Nearing the Edge

Nearing the Edge

"I woke up in a good mood

Vinay • 26 mins

I could say the same, but would be stretching it:

I’ve been contemplating the ER:  when I signed on we were much more so.

Collapsenomics, State in a Box, unCivilization, The Age of Crisis were our themes. It is not inconceivable that you remember some of these ?

21 mins

Is it just that the economy didn’t get worse fast enough and we went back to growth?Vinay • 20 mins

I disdainfully call it ‘ The Edge Goes Mainstream’.

I’ll write up my bit - then throw it your direction.  Raise the flag w Mattias’ help to contact all previous previous - and see if we can generate some grassroots swell. 

In the meantime, I offer the always nourishing Nazim Hikmet:

On Living


Living is no laughing matter:

you must live with great seriousness

like a squirrel, for example–

I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,

Living must be your whole occupation.

Living is no laughing matter:

you must take it seriously,

so much so and to such a degree

that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,

your back to the wall,

or else in a laboratory

in your white coat and safety goggles,

you are willing to  die for people–

even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,

even though you know living

is the most real, the most beautiful thing.

I mean, you must take living so seriously

that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees–

and not for your children, either,

but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,

because living, I mean, weighs heavier.


Let’s say you’re seriously ill, need surgery–

which is to say we might not get up from the white table.

Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad

about going a little too soon,

we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,

we’ll look out the window to see if it’s raining,

or still wait anxiously

for the latest newscast …

Let’s say we’re at the front–

for something worth fighting for, say.

There, in the first offensive, on that very day,

we might fall on our face, dead.

We’ll know this with a curious anger,

but we’ll still worry ourselves to death

about the outcome of the war, even though it could last for years.

Let’s say we’re in prison

and close to fifty,

and we have eighteen more years, say, 

before the iron doors will open.

We’ll still live with the outside,

with its people and animals, struggle and wind–

I mean with the outside beyond the walls.

I mean, however and wherever we are,

we must live as if we will never die.


This earth will grow cold one day,

a star among stars

and one of the smallest,

a gilded mote on blue velvet–

I mean this, our great Earth.

This earth will grow cold one day,

not like a block of ice

or a dead cloud even

but like an empty walnut it will roll along

in pitch-black space …

You must grieve for this right now

–you have to feel this sorrow now–

for the world must be loved this much

if you’re going to say “I lived” …

What’s My Edge?

When I came to Edgeryders in 2011 or was it 2012, the world, our world was reeling from the latest global economic fiasco,  the streets would be soon occupied by the indignant.  We were gathering under the inexplicably benign gaze of the Council of Europe to explore the tools of something so intensely profound as ‘Social Cohesion’.   The surroundings were a bit standard, but the community had possibilities:  fresh, flexible, visionary.    These were folk that knew their stuff and were literate and realistic about the global dilemma.  ( Of course, many seemingly suffered from being overly-literate, but  that’s something else, and experience shows that this can be bashed out of people.)

The themes of the first unConf became the reasons why I am in the unMon.  We talked of a Treasury of Wisdom, Rebooting Democracy, Resiliency Hubs, Transparent Budgeting, Creative Extinction, a Society of Inclusive Civil Survivalists.  Among our slogans were indeed Collapsenomics, State in a Box, unCivilization, The Age of Crisis.  It seemed to me that someone was finally addressing the Dark Arts of confronting the ghosts that haunt us.  My designated territory was clear:  I would continue to Extract Enthusiasm through the miracle of Human Rites.

Since then the metabookkeepers wiggled forth a further extension in their postponement of the financial collapse.  The occupanti got their inevitable head bashing; los indignados refined their strategies or went home to Mamma.  Several creative wars decimated traditional buffer states.  Bolivia continues to get its act together; Turkey doesn’t.  It feels as if it is business as usual – only much more severe for a significant percentage of the world’s population.  Meanwhile, personal survival reared its familiar head.   The Edgeryders became less about the greater we, and more about economic strategies for a generation of upstarts trying to make their way as  Social Capitalists.

I miss the open horizon.

This is not a case of “Edgier than Thou” - these things have to be cyclical.  Everyone brings their own individual amount of angst and imperatives. Should we wish to avoid despair and paralysis we have to incorporate individual survival strategies and denial mechanisms.  However, neither Edgeryders nor its unHoly unRepresentative on Earth is an entertaining role play.  Hikmet says it all, it must be taken with great seriousness.  Vinay’s take on WW III is apt enough:  having been cuddled by favourable citizenship and a well-fed past cannot be allowed inform our choices.  Our mission is to locate the edge and to ryde it at its most dangerous.

This radical portrait of the core operation may not be a universally shared view of the impulse behind the unMonastery movement.  People were recruited from various channels; is there anything else that would better illuminate our operation ?

Writing a list of what the unMonastery isn’t could be equally misleading as any of the flowery descriptions of its promise.  Let it suffice to paraphrase an old quote:  ‘not another little residency for urban refugees nursing their gluten intolerance’.   To couch it in positives, we were a workshop that confronts the self through relevant service.  I would underline the word relevant.  If we learned anything in Matera it was that it is only by strategically negotiating this relevance within the human environment that surrounds us that we can obtain anything nearing social sustainability.  Our service must be tangible, our self-sacrifice evident to all.  The ryde is serious.

Team building is essential.  Before we do almost anything else, this requires meticulous meetings that produce profound, visceral agreement.   Beyond coordination of the physical plant, we must address strategy and objectives in a manner that cements the group rather than one which feels like a compromised maze of intellectual fence building.  For many raised in a competitive school system this takes comprehensive re-education.  Listening and comprehending are not necessarily innate skills of the modern, impatient human.

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The sky was the color of a dead TV channel

This is really interesting, thanks for writing it.

@hexayurt did, indeed, change his mind somewhat. He now thinks that we are entering in a more optimistic age, basically because fracking helped hold business as usual together as solar gets cheaper. I am not sure about others. Not that it changes much: even if civilization is not about to implode, we still have plenty of big, scary problems to fix. And even if it is, our reach is still very, very limited. Sometimes, in the darkest moments, one thinks it gets about as far as talking about it at conferences and various events.

Grassroots swell is, I think, achievable. Many people yearn for story and adventure and the good fight. But once they are mobilized, then what? Many grow impatient with inaction and impotence. If you sound the call, and the people come, you’d better have something meaningful for them to do!

So, we try to find channels that smell right. Epic, but small and achievable. For example, I am really digging this episode; in which our heroes @mstn and @elf_Pavlik, building on data generated at the unMonastery plus others obtained by @piersoft manage to build an app mapping the position of Matera buses in real time. They participate in the City of Matera open data contest and win two out of the four prizes: they refuse to touch the cash prizes, and instead ask the city to use it to organize a development sprint to extend the work onto more cities in Puglia and Basilicata (the company serving Matera, Miccolis, also serves 15 more cities; part of the software written for Matera can be reused).

I am not sure how mainstream this is – after all, it does involve selfless, moneyless geeks vs. incredibly untransparent public transport companies. But even assuming it can be called completely mainstream, hey – it is something that was done. Some thing was not there, then somebody went out and built it, and now it is. This is, I find, inspiring and hopeful. Mobilizations without outcomes that the mobilized can be proud of is at risk of slowly poisoning the idea of mobilization itself: it happened already out there in the realm of old-style political and union struggles.

Enjoying & Intimidated

I’ve really enjoyed reading all of this thread. @vinay’s cryptic comments. @bembo’s great writing, excellent poem choice, good observations that resonate. @alberto’s comments that seem exactly on point too.

All to say, this group has thinking and observations that resonate with me and with how I too feel the world. But I’m not feeling productively inspired to write such good deep stuff as you all. So, here is a simple appreciative thanks.



We love you too, Robin


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