interest is of no interest.  Stewards can have no ownership; property does not exist.  To honestly explore our place in the world through a vision of stewardship is uniquely brave – to try to wrestle it into the Edgeryder equivalent of a business model is equally audacious.  I wish us luck. 

hey dudes, long time…

cool to see how the discussion shaped. read nadia’s follow-ups too. think bembo’s point about stewardship being a caste is valid - although i don’t think it’s really about serving: it’s about power (sometimes hidden power) and might be problematic

be interesting to see how the makerfox trial goes. i have an account now, and am saving up for alberto’s broken phone

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Makerfox trial

Hey Edwin, Matt here from the Makerfox team. Thanks for the interest! Alberto’s phone offer is just a no-longer-relevant remains from a Makerfox demo at the Futurespotters conference in June (back then, I bartered for it, and then repaired it, now using it myself). But I work a lot with these phones, and just started to offer working ones here. So, welcome to order one of those instead :slight_smile:

For the LOTE4 tickets, you can indeed “save up” on Makerfox, as we use a special feature there that also works with smaller groups. For the phone etc., there is no saving up, but, you would give away items of the same value at the same time when you get the phone. This is how Makerfox normally works, not needing a currency, credits, trusting credits etc… It needs more users than we have right now, though - so realistically, don’t expect to get that phone anytime soon, except we could agree on some direct barter. But we hope to draw in more users over the following weeks and get past “critical mass”, via “promotional” offers like these phones.

hey matt,

don’t worry - i was just taken in by the magic of bartering something for a broken phone! got a fixed one already, but thanks :wink:

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On Stewardship

In my System of beliefs, power in itself is not a Problem. The Problem is People who abuse the power they have. There is a saying in German which in English Sound like this: Who wants to rule has to learn how to serve. By serving to a communty or an aim, one automatically gains power. The question is: Do I use this power to feed my ego or do I use it to create the most possible good for the most possible number of People.

Old writeup alert

Anna, @edwin, take note: this is the writeup of a community call that’s almost two months old. You are of course welcome to be conversing here, but you are more likely to find action around newer content – for example the writeup from today’s community call: