unMonastery Sessions at LOTE4?

I’ve been racking my brain for the past few weeks about what sessions would make sense for unMonastery at this years’ LOTE4, given the subject, given where unMonastery is currently at - given that it’s taking place in the location of the first unMonastery and coming in it’s wake. It’s difficult to know what’s appropriate, what’s essential, what can take us forward to the next step!

But as Alberto has prompted, there is obviously a desperate need for reflection and action - so I wanted to get a post going to discuss this. Certainly we will live the unMonastery, be it lite or not, @Bembo_Davies and @katalin have stepped up to lead on this - with details to follow.

I’ve shared below some initial ideas for sessions - please suggest others and tweak these but lets aim to solidify at least 3 sessions by Friday, latest.

Going Global: 

In January 2015, we will host the first of a series of events; large scale unMonastery Summits, designed to grow and build on what we have learnt - in each instance we will live variations of the unMonastery life, quick sprints on rules from the rule, summits will act as labs for revised iterations on the protocol.

But going global isn’t easy, when we started unMonastery the sense was that property and land was beyond our reach, having now completed the first iteration of the never ending prototype - we find ourselves with a glut of offers and possibilities - from existing monasteries, to Greek land, buildings and small settlements in Spain. The issue of expansion is no longer a material one but a capacity one, who will lead future unMonasteries? Where will they draw their brethren? What are the unseen stumbling blocks of growth?

This and many questions pervade the future development of the model. We say 200 years but do we know what the first 5 looks like? Should we rush to start more? Is the unMonastery a slow growth model? Should we limit the total number to roll out? What are the permission mechanisms needed to help others initiate? Is there any element of the model that’s centralised?

The questions role on and there are many we must face if we are to commit to the claims we’ve made.

The Materan School of the unMonastery:

Prior to our departure from Matera, we declared in earnest that the city be our natural birth place, that any continuation of the unMonastery be unthinkable without the location being the bedrock of our 200 year march - but how can we return? And what in our absence have we neglected?

LOTE4 presents a unique opportunity to interrogate and evaluate what we did in Matera, how we might do better - but most importantly it puts everyone in the room who is capable of bringing the unMonastery back to the city, and assessing if the deep desire to do so is enough to ensure it becomes reality.

unMonastery in-a-box, does it work?:

From the start we stood in the shadow of giants, firstly the monastic path we drew on, secondly the hacker spaces we’d learnt from. Replication was always the goal and we presumed the tool kit could be conceived of replica tools from that which we knew; the book of mistakes, the draft protocol, a wiki full of learnings and pattern languages, a card deck to hold bind it together and a talking piece to ensure all voices might be heard.

But what state is this in? Where did we get to and is what we have even legible?  This session would focus on interrogating our work, bringing in outside but invested voices to perform an autopsy on our work and feed back to us the results of their post-mortem examination.


It goes without saying that there will be a series of public sessions detailed on the LOTE4 program, but like the life of unMonastery, much of our work will be processed over the dinner table and in clandestine night time gatherings in the caves of Matera. But no one should forget that LOTE presents us with a special opportunity to progress our work in the presence of others, an opportunity that cannot be missed.


Stewardship on the Ground - the unMonastery as Case Study

Ben, Katalin and I are on this.  Once again I have had my standard operational snag in the ER platform and a beautifully drafted program proposal has gone AWOL.  i’ll try to replicate it tomorrow.

The Book of Mistakes gets richer every day.  We will set a deadline for the 2nd of October from contributions to reach the edition we’d like to present at the LOTE.  We shall get together for an editorial marathon and incorporate most everything we’ve gotten by then.

Yes, we need to talk.  So that I can present my wonderful surprise, and we can plot the implications upon the LOTE…

Space is easy…

I have been saying this for a long time: space was never the scarce resource. Just doing a bit of math will show there are way more available spaces than groups that can run them. Yes, the limiting factor is capacity; in this sense, the Matera 2013-2014 prototype was an excellent move, because it (a) increased capacity and (b) gave people a much better sense of how limiting this factor is!

From where I stand, one sees a centrifugal tendency: people going off, doing some stuff and calling it unMonastery. This may be good or bad, but no one can stop it. I see a risk of decoherence; people go off in different directions, and each of the splinters does not have the minimum diversity needed to pull it off. So, the wave of possibilities we glimpse now collapses into small communes or squats.

What I have been calling unMonastery summit (I did not know you where thinking of doing something else called that) is simply a chance for people to share what they are trying to do and compare notes; and perhaps to devise a “network strategy” that helps unBrethren out there to stay within line of sight of each other, and mitigate that risk.

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In the time since we had that first conversation about the UnMonastery in Strasbourg; I’ve been encountering increasingly enthusiastic conversations about co-living, community organised and residential models for social change.

I’m not totally up to speed with what’s been produced as a result of the entire UnMonastery experience, however I would love to see sessions which address how it compares to initiatives which ‘look’ similar around the world and importantly what’s next. (That last one, even being as free-flowing and open as the very first conversation perhaps?)

Proposal for sessions

@Ben @Alberto is it too late to submit sessions? I saw somewhere that everything is being finalised for the 13th. Myself and Maurice Carlin have worked up proposal for two sessions. Would be great if you could look over them or let me know if it’s too late.

#temporarycustodians: sharing assets

In what has been termed the ‘share economy’, the ideal of ‘common ownership’ has been perverted by capital to create value through the self-exploitation of the readily sharing prosumer. In this context audiences are always a ‘steward’ of asset value. This R&D project considers how an art institution and collection can be held as a shared asset.

Independent curator Helen Kaplinsky and artist and director of Islington Mill Maurice Carlin will share their research so far into models for ownership and funding from various industries. Key questions will be thrown out for discussion including:

1)The collection is an asset that has been standardised and is longer reflective of our current economy. What are the new models out there?

2)How might the term #temporarycustodianship be interpreted through institutions and collections?

3)In light of the apparent revolution towards a ‘collaborative commons’ economy in which we are each a cottage industry, owning a share in our energy consumption and production, how do we share whilst avoiding self-exploitation?

Islington Mill: case study for a community of stewards

Independent curator Helen Kaplinsky and artist and director of Islington Mill Maurice Carlin invite a discussion concerning buildings and community assets arising from their experience working with arts organisation Islington Mill (North-west England).  The project has been defined by an approach of “open space architecture” in which the community defines activity within the building. In parallel with the #temporarycustodianship, the Islington Mill community are already shared custodians (or stewards) of the building. However, it is currently owned out-right by one individual and they are seeking to transfer the asset of the building over to a shared ownership model which is as yet undefined. As part of this they are researching models that will enable power to be spread across institutions, one example being liquid democracy (utilised by the Pirate Party who run their UK HQ from Islington Mill).

The following questions will be addressed:

1)What does a steward/ custodian look like?

2)What are the organisational blue prints for retaining a power share across a community of custodians/ stewards?

3)How might the question of the building as an asset be considered within the wider ecology of sharing of assets?