If you are like me, as the memory of Living on the Edge sinks in, ambiguous yet strong ideas are are beginning to take shape in the back of your mind. Below is a short(er) version of reflections staying with me days after our gathering in Matera:
1. The realization that unMonastery is a beautifully imperfect project, of many many souls, and that’s a good thing. I think I finally begin to understand why the experience was incredibly emotional for some of those involved. It is a project of projects, in multiple ways:
- a flagship project of the Edgeryders community as a whole
- a strategic project of the Matera 2019 candidacy
- a dream co-living and co-working project of the skilled precariat
As a result, it has become an experiment which is claimed and co-managed by diverse communities, all well intended. Usually, you’d expect a project as small as this with resources as little as these to be entirely grassroots driven and keen on trying and failing well. But in the spring of 2014, all eyes were on the unMonastery, a pilot project of local and global scale equally (!) The expectations were clearly a source of stress for us all and directly for the 14 people living in the house (adding to the novelty of relocation in a city where one doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t know most of their fellow unMonks).
My conclusion? Most of the unMon related sessions at Lote4 seemed driven by a desire to internalize and overcome the experience. I think the unMonastery’s first iteration is finally beginning to have healthy closure, only to allow us to build it even better for the future.
2. LOTE is becoming a space for more meaningful and honest interaction from one year to the next.
I very much enjoyed how @danohu describes the Lote diversity: The rockstar turned economist, the materials scientist turned artist, the anarchist intellectual with one foot in the Pentagon, the Burner metamours building a flying wind farm. And on and on, through forty-odd bizarre biographies. Alberto also made a strong case on why our idea to invite senior policy makers and politicians to hang out with hackers, squatters and nomads can lead to building trust based collaboration.
Diversity, like openness, is more a design feature of Edgeryders than a natural outcome as some may think. Yes, part of dealing with it is managing expectations on all sides (read: you were warned that even you will have to help clean the toilets), but there is another one which took me a while to realise, or better handle.
There are a couple of risks associated with the radical openness of edgeryders.eu: at one end of the spectrum some may confuse it with an anarchic forum where anyone could rant, no strings attached, on the other end the more held back become intimidated of the openness and will not speak up. Both are plausible but none are constructive. What Lote4 managed to do for me, maybe not for you, was to create a healthier context to be able to be our selves, our different selves from our online personas, disagree with each other, bring up doubt or question our role as community members, even question entitlement. I’m glad that happened, and it’s funny because just now we are thinking about different Lote formats.
3. Lote4 made me realise Edgeryders as a growing community needs more longer term stewards.
I agree with @Patrick_Andrews that we may be transitioning. Both the company and the community are growing steadily, and as we grow we need to remind ourselves where we started and why we are doing this. The crucial question for me is: how do we steward the collective knowledge while a lot of focus goes into building opportunities for collaboration, p2p support, and ultimately some compensation for living outside the box? LOTE events go a long way towards achieving that, but from various conversations it seems that stewarding the knowledge has to do with: embedding our history in quality content (thanks @Katalin!), making work compensation opportunities and constraints even more visible (thanks @Maria!), ensuring projects/ budget transparency, enabling data privacy and commoning at the same time, and even politics aka dealing with unflattering rants based on false expectations.
Ideally, all of these need to be accomplished by not burning out more social capital, which we are in danger of anyway, if you ask @hexayurt.
To me, stewarding Edgeryders means having more of us involved in the day to day work, and especially community members who might take seriously the offer to hire themselves. Hiring yourself can mean different things but my impression is that offer is not visible enough. ER LBG is already stewarding the community by meeting its goals and it’s almost impossible to ask more of it, it’s just too small. With many more taking on a bigger role, it would be a natural decentralization of information, since now almost all the work for core infrastructure is done by the same people doing web dev, community management and outreach, business development, organising Living on the Edge.
It’s unfair to ask more people to do much uncompensated work, but allow me to hope. Involvement comes with a tacit promise, but not a guarantee (yet). Some of us are examples of how working in Edgeryders brings us closer to doing what we are passionate about, some may be willing to job share to support each other while doing precarious work, some are setting up coliving spaces to share costs of living etc. So, are there privileged souls out there who can afford to make a bigger investment than up until now?
This photo kind of illustrates how much beauty there is in all that we still have to build. Photo by Bjorn <3