Community engagement video project

 Main Project Using video production as a tool for social engagement, working collaboratively, making connections and identifying shared ideas and concerns. Through partnerships with people in Matera, we have created over 50 short videos. A new video is posted online every day. The videos are an opportunity for people to share their ideas, concerns, dreams, work and passions. These “video portraits” have become a way for people to connect with others in Matera and hopefully begin to understand more about unMonastery and our work here. The videos reflect the character, resources, expertise, knowledge, and desires of Matera, and have the ability to spark conversations locally while also provide a way to connect the local issues to global trends.

From these videos, and the conversations that have happened before and after, several themes have emerged:

  • Work (either as a passion, a way to get by, or lack of employment opportunities)
  • People stay in their own circles
  • Artisanal practices as a source of pride, passion and identity for Matera
  • Individual versus collective
  • Creativity
  • Tourism alternatives and a sustainable economy
  • Returning to Matera after time away and/or trying to find a way to live here
  • Accessing local expertise and knowledge that is held by “non-experts”
  • Matera is much more than the Sassi
  • Need for another kind of politics, need to work together

We will continue to gather these video portraits, but we will also develop events, working groups, projects and online platforms to address the topics brought up in video and conversations.

Local challenges it addresses:

  • Lack of a global view on the city.
  • Intergenerational spaces.
  • Significant lack of offline engagement or visibility for happenings throughout the city.

How the Project has changed: The most significant change is that the video productions are not occurring in groups of students learning production but as a tool of engagement to connect Materani and identify themes of concern, expertise and interest.


  • Not speaking Italian and needing help with editing and interviews.
  • Not having consistent student groups to work with on the productions.
  • Inability to garner long-term commitment to video production projects with individuals.
  • Spending time on internal UnMonastery issues and planning.


  • Spontaneous and quick productions in which people can speak about issues and ideas important to them almost immediately after a first meeting.
  • Working collaboratively with many different people, usually from Matera or Basilicata, in both production and post-production.
  • Positive feedback from the people who have been featured as well as people who have viewed the pieces.
  • Working together with many different people on productions has made it possible for people who don’t know each other to engage in deeper conversations about ideas and experiences that they might never have a chance to share.
  • Have been able to identify themes in what people care about and are interested in, which has led to creating events/projects that build upon these themes and make connections with Matarani already working on the same themes (for example: alternative tourism, work, and artisanal practices, unused spaces)
  • People have the opportunity to learn from each other and discover there is a broad range of knowledge and expertise among their fellow citizens.
  • Videos completed in a short amount of time and are easily distributed online.
  • Through the spontaneous productions more people feel a part of unMonastery and know about our work.
  • We have had the chance to collect perspectives from people from Alta Mura, Montescaglioso, and Pomerico- spreading the reach of unMonastery beyond the city of Matera.

Activities and Outputs:

Over 50 short video portraits of people of Matera, which create an overview of the things people are thinking about as well as help to promote unMonastery throughout Basilicata. I am transitioning into several projects that will foster more in-depth conversations between people who are interested and concerned with similar issues and long-term sustainable change. We are planning several events and working groups to address the themes identified in the video portraits, as well as developing a possible online structure for initiating more collaboration among people with shared concerns or passions.

Currently I am:

  • Mapping the video portraits and finding a way for others to easily add their own portraits, with the hopes that people will begin to feel connected to people that they don't know in their geographic area.
  • Creating a searchable system so Matarani can listen to others interested in the same topics and find a variety of perspectives on a similar topic.
  • Focusing on the Piccianello project with other UnMonks to create a map of the cultural commons, with the idea that it will be the first step in finding a way to identified shared resources, and new ways of managing the responsibilities and benefits of those resources together (in partnership with the University of Basilicata and Casa Neutral).
  • Continuing video portraits but with a new focus on the themes that have developed: unused space, work, traditional local practices, the commons, tourism and sustainability.
  • Working on the best way to engage people in Matera for a more long-term engagement with the project and unMonastery “living and working as an Unmonk” event - May 3.
  • Planning the second sustainable tourism working group meeting- May 6
  • Posting new video daily.