Future Thought: The unMonastery's 200 year trajectory

This is part of a series of speculative sessions, that need facilitators read me:



From the very beginning the unMonastery was founded on the principal of a 200 year project, this for some might seem absurd or too grandiose a claim but there is a logic – and in the context of the 2000 thousand year tradition of the Monasteries, it might even be considered modest in its ambition.

It’s an issue of scale and responsibility, too often we build things that are not meant to last or don’t consider their impact on the world within a meaningful timescale – the modernist housing estates of the UK being just one example grand plans laid to waste.

When decisions that will likely effect generations are made by governments on a 3 year voting cycle, the need for a bottom up approach to infrastructural projects both social and physical is crucial to averting challenges that lay ahead.

But how do we conceive of such an endeavour in the era of ‘present shock’ – a recent text by Paul Graham Raven, titled Infrastructure Fictions may begin to shine a light, drawing on Bruce Sterling notion Design Fictions, it calls for:

“The challenge for infrastructure fiction is to dispel the Someone Else’s Problem field and reveal the elided centrality of infrastructure to pretty much everything we do. Its challenge is to explore what infrastructure means.”

This session will focus on an attempt to imagine the unMonastery’s growth, decade by decade, with an infrastructural slant, it will attempt to construct a narrative that might point the way for the project – identifying future pitfalls in a geopolitical context.

Key Questions:

-What will the unMonastery project look like – decade by decade?

-How might the project ensure its foundations are resilient to the immediate challenges of the next 2 decades?


Ideal Facilitator: Paul Graham Raven? Or a games master from the Nordic LARP / JEEP scene? Someone with a unique skill for constructing fictional narratives with an analytical bent. Sci-fiction writers.

Possible Outcomes:

500 words on each decade – 10,000 words in total

Timeline using > http://timeline.knightlab.com/

Reference Points:


400 year old oak beams

As I read this post I recalled a story (supposedly a true one) in a book about forest gardening. I’m probably not remembering details exactly - but it shouldn’t matter for the general idea. I offer it as inspiration.

The story takes place in a UK university where for some reason a student checked the situation of large oak beams that supported the ceiling of a very large 400 year old hall. He found that there was rot and issued a warning. The university discussed the subject and were very worried that it would be impossible in this day and age to find such massive substitute beams.

During the meetings/discussions it turned out that the university had a forest manager - someone who was in charge of looking after numerous forest areas that belonged to the university. They called him in and asked him what to do and he calmly replied that there is no problem. When the hall was originally built, 400 years ago, oak trees were planted to grow alternate beams - since it was obvious to those involved in the construction that eventually the massive beams would need to be replaced. And indeed, for 400 years, those forests have been managed, the trees looked after and growing and waiting for someone to ask for replacement beams.

Cheers to you for raising the bar staring into the future.


This looks like fun!

500 words for decade? I definitely want to do this.

200 years onwards

… and low and behold we become visionaries…

I’m in.