unMonastery T-shirts/fleeces/hoodies as a gift to volunteers

There has been a lot of discussion (and even a session at LOTE3 about it), but it looks like the unMonastery is not yet ready to adopt a visual identifier (uniform/sash/whistle/whatever). I thought I would sidestep the issue by getting a local firm in Basilicata, connected with the university, to make about 20 long-sleeved T-shirts or fleeces/hoodies with the unMonastery logo. It’s a gift to the hardest-working volunteers; if people wear it during LOTE4, it will also be a visual cue vaguely pointing to the core community.

I am following a hunch that this would be appreciated by some – I have not spoken about it to other people in Edgeryders LBG, and I am ready to pay for it out of my own pocket. If anybody wants to have a say on colours and styles, give me a shout. I am waiting for some info from the supplier. :slight_smile:

Make them a bright colour for the event team

and black for everyone else. It makes it easy for people to know who to turn to for different thing? They do it like this at #om14 and its very effective.

They also sell the t-shirts (the black ones) for 25 Euros/t-shirt. And it works well.

Not making 50!

I can’t afford to do one for every participant. Just about 20, as a token of gratitude towards the hardest working people. So in a sense those are the event team.

I just caught this Alberto.

The ‘We’ of whoever are the residual unMonasterians (baring yet another inner explosion of democratic free-will of which I have no indication) have embraced an identifying scarf that can be worn as a turban, prayer shawl or cummerbund.   We will be identifiable as part of the core host team.  My impression is also that the idea of an identifying T-shirt with a written message or logo that resembles mainstream corporate branding strategies does not sit well with the Edgeryder grassroot’s ethos.  This expense can be directed to Katalin who I know has a plan for the scarf material.

Did you see my note: pointing out that the idea of parallel sessions in the back house was abandoned last year due to the acoustic powers of the vaulted ceilings to make life miserable for each other.  We moved the other one outdoors, but were blessed by great weather.

Let’s test!

That’s a good idea! However, it has its drawbacks. A garment that has no function (a scarf at a conference?) is going to “harden” the line between core and periphery, whereas the whole Edgeryders architecture – as well as the whole network mathematics – is that there are no hard borders, just gradients and probability distributions. Also, as I said, I am following a hunch, and I am reluctant to spell it out too much before I just do it.

So will do the scientific thing, Bembo: a test. You will test your scarves, I will test my something else, and in the end we will compare notes :slight_smile:

I’ll check out the wholesale prices in London.

When playing with one band, the bass-player used to screenprint all the merch we sold.

I’ll check with the wholesaler we used, and get some quotes for bulk orders.

Transporting it from London to Matera will be another issue. A task for anyone passing through the Smoke.



Not sure t-shirts is the right way to go… AT ALL. Even tho the unMon logo is designed in a brand like way, I find it hard to see that t-shirt ever would fit unMonastery. I feel the whole mystic and the vision about unMonastery would go lost if that is done. unMonastery is not something being put on a t-shirt. It is something being lived. Please don’t print t-shirts with this or this might end up feeling like a EU Youth in Action programme run from the top.

If you need a more brand thinking argument the value given away with the t-shirt to volonteers wouldn’t ever match the drainage of value of the brand itself. It’s basically not worth the deal because it would be a minus deal for unMonastery.

A habit

I am also uncomfortable with the idea of distributing unMonastery habits in the form of free T-shirts/Hoodies/whatever. It is just a very different concept from what we wanted the uniform to do. The idea of the habit is not that it is functional but that it makes you inhabit ways of behaviour and thinking.

//“To inhabit together thus meant for the monks to share, not simply a place or a style of dress, but first of all a habitus. The monk is in this sense a man who lives in the mode of “inhabiting”, according to a rule and a form of life. It is certain, nevertheless, that cenoby represents the attemp to make habit and form of lige coincide in an absolute and total habitus, in which it would not be possibile to distinguish between dress and way of life. The distance that separates the two meanings of the term habitus will never completely disappear, however, and will durably mark the definition of the monastic condition with its ambiguity.”// (The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life - By Giorgio Agamben) ((/t/making-lote3/360/uniforms-habit-and-belonging-workshop-proposal-at-lote-0))

I feel that there is a deeper contradiction, @Alberto. We don’t want to grant people the title unMonasterian by way of free goodies. It cannot be a recruitment tool, because each person joining an unMonastery will be a crucial part of the small community in the house (not one of the nameless members of a 2000+ platform), and the commitment to make it work requires that each person is deeply dedicated to making that particular group function well and to the work to the host community (or leave). It is a real responsibility. It has to be a considered decision. The uniform is to signal that kind of commitment, both to each other and to the host city. It cannot be a marketing tool.

Maybe a compromise is possible? Edgeryders print and distribute ER upperwear; unMonasterians wear the fabric we were talking about, and see if it indeed can serve as our habit.

Agree with above

Also one thought - with everyone’s self-selected degree of participation shaping the event, identifying “volunteers” somehow doesn’t seem fitting to me. I don’t think there will be a shortage of intrinsic tokens of appreciation or belonging.

The risk is also that unMon would be seen as a startup and think we should think closely on who we give away things to. Somehow they will represent the project. Also might end up here: http://dudesinstartupshirts.tumblr.com/

Guys, what about open source?

In love, and with all due respect, I am a bit uncomfortable with the “no t-shirt” position. Because:

  1. The unMonastery logo, as everything on http://unmonastery.org, is licensed as CC0 (compare the footer). That means public domain, folks: you could print the same website on paper and sell the paper, and it would be legal. The idea and power of open is that people take your idea, they do things with it. They experiment with it; each success adds value to your idea for everyone to use, each failure they, not you, pay the price of. It is counterproductive to be protective of open content. If you want to be protective of content, the way to go is create an artificial scarcity with full copyright, and send the lawyers to anybody who touches it. Now, that's the corporate thing to do.
  2. We have been having this conversation before: I, for one, refuse to acknowledge that the people who entered the unMonastery prototype in Matera are the unMonastery. What happened there was the product of the work of a lot of people,  not least myself. I appreciate discussion, but I need a stronger base to accept vetoes. This is true in general: Ola is without a doubt the author of the logo, and if he wants to copyright it, he has the right to do it. If we want to speak about mystique, that does not look like something Benedict himself would have done. 
  1. A conflation of different forms of licencing as a guide for social interaction and decision making, is a corporate thing to do.

    Open source or not. I don’t think that anyone on this thread has enacted any form of veto, they have just given their honest interpretation and reaction to how they feel about this gesture. Bringing licensing into the debate is far outside of the emotional and thoughtful responses and is concretely a corporate reaction - what exactly is the difference between a corporation saying to it’s infringer we will sue you if you do this and a member of an open source community saying to their community, this license means that I can do what I think is best, regardless of the effect it may have on the collective interpretation of the “work”?

  2. It is entirely reasonable for you as an individual to refuse to acknowledge this. But without the people, what exactly is the unMonastery, an idea? Idea’s are cheap and usually wither and die without people - this is particularly important to consider given the sheer investment of time and emotional labour that has been given by the people on this thread in continuing to build and spread the unMonastery, in the long run it may be an error of judgement to take this stance.

With regard to Benedict, given that Copyright is an articulation of violence through property rights, any reading of The Rule and it’s reliance on violence to maintain order - would lead me to disagree, if Copyright were the only recourse to maintaining order, it’s quite a likely path.

I am not saying do not print the t-shirts, I am reacting to your reasoning.

open vs random

Hi @Alberto, some thoughts:

The Rule was open source and the monasteries independent, but Benedict starts the Rule with defining carefully what kind of monks he is offering the Rules to. It definitely was not for anyone or any group.  And of course there was the Bible as a reference point to exclude major misinterpretations. There was (still is) an implicit code of ethics, understood as Christianity (which we don’t have.)

I think part of the success of the Benedictine model was exactly that it viewed each monastery as a microcosmos. No outside powers. You take care of problems in your own community, I take care of them in mine. Let’s compare notes.

Yes, sure, use the unMon logo, it is open source. But don’t say it is in the interest of unMonastery Matera. We all seem to agree it isn’t. But then it is in whose interest?

If you want proper robes, there was an ecclesiastical supplier we used to know, who did a rather nice line in habits, robes, and cloaks. :))

I’ll chase some quotes if anyone is interested…

It’s not about legal right or not. And it’s not about me copyrighting the logo. It not about IP RIGHTS. unMonastery is about creating and trying a different paradigm. Don’t victimize yourself Alberto. Just because it’s CC doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to print it on whatever. The unMonastery logo been kind of freely used but I’ve been interfering in other situations where I think it was used in a non-beneficial way. Somehow acting as the graphic profile and guidelines that haven’t been formalized. This I’m not doing for my own interest. I want unMon to look good in other peoples eyes.

The problem with the t-shirt idea for me is that they try to drag and present unMonastery as something that is far away from the VISION. The question is… Why do you want to do that @Alberto ?

I hope we all can agree on that the logo of unMonastery is there to be used for the BENEFIT of the project. Giving away soulless t-shirts to volunteers is just not along the line here.

“nameless members”?

I also agree with Ola that the combination of T-shirts and the unMonastery narrative are not ideal at the moment.

My reasoning: Because we are trying to create a different culture around work, meaning and humanism and aesthetics are an important tool. We need to not get too close to the corporate communications with the unMonastery visual narrative.  The approach towards design, production and use of unMonastery wearable artefacts I feel is more in the domain of functional art than tech event swag. Plus I despise the startup rhetoric and don’t want the unMonastery to be associated with that culture.

I also agree with Alberto that there ought to be some kind of visually distinct and easily identifiable garb. I just don’t think something “good” enough can be developed for the event. Rather I would use produce booklets/Nametags similar to the ones we produced for the futures knowlab with different colour stickers on them for particiapants, session leaders, etc. It worked very well for the knowlab and also solved a lot of practical problems (schedules, where stuff is happening, session information, important contact info, participant bios etc). We have the design but would need help with producing the print file to send to the printers.

I think it is important to remember what it is we are doing, why we are doing it and the spirit with which it was initiated: building infrastructure to support alternative responses to systemic crises, p2p.  And collaboratively creating the means for more people to be able to access and build on it.

That infrastructure is technosocial. The unMonastery is one part of that infrastructure. However it would not even have happened had we not created the other infrastructure on which it and other projects rely. Creating the conditions for this unMonastery prototype to even happen before most of the people in this thread came into the picture took a huge amount of effort from some people, and small efforts from many generous individuals.

Without those contributions we would not even be having this conversation about T-shirts or anything else unMonastery related. That infrastructure is a platform and shared commitment to build sociotechnical infrastructure that makes us stronger and more capable by enabling us to collaborate and learn from one another, p2p, across the globe.  Pooling, growing and making knowledge, tools, contacts, skills, collaboration and resources accessible to people all over the planet. Not just a priveledged few who can travel with ease all over Europe.

I would have loved to have had 1-4 month residency with a bursary to work on using some of my training as an engineer on one of the challenges, doing something meaningful. But others did not do the boring, unpaid, often unseen work to create that opportunity for me  to make use of. Or put their personal professional credibility and trusted relationships on the line for that to happen.

This work that for most only makes sense to contribute if we feel we are part of building something together, as a community. Your dismissing those people as “nameless members of a 2000+ platform” is both disrespectful and counterproductive if you want to see the unMonastery idea spread, thrive and develop as common infrastructure built by and accessible to many more people.

I would ask that we reframe this discussion towards thinking about how we can use artefacts to make people meaningfully feel part of a shared whole, not how to keep some inside and some out.


I apologise for using the term “nameless members”. I guess the avatars are markers for me - wanted to underline that a physical community of 7 works differently from the network of 2000 the platform nurtures, and marketing strategies need to reflect that.

(I know the history of unMonastery, having just spent two months reading all unMon related stuff on the website.)

Yes. Developing working practices that bridge them is tricky

But I genuinely believe that if we can crack it, everyone stands to benefit. One aspect is solid documentation and as much documentation around design and operations of the “physical” projects as possible. As a lot of the crucial knowledge emerges in discussions where we are thinking about how to do something, we try to push for a “working out loud” culture where we communicate in writing on this open platform.

What you refer to as “marketing” (I prefer outreach and community building to that term and all it involves) also depends on bridging online and offline effectively with working practices and content. Bridging the different fields of knowledge, discipline, cultures etc better equips us all to do these things well, and helps us develop the intellectual frameworks we need in parallel with the physical ones. If we can get a tradition going of people posting well-researched and well written posts from 1st hand perspective with deeper reflections around what we are doing and what we learn along the way. Like Alberto’s post from the visit to the Benedictine monastery in Mursia. Or this post by @lasindias. I am trying at my end with posts like this one (which also draw in new people and perspectives into the conversation).

If we can deeply embed this kind of working practices into the the DNA of the unMonastery and all initiatives that come of out interactions between people we bring together through our work everyone stands to benefit. Right now and for some time the drumbeat that has been connecting these different threads is coordinated by Edgeryders @Ola. I don’t see it happening elsewhere because coordination work is hard and incentives are aligned against anyone wanting to do it. It’s important that people are aware of and careful to acknowledge the value of this work if we are not to undermine an important and in many ways invisible feature of the infrastructure. One way is to understand and accept the need to make visible the association between Edgeryders efforts around coordination and community building, with the outcomes of our shared efforts. This also matters because no one would give a lone individual or small group of people without a “reliable” organisation to back them access to many different kinds of resources. But if we are smart about how we use our collective online communication we can create that credibility much much faster than any one of us could alone.


Let’s not mark ourselves with the logo, but with a way of acting towards others.

I propose that during LOTE4, people of the unMonastery (anyone who feels they even just like the idea) carry a small stone, which they use each time when having a conversation. (Probably people are aware of this tool, but here is how it works: the person who holds the stone has the right to speak (with intention), the others listen (with attention), and speak at their turn when holding the stone.)

Meanwhile I will look at the textile situation when back in Matera - an unMonastery green, 60x150 cm piece of light, pleasant cloth for each unMonasterian has been talked about. People can make a wearable item of their choice from it. It lends itself to be a scarf without alteration.

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I like this suggestion

because it reinforces the idea that we can make something from what’s immediately around us, use it with people, and anyone can adopt it. It’s also likely the most fun option - which is important, since we are all working very hard.

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