Flashes from OpenVillage House Sidi Kaouki

It’s been a week today since I’ve landed in our little prototype co-working co-living space. A lot has happened. I feel like I’ve been here for months already :slight_smile:

First of all, the first week of my stay was marked by constant arrivals and departures. Many of the residents went back to their countries to work on their regular jobs or renew visas. There was a parade of guests and passers-by as well, providing us with a lot of unforgettable moments, but didn’t help to establish a routine. It took me a few days of introductions, movie screenings, late dinners, bicycle rides, morning sport, cooking sessions and visits to Essaouira, to finally feel like I’ve satisfied my need of an explorer and a social being to finally sit down and really concentrate on work. We’ve had a fantastic night with a couple of musicians who dropped by our home and played a concert for us - pure pure magic. It was an unplugged, singer-songwritter night with two duos with both quite different estetics and energies. We’ve got plenty of Cohen’s, Fleetwood Mac’s and Amy Winehouses, in excellent interpretations. Beautiful!

We’ve been also visited by a fellow nomad, Esteban, who travels around the world and makes ends meet with some juggling, playing and social work. We’ve hosted a couple of friends from Germany who intern in Marrakesh at the moment - at the hospital and in a permaculture project. All these meetings brought a lot of energy and great discussions to the house.

Now I can tell it seems possible - to work in a community, share one home and quite successfully carve out space and time for both living and working, together and individually. Right now, as we’re back to a modest size, it’s even easier. We know who’s cooking and cleaning, we’ve learned the efficient shopping, and we juggle very well moments when we sit down over unpeeled coffee beans or lunch to talk and spend time together.

In terms of work we’re doing on our own projects, there are a few ideas we’re collectively and individually developing. There is the very interesting business idea of @Sofien-Dahem who’s trying to establish a nomadic project that will document and modernize traditional African crafts. So far, we couldn’t help with much - and his idea seems pretty decently developed, based on his experience in a similar project before. Yet we could have helped him with finding the right place to register his company by recommending him Estonia and it’s e-residency.

@HadeerGhareeb is struggling with intriguing Moroccan bureaucracy that makes it difficult to organize workshops in schools or even with volunteers from local organizations. She’s planning on making an art project from waste - there’s plenty of material around (Brrrrr), and we’re now trying to both get the confirmations from authorities but also find alternatives to make it happen, in case there is no permission anytime soon.

@islem will tell us tonight in detail about her idea of opening a coworking space in her town in Tunisia. This might be where my support can be a bit more visible, as I’ve been busy for the past 10 days sparking interest in my Polish friends and then working on several applications to open a coworking space in Lublin. This is an exercise for us - the city offers a decently sized office space in the center with a grant of 40.000 zl (a bit under 10.000 eur) to be used between may 2017 and the end of the year, to test ideas for social businesses and coworking space. I’ve teamed up with a bunch of great old friends who are active in human rights, education, and arts in Lublin and who dream of a space we’d have for our use. The application is bloody simple and fast, and it would allow us to try out the team dynamics and the idea, as we’re planning to apply for further grants for innovation and social businesses in the same city, and try to convince Velux to buy with us a property for that purpose *(we’ve spotted already a fantastic space). If that succeeds, I’d like to dedicate a significant amount of that space to the creation of a very first biohacklab in Poland - and invite our fellows edgeryders to help us explore the topic and find the right course for the space for the future. The funding of the space could also be connected to what we’re working on with @Nadia - crowdfunded, co-owned properties.

I’m also supporting a little @Matthias with his optical coffee sorter by using a very avant-garde tool (smartphone strapped to a halved plastic bottle, plus a white sheet of paper, plus a plastic box) to make high resolution pictures of coffee beans that would be later cut up by @anu and fed to machine learning software. I am calling this part of my experience The Future of Work - humans supporting machines. I’ve done some of that yesterday while guiding our pool-cleaning robot in areas he ignored…

And @alex_levene is experimenting with remote work, while providing us with cultural food for thought.

I’ve always wanted to live in a community, despite the fact it would sound like a total failure to my parents. I really enjoy the experience.


Best regards from the permaculture farm in Marrakech. I really enjoyed staying at the house and meeting all of you!


likewise, Tobi! if you have a moment and want to introduce yourself to the family, write a post about yourself and your work - you never know, magic happens here quite frequently :wink:

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Perhaps I will pass by the permaculture farm on my way through Marrakesh. Next week possibly

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Thanks, @natalia_skoczylas. I enjoy these updates from the House.

That’s the whole point, right? I also believe this is possible. It will never be error-free, but then life is not error-free. I am confident we can get to the point where it’s on average better than nuclear family + workplace.


Even SF is switching to co-living models - in a very American and expensive way, but it’s great to read how people enjoy living in their communities

Yeah… I was reading this the other day:

It’s really a shame that the coliving banners are appropriated almost entirely by middle class digital nomadism… It’s the new co-working, much more expensive than a collectively rented house, but has not much to do with this organic, prototyping way of ours. The jury is out there whether or not the open village model can increase well being for members joining the experiment. Talented and highly skilled people, but less affluent…

The good signs are here it seems… thanks for reporting and kudos to you all @matthias @hazem @HadeerGhareeb @natalia_skoczylas @alex_levene, guests & other co.!

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i guess I am happy for these residents - if they are happy - but overall I find this a pretty sad turn of events. Not because I don’t want people to live together - of course I do. But the only thing driving this is seriously brutal economics. What was mentioned but not in that much detail is that in order to renovate these old buildings into such spaces they evicted large numbers of poor people who were living in the last remaining district in the city that would have them.

I saw this is DC years ago too. I know - it’s the way things go. But all this feel good happy co-living talk is really in service to naked capitalism. Such is the way of the world, but there is a Potemkin Village vibe to this…


John, I completely agree - the moment I saw they’re moving to Tenderloin in a social housing project I knew this means horrible, brutal gentrification. I don’t really approve of this aspect of “alternative housing” which is not really that alternative, rather a conformist solution. But the take away from this article is that the unit-living is questioned and people become enthusiastic about communal living, which might be a way for them to rationalize their shitty situation, yet it might also be honestly simply enjoyable and enriching. And it’s a good sign for those of us who will want to establish such spaces and convince people that this is the right thing to do - it does work for quite some people. This mental shift is crucial, away from the now prevalent nuclear-family-fetish that destroys cities socially, economically, environmentally, and architecturally.


I’m sure it’s a good thing for them. Like the old phrase…necessity is the mother of invention. And yes that should be the focus here. Still, what happens when some of these people pair up, which some almost certainly will. I guess they could put a double bed in one of those rooms.


I was watching a 1940s movie recently that was set in San Francisco and in one scene a guy working in a tailor shop revealed that he lived in a “boarding house.” So I guess things are just going full circle back to when the USA didn’t have a very strong middle class.

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