Feedback and Lessons from OpenVillage House Sidi Kaouki

Today, we had a conference call organized by @hazem to wrap up the OpenVillage House Sidi Kaouki project and gather feedback and insights with some (physical and mental) distance to our time in the house. Joined by most of the “core” Sidi Kaouki housemates: @hadeerghareeb, @mmajdeb, @sofien-dahem, @hazem and me.

These are my notes. Feel free to add missing pieces, your points or corrections in the comments. If you could not make it to the call, you are very welcome to add your points and feebacks below – esp. @islem and @m_tantawy who wanted to join the call but couldn’t make it … we were of course really missing you! :slight_smile:

What is your general feedback on the OpenVillage House prototype in Sidi Kaouki? If you imagine your ideal OpenVillage House, how would it be?

Hadeer: I loved the experience in general and the concept behind it. When imagining the ideal version: we should be involved in everything regarding the house, including producing our own food and house repairs and “big” maintenance. Also it would be better if we have a motive to work for food etc. … while in Kaouki, we had everything (food, Internet, bed) even when not working anything.

  In Kaouki, we were only “almost” doing the thing we wanted: living together, coworking, producing our own stuff. But not quite!

Mohamed: (translated from Arabic by Hadeer) When I came to Sidi Kaouki, I was so excited, expecting we will have a lot of work to do and we will learn and add to the experience. But when I reached the house I didn’t find things organized each worked alone. I was working day with matt then stop for 2 days, even the team not well connected. We worked theoretically more than practically. And I got a job offer so I changed the flight time. I loved the house and everybody but maybe i was over excited. It was a good experience I learned a lot from and will not forget. Hopefully if there is another time, we will be learned from this one.

Sofien: I liked the last days when I had the feedback and help with my project. I was open to fuse my project with OpenVillage, making it more entrepreneurial. I liked having different people with different backgrounds and ideas around. For example, me as an industrial designer helping Matthias with the coffee sorter. I would have liked if we had worked more on that part. That was probably the idea, but it lacked an “organizational push”, so the majority of the project work did not make much progress or get done.

  So for the next time, we should specify from the beginning what is supposed to happen and what should be delivered. This would bring motivation (connecting to what Hadeer said about the motivational aspect).

Would it be a better experience for you if you start a collaboration online and then proceed in a space? Or if you join an existing project with long-term members in a space, and stay for a short while? Also, would you see yourself as a short / medium term member or long term member?

Sofien: That will depend on the project and who is involved. For me, as an industrial designer, yes I could work in both situations. It would be more efficient if I would join a long-term team for a time (if it’s an industrial design project), as there have to be some people who dive into the topic for a longer time. For digital design / graphics design, it’s different. And: I’m totally up for a long-term commune work/life integration lifestyle. That’s very related to the idea of my project involving immersion in local handicrafts. I am comfortable in these communal situations. If well-managed, it really boosts my work efficiency.

Hadeer: For me it would be better if the brainstorming phase and “getting to know” phases would start online. Because we consumed a lot of time for that in Sidi Kaouki, so we could get that done before. Also, in the House practical work (“work with results”) was missing. So we’d better add that. Including physical work.

  Regarding the duration of physical co-working / co-living, it depends on what the project is about. If it’s making progress, it would be ok to be long term. If it’s monotonous, it would be probably boring. I am up for a long-term member but only if the activities keep me interested. Once I explored the House, I needed to find other stuff to epxlore in the area (Aziz etc.) to keep me motivated and interested.

What would be a suitable vision / mission that could keep a communal project together?

Hadeer: Friends from university keep connected until the graduate. Because they see a benefit in belonging to the group, but only until then. Benefits can be protection, help in achieving ones dreams etc… So that should be similar in a communal living situation.

  The thing to avoid is “monotonous living”, when the day is governed only by routine. So the theme should be “mutual benefit”, “everyone feeling that they benefit in some way”, “regular changes”.

Sofien: Local business creation is a good theme. But it would be better to scan the place and community before the communal living project starts, so that we could from the start collaborate with local youth. Collaborations with the young local people could be anything from founding small workshops to big projects. It would be also about making them see what their environment has in unexplored potential. That should be beneficial to the people in the region, and would also be sustainable because it invests in building entrepreneurs (mindset) and businesses. Also these businesses could then form a network that provide business opportunities for each other. Would also create a bigger community for Edgeryders and the world (thinking big!). This idea is inspired by the unexpected experience with Habiba and helping her found a small business. There will be many more people like her who have the guts but not the means or skills to become entrepreneurs who can fend for themselves and their families.

Hazem: A friend is interested in the process with the guesthouse, as a business concept. Because it could be replicated on a larger scale, as a profitable project.