unMonastery - open Budget

Fellow Edgeryders,

A couple of weeks before the launch of the first unMonastery, different posts have popped up expressing proposals and concerns related to the management of the project: before answering them directly, I would like to try and integrate some of the remarks in the process of making the budget for the Che Fare application which was submitted on the 9th of December.

What is at stake is 100.000€ for the unMonastery in Matera.

* * * * * *


  • Here you will find the general information on the Che Fare contest
  • Here you will find the application we submitted (in Italian): the last part is on the unMonastery's business model
  • Here is the list of the next steps
  • Here is the proposal to the Social Media Team - crucial in this last part of the evaluation process
  • Here you will find the budget for the unMonastery in Matera


On the 14th of January we will know if we are shortlisted or not. If so, we have to keep momentum for 2 months and gather as many votes as possible. The 8 projects which recieve the most votes will then be evaluated by the jury: only one of them will win the prize.

As it was suggested, making the budget before hand will lower the probabilities of messing up with expectations and controversies: some of us have been expressing concerns on budget management and transparency. This is the time to step up and concretely take the opportunity to build the budget collaboratively in case we win.

What is worth spending the money on?

Which activities are worth paying for in order to reach the sustainability based on gifts, barter and in-kind donations? 

Which figures are worth enrolling in order to strengthen the project and smoothen out the risky parts (local community engagement, external buddy support, ecc)?

How can we be innovative in making the budget itself? It’s not only about making it collaboratively and finding money management tools  based on openness.

Personal considerations:

  • the unMonastery budget could integrate different values in the calculation: for example, it's not only about €, but also about kilos, Kcal, KW, volts, ecc. It would be interesting if the first unMnastarians keep track of their consumptions so we can use this as a basis to build a budget per month. 
  • the seed money could be used profitably if invested in materials and activities which contribute to the sustainability of the unMonastery: should we consider a couple of residencies less in order to buy materials useful for building the orchard or the community wifi? Or is it more important to involve "external buddies" which regularly (once per month) come from abroad to help build the process? Or is it more about software development?  
  • should the budget for the residencies have a falling curve, since with time unMonastarians would build their own resources for sustainability so cut down the costs? 



This is really strange!

I just wrote the post on open budget, but it came out as Arthur’s work. I really don’t know how that happened - nor do I know how to correct it. So to be clear, all that was written above is signed Ilaria :slight_smile:

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This is really strange!

I just wrote the post on open budget, but it came out as Arthur’s work. I really don’t know how that happened - nor do I know how to correct it. So to be clear, all that was written above is signed Ilaria :slight_smile:


Fixed the authorship issue, now it’s you :slight_smile:

Hey, this is looking really good, I will take the time later today to read through properly and share thoughts but at a glance; it might be an idea to attribute 3,000 to website production and maintanience, although many people have the ability to do this, it would make lives easier if someone were paid to make it happen. Currently I have to carve out time from other things to get it done and rarely is it a priority (although perhaps it should be), if we could incentivise this and compensate the work for someone it would be good.

Another element which I’d like to make a seperate post on soon (in order to gather ideas), is unMonastery standard practices and projects. I think there are a number of low cost but effective things unMonasteries should always do. Such as open street mapping an area and setting weekly OSM challeges for the unMonasterians, another could be trouble shooting workshops hosted every week for local projects. I believe there should be staples, that the unMonastery can say it will always deliver but don’t demand high operational cost/energy but make the overall project more desirable and legible to host cities/towns - with all the individuals projects coming on top to meet specific location based needs. So considering budgets for such tasks/equipment could be a good idea.

One comment to make about the above budget from the experience I’m currently having - we gave people the option to apply for between 1-4 months, meaning that we ended up with more than 10 individual travel costs to pay, since some people will be only one month. So it’s probably worth considering adding additional contingency into this area of the budget.

More thoughts when I’ve read more! Great work Ilaria :slight_smile:

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Buying fish vs. taking fishing classes

I assume the budget was OKed by [AD_admin] representing Edgeryders LBG, so I am going to write here as a member of the community. First of all, thanks @ilariadauria for taking the time to share the budget. The transparent attitude is great.

That said, I think the budget could be improved – also in the sense of making it more consistent with the CheFare project, at least the parts that I myself helped write. The idea is that we already have some residencies, and the CheFare grant might be dedicated to (1) making the unMonastery sustainable and (2) making the unMonastery scale. I don’t think I have to argue that what [immaginoteca] calls “the lack of a clear economic model” is possibly the biggest question mark hanging over the whole operation. Achieving sustainability in Matera might involve activities to group under headings like:

  • increasing the unMonastery self-sufficiency (starting a serious garden to grow food, investing in insulation and solar to reduce energy consumption and generate some of it outside the grid etc.)
  • developing some of the "first batch activities" into prototypes for marketable goods and services. For example, [Marc]'s solar tracker could potentially become a sellable kit (product) or a small company that installs solar trackers for clients (service). Doing this requires some benchmarking, tests, coaching etc. This could be done in collaboration with Sviluppo Basilicata and its incubator next door.
  • developing the unMonastery's fundraising muscle for the activities that are to stay nonmarket. This is closest to the "lay mendicant order" originally dreamed up, and would involve recruiting someone to do the fundraising.

As for scaling, that means essentially telling the tale – having Ben and others wander Europe spreading the unword, looking for possible partners in starting other unMonasteries, building up a reservoir of candidate unMonasterians etc.

At the moment, essentially all the money is spent on more residencies. I understand the logic, but there is a serious risk that, after 12 months, people will complain that “hey, one year is not enough to get this thing off the ground!” and then you are back into a narrative of dependency. To use a metaphor popular with development economists, you have used your money to buy fish rather than to take fishing classes. I would recommend at least half of the budget be spent on measures to accelerate the unMonastery into something that can find its own resources for the residencies!

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Spreading the unWord and legalites

Posting quickly because [Alberto]'s post sparked a few thoughts, that I might otherwise forget. 


“As for scaling, that means essentially telling the tale – having Ben and others wander Europe spreading the unword, looking for possible partners in starting other unMonasteries, building up a reservoir of candidate unMonasterians etc.”

I recently applied personally to a funding scheme aimed at supporting individual research - part of my application was focused specifically on this idea of travel relating to unMonastery and so I included in my budget a 1 month global interrail pass and lightweight easy to use AV equipment. Good news is that I got the grant! Obviously funds aren’t necessarily needed for this kind of work, since it’s easy to rideshare and hitchhike but I think it’s a very legitimate element to a budget and fits well with the idea of the unMonastery and pilgrimages.

Second thought, “increasing the unMonastery self-sufficiency” - for me, the principle goal of the unMonastery is to show how it can work in real terms, although economic terms are relevant to this, for me the basic argument throughout Europe is about the existing (but erroding) public ownership of land and buildings that can be put to better use. The economics should be argued based on the evaluation of social/community assets that the project is able to increase or create. This is though an alien concept to many and as a result we trade space almost exclusively for money given. Creating resilient food and energy sources is obviously key to this but equally so are the legal documents need to do it quickly…

Increasing the self-sufficiency for me is as much about removing the friction between groups that want to realise a project such as the unMonastery and the boxes that need to be ticked by the local institutions/governmental bodies. In Europe there already exists a very prevalent form of private enterprise which the unMonastery seeks to out manevour in social terms - these enterprises are known as ‘guardianship’ companies, such as Camelot. The most effective man-in-the-middle attack I have ever seen in property relations. Guadianship companies use a special kind of contract that allows them to employ individuals to look after publically owned buildings they have been hired to managed. The odd thing about this is that both the local authority and the employee (actually a tenant) both pay Camelot for this service - for an asset they don’t own.

If they can do this, why can’t we? I’d like to propose as part of this self sufficiency drive and budgetary terms, we invest energy and R&D into producing a decentralised version of this contract, with a membership organisation that acts as the insurer.

This might be too larger proposition but I did at least want to park the idea somewhere.


I’d like to propose as part

I’d like to propose as part of this self sufficiency drive and budgetary terms, we invest energy and R&D into producing a decentralised version of this contract, 

Great idea. I really think that documenting and open-sourcing the model is the key good that the un-Monastery can do. A

with a membership organisation that acts as the insurer.

And open-source instructions how someone else would go about starting such an insurance organisation itself. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

This is a real issue

Something like the Sustainable Econmies Law Center? SELC

I would recommend at least

I would recommend at least half of the budget be spent on measures to accelerate the unMonastery into something that can find its own resources for the residencies! 

That makes lots of sense. But shouldn’t many of the residencies be also directed towards that goal as well?

Thank you!

Thank you for your insights: this is really useful.

  • What I don't know is if the unMonastery in Matera is going to last longer than the 4 months, or not. This would be useful to know since this could mean that investing in an orchard could also come through a residency of an unMonastarian, and the budget allocated for unMonastarians projects would be used for that. It's different if we have to start from scratch all over again in 4 months. 
  • In my view, coordination of the unMonastery at local level implies acting as a connecting link with regional development agency (Sviluppo Basilicata) and regional innovation agency (Basilicata Innovazione) as well as finding partnerships which ould then help to root the unMonastery in Matera/Basilicata. 
  • For spreading the unWord: this could be the object of a specific call, once the prototype is about to end. Something like presenting an action plan for each country, sending out the call and then paying the ride (Interrail, in europe) for each unWord spreader for each European country. 

Thing is, tomorrow we are going to get the answer if we’re in or not: then it’s about keeping the momentum in a very creative ways for 2 months.

Are we ready to go for it? :slight_smile:

What’s the deal with the building?

How long does unMon have the building for? 4 months? What happens after that? Who is supposed to know this? I think it’s crazy to make a transparent budget for stuff that might include improving the building, when you don’t know how long you’re going to be there.

The city’s

The building belongs to the city of Matera. Given that the money to renovate it also comes from the city of Matera, renovating is not to crazy at all! Actually, one hope they have is that we will find ways for the unMonastery in Matera to stay up, and thereby take good care of a public building that the city does not have the warm bodies to man. Unmanned, it will fall to squatting and vandalizing… again.

You didn’t answer the question.

For how long has the building been promised to unMon people?

What happens to the building when this time expires?

Isn’t Ilaria talking about the money that might come from winning the Che Fare grant? Which would be awarded to unMonastery, so it would be crazy to spend that money on a building that was only available to unMonastery for 4 months, no?


4 months are funded. If we could fund it ourselves, the incentives are aligned so that the city would find it beneficial to let us use the building longer. Then, if the unMonastery proves itself useful, it will become more difficult to kill it. 

That said, you are right. The building was renovated with other funds, so it will likely not need any more renovation in 2014.

More questions…

Is there anything to stop the city from selling the building? Is there anything to stop them from renting it out to businesses? How much money would the unMonastery need per month to keep it open?

Not a problem in the short term

Lots of political issues in getting rid of the building. It has been sitting unused for three years at least. Of course, there is no guarantee for the long run… but if you have a solid institution, you can always move to another building.

Money and bricks

I agree with your concerns on the building, however I believe that the brainstorming on the budget has to go way beyond. Personally, I wouldn’t spend one cent on the building - not this one or any other. If we actually get some money, whatever the amount, it should be spent on software, not on hardware (directly).

to answer your questions (from what I know): the city cannot sell the building. The Sassi are a quite complex issue, but in any case to make it simmple they have subletted it for a functionality: artistic residencies (not only in the framework of Matera 2019). The whole complex is for that: next door should be the Design School, and next door to us should be more rooms for artistic residencies.

In any case, I would think about budget issues in a more general way: how much does 1 unMonasterian cost per year, not only in €, but in liters of water, electricity, internet (not bills, but kilowatt ecc). and what is needed to make him sustainable (dunno how many squared meters of land per person are needed for autonomous food supply). I would spend the money on initial material to kick this off.

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