Uniforms are pervasive in societies and have been for a long time. They serve several purposes:
- internal communication: they signal how colleagues (in this case, brethren unMonasterians) should interact with you. Example: a signal that you are off duty, particularly important in a live-in, work-in context.
- external communication: they signal how people in the local community should interact with you (actually, with the unMonastery itself, and by implication with you)
- meet functional requirements: they help you be comfortable and safe in certain contexts, like a soldier's boots.
In Matera, an important function of the unMonasterians uniform might be to signal very clearly to the local community “It’s ok to interact with me”. People need to look:
- different from non-Monasterians (looking foreign does not work, because there might be unMonasterians from Matera, and some people look and are foreign even though they are just off the tourist bus. )
- not scary: different but in a reassuring kind of way
Great idea from [zoescope]: carry live wi-fi hotspots, to give out free connectivity to whoever is standing close. This is a lovely attitude, and it does provide an incentive for people to stand close to unMonasterians.
From a technical point of view, making garments can be really easy. You can make hats with a simple 24x38 rectangle of cloth, capes are also very simple. Literally everyone can make one in a couple of hours after a 30 mins training with a sewing machine. Cutting and sewing could be a sort of initiating ceremony for the first time an unMonasterian joins.
In the end, people thought that the uniform as a concept is still a good idea for the unMonastery. This does not mean that everybody must look the same: by using the same basic template and palette of textiles, you can make people look all look like they are coming from the same space even though they all look different. This showed even at the level of making a very simple hat each from rectangular pieces of cloth. Everybody just coveted [zoescope]'s tool belt, which is functional, a conveyor of meaning (“I am a maker with textiles”) and looks really cool.
[la_gaia] suggested an accessory: maybe a messenger bag/backpack. Backpacks and bags have the advantage that they can incorporate solar panels, that are visually characteristic and send the right kind of signal. It might be worth it to talk with the wearable electronics scene.
We ended this session by making simple hats with sewing machines. Thanks to Officine Frida for hosting the workshop!