Using the Internet and Raspberry Pis, rather than prayer and scripture, with software replacing rules and doctrine, the unMonastery collective borrows from a monastic past which stretches back centuries.
In 2012 the ‘social clinic’ was started in Southern Italy with just 20 people. The small EU-funded initiative was a response to the daily news of unemployment, evictions and severely depleted social services taking place in Europe at this time. The first ‘unMonks’ lived together in a town in Matera, Italy for 7 months. Their idea was to embed committed, skilled individuals within a community that would benefit from their presence and in doing so, find solutions to common problems.
Today unMonastery has expanded into a social enterprise which has spread all over the world from Greece and to the east coast of America. Built on the ideas of the open circle economy which challenges existing economic ideas by producing no waste and pollution, the collective is growing rapidly.
The Athens Lab is a particularly needed part of unMonastery’s work, owing to Greece’s current economic crisis and its relatively new position as a gateway to Europe for thousands of refugees. Jeff Andreoni explains: “The main innovation of the Athens sector is just staying put. In a social innovation landscape where “experts” parachute in and create deliverables, only to disappear a month later being quickly forgotten by their recipients, we choose to ignore tangible goals in the interest of creating lasting social bonds, effecting emotional growth, and maybe even making friends with people by working together.”
In a city of 7 million, Athens’ One Love Kitchen, is establishing business and employment. A pop-up kitchen of cooperative cooks mostly from Africa, the unMonks assist with publicity, flyering and growing the community. The group’s Mazi initiative works with NetHood and various other organisations to help create DIY offline network technology that supports local communities. With the help of CoderDojo the collective are providing free computer programming clubs for young people which is currently being initiated in Athens.
The unMonastery Book of Mistakes, Card Deck and Process Map act as guides to help others replicate the model. Staying true to the unMonastery ethos, all the resources are open and free to use. Bios is a toolkit for starting new unMonasteries and evaluating projects throughout their development, designed on the principle that all knowledge generated by unMonastery should be easily accessible and open to all – with a new expanded V1.1 being made available in physical form from October 2016.
To join the unMonks flock you need to commit to the project by pledging 100 hours of work on the unMonastery Deep Time Bank.
Ben Vickers, Facilitator