After last week’s call I was asked to write about my experience from LOTE4. By a brave decision of Edgeryders I was chosen to go to Italy in late September to spend there a few weeks organising the event on the spot. It was an extraordinary experience. I was already involved in the Baltic Edge project some time ago, in early 2013, then some other projects took over, and finally I was able to be back to the community and offer my time to work for a few months. It was in a way a completely fresh start, requiring doing some reading, meeting people online, participating in discussions, and eventually getting involved with community management tasks.
These few weeks in Matera were magic - full of interesting encounters with people dealing with arts, programming, social work, running tiny shops in the caves, working at the University, making the ECC 2019 bid do its magic in the competition, and so on, and so forth. If I ever thought of solitude and slow, independent work on organising this event from the empty at that time space of unMonastery, I couldn’t be more wrong. It took me two days to meet dozens of people and get wired into Matera’s vibrant life. Language knowledge helped a lot - even though my Italian is far from perfection, it allowed me to handle a conversation and coordinate organisation of the event. In the south of Italy that seems to be one of the essential skills - people love to talk and interact, and it helps a great deal to be able to participate in their social life.
From my side, the organisation involved social media and communication presence; helping with great part of the logistics, such as transportation, distribution of grants, communication with the participants, sometimes helping with their travels arrangements and searching for available beds in town. I prepared the tickets, kept track of who contributed to the event organisation (and also prepared together with the rest of the team the list of tasks, which completion was rewarded with the tickets and travel grants), helped organising VIP’s arrangements, and so on.
Besides, I also took part in curating the program and providing space to sessions, keeping track of the scheduled sessions, merging them in some cases, and so on.
Moreover, with help of wonderful people, we arranged all the logistics for the event on the spot - such as fantastic Italian catering, with tons of great food every day both brought from local producers, but also preparing the shopping (or sometimes doing it myself) and making sure that all the ingredients for the event are there when needed. What was important is that we managed to prepare a special kitchen and cleaning schedule. Besides all the meetings and a great program, it was one of the top aspects of the event: kitchen full of people who escaped for a moment the intellectual debates and decided to take on the simple daily tasks - which were not always so simple, and quite often provided with enormous amounts of joy and satisfaction. The kitchen was the heart of the event. I also made sure there will be enough chairs, beds, toilet papers, projectors and other utensils necessary to facilitate an event.
Finally there was a lot of hard work of community engagement and outreach, maybe not the most succesfull aspect of my work - but that was forgiven, as many people even though they promised to come, never showed up. Part of the local climate, where plans change in a blink, depending on the weather and what else is happening in the city at the moment. Nevertheless, I managed to create some space of interaction between some of the Materani involved in social and cultural work and the edgeryders/unMonasterians. And that required weeks of making friends and convincing them it would make sense. Not sure if it it bore the fruits (or ever will), it was still worth trying.
So, as LOTE5 is coming sometime in the second part of the year, Edgeryders will be looking now for a person who’d like to do some of this magic this time - still a lot remains unknown about where, when and how the event would look like, but that is always part of the work with this community. Good to be prepared for some hard work, a lot of creative and independent spirit, energy and enthusiasm to meet the wonderful nomads in the real life somewhere around Europe. What I can tell, is that I have learnt a lot doing it the last time, and it was a fabulous experience.