unMonastery Matera v2 - a proposal for Matera


unMonastery Matera revisited

unMonastery was brought to Matera as part of the bid for the CCoC candidacy to experiment with ways to connect the city to the outside world without suppressing the importance of the local. In view of the successful bid, and the planned Open Design School, unMonastery can be viewed as a proto-design-school, aka the Open Future Experimental School. It will continue to bring new, experimental initiatives in technology, science, and culture to Matera, as a peer-to-peer mentoring, teaching and learning hub, while assisting the city in delivering all the various projects in the bid book, and developing the unMonastery Bios, the toolkit for future unMonasteries.


There are 4 distinct but not mutually exclusive goals which emerged from the the prorotype and our conversations around the proposal:

  1. bring clear, useful, concrete technology-based projects similar to CoderDojo and Kiderwind
  2. strong grassroot connection with the community of Matera, independent of the activities of the comitato and the bid
  3. assisting the candidacy by working with local cultural actors to deliver parts of the bid inspired by unMonastery projects
  4. refine the unMonastery model (unMonastery Bios)
  5. not as much a goal but a proposition is to continue the life of unMonastery Matera as La Scuola and therefore the flagship of the unMonastery as a movement

All of the above can be viewed as different aspects of Open Future Experimental School (OFES): technological; social; cultural; and the unMonastery, which in itself is an experimental social innovation project connecting technology to rethinking the basics of living and working.

Open Future Experimental School

New project ideas:

Department of Invitations: organising dinners between immigrants and natives (in this case greeks). Jeff blogged about it here. It’s going well, they are already on the fourth, and the network of participants is expanding.

Wikipedia Contribution Lab - Edit-A-Thons for women: Out of human contributors to Wikipedia, only  15 % women - Wikipedia set up the Gender Gap Task Force (with funding) to narrow the bias.

  • unMonastery can organise Edit-A-Thons as part of the Scriptorium “practice”
  • multi-lingual entries, assist each other to translate
  • to use as part of translation/language sharing: for instance Matera Wikipedia page in English and Italian are very different, contributing our diverse language skills to situate Matera/Basilicata, its history and culture in global encyclopedic knowledge

Bio Commons, DIY bio lab and workshops - in collaboration with Hackteria; set up and operate diy biolab for food, soil, water analysis; biologically produce our own cleaning products; and other projects. BIOSTRIKE: Specific focus on analysing soil and water samples to detect antibiotics, collect data, spread awareness of multi-resistant bacteria strains as a result of careless antibiotics use in farming; support the Bio Commons project.

Maker Lab: non-digital object making techniques (in collaboration with local artisans)

unMonastery Nursery: open school to teach unMonasterians what they should know but they don’t

RETO: There is a network across Europe called RETO. It’s an NGO that takes  problematic drug users and teaches them to fix things. Anything really, but especially appliances. The idea: To fix these appliances they need spare parts. It’s a pain to get them. We can teach them how to scan and 3d print the parts. These are very creative people, imagine what they might do with this knowledge. Now talking to local FabLab in athens about using their printer and we can do workshops with the “fixers” to teach them these skills! SIDE NOTE: there is a makerspace in Lisbon that is creating an opensource washing machine. Perhaps we can partner them with RETO.

Projects to restart/continue:

  1. Open Tech School - Kei Kreutler
  2. Mapping the Commons - expanding out into other parts of Matera and Basilicata Maria Byck, Katalin Hausel
  3. Walking Ethnographies - Lucia Caistor
  4. Open Culture Festival - Lauren Lapidge
  5. Public social interventions/actions - Maria Byck, Jeffrey Andreoni
  6. Harmonious Hackathons
  7. unGuide - Katalin Hausel, Emmanuele Curti - based on Near Future workshops, in support of Future Digs project
  8. Tweaking Rituals - Bembo Davies


OpenLab Matera (Marc Schneider) - 3D printers, working on accessibility problematics (handicapped persons), DIY projects (Raspberry, Arduino) and trying to widespread the Opensource philosophy


Depending on the prioritising of the goals, there are numerous funding schemes that can be envisioned. If goal (1) is weighed most, there is a clear interest from the Italian government (via the CTAI - Comitato Tecnico Aree Interne) to finance a deployable model for remote area development in the South of Italy. If goal (2) and/or goal (4) weighed most, each unMonastery:Matera v.2 participant needs to bring her/his funding. If goal (3) is weighed most, it is in the hands of the comitato to decide whether to fund another unMonastery.

However, all the above goals carry an important aspect of the unMonastery’s work in Matera, and maybe a hybrid solution is possible. Since the unMonastery functioned mostly as a hub to enable highly skilled individuals to come and work temporarily in Matera, this actually is befitting the complexity of goals and possibilities that emerged as important during the prototype. Having just re-read the document that summarises the plans for cooperation between CTAI and Edgeryders, both the timeframe and the scale point towards a useful, more rounded and sustainable development of an unMonastery model. It seems to me that integrating this plan into the future life of unMon Matera would allow MT2019 to demonstrate how their initiative brings not only money but actual job opportunities to Matera which is something that was articulated as a need from people in Matera. We have long had the idea of developing unMonastery:Matera as a school, a training place for unMonasterians. I don’t know if that kind of negotiation is a possibility, so that is just an option to keep in mind. During LOTE4 Ben proposed the independent funding idea, which is probably doable, and would give us a freedom and also some reputation of bringing extra money to the city. I am sure it would be easier for the comitato to support the unMonastery if we bring our own funding (individual grants).

The problems are, as I see it: (1) Whether it is reasonable to try and build on what we already achieved in Italy, but be bound to a possible “superhero” level of expectations? (2) Whether it is reasonable for us to fundraise and re-enter the complicated territory in Matera, or through securing our own funding, it makes more sense to open an unMonastery someplace else. I seriously doubt our work can make a clean-cut separation from being bound to the MT2019 bid, and the negotiations between CTAI and Edgeryders.

Another point about funding: it is really important to have unMonasterians from Matera/Basilicata in any scenario. Are we expecting them to bring their own funding, if we go the independent way?

In view of the above, I see the following options:

  1.  unMonastery:Matera v2 is built on unMonasterians already committed to the project who will bring their own funding, and new recruits are expected to bring their own funding as well.
  2. unMonastery:Matera v2 is to be inhabited and run by Materani only, and we (unMonastery and Edgeryders network) simply assist the planning and facilitating of projects, and provide the “network” to find suitable skilled people. Finances provided by MT2019.
  3. unMonastery:Matera v2 recruits 6-8 people with technology skills and clear, useful, concrete projects. (Funding is by CTAI.) Acts as hub for CTAI roll-out with several local Matera DOC core team members who tangibly demonstrate the spin-off of the unMon local presence.  unMon Matera (building) is used for networking workshops among participatory communities.
  4. unMonastery:Matera v2 is to have 2-3 people from the original unMonasterians and 3-4 unMonasterians from Matera. Recuitment is based on skills needed in the city, as reported by these. Funding can be any combination of the above, state money, and/or candidacy, and/or individual grants.



Hi Katalin,

congratulations on managing to boil down what are complex threads and conversations into a concrete set of alternatives. I suppose the next step is for someone to step forward and take responsibility for driving one of the options and articulating clear calls to actions for others to help.

In my experience this person or people carry the weight of coordination. I.e breaking down a bigger task into smaller ones and engaging others into taking them on…


This is clearer than ever.  Nadia’s point is decisive – who is on the ground propelling the effort?  We cannot wait until the comitato novo emerges from its slumbers and sends out a last minute call for help sometime midsummer 2018.  With the thinness of our stable it may be that the doable approach is on a project by project basis.  If three of them gain traction, then the broad umbrella becomes self-evident.  We need a strategic time frame to make a renewed splash, and someone on the ground.  You?

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Count CTAI out

A small, but all-important detail: Matera does not qualify as Aree Interne. The definition of AI is algorithmic (at least 35 km from a hospital of class Silver, a high school plex…); according to that algorithm, Matera classifies as an urban area. Additionally, a number of AIs have already been selected as pilots, so that about 25 areas in the country, and only those, will be the target of that action.

That, however, does not mean funding relevant work around developing small cities like Matera is impossible. wink

thank you!

Ah okay. Still collecting information (such as no AI funding in Matera) and writing funding applications, so we will see. Thank you everyone for the input!

Two resources you may find useful

Two resources you may find helpful>

  1. this Funding databases and opportunities wiki


  1. the Projects Recycle Bin where we share past applications to save one another time.

Also it helps community members who are less experienced to learn from others.

Soil Biology

Interested in the soil biology part.  My work with biochar has led to a increasing desire to increase my soil biology knowledge. (I’ve been an organic gardener for years and thought I had a reasonable understanding)  Biochar provides ideal habitat for a lot of extremely useful soil micro biology.

I got very inspired by seeing  Elaine Ingham talk at the Oxford Real Farming Conference where she made a number of extremely radical claims about huge benefits that could be gained by carefully considering the life in the soil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H60ritjag

I’m now exploring soil microbiology with a microscope.  I’m beginning to work on ideas for some experimental projects and also projects to spread the wisdom that comes from a better understanding of soil life.

I’d be interested in collaborating with others on work around these subjects.



@Darren: this is very exciting indeed. We (ER) have a number of conversations with people around the planet around doing “tech-to-the-people” kind of stuff, and that includes (and indeed starts with) agritech. So yes, I think you are smack in the middle of what unMonastery-type projects should be doing.

The bad news is that it takes an awfully long time to convert these conversations into contracts and the resources to get things started. So… hang in there, we are working on it. In Matera, where the unMonastery presence has, I think, some future after the city’s designation as European Capital of Culture 2019; and elsewhere.

A bit of support

Hey Darren, while I still have to watch Elaine’s talk, the new soil biology science has fascinated me ever since I read this article about  John Kempf’s “regenerative agriculture” system. Quote:

“The scorched-earth tactics he’d employed with his pesticides and herbicides, he realized, had worked all too well. The microbial life critical to healthy soils had become collateral damage. Afterwards, in a best-case scenario, Kempf could coax his cantaloupes and other crops to acceptable yields only by practically drowning them in fertilizer. He threw this approach out the window. Instead, by focusing on creating healthy soils, he’d let plants do what plants have evolved to do best when they’re given a fighting chance: grow like crazy.

Sadly I don’t have any time to dive into this latest fascinating topic, so my best bet is using what I do to support your research and developments: if you want to run a Makerfox moneyless crowdfunding campaign one time, I’d assist you in that and promote it to get you at least 2000 USD in barter value as donations over time. You could then exchange this over time for DIY products and services that people offer on the platform – things like web publishing, translations, videomaking, soil sampling etc… Expect this to take some time since we’re just starting, but your project is a great early candidate: fascinating and DIY-able :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your offers of support.  I’m certain to get something moving a bit sometime soon.  Most probably will be looking to soft launch something in time for FarmHackUK (I will certainly be there) http://landworkersalliance.org.uk/farmhack/


DIY bio

Hi @Darren,

soil biology: you may want to check out this website: http://lifepatch.org/ (there is a link on top for English translation) - this is the work of Hackteria, the group we are working with. They run workshops to build diy bio labs capable of analysing soil, water, etc, with the goal of contributing to resilient agricultural communities.

Great people. We are planning an unMonastery start-up bacteria kit (sourdough, kimchi, etc), working on an antibiotics database (which antibiotics can be found in the environment) as well as growing bacterial shampoo for unMonasterians :), and lots more. Their manifesto is also very inspiring (ping @Alberto). I particularly like the idea of building the lab as the projects grow, not to create facilities that nobody uses.

@Alberto, I heard Edgeryders is planning to rent the old unMon building in Matera - do you plan an unMonastery there? As you can see from the proposal, we have lots of ideas, and made some useful connections as well, let me know if we can work together.



We are seriously thinking of renting some sort of Edgeryders space somewhere in 2015 – not necessarily in Matera. Ideally, that could also host an unMonastery; a less ambitious version is to have an unMonastery-ish extra room “no strings attached” for the community. Of course we can work together!

The Matera scheme is dependent on local people wanting to play ball. We instigated ER-Fondazione Cresco meetings in late 2014 (@NicoBis was there – I believe we discussed this with you present), but it does not seem anything came out of it. We can’t even get the data on how much money the blasted thing burns in heating over a year! So that scheme does not look very promising right now. I expect we will be asked to do more as the MT2019 process gets going, but by then ER interest might have evaporated as we take up a space somewhere else.

Apropos space

Just remembered that we agreed on LOTE4 to make a visit to Calafou (those who wanted to go: at least @Natalia_Skoczylas, @JamesL, @Kei, @Alberto, @Nadia, @hexayurt and me). Why this is relevant here: They rent out space for 1 EUR/m² per month to projects that they think are fitting in.

Village Mutinerie too!

and @Thomas_Goorden recommended some other place which I think is in Flanders. A new unPilgrimage?

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Naming it!

Yes, maybe indeed a new unPilgrimage. May I propose to name this edition of the unPilgrimage: Base Studies Adventures smiley It’s looking for an unMon / Edgeryders base location, something to come back to.


PAF - an old convent & cultural performance/residency space

Thomas mentioned this PAF space north of Rheims:

“PAF is not sponsored or subsidised. PAF is paid for through the residency and membership fees of the about 750 residents that pass by in a year.”

They also have a spring meeting this March in a very unusual format: 5 hrs talks with only 3 speakers, academia style. If anyone in our network is going maybe it;s worth exploring.

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Hei Noemi;

I just saw this now while as usual wandering in the ER corridors searching desparately for something else.  I spent two weeks at PAF writing and rehearsing a play (I got the link from a Strasbourg lass who arrived at the last minutes of LOTE#1 and gave me a long guided tour under the 40 bridges.)  PAF was a prestigious girls school run by nuns – and I had often suggested that people drop by to eye its operation.  The massive advantages were individual sleeping rooms for up to twenty people until you had to double up and seemingly unlimited rehearsal space:  actually seven or eight including a chapel if you were rehearsing a flute sonata or the assembly hall if it was a massive dance project.  We worked in the dormitory Ste Therese.

Again , people came with their projects and shared them as desired.  There was at the time no professed element of community service.

Of course I’d like to go. Also, I know the guys who organise IFAC as I lead the workshop there last year and they just moved from Covarrubias in Spain to Bergen in the Netherlands,which is an experimental eco-village to be opened soon. I think that Edgeryders might fit in there - and partly unMon seems like a suitable idea for this location. Want me to get in touch with them about it?

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Im in

Yes. UnPilgrimage. I like it ofcourse :slight_smile:

Here I am

Hi all, I’m sorry if I disappeared but there are some problem that are drying up my attention. I started talking with CRESCO and other cultural realities in Matera and after some initial proposals, followed by the silence, I gave up my energies from this ideas. I tried to do a research on the average cost of a similar place in the town, but the count is more difficult than I thought.

But I’m in love with the project and the idea of @katalin  is so interesting, so I’ll be proud to give an hand and help the process. Saturday I’ll be in Matera, (I’ll so happy to re-hug @elf_Pavlik ) so if I can do something helpful, tell me what. 

I promise to devote more time to the project and to make myself available for everything I can do in Italy, tell me how I can help. I’ll think about it and I’ll propose something if it could be interesting.