Exceptionally Fruitful meeting in Matera / get there by all means

Recruited somewhat late in the launch meeting process, I probably arrived having less of a notion as to what to expect this weekend than anyone else on the team.  Let us adopt the point of view that this was useful… Despite the fact that I’m not always an unbridled enthusiast of the public gathering,  ours was unusually constructive.

The launch was not the feared long-winded cutting of a ribbon featuring endless toasts of increasingly power-sapping vino.  It was something very much more potent: a strategically recruited constellation of citizens with a common will to realise their dreams for their community.  Judging by the tangible energy generated by the mapping process, they have every chance of succeeding…

If I try to trace my assumptions as to what I took as the installation of the greatest hits of a Edgeryder collective, convergent vision upon a rather unsuspecting community, the proposal looked admittedly fragile.  The revelation today is that what I took as an embassy for foreign ideas, is far from an action of imperialism or evangelism.  We won’t be walking into endless confrontations with non-comprehending locals.  Instead, my worse case scenario has been radically altered.  After the exposure to some 40 or so concerned, active voices who sacrificed the first Saturday of spring to be put through the paces by Ben and the formidable Gaia via what can sometimes become a rather flimsy mapping procedure, a sufficiently diverse group of people are primed, hungry  and engaged in making our presence a vital catalyst.  We will not be fighting for attention, we will be quickly coming in contact with a vibrant group of people eager to run with whatever relevant stimulus they may derive from our presence.  Much could indeed be managed without us, If however you are at all flexible during the period we shall be in residence; I urge all Edgeryders to perform a pilgrimage to this truly inspiring community.

For a peek at the physical environment:


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It surely seemed like that from the distance!

Thanks for all the reporting and keeping us in the loop! I’ve been following all day on twitter and the energy got all the way to Romania, someone at the Cluj Hub (in my town) was super impressed and willing to host us for a lote :slight_smile:

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Thanks Bembo

Thanks for your presence in Matera. I’m sure that unMonastery will help each other to grow.

ps: For anyone wants “see” Matera, download from AppStore “iMatera” App (Free).

Introducing: the Edgeryders unPilgrimage!

Bembo, you are really milking the monastery metaphor for all it’s worth! And a fine piece of work it is, my friend, and one that needs doing. I am very excited by your idea of the unPilgrimage: let the rally cry sound forth, and may Egderyders everywhere answer the call and help the unMonastery crowd with this strange and beautiful task. There is work to do – good, solid, hands-on work, the kind we supposedly do best. Based on the reactions in Matera and online, the local community is happy for us to be there and get involved (“With its unassuming drive for change – writes a participant to the workshop – the unMonastery has already made an important contribution. It created a lively debate – a very active debate indeed”).

This should be good. Looking forward to it.

Still poking around the streets (and the Murgia) in Matera

A chance meeting with Rosella got me dragged into her sister’s artwork renovation atelier for a tea.  After viewing the resortation techniques, we had fun proposing the idea of cyclical projected patina upon major works to satisfy the nostagic fanatics like me who insist that resortation should by and large stop at stabilising or retarding damage and that the tear of time should be visible.

We then discussed the unMo workshop  –  why was it so valuable?,  the following emerged:_ Most workshops are about the me – they even called self.-development workshops – this one was most clearly about the We…

Another lesson of the gathering was the clear sensation that we need to introduce a fourth column of project proposals to add to the understanding that they could be concerned with in-house, interface or out-reach objectives – it became obvious that the community drive to make use of our presence is so focused that some projects will inevitable be implanted.  The call to the community might be to devise projects and invite selected guests to become imbedded among us…

Next step for me: invited guest instructor at two Monday night drama classes.  The best way to work.


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Who’s embedding whom?

Bembo, you seem to have been adopted by Matera in a flash! I know you will give your guest instructor class as an unMonasterian: as such, you’ll be the very first unMonasterian to embed himself into what the local community is already doing – the “return journey” of what happened Saturday, when Materans came and helped us dream up the unMonastery prototype. Don’t forget to share your impressions with us!

community spirit

I always enjoyed, and kind of got used to, how rapidly one can meet new people and find new friends among Edgeryders. Which I mean in the widest sense of the word: all disadvantages folks who no longer accept that status but want to take constructive steps to fix it. But this report astonishes me again … you had 40 people there already, for real? Reminds me of the A Paradise Built in Hell book (stories from great communities arising in desaster). It seems that unMonastery is a way to harness this community spirit even in “slow desasters” like economic depression. Just great.

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Thanks Mattias,

Your letter gives me an ideal opening for my second message from Matera.  (Oooops airport fog sets in , it’s the third and I’ll be repeating myself a little bit… apologies.)

I want to unmask my own preconceptions as to where I was heading out for.  These are clearly reflected in the suggestion now embedded in the unMO call for project proposals.  Having emerged from the two LOTEs juggling a short list of five imminently brilliant and pursuable ideas, I found it useful to devise a framework in which to classify them. On one of the Sunday afternoon web telephone meet-ups, I proposed these as:  in-house / interface / outreach.  Hidden in this premise was the impression that we would be starting at subsistence level among an, at best, neutral host community that would ignore us if they could.

This was a defensive position, perhaps understandable, but far from reality.  Blinded by the bad PR given troglodyte cave-persons by a globalised popular culture, it was hard to surmise that the opposite is closer to the truth.  It should be no surprise that a city with a 9000 year old history supports layers of civilized human interaction that might put the cultural environment in say, Bergen, the merely 1000 year old city in which I live, to shame.

This immediately became apparent during our formal informal launch workshop last weekend.  Something unspecific about the quality of attention in the room, had me already noting down the following in my journal half way through the introductory presentation:

 … I have been jumping up and down saying that proposing projects before we are surrounded by reality, is bad development politics… dreams are useful, but they are dreams – We from the outside have been thinking about parachuting ideas upon Matera.  Even when we know that we shouldn’t do this, such thoughts are all we have…  (the rant continued)

By the time the slide proposing the in-house/ interface/outreach model came up, I was interrupting Gaia’s presentation with an engaged voice from the back of the hall.   Publicly taking responsibility for the exclusion, I suggested a fourth category based upon my reading of the  palpable concern in the room:  that if we were to be truly responsive to our hosts, much of our work should be based upon injected, installed or invited projects that had their base in commissions from the community at large.  I’d suggest that this is a lot closer to the way things are going to be working.

At least, that’s how things have evolved for a chronic project person such as myself.  Hence my warning to all you Project-monkeys:  be prepared for a life complex.  After four days in Matera, I gained an additional two projects to be constructed with new friends …  Which one goes first?

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Message from the (half-hearted) contrarians :slight_smile:

An interesting (if not totally constructive) point of view by a local blogger. In my understanding, he thinks that the whole European City of Culture is a bad idea in general . I think this is actually – though unintentionally – a positive contribution: they even went to the trouble of finding someone that speaks English to address non-Italian speaking unMonasterians directly. Also, the message ends on a positive note. It’s not out of the question that we could work together with these guys.

Anyway, this proves we are the talk of the town – even more than I thought :-). FYI, here is a very positive outlook on unMonastery Matera by a group of local young people; here is a local TV’s report (Italian), also very positive, with interviews to Ben, Gaia and myself (and to the city’s mayor).