Living and Working as an UnMonk

With the hope that we will extend UnMon in Matera I would like to begin the process of thinking through opening up the UnMon to more collaborators. Although we still have to confirm the timeline and funding, discussing the best approach to integrating new unMonks could begin now, in anticipation.

Based on our experiences and some discussions over the last months it seems that the project would benefit significantly from having more people from Matera/Basilicata living and working at UnMon. Initial thoughts on the best mix are that 3 locals and 3 non-locals might be the right balance for this next phase.

We are planning an event on May 3rd to bring together people curious about what we are doing and that might consider joining us. We could present a short overview of our goals, and how we are currently living and working together. This will be an opportunity to discuss what conditions, such as time commitment, stipends and living arrangements would make joining UnMon possible for those who are interested, and introduce our ideas for how we plan to bring on more people, so that we can get the feedback we need to further refine our approach.

At this event we are thinking it would be good to: communicate what kind of projects and collaborations are in process share some ideas about what would fit in well with the projects and processes we have initiated encourage new projects from potential unMonks that align with our goals We can also introduce 3 different ways to participate: co-working space- to work on own project co-working and unmonking- to work on unmon projects co-working, unmonking and co-living at unmon (sign your life over to unmonastery) After that, as a first step, we could ask people to send a short email explaining why they would like to join unMon and what they would like to do.

Feedback on these initial thoughts and first steps? Ideas for the next steps?

Looks good to me

HI Maria,

We haven’t met personally but I’ve been following your work, most of the unMonasterians’ work actually. I think the idea of co-working at unMon, whichever shape it takes. It might just be that plenty of Edgeryders community members (non locals in your differentiation) are just waiting for an opportunity to go visit and see how exactly the unMon works, and this seems to be the right context.

What would need to happen while they are there to make it worthwhile everyone’s time? Projects advancement? Increased pr among the local people? Do you guys have the (idle) capacity to manage an onboarding process + immersion in the house rules? which I think is a little extra effort than caring for people dropping in to say hi or simply take a tour, as I imagine you had over these last months.

visits with a purpose- great idea

Hi Noemi

Nice to hear from you. I have heard very good things about you!

I like the idea of thinking how people can support UnMon in our day to day work—both through “visits with a purpose” as well as online, perhaps as a follow up to a visit. A good example is that Gaia worked with me on several video projects while here- helping with translations. Now she is continuing our collaboration by doing translations online, in her spare time.  It would be great if we could find other ways for people to visit and then continue to collaborate.

My initial thoughts on what would be useful collaborations with edgeryders who want to visit are:

Italian for translations and communications (answering the phone, replying to text messages and emails, writing announcements…)

Skills in facilitation, planning and decision making, and developing sustainable organizational structures.

Advising on an “onboarding process” for new UnMonks plan.

Workshops or skill shares related to our individual projects or the overall project of UnMon.

We have a visitor form on the website- so people could start with this.

Ticking Boxes and Ideas.

Okay. As has been characteristic of the unMonastery project since our arrival, time is never on our side - however it does look like given the funds we’ve saved so far, the extension until at least the end of July is looking real. Confirmation will come this week.

Thank you Maria for taking the lead on this and all the work so far, over the next few days I’ll be feeding a lot into the process.

So there’s a couple of questions I think only @Alberto can answer; Given that we’re working with Italian public money, what are the roadblocks that prevent us from funding new unMonasterians in the building? Are we bound to doing another call for participants, or can we just pick people in Matera or further afield that we think are right for the project? What boxes should we be aiming to tick?

Some thoughts and rules I would recommend:

  • The absolute minimum stay for a funded position (per-diem) should be 2 weeks.
  • Funding travel should only be applicable to those who can commit at least 2 months. 
  • Anyone wishing to join the project should pledge to a certain set of conditions (integrate into cooking/cleaning contributions, active public reporting/sharing of their time here on EdgeRyders and elsewhere, core focus on ensuring the continuity of the overall unMonastery project in Matera etc) 
  • Those joining at this point should either have a solid project that is already underway, well resourced and matches up well with both the challenges and context of Matera OR be able to join or support an existing project (see the post about OTS as an example of this)
  • Commit to agreed 'Recipes' see below. 

So, Recipes.

I think we should devise patterns for durations of stay so that we can set out very clear expectations of those coming to stay at the unMonastery, this could be composed of something like this.

1 Week Stay:

  • Cook 4-6 Meals 
  • Teach 1 Workshop 
  • 1 Public Post 
  • 2 Contributions to an existing project

Other ideas regarding occupancy.

  • Coupling with Joseph Grima's cultural program; it's inevitable that this program will involve residencies, at the present moment I struggle to see how MT2019 can competently create the infrastructure required to run an international residency program. It makes sense that the unMonastery should accommodate this kind of collaboration - it makes double sense given that Grima's track record of shows suggests a strong overlap of values. Adhocracy being a fine example of the sort of work unMonastery is designed to host. Also it should be noted that what we've budgeted for is an extra two months with 6 unMonasterians, which leaves at least 2 beds available. 
  • Erasmus Entrepreneur program, this is something that @andrea.paoletti has been working with for CasaNetural, it's certainly something we should consider, @Noemi am I right to think that you have a good understanding for how this works? 
  • I've been thinking a lot recently as unMonastery as the possible soft infrastructure for large global software projects, particularly in respect to speculative plans for a rural iteration of unMonastery - and how this might support the development of the Open Source Ecology project. I'll be putting a post out when I have time next week.

    But I think it could be very beneficial to reach out to projects like this and offer a residency place for a programmer that wants to give a significant chunk of time contributing to a code based project with unMonastery as their base - on the proviso that they commit to X number of workshops as part of Open Tech School. Think of it as the unScripture element of the unMonastery. Perhaps Mozilla or others would be interested in such a proposition, what do you think @elf Pavlik

Lastly, there are still many question marks sitting over the future of our time here, the impression I have from MT2019 is that can’t easily grant more funds to the project after July, politically at least - so this makes it very difficult to plan going forward - @Alberto are you in any position at the moment to give clarity as to how EdgeRyders contractually will be involved in Matera this year beyond unMonastery and how this will feed into or support the continuation of unMonastery?

Possible Actionables

Just to make this post clearly actionable, this is what I’m proposing for the week ahead.

  1. Scoping exercise focused on who currently living in Matera or Basilicata would be a good fit for unMonastery.

  2. Establish a clear understanding for Grima’s plans and if it’s possible to work together.

  3. Confirm with MT2019 that we’re extending to end of July.

  4. Establish clarity around the box ticking bureaucracy.

  5. Put together clear time plan for those present now in Matera and possible future commitment.

  6. Establish first iteration for the on boarding process.

Pinging @RitaO - I wanted to draw your attention to this conversation :slight_smile:

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ty @Ben for this ping!

I think that we should start a mapping of innovators / interesting people / resources living in Basilicata.

Actually we could go through the network of Visioni Urbane (@Alberto what do you think?), Casa Netural and also the list of speaker at Next. MT2019 should already have some informations, I’ll try to access their secret database…

As regards Grima, I think that it is more than necessary to have a clear conversation with him to create a closer relationship and try to involve him into the process…maybe his plans might change a little bit, who knows?

Social Innovators in Basilicata

This is a great idea, Casa Netural already has some of this information on a map. We are planning an event with them on May 31st during the Piccianello project in social innovators from Basilicata will be invited to share their work. Perhaps we can use this opportunity to discuss how unMon can be a valuable part of the mix, perhaps as a resource and place to develop collaborations through “mini-residencies”-- invite people/organizations to stay at UnMon for a few days a month.

Haven’t worked with Erasmus Entrepreneurs

Hi Ben,

Nope, i once looked into it but haven’t used the framework, but I have a hard time believing this would be suited to pool efforts into, if the timeline we are considering is the next 3 months… May, June, July.

Clarity is in short supply

My plan for Matera has already fallen apart, brought low by – you guessed it – delays. This is not the time and place to delve on it, but I think we can now safely assume that:

  • MT2019 will not be putting further funding into the unMonastery, barring Joseph deciding he needs it and having the necessary autonomy.
  • Edgeryders activities in Matera, even if confirmed (we have no contract with MT2019 yet), involve the unMonastery only marginally. We planned a small event with some resources committed for the first week of October: if unMonastery Matera is live by then, we would of course love to hold it there, and then it would make sense to recruit the coordinator and documentation  person from the unMonasterians. Remember, however, that this is conditional on (1) MT2019 finally signing that contract and (2) them paying a substantial advance at the onset of the project. They say this will happen. I think they are sincere, but it is hard to tell how much control they have on process right now. 

For what it’s worth, I think it is defensible that we frame the unMonastery extension as a more discretional exercise. Also, we do not have the time to put out a call. So I would go for handpicking people for short stays. Long stays are a different story: people complain and lean on others quite a lot even after applying and answering questions about “being ready to be challenged, physically and intellectually”. I don’t even want to see what happens with people that feel they a sense of entitlement because they have been invited. Of course, if we could find a local person that would commit to taking over…

Your point on residencies is correct. Have you talked to Joseph?

Your point on Erasmus Entrepreneur is also correct. You are welcome to use the Edgeryders corporate shell to make that happen with people you respect, who then would be paid to be in the unMonastery.

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Thank you for the clarity you can give, and I can see and appreciate your frustration - if there’s anything that I could do to ease this Matera side please don’t hesitate to ask.

It’s become fairly clear in the past week what’s needed or possible in terms of contiuation, I think it’s fair to say we’re hedging our bets a bit but I’m giving myself until the beginning of the second week of May to do everything that’s possible to ensure the continuation of the project - right now I’m working on multiple tracks. Ideally though the unMonastery will be able to act as the Cultural Laboratory for the overall cultural program, from what I understand so far it would make sense given that our values are closely aligned. Lets see and I’ll keep things updated on the platform if there’s any concrete developments.

As for occupancy at unMonastery - we shall set a clear path by Friday. I recognise your trepidation and anxiety about how people are bought onto the project going forward, I think the clarity of expectations based on what’s been the experience so far should be set in stone for anyone new joining the project.


@Alberto what do you mean exactly “…Of course, if we could find a local person that would commit to taking over…”

ty :slight_smile:

starting the process

I propose that for people that we know are interested, or might be a good fit, we can send the information below to begin the process of finding some unMonks in the next few weeks.

UnMonastery Matera would like to find 2-3 creative, radical and ambitious people to live and work at unMonastery for June and July, 2014. We can offer a 400€/month stipend, with travel expenses.

Especially encouraged to apply: motivated and creative people from Basilicata and Italian speakers,

and interested in:

  • community engagement and communications outreach
  • developing programs and partnerships for low-cost sustainable living
  • further developing their own local social innovation projects

We are also open to:

  • people coming for a minimum of 2 weeks to collaborate with unMonks, host skillshares and workshops
  • people who can commit to at least 15 hours a week but will not stay at unMonastery fulltime

For these options we will happily provide room, board and stipend, but cannot cover travel.

At unMonastery we all sleep in shared rooms, participate in organizational planning, and help with the day-to-day tasks of unMonastery, such as outreach, reporting, cooking and cleaning.

We are interest in all kinds of ideas and approaches. Please visit or email unMonastery to find out more, discuss your ideas and possible ways to collaborate with unMonastery. Contact: (I am happy to put my name here- along with anyone else who wants to field questions)

Send an email to with UnMonk as subject with this information:

Preferred dates of stay:

A brief description of why you want to be a part of unMonastery.

A brief description of what you will do at unMonastery.

Great Work!

Thank you Maria, I’ve moved what you outlined here to a wiki so that we can work on it together - I’ve also made some updates and additions.


There’s something important that I think we’ve neglected to date. The drive here is been towards bringing on people from Matera/Basilicata - however within the unMonastery we currently have 3 individuals who fit this criteria Lois, @antonioelettrico and @RitaO. Now as it stands Rita has confirmed she is bound to the project and most likely will maintain/reinforce a coordination role, which will be defined more by developing partnerships and long term strategy over individual projects going forward.

Yet we haven’t yet developed a clear line of understanding for Antonio and Lois’s ongoing participation (I’m waiting for them to fill in the spreadsheet) - However I think given that these they are of the profile you’ve defined in the call, it would be good to review how this kind of participation functions because I think to date we’ve been doing a bad job collectively of integrating them in a meaningful way into the internal working of the unMonastery. Which reiterates what we discussed the other day concerning the on boarding process into the project and the same process that will have to be faced with anyone that responds to the call from Matera. It’s clear given our experience so far that anyone coming into the project with an existing life and network in Matera is quite different in their needs and expectations to those coming from further away.

I bring this up for this reason but also because looking at current numbers if Lois and @antonioelettrico desire to continue working as part of unMonastery we have 5 of our 6. And so the question becomes one of expectations and requirements for all those participating going forward. What are your thoughts?

Here’s an update on my progress on what I outlined since Sunday:

1. Scoping exercise focused on who currently living in Matera or Basilicata would be a good fit for unMonastery.

/// Moving forward, wiki created with Maria’s structure to solidify the approach.

2. Establish a clear understanding for Grima’s plans and if it’s possible to work together.

/// Met with @ilariadauria on Monday - Have a established a clear view as to what’s needed and how we can frame unMonastery within the Cultural Program and going forward. An initial approach will be given to Ilaria in the next days.

3. Confirm with MT2019 that we’re extending to end of July.

/// Waiting on the contract to be signed and additional funds to be released - @RitaO will likely have a meeting next week to discuss next steps of unMonastery

4. Establish clarity around the box ticking bureaucracy.

/// Clarity has been given by @Alberto; we are free to invite people into the project based on the process we elect.

5. Put together clear time plan for those present now in Matera and possible future commitment.

/// Timeline spreadsheet established, waiting on 3 unMonasterians to confirm their participation to understand exact numbers for June - July onwards. Next step will be to define the expectations around continued residency at unMonastery.

6. Establish first iteration for the on boarding process.

/// Outstanding. Wiki is first step.

Enforce living in the house?

Have you considered making local people swear a solemn oath to abandon their homes and live in the unMonastery for the duration of the period? Rita is special this way, we knew that. But for the next people…

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I think it might be a requirement at this point, given the reduction in numbers but I’d also like to see if people can commit to something concrete and fulfil it, without the stipulation.

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It would be ideal to have everyone, not just new unmonks clarify what they plan to do for the months of june and july, filling out the chart is the first step. I think clarity around this will help everyone be more supportive of each other and more productive, as well as spot where we might not have the capacity we need to get things done.

From the last few months it seems clear to me that we would benefit a great deal from one or two people who could play a role similar to Cristiano’s. Someone who is full-time at UnMon. Right now we are very dependent on Rita which is not fair to anyone, so we should do our best to find a way to resolve this. I think we should discuss what the expectations are for those not living or spending most of their time at UnMon. Perhaps defining number of hours in a week that are expected to be at UnMon and the priorities of what we want to accomplish in June and July would be helpful.

We should find out if Matera 2019 will be able to help get the word out about opportunities at UnMon.

I know you all know, but can we please continue to put the pressure on to confirm with MT2019 that we are indeed extending. We can’t do anything much to confirm the right people until this is known. I would like to help with getting this finalized so we can move, but not sure how?

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June - July

We’re confirmed for June and July - in so much that the money has to turn up in the account and the MOU needs to be signed. As for any further than that, I’m doing everything I can but I’d say assurances won’t be forthcoming - I’m giving myself until mid May as the cut off for working towards it. Since I’ll need to shift my attention to unMonastery in-a-box if we are to derive true value from this prototype going forward.

As for next steps, putting down an initial set of expectations at the bottom of the Wiki where I put the heading ‘Conditions’ would be useful - we can then build on those. Is tomorrow morning’s meeting about this? Or have we changed the shape of Saturday’s event, I’m assuming yes? Also if you want to take up the task of producing a matrix, chart or outline of the existing roles and responsibilities that consume the time of unMonastery it would be most useful and could help identify what it is that we’re currently missing in terms of capacity more clearly.

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Red or blue

I think producing a matrix that includes our daily activities - from meetings to chores - to our larger initiatives would be quite useful in communicating the current state of things and identifying potential needs, as well as feeding into the evaluation project. I’d be happy to put this together. Maybe @mariabyck, we could sit down briefly in the next days and go over areas we have neglected thus far?

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Third Pill

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@mariabyck priorities is what I would like to discuss.

I think that we all are doing great efforts to finalize our personal projects having the end of May as a set deadline. What will happen after that? I would reconsider everything into a different perspective: we recognized that the “individual application” was a mistake, and I am still convinced, so I think we should identify new focuses and try to drive our attention and energies towards them. Maybe this could also facilitate relationships between unmonasterians? Could we minimize the risk that someone could feel that his project is stronger than others’ ones?

Also, I think it would be nice (and helpful for us) to support MT2019 initiatives: in the next days, I hope to start a new projects with them on “City and citizens” and I would like to insert our current work into this frame (mapping the commons, urban agriculture, peers-to-peers)

Sorry if it’s confused, I had an endless working day…