The Decentralized Web for Regenerative Projects

The Decentralized Web for Regenerative Projects

presented by Bloom Network 2020-2021

All calls take place the first Monday of each month
@12pm Pacific time

Purpose of this educational series: 1) Increase the accessibility of P2P systems beyond early technical adopters to those working on the community frontlines. 2) Build relationships between software development communities and regenerative leaders on the ground.

There are four thematic groups throughout these interactive calls:

  • Decentralized protocols
  • Media and art
  • Governance
  • Currency and Finance


Session one, June 1
Decentralized web protocols – designed for privacy, distributed power and control of resources, and better connectivity in the developing world. Featuring Scuttlebutt, Blockstack, IPFS, Swarm. 

Session two, July 6
Training: How to use cryptocurrency for the first time – bitcoin and ethereum, introduction to wallets Samourai and Coinpayments.net, introduction to Metamask

Session three, August 3
How digital platforms enable decentralized governance

Session four, September 7
Introduction to Aragon

Session five, October 5
Training: How to use DAI stablecoin to store cryptocurrency at a stable exchange rate. Cryptocurrency value fluctuates wildly at this stage in its adoption. In order to issue payouts for projects without the risk of losing value, teams can use stablecoins that are pegged to the value of the US dollar.

Session six, November 2
Publishing and media distribution on the decentralized web

Session seven, December 7
Art and the blockchain: tools for artists to be compensated for digital sharing of their works

Session eight, January 11 (2nd Monday)
Training: How to use Kraken to withdraw cryptocurrency to state currency in your bank account. Not every country has access to Kraken, however most countries do have a cryptocurrency exchange that is trustworthy.

Session nine, February 1
Sovereign Identity Tools for data privacy – imagine if your social profile data was anchored primarily in your own account and not owned by a company like Facebook or Google. There are implications for a more economically equitable internet, protection from algorithmic manipulation of behavior (such as what you purchase and what you believe), and more. We’ll take a peek at the farthest along identity tools to date: Blockstack, U-Port, Jolocom, 3Box, and JLINC.

Session 10, March 1
Token Engineering – what is it, when not to use it, how communities can use it now – cutting through the noise

Session 11, April 5
Cooperatives on the Blockchain. How smart organizations enable federated coops, easy and cheaper international exchange, and the sophisticated governance methods people need to collaborate with equitable power dynamics.

Session 12, May 3
Introduction to deFi – What is decentralized finance, what tools exist to do it, and what are good use cases for it?

Session 13, June 7
Regen Network – a regenerative agriculture application of blockchain designed to incentivize carbon drawdown and ecosystem restoration

Finance Innovation Relevant to the Regenerative Space

Finance Innovation Relevant to the Regenerative Space

cover image – grow by iconix user from the Noun Project

After ten years of volunteer research and development across the world in local grassroots community networks, Bloom Network is looking for start up capital for the first time, to set up a distributed cooperative. This will look basically like a media company that is rooted in localized actions and leadership.

Through the process of talking with finance professionals and adjacent network leaders, I’ve come across tools to share more widely. Many of the people I’m talking with do not know each other yet, yet are all asking similar questions and have symbiotic solutions. I’m thinking on how best to connect you with each other! In the meantime, here are some findings:

What problems have we found that require finance innovation?


Regenerative enterprises – whether they are for-profit, nonprofit, or grassroots non-monetized community projects – have some common challenges and unique ways of working that require novel financial structures. For example, these projects work best in collaboration, at a level that is more comprehensive than a normal transactional B2B relationship.

Staff sharing is one thing that will help this (administrative tools that support that are listed below). There is also clearly a “network weaver” role that is entirely being done by unpaid labor right now around the world, with thousands of people acting as bridges between different communities and networks to help people access the tools and resources they need, and to strengthen solidarity across movements who are working toward aligned goals. We’re also finding a need for novel IP agreements, international cooperative structures, and startup or capacity mentorship that is specific to regenerative development and regenerative entrepreneurs. They often are not the kind of people who would go get a traditional MBA, and even social impact entrepreneurship communities and accelerators are not quite the right fit for these projects. Finally, connecting regenerative projects that are operating primarily in a grassroots environment, with the major financial players who want to contribute to climate change solutions, is a cultural, communications, and structural barrier we’re working to address, in collaboration with leaders from the UN and large corporations.

Here are some of the movements, tools and processes we’ve encountered that can support regenerative enterprises. Some are working now, and some are at an early stage of development and ready for experimental use:

 Slow Money is an investment community of practice, building local food systems as a lever to address climate change, health, and community. Here are a couple of tools investors from Slow Money have built, to support local community investing:

  • Credibles – open a pre-paid tab with a local business to give them up front capital
  • Investibule – community based investing

Slow Money also practices a type of revenue sharing where the investor receives a 2-3x return and no equity. Ownership remains in the community, not in the hands of those with outsized financial power. Repayment is based on a percentage of revenue, so repayments grow along with the business’s growth.

DisCO – distributed cooperative organizations. Their manifesto is long but an engaging read! DisCO tracks labor contributions not just on paid contracts, but also on “care work” for the collective members’ well-being, and on pro-bono work they agree they should do. Collective members are then paid for all those kinds of labor from the paid contracts.

I’m convinced that distributed cooperatives are going to be a key underlying financial and legal infrastructure for the regenerative movement. They will allow us to pool services, federate member dues, and tap into large-scale funding sources such as government grants without each tiny project having to do a boatload of administrative overhead.

Analysis, Research & Reporting

On the topic of philanthropy, Global Green Grants Fund has a good approach to distributing funds in a decentralized way where decision making is in the hands of the communities. To get there, they have processes for building trust between the funders, program managers, and communities.

The need for living systems-oriented business models:

One thing we’ve found at Bloom Network is that regenerative projects are often necessarily more complex than a single service or product, and they often require more complex financial models. These projects are designed to address systemic dysfunction and care for the commons in ways that colonization and the evolution of the entire legal and finance structure of the U.S. and dominant world economy are designed to erode away. Leaders of these projects often have not gone through the industrialized education system, and they often do not have network connections to people or institutions who have capital. Communicators who can bridge that gap are needed in this space. Regenerosity by Buckminster Fuller Institute and Lush Cosmetics is at the forefront of this bridge.

Here is an example of a simple product business done in a way that supports local decentralized production and regenerative systems education:

Todd Anderson is a software developer and maker who has invented a new surf fin shape that gives surfers higher lift in the water (I don’t know enough about surfing to explain what effect that has or what kinds of surf it’s good for, but it’s exciting to people). He has also made his design into a file that can be 3D printed. He would like to share this file and teach “third world” surfing communities to use 3D printers, so that they can receive an income stream from people purchasing the fins they print, and so they can use the 3D printer to generate income streams from printing other products (localized manufacturing).

In order to make this economically viable for him, he would need to invent or find an IP solution where his digital design’s usage can be trackable, so that every time it’s printed and sold, he can receive a small portion of the sale price. I believe a solution to this exists already on Ethereum but I’ve just started asking around to find what teams are working on it. Todd wants to do his project through Bloom Network because he sees it as an opportunity to a) have more distribution reach than he would on his own, and b) facilitate communities to not only learn about 3D printing, but also about food sovereignty practices they can do, or any of the stuff you’d find on Bloom’s wiki.

On-site crowdfunding: One of the things we’ve been eyeing as we bring in financial capacity for Bloom Network to hire our current volunteer team, is tools that support crowdfunding and crowdequity raising directly on our website. So that members logged into Bloom Network can easily surf projects, find ones in their passion area or local community, and financially support. I’d love to see the internet shift toward having these tools as plug-ins rather than having to go to a site like Kickstarter, so that people can stay in a values-aligned webspace. With the decentralized web, I believe it’s possible to have peer-to-peer tools for this, where projects do not pay a 3-9% platform fee plus payment processing fees. Imagine: you visit Bloom Network’s website and see the “regenerative actions ticker” display a company in France who has converted an underground parking garage into a mushroom farm, and you have the option to support them with crowdequity investing so they can make more mushroom farms as car ownership declines with the uptick in remote work and the advent of self-driving shuttles. You make money, the world has more mushrooms, there are less steps and friction for you to do this.

(I only became a business person because mushrooms made me do it.)

Other finance innovation tools:

  • https://twitter.com/patio11/status/1230142988845629440?s=19 – A way for accredited investors to do small angel investments and reduce the amount of paperwork and legal expense involved for the entrepreneur and investor
  • Landscape regeneration teams are developing ways to work with bonds for funding large-scale regenerative projects.
  • A team at CrowdDoing is working on forest fire prevention derivatives to build financial incentives for risk reduction, in collaboration with insurance companies. Here are details on what they’re putting together.
  • Regenerative events ticketing model: Transparent costs and a pay-what-you-can structure. Our friends at Terran Collective in the Bay Area, California produced an event last year at the Mushroom Farm, a regenerative farm and events center, where they modeled a successful pay what you can event. They listed a recommended contribution amount, a minimum, and gave people links to their accounting spreadsheets. They came up short as the event started, but at the end told everyone that and requested more contributions from people who could. They met costs and beyond, and further allowed all attendees to allocate profits to a set of causes participants proposed that were in alignment with building regenerativity in the Bay Area. Terran Collective has a core group that practices pooled income so members have their needs met – they go deep with that, you can read more about it here.

Blockchain:

Aragon is a company that sponsored Bloom’s Governance Hackathon at Pollination 2019 (our regenerative futures conference). They have some incredible and futuristic tools. Aragon is the world’s first digital jurisdiction. Groups can start digital organizations in literally two minutes, and when disputes arise (like a contract dispute such as work not delivered), they can be settled through an online peer juror system. There is lots of software building going on in the space of digital organizations, to achieve more egalitarian financial participation, fast and cheap exchange across international borders, and highly sophisticated governance. RadicalxChange and DGov Foundation are two more good project hubs.

  • Aragon has a decentralized project management suite, for organizations to collaborate on projects across their different entities/teams. This will make the backend administrative process of regenerative business networks and cooperatives easier, among those that are ok with their finances moving through digital currencies. (Bloom Network will be hosting a year-long educational series on decentralized web and finance tools starting in June 2019.)
  • Aragon’s fundraising app (members of a community can propose a project, and people can contribute funds to a pool that issues a monthly payout to the working team on that project. People can withdraw their funds if the team is not delivering or has gone astray values-wise, etc.
  • That fundraising app uses something called a bonding curve which lots of blockchain people are excited about. Here’s an article that explains bonding curves. (Readability note: I am two years into lazily starting to learn about blockchain technologies and I only now read this as language that doesn’t just sound like it’s from another planet.) Thibauld Favre’s Continuous Organizations model also use bonding curves.
  • Aragon’s also developing liquid democracy and futarchy tools – much needed advances to the 17th century technology we’re using to run today’s global governments (facepalm). If you want to nerd on this, read up on what Taiwan is doing with digital democracy tools.
  • Bounties are another tool that helps distributed communities get work done together

Alternative Ways of Accounting for Labor and Value Contributed

  • 8 Forms of Capital, – I have a hunch that when we set up Bloom’s cooperative, it will be native to the blockchain on Aragon, and use some kind of digital token to track and reward contributions, payable in a more exchangeable cryptocurrency as money comes in to the network. We’ve been asking ourselves how we might allow people to buy into the cooperative with other forms of capital than financial. In addition to the 8 forms of capital we would add creative, and one other which we don’t yet have a name for! This seems bonkers complicated to me right now but I think there’s a there there. For now we’ll just gift memberships to people and orgs that really couldn’t even afford $5/mo so that we can keep the decision making and leadership power dynamics balanced.
  • Commons Stack is making a token engineering components library to align healthy incentives around using and developing public goods:

Financial Interventions Suggested by the Global Regeneration CoLab

  • Policy to require insurance companies to put X% of insurance premiums into regenerative risk reduction actions
  • Proper cost accounting of human and environmental costs that are externalized in extractive economy
  • Economies built on interconnection with watersheds
  • Quantitative easing
  • Regional regeneration bond market creation
  • Low to no interest loans
  • Measure success in regional gross regenerative product
  • ROI incorporating regeneration
  • Policy to shift government spend toward regenerative projects

Contributions to this article are welcome! Also, if you have a question about finance structure, or services or features you would find helpful to support your work, please reach out. Contact me here.

With love,

Magenta
ECO, Bloom Network


Many Things That are Good for the Planet are Sexy, Healing, and Relaxing for Humans

Many Things That are Good for the Planet are Sexy, Healing, and Relaxing for Humans

For the past ten years I’ve been researching the things that people can do to restabilize our climate, soil, and water cycles. Lately I keep smiling at realizing a pattern among many of them – they’re sexy! Let me tell you about the awesome things you can do or support that are great for you, great for love, and great for the planet and all life here:

Oysters. They’re sexy, delicious, and nutritious, yum! Oysters are a profitable farming crop and they create beneficial ecosystems for all life. Humans have destroyed 85% of oyster stands in the world, and resuscitating them will help everyone. Oysters clean water by filtering nitrogen and phosphorus – both problematic byproducts of industrial agriculture that end up in our waterways – and by making water more clear which allows more sunlight through, nurturing plant life. Their shells absorb carbon dioxide, and they provide habitats to many other marine creatures, as well as sheltering them from climate change effects. Oysters also can provide seawalls – sheltering cities from sea level rise and storm surges by reducing erosion and growing natural barriers – more economically positive than building concrete barriers. Talk about stacking functions (a Permaculture term that refers to making gardens or other systems so each element in them provides multiple interconnected benefits)! Zooming out a bit, I recommend reading about vertical ocean farming. Greenwave is one organization that makes open source business/technical models for this that entrepreneurs can adopt. And they call it polyculture vertical farming – that’s sexy :).

Sidenote wonderous thing – oysters can change sexes back and forth! (similar but different to nudibranchs, my favorite sea creature).

Caveats – climate change is also making it riskier to eat oysters. If harvested in brackish waters over 68 degrees, they can contain the deadly bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. Changing ocean temperature and acidification can also degrade the nutritional benefits of oysters, and harm the creatures themselves. Scientists are researching specific species of oysters that are hardy to these changes, to advocate farmers to grow them. (Incidentally, scientists are similarly researching resilient coral species to plant, to stave off the estimated 99% die off of all coral we’re likely to experience.) Lastly, oysters can accumulate copper, some species moreso than others. So…….. if you like oysters, there are some incentives for you to reduce your carbon emissions, contribute to carbon drawdown projects, and go zero waste so you don’t contribute to metals ending up in waterways.

Hemp and cannabis. As more places in the world legalize or decriminalize this plant, more research is being done into its health benefits. From relaxation to introspective insights that help your life, and much more, cannabis can be a friend when used in moderation. I’ve known cancer patients who aggressively used it to beat back their diseases. You can grow it in your backyard again now in many places. Its stalks provide fiber for clothing, paper, and building materials. I’m stoked that in my hometown in Montana, which is mostly an industrial agriculture community, there is going to be a hempcrete processing plant! Check out this gorgeous hempcrete roundhouse the folks at Starseed Creative built – it’s a good building material for people who have chemical sensitivities and allergies. There are cannabis lubes to get your lady bits high, cannabis food helps with chronic pain, and many people find their creativity enhanced through the plant. Yums all around. (Sidenote, concrete building is incredibly carbon intensive.)

My friend Will Kleidon, CEO of Ojai Energetics and former local Bloom organizer, was telling me about his research into the coevolution of humans and hemp. He described that humans tended to eat more cannabis during periods of stress, helping us weather the moment, physically and psychologically. I’m convinced that oppression of plants with psychoactive and healing properties is one of the roots of climate change in a strange way. The social inequalities and disconnection from nature that that form of cultural control / colonization has asserted, traps people in cycles of poverty and disease where they have to work in extractive systems designed for inequality. This is one of my motivations for working on Bloom Network, and supporting decriminalization of all entheogenic plants and fungi.

A side benefit with cannabis legalization that is sexy, is the creative product packaging, and the cultural changes that will come about with its more widespread and open usage. (Also, cannabis packaging is ripe for an ecological overhaul, as so much about it is wasteful. I will blog about this in the future.) I used to live in Grass Valley, CA (haha, I know), one of the capitals of cannabis growing in the U.S. It was really incredible to see what a local cannabis culture engendered in the community there – prior to legalization and the expensive permitting, families had time to explore other arts, healing traditions, and making music. People were more likely to buy clothing that used natural fibers and dyes, participate in local economies, and inspiring approaches to education – there are many public charter schools and options for homeschooling. My neighbor’s daughter was studying ecology and politics in her last two years of high school, including studying abroad. Another neighbor kid was in a wilderness skills afterschool class – he showed me that you can eat blackberry leaves (they grow in delicious abundance all over there) – he was so cute showing me to be careful to check the underside because some of the leaves have spikes. For a time there was a whole store there dedicated to what used to be called witchcraft – herbalism for people to make their own remedies for common problems such as colds, pain, and the transition of menopause.

Similar to what I said about oysters and copper, heads up that hemp is also a bioaccumulator of toxins, absorbing heavy metals and toxic chemicals from soil. If you’re eating CBD for health, it’s wise to check your source’s soil health.

I’m going to toss being gay in here as a sexy thing that’s good for the planet. We (mostly) don’t add babies, and as a broad generalization we make more love around us, if only because we know how much it hurts to not be loved by society for who we are, so we often tend to be gentler and empathic to those around us. And more diverse ways to express sexuality = more love to go around :).

So there you have it, just a few of the sexy things that are good for humans and good for the planet. I sometimes view climate change as an invitation to come into deeper relationship with nature again. While nature can be ferocious, I’ve mostly found that connecting with her brings infinite joy, learning, relaxation to my body, awe, and respect for all the interconnected forms of life that exist here. I hope this article encourages you to walk toward that and connect with nature in the sexy and good feeling ways that you want to.

Regenerative Movements

List in progress! Is there a movement you’d like to see listed here? Contact us here.

Our intention with Bloom Network is not to circumscribe people into one movement or into our “brand”, but to help people find regenerative spectrum activities and groups they can participate in and contribute to, and to boost the visibility of initiatives that are doing wonderful work for all of our well-being on this planet <3.

Economy

New Economy Coalition

Ujima Project

Climate

Generation NOW

Global Climate Strike

Extinction Rebellion

Food

Slow Food

Clothing

Fibershed

Justice

Restorative justice

Indigenous Sovereignty

Amazon-specific:
Rainforest Trust
Amazon Watch
The Guardians of the Forest

Regenerative Culture Examples

TLDR; It’s about nurturing and creativity, + circular systems that build life, as opposed to extractive ones that create sickness and inequality.

Holistic

Creative Arts

P2P Economy

Global Justice

Community Health

Earth Stewardship

Sustainable Technology:

Collective Wisdom

Community Land Trusts

Community land trusts are a solution for equitable, sustainable rent and home ownership, and neighborhood stability.

“There are numerous variations on the community land trust model, but in the basic framework a nonprofit obtains land, removes it from the market and allows it to be used based on the needs of the neighborhood residents. Typically, the organizations are led by a mix of community members, residents of the land trust, and sometimes, political representatives.” – Jake Blumgart for NextCity.org

Examples of Land Trusts:

  • Sogorea Te’ – urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship
  • Overview of land trusts via NextCity.org
  • Permanent Real Estate Cooperatives via the Sustainable Economies Law Center – “A PREC simultaneously decommodifies land, enables community control for structurally excluded communities, and disrupts root causes of racialized inequality. Unlike a conventional housing cooperative, which is formed to provide housing to a defined group of residents, a PREC could be described as a ‘movement cooperative’ because it is designed to provide housing, build a large membership base, and serve members’ collective goal to transform our neighborhoods and our systems of finance and land ownership.”