Project of the Day: The Unmonastery

(Un)monastery has nothing in particular to do with religion. However like a monastery it aims to bring together a community of like minded individuals. In this case passionate change makers, artists, activists and innovators. To live and work together on creative world changing projects for 6 months to a year in Matera Southern Italy. The project is proposed to take place in 2019 as part of the City’s bid for the European City of Culture.

Excerpted from Cat Johnson:

” Situated in Matera, Italy, the first official unMonastery aims to provide a select group of changemakers with a place to live, eat and work together.

UnMonasteries come out of the Edgeryder community, a group of young Europeans seeking to reinvent the economy for inclusion, sustainability, and meaningful work. The idea is that unmonasterians will work with the community to solve (g)local problems and act as accelerators for a diverse range of projects. A new concept, the unMonastery movement is still getting its legs, but it’s gearing up to be a focused and sustained way to connect, create and collaborate.” (

Here are more details on the concept:

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 changemakers.

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 surface hidden, underutilised or wasted resources. Regardless of whether the market recognises and acknowledges the value of our skills and positive contributions to helping our communities adapt.

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.”

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