Life in the unMonastery - a status update on living the good lifec

This post was co-written by [elf Pavlik], [katalin] and [Ben], the others trust in the process. Given our silence, we wanted to give a comprehensive overview of what we’ve been up to and the challenges we’ve faced.

We’ll be doing a hangout later today, 17:00 CET.

(We tried to embed a video here but it didn’t work - here’s the link)

How we’ve been organising:

  • Liturgy - Our Daily Routine

We fell into a daily routine proposed by Cristiano fairly organically. The “Liturgy” allows us to eat meals together, be present at the circles, and still be able to organise our time to work on our individual projects. Newest additions are the morning bell (at 07:00, rung by [Marc]) and morning practices (led by Bembo). Nobody is required to do anything they don’t want - but we trust in the process, that everyone seems to want to participate in the things we consider important.

  • Decision Making Process; Morning Circle, Consensus Circle - Our Tradition

[Bembo Davies] (as is our tradition), has taken on the role of scribe to the archives. You can find a more extensive post here on the subject.

  • Trello and Google Groups

For the most part we’ve been using Trello to organise the day-to-day running of unMonastery, our organisation is open, so all our tasks, discussion and planning are in public view, if you’d like to get an insight into what we’re doing at any time please feel free to view this activity. As projects, processes and proposals become more substantial, we’ll make individual summary posts and share documentation.

elf will also be working over the next few months to figure out how to use the Trello API to plug into EdgeRyders and our website.

We have been tested:

  • Heating

When we first moved into the building the heating worked in only one room. It has since spread and after 3 days of consistent heating 75% of the top floor is sufficiently warm enough to work and sleep in. Unfortunately the entire downstairs area still suffers from a lack of heating and is essentially unusable. Hot water works in all bathrooms upstairs and made an appearance in the kitchen for a day and then disappeared again.

It turns out that the underfloor heating present in the building, is the first of its kind in the area - so comprehensive documentation and knowledge on how to resolve all issues is lacking.

  • Internet

We have for the moment a generally unreliable internet connection, shared with Matera2019, which has been down now for 72 hours. When it does work we suffer from a number of ports being blocked. [Marc] has made significant progress in setting up a VPN so that we can tunnel to the appropriate services.

In order to resolve this crucial loss of resource, we’ve looked into several alternatives and in the coming week intend to establish 3 alternative sources of connectivity, so that we have multiple falls backs and only need fear the internet apocalypse or [Bembo Davies]’s vow of low-connectivity.

  • Funds

Are still not available to us (8 February). We acquire pretty much all the food using personal funds of individual unMonasterians. The first couple of days we were dining at 2 restaurants using food vouchers provided by MT2019. We stopped using them as soon as we got a basic kitchen setup up going. Funds were transferred on Friday, so we can expect to receive them early this coming week.

  • Kitchen

We’ve found ourselves with a bachelor’s sized apartment kitchen, with similarly sized pots and pans. Don’t ask Bembo about it. We have been working with Antonio and Dora from MIMERS, to resolve and expand on the current situation.


  • Food

Despite our kitchen troubles we have achieved some tremendous meals.

Documentation and Evaluation:

  • Networks Map

During Gaia’s time in Matera, we begun to establish a series of network surveys using ONAsurveys, as well as an initial evaluation framework for the project. We intend to embed at the core of the project a consistent mapping of our offline encounters, so that over time we can assess the unMonastery’s relationship to the people of Matera.

  • unMonastery Analytics

elf each day takes photos of utility meters (gas, electricity, water) soon we intend to automate as much of this as possible, so that everyone can see charts of our daily consumption directly on our website [add photos]. Marc and Ben have also been evaluating the Open Energy Monitor which we could used to harvest all kind of relevant data.

  • Radical Transparency

One of our main objectives is to establish unMonastery as an example of radical transparency, aiming to make it participatory by lowering the barriers to entry and ensure it is easy to replicate. By prototyping the tools and hardware necessary to do this, we hope to set an example of a community service supported by a community.

There is an active initiative already present within Matera as part of Open Data day to make all publicly funded organisation’s archives public, which makes for a good fit with unMon (internet contingent) radical transparency initiative.

  • The Budget and Our Expenses

We continue to document the budgetary expenses of the project publically and will soon have this available in real time.

  • Per-diems

Even though everyone (except elf Pavlik) accepted their per-diem, during a conversation yesterday we clarified between ourselves that for the most part our funds will enter the common pot used and be used to fund a collective effort.

After covering additional travel costs pretty much everyone hopes to break even at 0 and will not need to cover any costs from personal funds. It seems like no one expected to take home any of the funds and feels fine with this situation. We may write at some point a dedicated post examining this aspect of the unMonastery Matera experience and what is like to live at subsistence level of income.

As we are attempting to track as much information as we can, all of our common expenses from per-diems will be included in our budgetary reporting, as well as real-time updates once we bootstrap proper automation.

What we need:

  • Research

Since we’re on the ground and trying to be as proactive as possible in our activities here, the less time spent researching online the more we can actively do. If you’ve got the time, assisting in research on the following areas would be of great help to our current work:

    • Open Energy Monitoring (Establishing the build cost based on Italian suppliers)
    • Local Knowledge of Matera and Organisations we should get in touch with, particularly projects that match with ours (@ilariadauria you once shared a list of groups, could you reshare this?)
    • Using image recognition technologies to map offline noticeboards, using webcams and QR codes.
    • Dehumidifiers - the building (and the Sassi more generally) suffers from a high level of humidity, we would warmly appreciate any advice on cost effective dehumidifiers or recommendations for alternatives to electricals.
  • Supporting posts and social media

In addition to research, it would be particularly useful if other EdgeRyders were able to make online connections to our endeavours, whether in be in the local region or to experts in fields we’re currently working on, such as the energy monitoring and Marc’s solar project etc.

  • Wish List and sponsorship

One thing we’re finding is that we don’t exactly have everything we need and we certainly don’t have the budget to procure it, so we’re going to post an initial Wish List soon - if anyone is able to provide these things it would be greatly appreciated.

On this same note, we realised that we’ve missed a bit of trick when it comes to sponsorship. Ben is currently structuring an initial plan for approaching different groups / organisations / companies for support in kind. With particular focus on individual projects. If anyone has experience in this area or would like to assist, get in touch with

  • Sustainability Plan

We’re doing our best to keep track all flows of real world assets as we consume and produce (material goods and services). At the same time monitoring which of them we access using finances and investigating new alternative means by which to secure them. Either way at least, we should stay aware of what it really takes to run such projects now and in the future.

Once we’re properly back online we’ll begin to sync this with [Alberto]’s work on the Sustainability Plan.

Our Priorities:

  • New Website

Very high on our list of priorities is to establish a new website that better supports the development of individual projects and shares the story of unMonastery more concisely to the outside world - when the internet is re-connected we should make significant headway.

  • Resolving all the issues

Our current strategy is to try and shift responsibility for as many aspects relating to the use of the building away from outside stakeholders, so that we can be responsible for the issues and take an autonomous approach to solving them. But this is easier said than done.

  • Community Integration - Our backend and frontend

Culture clash. we’re highly cognizant of the fact that the typical way in which we organise and work doesn’t gel well with standard approach to work in Matera, we we’ve resolved to keep only our backend digital and move to an offline approach as the frontend of the project.

  • The Opening

We discussed moving The Opening back to the end of February - for three core reasons:

  1. By then, the projects will be in a more comprehensible in shape and we will have established stronger connections.

  2. Our living circumstances will not obscure the real goals and achievements of unMonastery - and perhaps fundamentally we need the bottom floor of the building in order to invite people in.

3) It will give us the appropriate amount of time to plan and create a special event.

Prior to this however, we do intend to go ahead with the press conference next Friday/Saturday and have plans for unMonasteries participation in the Open Data day on the 22nd.

  • Understanding our relationships and the expectations placed upon us

Come in and play! (we’re getting ready to receive other unMonasterians)

1 Like


Thanks for this fascinating glimpse into life at the unMonastery.


  1. spin out any request you have to the community onto separate posts. One post, one call to action!
  2. most unMonastery projects already have dedicated spaces on the Edgeryders website. Given how much time and effort it takes to keep community websites going – and how many of them end up derelict, I am loathe to spread it across multiple websites. A natural fit for what we are doing is to have an unMonastery website as a shopfront, and an Edgeryders website for the back end of project development – also allows smooth transition of Egderyders into the unMonastery and viceversa. Plus free and open, community management and tech support are there etc. If there are any special needs, we could address them – and the advantage would be that the whole community would benefit from refurbishment.
  3. The video does not embed because you are composing in filtered HTML and the <embed> tag gets weeded out. We could let the full array of html markup come through, but your code is very dirty – lots of <div> and <span style = "Font: Arial;". This is because you probably compose your posts somewhere else, then you copypaste them into the Rich Text Editor. If you want to keep your code clean, you should paste text only, then manually addd bullet points and headers.

And a question: what do you mean by

Culture clash. we’re highly cognizant of the fact that the typical way in which we organise and work doesn’t gel well with standard approach to work in Matera, we we’ve resolved to keep only our backend digital and move to an offline approach as the frontend of the project. 


UnMonastery Web Site

I agree with Alberto regarding putting too much effort into the web site. My preference would be to concentrate software development on mobile, and on tools that work with EdgeRyders Drupal site.

Perhaps we could concentrate on video, and have a simple video podcasting WordPress based site for UnMonastery?

going Web 3.0 and embracing Linked Data!

Speaking for myself here!

I plan to make heavy use of RDF 1.1, embrace Linked Data and leverage as soon as platform puts those technologies in use we can make things inter-operate nicely :slight_smile: ping [Alberto] & [Matthias]


Talking RDF is tricky. I know it can unleash a lot of passion. I guess the tech decision has to rest with Matthias. But do you ([elf Pavlik]) mean you would build a separate website and enforce RDF? What about what I have called the human side (community calls to onboard new users, “call a human” etc. – non scalable things)? I still think it makes sense to join forces in that department.


I want to work with such archtecture anyhow, so I can either experiment with unmonastery website or just work with some other webspace and leave development of to whoever else wants to pick up this work… So far it doesn’t seem like anyone touched it for quite some time. Currently everyone participating in unMon #1 Matera Pilot Session can use whatever tools ones wants to use, and it seems that to get us going fast combination of Trello and Google Drive does it’s job. Of course we want to migrate to open source technologies but they most likely need some serious work to catch up in terms of Interaction Experience.

On side of community interaction of course I don’t want to create any walls but oposite, move away from creating online silos. When it comes to, I do very much appreciate all the work that people have put into developing it. Still when we sat down to publish this post, [Ben] commented when his battery strated running out something in direction: “I find posting on one of most frustrating things”, refering to Interaction Experience, not community of course!

In other words, unless someone strongly objects I would like to experiment in next weeks with and , I definitelly will not try to mess with any drupal setups myself but happily can share my experience on technologies mentioned above with everyone interested in using them :slight_smile: [kasper.souren]?

BTW how does it look with support for multilingular content here?

spellcheckerless :wink:

does this WYSIWYG editor messes up browser’s spell checker for everyone or only I have such luck?

Copy paste in WYSIWYG => bad

Philosophical answer.

Technical answers:

  • Most of [Ben]'s frustration come from the habit of composing his posts somewhere else (Gmail? GDocs?) and copy-pasting them into the rich text editor. For example, this post starts like this:


<p><span id=“docs-internal-guid-0558bd29-1675-a636-8411-687604da5047”><span>This post was co-written by [elf Pavlik], [katalin] and [Ben], the others trust in the process. Given our silence, we wanted to give a comprehensive overview of what we’ve been up to and the challenges we’ve faced.<br class=“kix-line-break” />

<br class=“kix-line-break” />

We’ll be doing a hangout later today, 17:00 CET.</span></span><br />


  • this breaks the CSS. It can be fixed in two ways: "hygiene" (copy-paste in the Text-only editor, then manually add beautification like bold, bullet points etc.) or "shoot in the heap" (disable Full HTML and enable a Text Format called Limited HTML, that gets rid of all the <div>s and the <span style> but at the price of also stripping some wanted HTML tags like iframe. I think this, too, is customizable, by the way: we can include iframe in the list of authorized tags in HTML. This is exactly the same as in Wordpress and, indeed, in Google Drive: copy paste across websites is typically not CSS neutral
  • multiple languages are supported in Drupal. However, one should be careful because the default configuration for all multiple languages stuff (Wordpress too) is that you choose a visualization language and the websites shows you only the content that has a translation that language. I dislike it because it reduces the chances of random encounter across members of the community. Of course, with Drupal it should not be difficult to enforce a mode whereby you are shown all content, in your preferred language if a translation is available and in the original language otherwise. In Egderyders 1 we had 1-click Google Translate integration.

VPN riseup

[Marc] – give you VPN…