Living on the Edge #5 - Athens, late September 2015

Brilliant Proposal for the Gathering of the EdgeRyder Forces

Living on the Edge \#5  -   Athens, late September 2015

For our milestone fifth LOTE unMonastery Athens offers to host and promote a dynamic event in which form equals content and seeks to represent in practice everything we stand for.

As our perennial central plank, the theme proposed is Social Cohesion - Survival Strategies.  This year we carry the ER operating premise one step further:  ‘them that builds the infrastructure calls the shots.’  LOTE#5 will take place in a temporary hexayurt village calling upon open source expertise to meet all our needs.

In 2012 EdgeRyders was inaugurated by the opening Living On the Edge conference in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe, cradled by the Social Cohesion Research and Early Warning Division. At that first conference we explored our collective future through the lens of collapse and sustained austerity - despite the relative stability since then in Northern Europe, potential and real crisis remains in our midst.

In the spirit of staying with the trouble, LOTE5 will see a return to our early roots in order to examine what we have achieved since then, with a step closer to the edge, with the time that has past since our early visions we have experimented and prototyped; unMonastery, Makerfox, hexayurts, new organisational forms and we propose that now is the time for a meaningful road test of that infrastructure under conditions that require it’s creation, with an open invitation to new collaborators to join us in structuring a useful constellation of resources in the LOTE5 Survival Village.

The Scene

Since the beginning of this year over 27,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Greece, the majority of whom are fleeing from the war in Syria. With the fallout of escalating global conflict beating at the shores of Europe, above and beyond potential economic collapse Greece has become a flashpoint and meeting place for humanitarian confrontation between principles and reality-.

Despite such dire implications and the depiction of Greece in mainstream international media as something approaching a failed state, experience on the ground and at the edge indicates otherwise; Athens houses an immense network of organisations and initiatives that are focused on improving the social good and building a resilient commons.

As part of unMonastery’s work in Athens we have begun to connect, work with and begin to support some of these long standing and emergent networks. Between the hackerspace SatNogs project, the Spithari eco settlement, Senait’s Kitchen, SciFy’s technology for all initiatives and the recent Adhocracy exhibition there exists an enormous capacity to configure new forms of distributed infrastructure and support for a rapidly changing situation.

The (distributed) Architecture 

As the starting point of LOTE5 we propose the deployment of all our existing infrastructure projects, this will serve as a point of initiation for invitations to both Greek based and international initiatives focused on distributed infrastructure.

Hexayurts are the brainchild of long standing community member Vinay Gupta, which will act as a core space for activities, with even a small cluster of 20 or so guaranteed to be highly visible for both photo opps and surveillance satellites.  These will be constructed and inaugurated by the participants as they arrive, with each yurt housing both us and our deepest concerns.

If possible the conference can also operate as a testing ground for Makerfox, an alternate economic exchange unit, which will form the foundation for all collaboration on site. Following last year’s LOTE#4 triumph of an on-site co-operative kitchen, unMonastery Athens successful pop-up kitchen led by Senait will be recruited to coordinate food supplies: ‘Them that does the chopping, eats the dinner.’

Once we have established reasonable conditions for meaningful dialogue, the stage will be set for a series of questions about organisational form, governance and future endeavour.  We propose a loving polemic between representatives of a selection of parallel communities that have trudged along this path before us.  The goal for the unMonastery is to then choose and refine the most promising model to suit an ever more complex organisational challenge.



  • Athens

Possible dates:

  • weekend of Sept 25.

Funding sources:

We have opened discussions with ADDMA (Athens Mayor’s Office), the British Council, the Goethe Institute and other potential institutional actors and collaborators

Obtainable Objective(s):

  • revisit radical roots of ER
  • acquire practical skills (how to build a survival camp)
  • develop rituals to fill the temporary structures with life
  • discussion on distributed organisations, ownership, etc

Hidden Assumption(s):

  • tactile, tangible work epitomises the spirit of efforts
  • a visible Edgeryders is a viable Edgeryders

Hail to proposals!

Seen this, thank you for the proposal. Logging off for the day, but we’ll look at it.

Well received

Thanks @katalin & co. for putting this forward, it’s the first official proposal on Lote5 and sounds like something I would like to participate in.

Compared to last years’ LOTE events, this one looks more inward looking, being mostly a chance to touch base in “loving polemic” and (re)build forwards. I look forward to reading more!

Way cool & well timed.

I had no idea that unMon. Athens was working on this, but I’m really happy that you’ve proposed it.

The scene illustrated; the participatory nature of building infrastructure; and the desire to revisit an optimistic spirit felt in inaugural gatherings of EdgeRyders, are factors that resonate deeply with me, and I imagine, across the community, (someone please correct me if it’s not the case).

It’s a different world today, almost three years on and four LOTE’s later, some of us are very different people too. All the disparate limbs and listeners who have at some point identified with EdgeRyders or encountered a project, have no doubt been a part of the massive amount of learning that’s taken place - online, offline, in neighborhoods or on a global platform.

So I’m not sure if I fully agree with:

“Them that does the chopping, eats the dinner.” and “them that builds the infrastructure calls the shots.”

but I leave that to your discretion.

I’d be keen to see how all these threads can be tied together, and would be extremely glad to help in making LOTE5 happen. :slight_smile:

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Hi @Noemi,

I would say this plan is more outward looking as last year’s, as it proposes to build real infrastructure for people in desperate need. We also consider it our long term commitment to work with refugees in Athens, so in a way it also has a different timescale. Originally the idea came up for unSummit, but it seems reasonable to involve Living On The Edge since it implies so many Edgeryders ideas taking action. Maybe you meant the organisational structures bit.

@emkay I agree about the limitations of the do-ocracy rule applied to food and talking, I have been actually thinking about its limitations in general (work in progress).


Hey @katalin,

Thanks for sharing this proposal! I am actually preparing a proposal with Marrakech, Morocco as the destination for LOTE5 and this was really helpful for me to grasp the main points to be made.

Although for the moment I am the only Edgeryders member from Morocco, I do hope to have more people to support my idea of having LOTE5 in Marrakech with the time.

Just an overview of my thinking about Marrakech for LOTE5:

  •  Background: Morocco is a melting pot of cultures and civilizations and only 10 kms away from mainland Europe. I've travelled in Middle East and MENA and I can say for sure there is no place like Morocco - it's vibrant and multicultural, traditional and progressive, lots of innovative projects and community based initiatives take place and the life here has a different rhythm that you need to experience to understand :-)
  • Accessability: Morocco is only 3 hours flight away from Europe and there are cheap carriers from most of the European airports to Marrakech
  • Morocco is in the spotlight @Edgeryders: this will be the perfect chance to get to know the stories of Moroccan activists trying to change the things for the better in a society with less than 50% literacy level and a useless government. You may not believe, but activists here are going through similar but tougher battles here than in Europe. We might be able to teach and share a lot! 
  • I am a travel advisor for Morocco(meaning i know the country well - it's used to be my full time job for years but i'm quitting now) and I've learnt the country specifics and its needs. I have lots of contacts with people who are making actual changes in the society - I am sure they will be happy to participate and volunteer for LOTE5, some by providing funds(space, accommodation, food, etc) and others by helping spread the word,etc. I feel I may be able to coordinate this event but I would definitely need help(which I am sure if available from recent various posts by members)
  • Last but no least, LOTE5 to me is supposed to help us to restructure and move to a new level of organisation. An insight of the Moroccan reality could be a wake up call for @Edgeryders!

@emkay I also agree that “Them that does the chopping, eats the dinner.” and “them that builds the infrastructure calls the shots.”  is not quite the way to go. We need to be open to share and learn!

I will create a separate post later and will be looking forward to feedback from you all :slight_smile:

Funding options

@katalin If things tend toward Athens then I can suggest another funding source/partner. Unfortunately the sites (1, 2) I found make it a little hard to understand the underlying structure. I know Seferis a little bit and could try to assist when things get more concrete. Perhaps an Athens local could check out the Archimedes Center at the American College of Greece, and see if they are still operational and compatible in a way.

I think we should go for this

Katalin, I think this is a solid proposal and very timely. Both the topic and the focus. Dunno how much Matthias will be able to get involved re: Makerfox as they’re pretty swamped in Nepal and to be honest our experience from trying to use Makerfox for lote4 was that it did not really work without duplication of efforts from the core team driving and coordinating.

Re my own involvement: I would be happy to support you in a kind of mentor role (if you feel you need it) helping here and there, but cannot be a driving force in this year’s edition. Am back on solid land for a few weeks so if you want to schedule a hangout/skype call to discuss details let me know when.

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Hi Nadia,

Thanks for following up, but in the course of the last 2 months unMonastery matters moved forward - the impression we got was that there wasn’t the necessary buy in from key people within ER. There also seemed to be more enthusiasm for the Brussels proposal, maybe this has this changed.

We now no longer plan to hold unSummit in Athens. As a matter of fact, we have widened the idea and decided on a broader more inclusive theme ‘The Impossible Futures of Living Together’, whilst still continuing related work in Athens. The unSummit now is to be held in Nottingham in or around November, where we have necessary resources and partnerships. You can follow this discussion on Discourse.

I am not sure this is at all relevant to Edgeryders as a topic for LOTE5,although it does go down to its birth roots in respect to Social Cohesion. So maybe yes? We could have a track for networked communities. In what sense they live together. What do you think?

The reason for this evolution is that one of our main findings throughout the unMonastery experiment was that the ‘working together’ part of the original idea is much much easier to do than the ‘living together’ part. Especially, re-defining monastic principles as guiding rules for a communal life in the 21st century is not trivial by any means. In order to refine and speed up our work, we’re about to launch the unMonastery Testlab Model, as a means of opening out, testing and developing the model further in the run up to the event; small unMonastery communities living according to a set of clearly defined rules that are based on the monastic model. Holding unSummit under the theme of living together will allow these to compare notes and develop solutions to shared problems.

Anyway, let me know what you think in view of these changes,


Fair enough

Hello @katalin – actually, there has been a kind of follow-up on June 11th, called “Towards LOTE5: two great proposals and a problem. How do we move forward?”. I posted that because I was worried time might be running out. It prompted some debate (mostly incorporating the point of view of some of the newcomers into ER), but neither of the two proponents (yourself and @ireinga) jumped in. Because of the problem described in the post, we did not feel safe to drive this forward as we did last year.

I am happy to report that that problem is mostly solved now – we should have fairly complete information on our finances next week. I cannot speak for ER LBG, but I would personally propose a brainstorming session with the proponents to figure out where to go next; my hunch (again: my own opinion! I did not discuss it with anyone else!) is that we are not in a position to set up a LOTE5 in less than four months, and we will have to reschedule to early 2016. Time is just too short, and we are all exhausted after a very intense first half of 2015.