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