26.2.18 Sidi Kaouki: One Month In

One month into our residency project in Sidi Kaouki and we’re getting a picture of what the community space is shaping up to be. The Morocco retreat is part of our concerted effort to push collaboration on open source initiatives in the MENA region, in ways that move beyond the collaborative realm online and into community life in the real world.

So, what does setting up a community space in a rural coastal village in the middle of January actually involve?

Chopping firewood and doing the dishes.

The first weeks saw a collaborative effort to bring together the different needs of the community under one roof. Despite the informal structure, having a balanced number of residents meant that different duties were adopted by members of the household, with a natural flow of chores shared between everyone.

Doing things seems to be contagious. Even a small thing such as cleaning a room drives the whole community in a participative motion. The more this motion is completing little things, the less you need structure.


If you’re interested in food cycles catch up on @gregoiremarty’s reflections on the two days he spent in the area. Among a handful of small observations, he captures his impressions of the land and its people interspersed with the cycle of staple food products such as milk, cheese, vegetables, fruit, bread..

@symorin and I are still investigating fresh food cycles in Morocco. We’re now digging contacts and trying to put a workflow in place in order to write and do things. We are also interrogating the semantics {sic} used, the terms and words that reference everything there. And of course, the laws.

Mapping the journey of these essential provisions provides us with a snapshot of the effects of globalisation on food distribution from a local perspective. Stay tuned to hear more from him and Sy’s findings soon.

But what exactly brings us to places like Morocco, and more specifically Sidi Kaouki, in the first place? As @alberto’s latest post points out, social and economic standards grow exponentially faster in urban environments, leaving rural communities in the dust when it comes to collaboration, innovation and growth. So why take the time to invest in a village in Morocco when we have a functioning (and growing) base in Brussels?

“Rural” settlements, like the one in Sidi Kaouki, offer cheap space in a context of natural beauty. They strive for relative self-sufficiency and a low carbon footprint. This sounds great, and it is, but there is a price to pay: relative isolation. Their world will be small, unless they make constant efforts to enlarge them.


The answer is not so straight forward once you take into account the way online communities such as Edgeryders work. Discussions on the platform led us to choose a rural setting, which after it emerged as the most attractive choice for a sizeable group to make it viable. In this case Edgeryders itself, being the community conduit, shaped the outcome and viability of the project.

We tend to use it in a focused way: no cute cats, celebrities or ranting about politics here. Almost 100% you’ll read is people comparing notes, as they try to reinvent their own life and work as part of some kind of societal change. And almost 100% of these conversations are long-distance.

It is one example of how the platform is conducive to focused conversations that draw dedicated people – often in just the right numbers to get something moving. Behind the planning, organisation and settling into the house we see in the Morocco project a willingness to understand community living in its most essential aspects. The drive to understand, experiment and document a way of life that might be on the edge, by today’s standards, but possibly also the baseline of tomorrow’s paradigm.