My name is Noemi and I’m here today on behalf of Edgeryders..
Edgeryders is a community of people very aware of the deepening of crises across the
world, with cuts to all kinds of services. The needs are the same though – we need
food, education, ways to engage in shaping how democracy works- but how about
the visible resources? Are they the same? Not so much. And when they do exist,
accessing them is harder for some as inequalities are growing.
At the same time we see that young, educated, generous and connected people
aspire to ﬁx some of these, and do not think they can bring change by joining the
public service or by working for the private sector. for them, innovating means
tackling the fundamental problems of expanding individual freedom, establishing a
fair social deal, crafting an environmentally sustainable society. Not inventing
gadgets. Their walks of life seem unsettling. What brings us together in Edgeryders is
a focus on solutions and actions rather than talking to each other for the sake of
talking and complaining about world's problems. I want to introduce you to what
some people on Edgeryders are up to..
Sam has been trying to live as open source as possible for a whole year. What does it
mean? It means that he was only using products designed to be understood,
modified and adapted to their owners’ needs. These are usually released under open
With no idea about programming, engineering or design Sam used the tools and
resources in the commons to create new projects. These included remixing public
domain images into an open source, machine-knitted hat, whose source files are
found by scanning its knitted QR code. He designed his own furniture, and even
created a parametric underwear design - you type in your waist measurement, and
the pattern adjusts to fit your body. The year was documented in writing and videos
created with free software and released under a free cultural license for anybody to
By taking up what was essentially a personal project Sam made his contribution to
how we think about the way we live and could live in the future..
Meet Elf: Elf comes from Poland, he is a programmer and has worked for years in San
Francisco. For the past 4 years he has been experimenting with a new way to live, by
doing things for others and not asking for anything in return. Elf is living without
money entirely, and doesn’t own an ID. He doesn’t do this because he’s crazy, he just
believes in a new world that is not based on borders or money transactions. Turns out
what you give is what you get, so him being generous with his time and tech skills,
helping others makes them do the same for him. This allows Elf to travel around
Europe, crash at friends’ houses and work together on projects. Debt vs. freedom
Caroline comes from the academic world.. but has a pinch for keeping the
environment safe and helps organisations learn about their ecological footprints. She
got involved in a community initiative in Berlin to save an urban garden which was
threatened with being sold by the government.
Prinzessinnengarten is situated in a densely populated neighborhood in Berlin and
over the years it’s seen thousands of volunteers caring for the space: growing organic
produce, organising meals, using it as a playground, as a bookclub location, as a spot
for spontaneous concerts etc. It brings community together and is now economically
self-sustainable –sells local produce in its own cafe. You can only imagine how
valuable this is and the contribution it makes at so many levels: helps create jobs and
regenerating a local economy, brings people together in social activities, it
encourages civic participation, not just among youth, but also elders etc Last year the
garden, public property, was going to be sold and privatized by the gov, but a citizen-
led campaign which collected over 30000 signatures stopped that. It happened
because people cared enough to make it happen. And then it made the Berlin Senate
to announce promotion of urban gardening as part of a sustainable urban policy..
Now I’d like to introduce you to Daniel. Together with very charismatic theatre
performers he participated in the birth of a political party in Estonia, ahead of the
2010 elections. They gained immediate popularity (44 days): got people to register as
party members, made TV appearances and set up a party conference with 7500
attending. Only to tell all those people attending that it’s a fake and disclosing the
populist way of doing politics with no substance. Essentially they demonstrated how
fragile our political system is and how cheap it is to capitalize on numbers and the
vulnerability of the people.. The project was so cool because the people behind it
demanded a way to be heard while not going into formal politics – yet the tools used
were precisely those of formal politics.
The people I talked about are just a some of the many doing interesting things in the
community. Because we get together online and share our stories, our vision of the
world has more opportunities to spread. Why is that? for example, when the petition
for Prinzessinengarten needed more signatures we helped push it globally, people
who didn’t live in Berlin started to care about that garden. Matthias our web
developer is in the process of launching a new kind of ecommerce platform for
exchanges without money which is based on network bartering algorythm: our
community will act as a test bed since it’s something we’ve been looking into for
At the same time, interactions in the community result in its own collaborative
projects between members. unMonastery is an idea we came up with together inside
Edgeryders. A lot of us were wondering how we could put our skills and passion to
better use than simply work in an office and get paid just to pay rent. The way it
worked is we found a city willing to test this. People from all over submitted
proposals for projects they would like to work on, and were selected on basis of
matching the projects with local challenges. Once in, they are given a space where
they live and work together, and a small allowance just to cover their basic needs.
And that’s all they need. *unMonastery: from monastic life – a life lived with
simplicity + the “un” : hacking way of things. Learn more about the project:
The unMonastery went from idea to prototype in a little more than a year.. If you’re
around south Italy don’t hesitate to drop by: it’s radically open and collaborative! It
takes place in Matera, a city bidding for EU Cultural Capital in 2019. What’s more
European and future oriented than this? It’s not easy to try something entirely new in
a community that has its own conservative values, and unMonastery Matera is a
prototype, but our aspiration is to enable its long term sustainability and see
hundreds of these in the next years.
So what makes ER unique? If you’re giving yourself the opportunity to join and start
interacting, you’ll know that no matter where you are and what you are struggling
with, there are people across the world experiencing similar stuff. The social
architecture that we’re building is one that is deeply based on trust and having a safe
web home among the so many commercial services or forums. Really, Edgeryders
belongs to all of us and we own our own data.
The second part is collaboration. We collaborate with one another remotely: this is
not easy and doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time to get things done over the
Internet and when you’re living thousands of km away from each other. Many ideas
don’t survive because no matter how good they are there is no one taking
responsibility to drive them – hence our mantra “who does the work calls the shots”.
It means that if you commit to smth and start doing it, no one will stand in your way,
rather we’ll support you the best we can.
And then, the thing I find makes the stronger contribution, beyond the impact of any
one project, is that we are heading towards creating an infrastructure that will
support our work while paying the bills so that we can do more of this, at bigger scale
and with greater rewards. Edgeryders can be your future workspace – radical and
informal, no chain of command, a place where people get their hands dirty and make
things happen, while being paid for this. This is a function of our social enterprise –
which was created to support members, and the fact that we act as an incubator for
projects. You bring work in, you manage it the way you like, you can recruit your team
from the community – there are citizen experts on anything! - and use an already
established network to communicate globally about what you do. Other things in the
infrastructure that we provide: edgeryders email address, recommendation or
position within the company on LinkedIn etc. We dress up as the experts we are..
My invitation for you to stick around comes with a great opportunity and context to
do so: Spot the Future, an exercise where our organisation works with UNDP in a
pretty off-the-grid way. In the upcoming 2 months, we aim to capture not just how
Georgians/Armenians are looking into the future, but what you are doing to build it.
The way it works, to keep it simple, is that you start talking to your peers about what
you see happening in your community, things that the world should learn about. And
we invite you on edgeryders to do that because that’s where many more of us are
genuinely listening and look forward to connect. Sometimes just by looking at a
problem differently or asking a better question gets you closer to a solution.
You don’t necessarily need to run an initiative yourself to get involved
You don’t need to good at writing or be fluent in English, most of us are not native
speakers either, but we prefer a broken english rather than fragmented conversations
in many languages..