unMonastery: Typically a large building with several facilities, including living and multipurpose working space, situated in a (small) city or town in Europe, self-managed by an international team of 10-20 social innovators, hackers and makers.
unMonasterians: Individuals living in the unMonastery invited by the team based on their existing skill-set unMonasterians live and work in the unMonastery for a set period, in service of its goals.
Community: The environment surrounding the unMonastery, including the people that live there and local organizations (non-profit, for-profit and political).
unMonastery is a new kind of social space, akin to co-living and co-working spaces, that serves the local communities of towns or small cities by enabling a process of co-creation and co-learning between the community and unMonasterians. By embedding committed, skilled individuals in places with a deficit of diverse skills and knowledge it can solve social and infrastructural problems by enabling native inhabitants to realise their own potential.
The unMonastery recreates the best of the social functions of the traditional monastery: by giving the unMonasterians a collective purpose, a chance to develop deep relationships with one another and a reduced need to generate personal income so time can be dedicated entirely to serving the local community.
The unMonastery has been designed to solve a number of pressing social issues that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous throughout Europe; large numbers of empty and disused housing stock, brain drain from provincial towns or cities and most hauntingly the dramatic reduction in services as a result of growing austerity cuts. Radical times call for radical solutions: unMonasterians practice lifestyle innovation to be able to support ourselves and our peers in helping communities unlock their transformative potential and underutilised or wasted resources. Regardless of whether the market explicitly recognises and acknowledges the value of our skills and the positive contributions towards building resilient communities.
The project is unique in that it draws from a large pre-established network of highly skilled and motivated individuals known as EdgeRyders. Edgeryders is an international community of more than 1300 members (of whom 150 are very active) that assembled itself in 2011 as a “distributed think tank” of citizen experts advising the Council of Europe on European youth policy.
At the end of the 4-18 month run of each unMonastery, the local community is consulted as to what should happen next. The activities begun may continue in the hands of the local people alone, or new ideas may have begun to develop for a new wave of activities.
Impact will be measured using the ‘prove and improve’ model outlined by the New Economics Foundation. Impact must be understood in terms of the needs of the community, defining areas of potential impact. The unMonastery can then draw on a range of tools and measures, to tap into constructs such as wellbeing, social connectivity, skills development, enhancement of local social assets, and communal sense of purpose. Where possible, baseline measures will be taken.
The historical role of the monastery in Europe involved a range of features, including:
1. A physical place - building or set of buildings;
2. set within or nearby a community;
3. members committed to a particular way of being within their home;
4. and to helping and serving the community that they were located in.
These are features that the unMonastery reproduces. It's the 'Monastery' in unMonastery.
Monasteries historically also involved features such as a strict hierarchy, male only and submission to a fixed religious ideology. These are features that we're not interested in reproducing, which is the reason for the 'un' in unMonastery.
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