Hi! My name is Nadia EL-Imam. I am 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.
Matt 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 Rejkjavik. 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, los indignados, the arab spring, occupy +++
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.
As I write this countless people are losing their jobs and businesses. 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 being, 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.
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.
Right now we have a unique opportunity to better equip people to tackle the current and future crises.
We want to:
Quickly upskill a critical mass of people to discover and adopt the way we work to build productive communities.
More allies, like yourself, who can kick open a few doors and help us grow our network of partners including larger organisations, funders, public authorities etc.
The individuals at the heart of Edgeryders have spent significant parts of our lives navigating the kind of chaos others are now struggling with. We think we can help many people to navigate current and future storms.
We know what needs to be done and how to do it.
With your involvement we will make it happen faster and better.