How we got Here?

Greece has an immense network of organisations that are focused on improving the social good, with or without the support of the state or private foundations. In many cases, they are self-organised and autonomous

Poster courtesy of Omikron Project.

Months after the fall of Matera, some unMonasterians came to Athens on a brief “exploratory” excursion in December, 2014. During their visit they discovered this vibrant network of locals, which has similar aims as the unMonastery, so they quickly plugged into it.

Rooftop meeting in Athens in late December.

Later, following the Transmediale extravaganza in January 2015, many people that were involved with the original unMonastery decided to plop down in Athens in February to see what else there was to discover in Greece. This “scoping period” was intended to have a duration of three months.

What the unMonasterians found went much deeper than was initially perceived. The more time that was spent connecting to existing networks, the more it became clear that the people living in Greece have a strong affinity to hacking of all sorts; be it with internet connectivity, food sharing, reactivating abandoned spaces, or just simply taking the metro.

The vision for the future of Greece is especially captivating when you speak with the people here that are involved with making the place more liveable. The group of unMonasterians was humbled by the amount of knowledge and experience there was to absorb here.

One such visionary project is SatNOGS that was created by our new neighbours, the Athens Hackerspace. It’s a global network of opensource satellite ground stations that recently won the Hackaday prize.

After arriving in early February 2015, it was decided that the group would take the offer of a vacant flat at no cost (excluding utilities and other expenses), and work began on getting the place into shape. What shape this would be was yet to be determined. The idea of a “landing pad” for the wider network of unMonasterians and Edgeryders was discussed and the name tentatively given to this endeavour was “unEmbassy”.

This opportunity created a low-cost solution to the need for a base in Athens as the unMonasterians sniffed out further possibilities for creating an actual unMonastery *somewhere* in Greece.

Besides the fact that everyone enjoys living together, the space in Athens gave the group a chance to experiment with new modes of cohabitation, while also enabling them to work together (even manually) in the same place at the same time. This has given birth to new projects while refining the focus of the small group that is fluctuating, yet continually present in the city.

In addition to the aforementioned motivations of the unMonastery project and those of the group at large, there are individual reasons for people to gravitate towards Athens at this moment in time.

During the LOTE 4 project: Stewardship Case Studies Adventure, which took place during the summer of 2014, one unMonasterian made a personal connection to the city of Athens while doing research and already felt connected to the arts and political scene.

Another unMonk saw the potential for “scaling up” the living arrangements that are currently in use and expanding into other spaces as more unMonasterians and guests show up.

Athens is not only located between three ancient continents physically, but it is also psycho-geographically placed in different time spatialities. There is an unforgettable past, which may or may not have some bearing on the future. Many people here would like to be a part of that future, whatever it may be.

They’ve all been thirsty for years and years They all chew one bite of sky over their bitterness Their eyes are red for lack of sleep a deep wrinkle is wedged between their eyebrows like a cypress between two mountains at sundown their hands are glued to their rifles their rifles are extensions of their hands their hands extensions of their souls – they have anger on their lips and grief deep within their eyes like a star in a pothole of salt

The ancient Greek word for poet (ποιητής) means “maker”, and based on the initial findings of the group, it can be said that the hacker mentality goes deep into the culture and may be growing stronger.

The government currently in power is strongly embracing a commons based approach to the economy. SYRIZA “will support the adoption of free/open source software in the public sector and the distribution of public data under Commons-based licenses.” Moreover, Andreas Karitzis, a member of the party’s think-tank on digital policies, recognized “not only the value of the free/open source technologies per se, but also the collaborative productive processes that create such technologies.”

One must not forget that the food in Greece is most often local and also very tasty. Some unMonasterians are interested in growing their own since the climate is so conducive to agriculture. There are also many food based initiatives here to attract them.

If you want to know more or are in town, why not drop a line or perhaps stop by; the airport is only about 30 minutes from the house.