Everything you need to know, an update on unMonastery

Date Move & Why?

If you haven’t been reading every post about unMonastery, you may have missed that the project has been moved back, with the first prototype in Matera now due to open in February 2014. This is due to a re-evaluation of timescales, firstly there are hoops to be jumped through, as the process of refitting the building is not a simple one, it involves many stakeholders including local government.

Secondly the timeline for the international call, the process required when public money is at stake requires that we be rigorous and fair in our evaluation of applicants, which means more time than anticipated. Since this is the prototype we want to try and get things right the first time, it’s safe to say we’re learning many useful lessons along the way that can help support other EdgeRyders projects in the future.

Technical Details

Over the course of the last few months there have been a number of changes to unMonastery and a set of decisions made around the prototype in Matera, these are as follows:

  • Duration of prototype will be 4 months, currently February-June 2014
  • The building can host up to 10 individuals/projects at anyone time – the restriction in numbers is budgetary, taking into account food and a small fund for supporting projects – however if individuals were to self fund/fund raise, the unMonastery may be able to host an additional 5 people or projects.
  • Applications to the unMonastery can last from 1-4 months and will operate similarly to the typical residency model.
  • The criteria for applications will be based on and selected according to how closely projects meet the needs set out in the Matera Challenges.
  • Fellow EdgeRyder and resident of Matera Andrea Paoletti has been hired by MT2019 to interface between the unMonastery project and Matera.
  • As a way of building capacity and introducing the EdgeRyders network to Matera and vice versa, unMonastery are set to host LOTE3.
  • The local municipality have hired a team of architects to fit out the building, plans for the building can be viewed here – although rooms are designated with certain uses, it should be noted this is not confirmed, we intend to co-design the use of rooms over the coming months.
  • The international call for applications is overdue, it is however 80% finished and will go live before the end of the month.
  • unMonastery is to be covered in the Italian version of Wired magazine shortly.

unMonastery and LOTE3

Everyone is likely to be aware by now that preparation for LOTE3 is well under way, with a workspace found here and weekly community conference calls for advancing the development of the event.

Something though is missing, the concrete offering from unMonastery itself, when we (myself, Nadia and Alberto) decided in Matera last month that the unconference was to happen there, we decided to split the work. EdgeRyders would manage the delivery of LOTE3 as an unconference in its own right, followed by a week of unMonastery activity.

Information on what this will look like has yet to be refined but the intention is to run a week long test run of unMonastery with between 15-25 individuals. Counter to the intensity of LOTE3 the aim will be to structure a slow burning immersive and meditative schedule - with each individual participating presenting a morning skill sharing workshop for the group, each evening 2 individuals will work together to prepare dinner for the others and the night time being punctuated with a talk or performance from someone present. The intention is to create an open space for collaboration focused on the theme of future forms for collective living and the potential of unMonastery. Myself and Bembo will follow up this week with a post about how we imagine this to work, how to get involved and questions about how we can make this a worthy event.

Nominet Bid – unMonastery in-a-box

Crucial to the development of unMonastery and the potential success of the Matera prototype next year will in part be the ability to record and replicate the model in other places. As stated from the start unMonastery is designed to be a network of spaces that unMonasterians can travel between. So with this in mind we’ve started working on a tool to make that possible.

What we realised quite early on is that the very nature of this problem is one that is endemic and pervasive across all grass roots networks, small institutions and direct actions. Too much social innovation happens in small, disconnected projects and is disseminated in dry case studies that overstate success and downplay failures. Similar problems are being faced, and similar solutions often reappear.

unMonastery in-a-box aims to be the hackerspace equivalent of design patterns, and models itself on GitHub , perhaps best understood as a repository for institutional memory, it’s being built to ensure mistakes aren’t repeated, lessons are shared and tacit knowledge is stored. This tool will enable unMonasteries to be started up and replicated rapidly, allowing each project to be consistently evaluated with innovations and improvements fed back. As with GitHub, the project models from various unMonasteries will branch and iterate so that different places can learn from the projects that are most similar to them.

At this stage we’re attempting to raise funds for development but if you’re a developer with some time on your hands for prototyping and would like to get involved, please get in touch with us!

Myself, Gaia and Anthony have got to the second phase of a large Nominet funding bid, to get this tool into full development. In the coming months we’ll present more information about exactly how this tool will function and be developed going forward.

International Call

The international call for applications was meant to go out a while ago, owing to a number of changes, minor burnout (on my part) and postponement of the opening of the prototype, this hasn’t happened, yet.

We are though now finishing the details as I write this – since public money is at play, there are a number of hoops to jump through before it will be signed off and go live, we’re aiming for this to happen before the end of June. If you’d like to look over it, comment on it or assist just get in touch ben@unmonastery.eu.

The contents of the full application are as follows:

  • unMonastery Overview
  • Rules / Guiding Principles
  • The Challenges
  • Building Overview
  • Selection Process
  • Application Form

If you can help in publicising the call when it goes live or have good ideas as to how we might do this, to both an online and offline network, lets hear it.

That’s all for now, as ever all thoughts, advice and support much appreciated, so please comment away!


Thanks for the update!

Ben. Thanks for the update, very much needed. I had read about the unMonastery postponed and honestly I think it is the best choice. Also, do not underestimate the impact of Spring and Summer on the running of the unMon :slight_smile: Planting and seeding at the end of winter is definetly more desirable.

I would be very interested in reading the call, before it goes live.

Concerning your question on publicising the call: I suppose the use of personal networks, the map of fellow organizations and sympathethic media could be a good starting point.

I was wondering: what is going to happen to all those that will not be selected? I am sure that there will be quite a few applications with very interesting profiles. Don’t know if the call + selection is going to be before the LOTE3 but maybe one could also channel the persons that applied to the LOTE 3?

Concerning the burnout: let’s have a session on that alone! I guess that is one of the patterns :slight_smile:

Glad to see the whole lot of you in no time… If the Hangouts are on Sats I will definetly be there!

Thanks for the update. There are signs of interest, need&resources for the unMon where I’m located (Malmo, Sweden), basically, I run into different pieces of a jigsaw puzzle for building the unMonastery. Will keep collecting them pieces. If it works out we can test the unMon replicability here?

Yes! And…

(watch out: this update is four months old!)

Work can be done if the capacity is there. Ben might have underestimated the difficulty of managing the unMonastery process, and overestimating his own energy. Some of us stepped him and helped. We’ll do our best to help you, too, but it’s important that you accept leadership of your own project, take responsibility for it and try to communicate clearly at each step what you need from other. We are all working hard and stretched quite thin.

Alberto, it’s to my comment? You know well my behaviourial patterns (o__O) but, I’m aware: unMon building is energy-intensive And I’m careful: spreading the word a bit about the unMon and observing reactions. Got interested in unMon replicability. Would like to be updated in case some all this interest in my hood starts crystalizing into something concrete. Well, I’ll get the best updated at LOTE, I suppose.

Hey K,

In case you haven’t seen, your comment prompted me to do a full update, I’m now making this a monthly effort. If you’re interested in being more involved in unMonastery, you’ll see there’s call for roles in the latest update - would love to have you more intimately involved in building the project if you’re thinking of realising another iteration of the unMonastery!


I would love to be more involved. I’m a bit slow with understanding how. But the post helps, thanks. Speaking of another unMonastery iterations: I will need a lot of envolved and a lot lot of figuring out the unMonstery before I can think of iterations. I’m now only checking whether there is a mere “how-nice” reaction or genuine interest in having unMonastery here. It’s just a natural sort of observation, coz I tell different people about the unMon, and they react.

About Self-Managed Cultures and Functioning Examples

Do you know about http://nomadbase.org/

One of them worked for about three years in Amsterdam ( till the person renting it needed to reclaim the space for its baby and new family )

It was called http://casarobino.org

It worked on self organized principles and hosted over one thousand people over the period of its existence. ( in a small appartment )


Hi K,

Alberto is correct to say this update certainly is a out of date update! But is one part of the jigsaw puzzle.

It seems that right now would be a good time for me to structure a similar update of what’s happening in the present moment - so that everyones on the same page again :slight_smile:

I have in recent weeks underestimated the volitility of life but there’s now a team of unMonasterians moving things forward - keep your eyes peeled for an update and perhaps you can get involved. The best way of getting a sense of how the project might be replicated in other locations is to apply to the first iteration of unMonastery in Matera, in the safe space of the city away from the stressful terror of London, I’ll be putting in a signifcant amount of energy to designing unMonastery in a box, so others such as yourself can follow suit!