Where do you see yourself in OpenVillage

What I imagine the open village to be?

What I imagine the open village to be, @matthias has written a proposal or a vision, a long term one, which can be a framework of what the open village can turn to be. This description fits in my understanding for the open village as distributed network of houses / living-working spaces that may grow to be living communities, scattered geographically transgressing borders ( in other words hacking them and getting around the visas and rules ) a self sufficient network supporting each other sharing resources and economic opportunities through a common online platform.

I imagine people (members ) who are living there share some sort of common social contract that is agreed upon ( not necessarily written but all share a common understanding and openness ) . People can have several roles or can wear interchangeable hats so to speak; classified in relation to the general living condition people can be :

  • Nomads : moving around in between spaces contributing to different projects for a specific amount of time.

  • Settlers : are based in one of the nodes, it’s their space they take care of it and of the community, they take responsibility for driving the space and nourish the community.

  • Guests : visitors for an amount of time to contribute to a specific project or expeirement.

  • Local communities : each space acts as a hub for its local community, respond and interact with their local challenges and therefore people from the local community will join the space as members of the network.

  • Wider network and other partners

other roles can be in relation to what people are doing ( co-founders, fellows, care takers, researchers, project leads, project contributers…etc)


In simple words; The dream of living with a supporting understanding community while working and doing what you love.

The doing what you love part is obvious, this is a global phenomena, People ( millennials ) are not satisfied by their corporate day jobs. People innovate and experiment on the side. Not everyone is lucky enough to get out of the system and do what they love. Doing this alone is very risky, doing it with together within a supporting community is a bit easier.

The other part “Living in a community”

here I am speaking mainly from my limited understanding to the situation in the region and my experience as an Egyptian ( so some stuff could be specific to the Egyptian case )

I can argue that the family in the Arab Region is still an important part of one’s life. It is not the same case in Europe. I can see this, I am living this. But there is a growing sense of loneliness, detachment from society, and urge of living within a more understanding community. ( one can see and idea of both – importance of family and detachment from society- among other stuff in the movie Akher Ayam Al-Madina[ the last days of the city ] in case you didn’t see it it is about Cairo in the period before 2011 )

A big percentage of youth are detaching themselves from the general mainstream of society, the society that they find themselves not accepted and not welcomed in, and finding their places near to people who share their thoughts, or accept their way of living, and respect their process of finding themselves.

To explain more, in the last may be decade or at least since the beginning of the Arab spring;Youth experienced the freedom to rethink everything- ideologies, religion, way of living- a lot of idols/gate keepers have fallen down – secular, liberal, Islamic- people started searching and rethinking their lives while working on different projects and initiatives in all fields. And after the current escalations in the region with the huge injustice and oppression. Well everyone is back in the shades again waiting for a better moment but working within the allowed framework.

You can see this from Ma’erfa experience mentioned by @m_tantawy how it grew to cover most of Egypt and then back to have small discussions and lectures among the core members of the network, or in Mesaha’s development . Well people are always adapting to the surrounding circumstances, but it kinda sucks after tasting a glimpse of freedom , it is not extremely satisfying and Also people get tired and burned out by time.

so if drifting to extremism is not a good way to go, where some young people joined the “battle(s)” in Syria, others who are trying to survive alone without interacting with the outside world a lot either by doing what they are doing within the allowed framework or leaving in the search for a better life in Europe, USA, Canada, and even Australia.

People got the realization that working on changing everything at the same time is not working, one can see this within the sound interviews from Lebanon,(check @Sabouny 's talk here ) may be also Lebanon has a special history but it is also an indicator that people are working at a small scale waiting for the right moment, when it comes, within the complexities of society, every piece of the puzzle should come together or at least there would be a possibility to come together.

and here comes the open village, I suppose, to fulfill this need of finding a community where understanding and appreciation is there and a better way of life.


I am one of these youth, that’s why the above opinion is limited, I am also in the search to find myself and find a way to do good , do what I love, and live within a supporting understanding community.

In the past 4-5 years I have been passing through different experiences getting to know a lot of people in between Cairo, Hurghada, Berlin, during which I finished my masters, worked in various jobs ( bakery, hotel, event management, alternative city tours, online management, research, architecture, co founded a non profit which is up and running, failed in other initiatives, volunteered in some other, …learned to communicate in a new language ( bad version of German ) …refused to do other jobs. I know that I don’t want to go work a job that I hate in the Gulf Countries, or work in building the new capital or new luxurious gated communities in Egypt.

And still searching, still living in between cities, I am looking for a “warm” ( literally ) place to live in within a supporting community, which I learned by limited experience that it is a blessing to have. I can see myself in this vision as a settler may be start as a nomad but by time I would love to live in such a space.

Where to go? (as the first spot in MENA)

I have several contradicting thoughts on this, but I think going for a medium size city is a good fit. ( not the capital, nor a total rural or Bedouin area )

The basic idea is to get away, but not too far, from the Center. there are lots of opportunities, its always much cheaper, relatively more space, and youth are available everywhere as most of the region have young population now.

This counts as a step to a more decentralized system; decentralization is needed in many countries ( mainly the ones suffering from the French colonial system, and Egypt is one of them although we were not colonized for a long time by the French ) but it faces several challenges, one of them is talented youth/ labour, mentioned briefly by ziad in here - this is another topic as its a bigger argument and depends on who will fill in the gaps created by decentralized governance. but adding this to the internet + sense of detachment from society and urge in building new communities gives slight edge to medium cities.

this doesn’t deny that Capital cities are still in Control and even if you operate in another city for longer term you should have ties with the capital.

on the other hand : I am struggling with the naming of MENA region, is there any other non-colonial way of describing the region without saying the middle east ? It just doesn’t sound right :smiley:


I like how you explain the plight, misery and aspirations of young people in the region … I could not have done it that way, maybe because the central European version of this is much weaker (due to less of a crisis situation here), but of the same essence.

All this renewed interest in communal spaces that suit “members of society with diverging opinions” is certainly a re-discovery of the hippie culture’s commune movement (“tune in, drop out” and all that).

And about the MENA wording: Not happy with it either, though it’s an abbreviation that takes on a life on its own so people will stop thinking what it means. Wikipedia suggests “Arab World” as an alternative. For the case of our project, I’d rather suggest “Southern Mediterranean countries / region”, as it is generally used to include all our project countries:

Southern Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey) [source]

“Mediterranean” does not seem to have an Euro-centric or imperialist meaning, but just means “the sea in between of land” [source]. So it would be fine :slight_smile:

We might want to introduce our own abbreviation for it. Proposals:

  • “SMR” for “southern Mediterranean region” – my favourite
  • “SMT countries” for “southern Mediterranean countries”
  • “SMC” for the same

I like your entire piece, and in particular the classifications nomads, settlers, Guests, local communities is useful.

And how you characterize yourself as one of the very people in the larger discussion.

I think there is personal power in this situation where you are helping the whole project get off the ground and a big part of your motivation is because you yourself need it too.

This was my experience when I started working in online community management. I had this long experience living in communities already, but I had moved away from them and was not living in a community like that anymore. Then I found myself working in a tiny company that offered online conversation and connection - The WELL. Because I had come from such a strong community experience and was looking for a new iteration of it in some form, almost right from the start I pushed The WELL toward establishing itself as a community where the participants themselves would reach first for that word to describe their new group experience. In other words, I knew how to help them get something that they needed (even if they didn’t know they needed it yet). But it was also something that I needed too. Anyway, I was reminded of this when i read your description at the start of this topic.


Well, yes, this is what’s propelling this crazy thing forward. This is the ultimate dogfooding. We are building a setup that we ourselves want to inhabit. Unfortunately, this is no recipe for commercial success.

we ourselves want to inhabit

I think one of the goals is to grow a bigger “we.”

But, while The WELL was that which I described, after awhile I grew frustrated with the limitations of the text-only software, no hyperlinks (too historically early still) and most everything being basically someone’s opinion. In wondering where to go with it, I left for a short time to work on French Minitel in a misguided attempt to address this, but not long after became passionate about joining online conversation to journalism. That led to me being hired by the SF newspapers to develop this vision in some form.

In that case it was commercially successful and it was really the same need-driven thing for me. It should be noted that much of my time spent in the corporate news world was me adapting my community skills to working inside the organization to build agreement, support and backing for my project.

(Big orgs can be a lot like political institutions like Congress. Much of how someone can exercise power is by quietly not allowing something to happen. Given the magnitude of the threat this new online world posed for the managers there, they had every reason to be suspicious of my motives. So I worked a lot to sort of soften the blow. In retrospect I think I probably should have been a more severe harbinger of what was coming. But that is sort of a digression…)

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I love the way you have explained the vision of the OpenVillage. I believe there is a big need for similar spaces in the MENA region, where young people can feel like they are home, where they share common vision and values, where they can express and work on fresh ideas that would bring positive change in their communities, where they can interact with their peers not only in the physical space but around the world through the platform :slight_smile:

What I may suggest is concerning the calissification of roles as this statement got my attention. I strongly believe that Partners and Stakeholders (Could be Public Administrations, Civil Society, Private Sector, Experts etc), have a very important role to play in the OpenVillage. The way I see it, and through the different stories I have read so far, there is a lot of Empowerment and Advocacy work, on several areas depending on the context of each region, need to be done in order to bring the desired positive change. It is difficult to do that without the support of different Partners and Stakeholders who have the expertise and the resources. So I think that it is essential that the OpenVillage community keep in mind they need to build up local network of partners and relevant stakeholders and that EdgeRyders can support local founders with that :slight_smile:


Pick a name that feels right and we change it :slight_smile: Im also uncomfortable with this weird and arbitrary categorisation.

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@Yosser @Sabouny @baderdean @monarezk @MurielAboulrouss @DeniseJabbour @zmorda @anu @noemi @unknown_author @faruqh @amiridina how about you guys - do/where you see yourselves in relation to the openvillage? How could it contribute to/ and be contributed to your own work or aspirations?

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Hi all, as point out by @hazem famility still count a lot for us. Yet, in the meantime we’re all looking to give a deep and exciting meaning to our life that does not limit to have a good job, kids, house and (of course) a partner. Hence, my personal aspiration is not to form a new ad-hoc community that will replace my other belonging but to find a network of “colleagues” or like-minded people that share the same approach, tools, resources and bonus have fun together.

Recently, I’m becoming a fan of medium.com stories of people, their struggle with their business & tech choices and issues. I’m looking for something similar to listen to the other’s experience but more concrete, with real meeting those people. Like a big global consultancy company of social entrepreneur that meet very oftenly to share their stories, have fun and improve their work.

Ok, that’s not exactly a village but a physical space is IMHO a requirement for something that will be like a permanent and/or iterative team-building/co-design workshop in some nice place with affordable sport and chilling activities… It should be not far away from an airport, one day travel maximum from any other place. After all it looks very much like a village in Tunisia ^^

Ok right now, I think that I speak too much like a consultant ^^


Even though it may be a little bit early for me to imagine how to classify the community of the OpenVillage as I am still figuring out its philosophy and reading the different posts, stories and thoughts on the platform, but I still think what @hazem has developed concerning the classification of the OpenVillage community is a great start. Here is my personal suggestion :

  • Enablers: They are the core team of EdgeRyder. They enable the progress in the targeted regions by: bringing together innovator individuals/members, connecting these members to their peers and to relevant organizations, facilitating expertise and ideas sharing and fostering collaboration between them through animating online and offline discussions etc.

  • Settlers: They are the founders of the spaces. These settlers work on implementing community spaces (coworking spaces, co-living spaces, hubs, makerspaces, hackerspaces, etc). Of course, as mentionned by @matthias in his post , Each of these spaces will have it is own identity, own business model and sustainability plan. However, I think they should have share and communicate the same values, mission and vision (besides ensuring that all spaces are on the same wavelength and work towards the same goals with common values and principles, it is also for MARKETING and PR purposes)

  • Doers (Local Community): who may be the entrepreneurs, community leaders, NGOs Leaders, who believe that the OpenVillage will contribute, in one way or another, positively in their work. They are already in action. OpenVillage will support them to ensure the sustainability of their work (through reducing the operational costs when working in collaborative spaces, sharing with them expertise, experiences or fresh ideas etc.)

  • Dreamers (Local Community): who may be the aspired entrepreneurs, young people who seek to change their realities, join initiatives that would bring positive changes into their communities etc. This category, mainly the youth, are still learning, participating in workshops and trainings, discovering, experimenting, gaining experience and looking for opportunities, however they do not have their own venture. this might be the largest population in the MENA region (We are talking about students who want to secure their future and jobless people who are looking to improve their realities). OpenVillage will support the “Dreamers” to become “Doers”

  • Supporters (Partners and relevant stakeholders): As I have already explained, Supporters have the expertise and the resources. They can play an important role especially when it comes to empowerment of the OpenVillage local communities and in advocacy for new regulations that would bring positive change (like the case of @Heba and her biking project)


I love how @hazem talked about the openvillage, and how he is still figuring his way as I can relate to that, I know how much courage it takes to refuse working in the Gulf and fancy jobs just because you don’t see youself fitting in there, it is simply not you… Yet, I don’t have any problem with calling it the MENA region, because it is the MENA region and maybe with the openvillage we can help people from all over the world get rid of the existing stereotypes related to this name…

Personally, I participated in other international programs, but the thing that even this is still just an online platform and we haven’t even met yet, this is my favorite program of them all! The interaction, the guidance, the support that all the members are trying to make is priceless, I loved what @Sohayeb classified the roles, I would say I see myself as a settler, if I had the space, and it is part of this great network, I will be happy that I will be able to share plenty of opportunity with people in Medenine, and enable them to be part of something bigger, and deeper, something that would show them what is going on out there, and help them see things from another perspective, this space will be a hub for opportunities for them! the platform is already contributing to my aspiration, as it is helping me shape more the idea, receive feedbacks, and PUSHING me to be more productive with the idea, I’d say I was having the idea in my mind, feeling like I am always not ready to launch the space, but then, after meeting you all, and after reading the proposal that @matthias made, I started to feel like I am not on my own! I have a supportive community and they are there for me.

This platform made me believe in my self more, be more confident about what I am passionate about, and mainly have this goal right now, which is starting this space by the end of this year.


thank you

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I can relate to this @baderdean. The very assumptions that people everywhere are feeling lost and looking for meaning is indicative that this is a search and that a new kind of network should allow for that flexibility of roles - better yet, mobility throuhg the roles.

You might be one who grew up traditionally and for whom a jump into such a community would be too disruptive, so you would be joining as a nomad in the beginning. Then as one travels and attachments to people, places, projects grow, one can become a settler.

My personal aspiration is to be free to explore, but pay my dues - once in a role and understanding how the cog works in the machine, I would be committed to making the most of it.

About the contribution one puts in, I only see this working if everyone , across all roles / levels of clasification (nomads, settlers etc., but also co-founders, care takers etc.) supports the overall OpenVillage coordination.


This is very rewarding to read, thanks to you @Yosser - I think the “settlers” commitment to a space will make all the difference in the world!


Hello @nadia. I like how all the inspiring young minds are having their thoughts and ideas about more sustainable future with equal access to everyone. For me Open Village Houses concepts are very much practical because it can be an international arena to collaborate and learn with each other. I have studied social work and been involved in many NGO’s of my country. Somehow I always wanted to do something which practically helps people, something related to utilizing natural resources and skills, meeting people from around the world and creating an arena where youth can discuss, share and make connections. I have been lucky that my curious mind have lead me to few international conferences where I made good connections with like-minded people and share visions to unleash the potentiality I hold but there are many more whom we together can guide. Kathmandu is densely populated with students from rural villages, for them getting an opportunity to connect with world or to be supported with resources can be very meaningful. I want to make Open Village House a hub to initiate as well as implement innovative ideas. I see myself believing on those ideas and making them successful or at least try.

“Lack of trust in youth potential” and “Lack of resources” have been great problem. I want to work on SMART vision and relate to more attainable goals. My goals are very simple, Co-housing place with sharing kitchen can be great for rural students to get adequate housing facility and enjoy global diversity. (This is very new concept in terms of Nepal).They will have encouraging environment free from stress of landlord or so. They can focus on what they are doing. Co-working space can bring small startups together. It can be IT (Information Technology) students working space. (My brother who is also an IT graduate always wonders if he have some platform where he can casually work with basic facilities to develop app and directly sell apps on market basis like an IT office). Like @hazem said Open Village can be a local community to solve the local challenges.The co-working space or Our Open House can be open for all Movers and Shakers. Coffee roastery will help utilise natural resources and encourage youths to do something in terms of agriculture.

I see many possibilities. One another crazy idea( don’t know how much feasible it is) is to help small startup grow on our network. For examples- Online business need spaces to store things, not everyone can have their own space. Our Open Village can help on it by providing certain space for those online business. I am also thinking to utilise the kitchen more by allowing small companies to use our kitchen for their business. Not for regular operation but for prep and storing like a chocolate/bakery company which don’t need regular need of kitchen. They can just prepare a batch according to their sales target and use again according to demand.


I am still new here… getting to understand how it works…
But if I want to think of it as an ideal village, I would be doing the change I wish to see in this world, as I try my best to implement it in my community on daily basis and spreading love and positivity in everything I do… which is something we are doing through Zyara, by promoting Oneness, self love and resilience.
Also, I would love to meet fellow creators from all over the world and contribute to positive change on a bigger scale.

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What I like the most about the open village project is that we are spreading a new way of life, a new way to raise hopes in a region that suffers from the lack of opportunities , high rate of unemployment and of poverty, since this project is promoting social innovation and new ways of solving community problems by the community itself according to their needs and believes.
The most interesting thing is counting on a collective intelligence and thinking to solve global challenges in a different ways.
I strongly believe that this project will give more opportunities and visibility for innovative and small projects since nowadays funds are only available to known and big organization who are not necessarily impacting people lives.
For the categories, I suggest to launch Edgeryders Student Ambassadors in different universities with a main mission to promote EdgeRyders values among their peers and support innovative initiatives or projects in their campuses/universities @nadia @hazem @matthias @baderdean


https://lasindias.blog/fraternitas-mercatorum-2 from @lasindias

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I’m not a student anymore (still a permanent learner and curious that’s why I learn about edgeryders) though I love your idea of Ambassadors in universities. Btw, what do you mean by support? What concrete type of support could we provide?

Agreed about building and growing this we. I am reminded of the discussion that @baderdean started about storytelling. More specifically how it shapes what we end up focusing on.

Especially how we strengthen or break relationships needed to carry something like OpenVillage to it’s full potential as a transformative experience.

This is what makes the Twitterstorm exercise an important one. By weaving what has been said in this thread into the bigger story we are telling to/about ourselves and what we are doing - we are actively shaping the future. Because it becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

So I am going to ask each one of you @anu @baderdean @johncoate @zmorda @Sohayeb @Yosser @DeniseJabbour @unknown_author and @alberto to look at the twitterstorm from this perspectice. Please take time to add your own contributions to this thread in the form of 140 character statements in the shared spreadsheet we are preparing for tomorrow here.

Please leave a comment here once you feel you are done so we can coordinate a bit more.