Many if not most of the people who will be participating in the event are new to one another. In order to have a fruitful discussion it would be good to know who will be in the “room” and maybe chat with one another a bit beforehand - so the event moderators can better adapt the contents to the individuals who will be participating.
So this is me . I’m an engineer and designer. I am also one of the founders of Edgeryders and do a lot of the creative direction for our work.
That photo of my sister and I was taken in 1990 in front of our home in Kuwait City.
A few weeks later we would be in a car racing through a desert as the world burned.
In different world, Alberto’s band, Modena City Ramblers, was working its way into rock history in his native Italy.
@Matthias was probably picking apart some machine or the other in his parents’ half built house out in a German village. @Hugi, was playing with other toddlers in Reykjavik. @Noemi was growing up in a country now on the path away from communism. John was building the world’s first online community, the Well.
Soon after I dragged Alberto to a hacker unconference, we started working on a research project at the council of Europe where we met Noemi. The three of us were tasked with figuring out how governments could support youth coping with mass unemployment and widespread precarity. This was 2011 - the year of the anti acta protests, occupy, los indignados, arab spring +++.
On an open online platform we built, hundreds of individuals shared experiences from trying to build lives in the aftermath of the worst financial meltdown in our lifetime. We needed a way to process all this information. So we developed a methodology and some software to help us see what all of these conversations were telling us.
A pattern emerged from these conversations. What was needed to cope with chaotic environments was not to attain a specific status on the labour market. It was infrastructure on which we could build good lives while doing work that is meaningful to us. Living, emergent infrastructure that weaves together the relational, physical and organisational.
It needed to be resilient to the shocks that would soon be upon us due to climate crisis, ecosystems collapse and a financial system gone rogue. So we prototyped what such an infrastructure could look like.
We documented the experience extensively. What we learned is that the best plan for us is no plan. Rather our approach would be to weave together and grow a large and diverse enough collective of talented people. With whom to build and adapt what we need along the way.
The original software for sensemaking is now part of a stack of digital tools for distributed co-creation, our own messaging apps, virtual coworking rooms etc. And people are using the infrastructure, tools and practices to build new projects and businesses.
Seen from here, the situation right now is not unlike it was during that fateful year when the world broke (open) for me. This state of immobility in which we find ourselves makes it even clearer: we are one another’s best resource in this no man’s land between what is no more and what is not yet.
As I write this countless people are losing their jobs and businesses. Of course there is the shared baseline challenge of navigating a tough economic situation. And as a brown person in the west, the sense of precarity is even higher as ethno-nationalists and fascists question your value as a human, in some cases questioning you very right to exist. It’s ripping open a lot of anxieties. I left my own country after being chased down a metro by angry men in brown clothes and receive anonymous racist death threats from randos, affecting my ability to feel at ease in social settings. I have found my own coping mechanisms, building edgeryders has been a key source of support. What I hope to come out of the event is some insights into what others are doing and if there might be space for meaningful new collaborations moving forward.
For me there is an additional dimension to this. Watching the news right now as an ethnic minority with roots in two countries currently experiencing extreme geopolitical turmoil is bringing up a lot of additional concerns.
My own intuition is that people like us who run productive physical and online spaces could help many more people to navigate this and future storms. How can infrastructures that different parts of the coworking/ remote working ecosystem provide support for groups that are especially at risk right now?
One of the ways in which i have been keeping myself sane is to focus on the future of distributed work. John O’Duinn and I had a long chat about this, he’s been doing a lot of work on the topic for quite some time. More specifically - upskilling critical mass of people to discover and adopt the way we work to build productive communities. One of those initiatives is a MOOC (it’s not launched yet, we are finalising the touches on the communication materials, but you can see it in progress here.
I am curious, about your own experiences/ observations about the situation right now and what questions it is bringing up for you?
Do consider introducing yourself in a comment!
Looking forward to read you