February in the OpenVillage House Sidi Kaouki

view from the rooftop.

During the first 12 days, while waiting for the main participants, we had short visits from people working partially on small projects. The 2nd half of Feb is were the actual coliving part, for longer period of time, started.

In coliving aspect was a good start to have small visits ( test runs ) although it was not intended ( things were supposed to start earlier but we are also facing a lot of bureaucracy and visa issues which makes quick short term planning a hard task to to do ) was nice to see how it can work out, having different people living together in the remote Sidi Kaouki settings.

Everyone brings something in house, with the hacker mindsets people tend to fix stuff. As @alberto mentioned here , we ended up in the end of the week with a toilet paper handle some cushions for the outdoor chairs by @matteo_uguzzoni and fixed door and new “door knobs” fixed washing machine by the @johncoate. Food is definitely getting better which is another way to look at the house development.

Khal omar( the gardner) had some company and entertainment as well with us chopping wood around and small talks in broken French Arabic and sign language.

@matteo_uguzzoni , @johncoate , @alberto , @SyMorin , @gregoiremarty definitely added to the house by their presence, discussions, activities, fixes, food, desert :D,games, birthday celebration. We had some nice times together even if the weather wasn’t the best at this time. ( read @gregoiremarty ’s post on his own openvillage experience )

On 13.02. Noha, @HadeerGhareeb , @Ghassan_faisal and @m_tantawy came to the house from Cairo. Next day @matteo_uguzzoni and @johncoate left also at the same day @imake , @islem , @mmajdeb and @Sofien-Dahem arrived.

The house is starting to be more crowded and busier. Cooking time is increasing as well as the shopping/ cleaning demands. Dinner is a special time, we all gather experiencing different tastes and point of views coming from different cultures.

##Still looking for a system

Left: preparing a movie screening on the rooftop during the full moon, Right: Starting a fire by the beach during our collective dinner/discussion.

We believe that the highlight of the month could be summed up in “ LOOKING FOR A SYSTEM” in between finding better efficient productive workflow to getting used to actually living together and knowing each other, building our personal relationships, and getting everything up and running from cooking, cleaning, washing the dishes, fixing the bicycle, getting water, bread, groceries, and tools.

Definitely not an easy straightforward task to have. We had our share of misunderstandings, and frustration. In order to pass through this we had 2 collective discussions where everyone shared their feelings, expectations, questions, and thoughts. One of them was around a fire by the beach ( location sometimes helps ). By the end of the month things socially became smoother, work still needs to be more productive, but it is advancing slowly though.

@imake "I have been liking the experience and the mix of people and nature so far. The part that is missing for me, the productivity people seem not committed about the work they are doing, but the why is missing ?
why are you guys making this, I would like to know, and also for the projects, still didn’t get the whole idea of the openvillage and I think this is missing and this makes it not clear for me"

@islem “We need to find a balance between working and doing some activities, and the balance and between our own projects and what we do alone in our countries and what we are sharing with other people.”

During the 2 collective discussions we touched upon different topics, passing by the usual organizational topic of distribution of tasks, and what exactly is the openvillage vision and why and how is this happening, to acknowledging our cultural differences so not to judge others and to have a more freely open environment, to why are we not advancing as productive as we wanted to in the projects that we are doing, and how to find balance in between our own personal projects and studies, the actual project in hand, and getting everything to work on the house.

These collective discussions helped us in acknowledging our status quo and how to move forward and have a smoother coliving environment.

##Social interactions / Coliving

Left : Dinner time, Right: First aid session conducted by @HadeerGhareeb

Of course during the past month, we encountered lots of social interactions in between the Tunisian Egyptian Palestinian youth, sharing food, experiences, love stories, normal ice breakers as people are getting to know each other.

The more the number is increasing the more the interaction getting complex. Since the first day people seems like they are getting along together so well, supporting each others in their personal goals (quit smoking, speaking English …). Some are proposing ways of knowing each more, telling stories, sharing answers on the same question, proposing movie nights.

For some the coliving is a new experience that they still not familiar with making them uncomfortable sometimes sharing life with people coming from different cultural background. Questions regarding the concept started to be arouse what led to many discussions including the 2 collective discussions mentioned above.

Normally, some side fun activities emerged in the house, some mad people went swimming even if the weather is not that swimming friendly, practicing yoga on the beach, running, watching films, playing card games, telling stories by night, night walks, early morning walks as well……

Everyone is coming with a lot of enthusiasm for the project and the experience. But collectively we are taking our time to find “equilibrium”.

##Work flow

Left: Bitcut team introductory discussion, Right: Coffee sorter team introductory discussion.

As mentioned, work is still not as productive as expected. we believe this is due different reasons; we took some time to adapt to the living conditions and this was affecting the work environment as well, some of the productive time is lost in doing the overhead tasks required to make everything up and running, not enough fresh input from out of the house, besides with the windy weather we have one big indoor space for working and living.

That being said, you can follow the development done in the bitcut project here where the team decided to design their first prototype for the local school in Sidi Kaouki. The process is done in cooperation with a local initiative in Kaouki where they discussed some of the local needs and the school was focal point of these discussions.

For the Coffee sorter machine, you can check the first machine design here the computer model for the mechanical part is almost done and the camera is being trained to detect the quality of beans soon.

Both projects are already gathering online attention attracting interested people, weather coffee farmers or people interested in design and architecture.

by the end of the period we would probably end up with initial prototypes for both projects, Still the business development for both needs to be done concretely in the coming stages.

on the side people started to discuss their own projects in small discussions, collectively we had only 2 night sessions with an introduction to machine learning done by @imake which was extremely interesting even for non-programmers, and a needed first aid session by @HadeerGhareeb, some other sessions are still pending where everyone can talk about his/her own ideas and projects so we can learn from each other and help each other develop our own projects.

Left: Bitcut’s first designed prototype for the school, Right: @AhmedMajdoub working on the coffee sorter machine design.

##Connection with the school and local kaouki initiative

On 16.02, @HadeerGhareeb went to the school, she had the opportunity to meet some girls on their way already to the school. They talked about the difficulty of reaching the school as it is far from their houses and the way is not smooth enough. They go now by bicycles that were donated by an association from Casablanca. Reaching the school that also was painted recently by the same association. The school has two class rooms and two teachers. Each room has two different levels accommodating around 40 students. Hadeer has the chance to give a small presentation to the kids about her “Trash Into Toys” workshops and she showed them some pictures of previous workshops. In her way back she met a family and they invited her for tea and they created a kind of bond. Hadeer came back from this journey loaded with feelings that she wanted to diffuse with the group.

Subsequently, @hazem and @HadeerGhareeb went to speak with Mohamed Mady, A community leader in Sidi Kaouki to agree on collaborative initiatives (Trash into Toys workshop/Upcycled Playground) for the school. This will be done after an official letter to the association.

Moreover, increasing the bond with the village @Komitas and @HadeerGhareeb went to the village and they made a workshop, introducing juggling and making clubs from trash. Since they still need a permission from the government, there approach was to go to the village talk with the families and take the family permission to interact with the kids directly. The first house they encountered, Hadeer didn’t need much to convince the family about the workshops they immediately agreed to host them and the kids in their house. Then, we continued walking to get more kids we ended up with around 12-14 kid their age ranging from 7 - 15 years old.

##Hosting @Komitas

We got connect to @Komitas , as a friend of @iriedawta , who was traveling around in Morocco at the time, so we hosted him for a few days and he was bringing nice energy to the house helping in every aspect. Naturally he found his place with @HadeerGhareeb conducting some workshops for the school kids. ( read about his own experience here )

##What’s next ?

We passed an intense month, now looking ahead to host the surfboards project, continue working on bitcut and the coffee sorter producing the prototypes and draft business plans, draft plans for other projects in house like @islem’s and @Sofien-Dahem’s ones ( will be online soon ).
@hazem and @HadeerGhareeb started to record a video/audio series with the participants, Now @alex_levene is in house with more experience in this.
We are having some fresh faces and people leaving as well, Noha had to leave due to some family emergency in Egypt, then @m_tantawy and @mmajdeb as well, @natalia_skoczylas , @Ceylan and @alex_levene arrived. still some other participants will join us in the coming 2 months and as always you never know how things will develop with such a mix of people in one place.

Written by @HadeerGhareeb and @hazem


Guys, this is a fantastic post. Many thanks to @HadeerGhareeb and @hazem for keeping everyone in the loop.

I love Trash into Toys, and completely agree with @m_tantawy’s idea of developing the first Bitcut prototype for the local school. But yes, finding a system can be difficult. I was in the house in the early days, and back then we really lacked one. It was my impression that things got better as more people arrived, we’ll see if I was right.


I would just repeat what Alberto said so instead I will just underscore it. Most excellent report. Love the stuff with the kids. Sorry I had to go so soon!

It is a great pleasure to read your post @hazem @HadeerGhareeb

What comes to my mind, when learning about your adventure and achievements , that the multicultural dimension of the OpenVillage proves we can collaborate and coexist despite our differences. The OV proves also that the absence of a predefined organizational structure doesn’t block the work, progress nor collaboration the moment where there are shared values like collaboration empathy and responsibility.
I think repairing and arranging the house were good activities for team building! Yet, I would have loved seeing sport activities or well being activities such as Yoga that helps connecting with ourselves, and meditating, which is one of the objectives of the experience as well.

Concerning the business plan of the projects, maybe we can schedule workshops to help the project leaders in defining their business model, and work later on their business plan. @Yosser you can take part of these workshops once you join the academy.
Ps: I can’t wait to meet all of you and know more about your experiences and stories!


Speaking of the Academy - @matteo_uguzzoni @owen @hugi and myself have been working behind the scenes to get the first online courses up and running. You can follow the work in progress here http://academy.edgeryders.eu/courses/

Its not ready for publishing yet though so please keep it under wraps for now :slight_smile:


@Hazem, you say progress on projects is slow. I’m not surprised, given the short time.
What do you think makes the difference for some projects to advance faster? Could it be because Matt and Mohamed were more clear in the beginning about what their project is, as opposed to other people joining?
Did people with no projects adjust and manage to support the project leaders…? @natalia_skoczylas seemed so, but she could be an outlier, having known edgeryders and the OV for longer. @Komitas seems to have too! I’d be curious to hear if Ceylan, Alex, even Gregoire managed to find a sweet spot for their contributions?

Also, let’s catch up sometime these days, the two of us? Would like to run something by you wrt Academy course on community management. Sending you a calendar invite…

Hey hey all
Esp @zmorda @noemi and @hazem

About the OV business model - id gladly have a longer discussion about it. Right now i am developing one for a space in Poland - i have submitted two applications already and starting new ones now. I think it would be great to see how each one of us approaches sustainability and vision, ethics and economics, plus adds interesting ideas to the mix. Maybe we could have a call about it?

About the progress on the projects - i think there is a lot of issues at hand. First of all, the logistics of the place and ways of bringing supplies. @alex_levene will be writing about food in the space. Another thing to think of. And the shared responsibility for cleanness and repairs.

Secondly, there surely was miscommunication around the bitcut project and lack of a clear idea. Its really important that @islem and @Sofien-Dahem will sharee their insights at some point. The leader of the project didnt tell the rest there is budget and left the space because he had a wedding in 3 weeks - and two weeks later he is still posting pics of his rrips in morrocco :smiley: he didnt event contact his team and the project is halted.

But whats optymistic is that @Sofien-Dahem is working on his really brilliant project - he self organised and develops his concept and applies for grants with a bit of my support :wink: we have been brainstorming about the idea a couple of times. Wr did the same with Islem, who seems to need a bit more of a guidance, and is quite frustrated about leaving tunis behind to join a project that just stopped. But she is also conceptualising a space shr wants to open and one night we discussed it together and came up with the first business idea for it. I am always up for giving more tips and putting heads together.

So yeah, seems like a mix of lack of leadership, maybe lack of better programming (some sort of classes, workshops, meetings), bureaucratic obstacles, a lack of vision in case of bitcut, and the lazy vibe of the house are not helping :wink: there will be quite some lessons to learn from it. And then, i was there just for two weeks and i dont really know much about anything. My involvement was only a result of the offer i gave to everyone: i am here to help, just let me know what i could do for you. And some people used it :slight_smile: luckily

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good reality check, thanks. this makes things much clearer for a distant observer.

I’m happy to have a chat about your OV models, anytime really!

Wow. What I recall was anything but lazy!