This wiki article summarizes practices for equitable leadership and governance.
Restorative Justice Governance
In one sense, the governance model for Bloom Network is predicated around the concept of restorative justice governance: rebalancing power dynamics so people and places can recover wellness. Leadership representation is similar to the demographics of the region. In cities, it dismantles gerrymandering and redlining issues that cause intergenerational inequality.
Movements such as Black Lives Matter in the United States, Indigenous governance coalitions in many countries, La Via Campesina and more have already formulated pathways to improve local sovereignty, regional resource abundance, and social equity. Invite leadership from these movements or include representatives.
Whenever possible, foreground Indigenous leadership. Examples:
Two Row Wampum Social Layer by Howard Davis and Dezirae Johnson. Their work is developing in collaboration with the Blockstack governance team through the Stacks project, academic collaboration with Ron Eglash, and leadership of the Longhouse, a 2500 year old governance protocol connecting the western hemisphere in The Great Peace.
Native Land Tax: Shuumi Land Tax is an example of a voluntary Native land tax that a local Bloom or any region could commit to. (Note that boundaries are not always clear cut nor mutually recognized.) This could be programmed into a smart organization to automatically allocate a percentage of membership fees to Native leadership. A module for this that is consistently updated by a team could be helpful.
Legal and Economic Entity Frameworks: Isaac Kinney of the Yurok Nation in Northern California, who is also part of a coalition of First Nations jurisprudence people: “My main objective in designing it is to have a local Indigenous-led multi-stakeholder organization (capacity-building is integral to all activities) dedicated to local food systems for environmental, social, and economic resilience. Any and all guidance is much appreciated.” He is looking at a Resource Conservation Structure (i.e. L3C, Philanthropic Fund, Lab), but possibly developing a new frame.
Regeneración Ecosistemas Perú is a project that supports Pastoral Peoples’ leadership in regional health of soil, water, fauna, and spirit ecosystems, and asserts an economic frame to counteract extractive economic situations that are encroaching on traditional balance and well-being.
Rights of Nature movements have made progress in designating personhood to natural entities. For example, in New Zealand the Whanganui River and Mount Taranaki are legal persons who are orphans, with Maori appointed their guardians (Indigenous people of New Zealand). The river is able to hold a board seat on corporations so businesses can give equity to the river. Those profits then go to the guardians of the river person, the Maori (details/link/fact check how this is phrased?)
Integral to restorative justice governance is shifting out of the power dynamic of domination backed by violence in governance. That dynamic contributes to the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, the ongoing hunting of Black people, and toxic patriarchal cultures.
The implementation of restorative justice governance will be a combination of cultural, legal, and technical.
Restorative justice governance requires redistribution of financial power. And that is why Bloom Network covers innovation work on finance structures.
Case studies of Native law holding primacy or healthy leadership in a region
- Treaty of Waitangi (what’s the best article about this to point to?)
- Two Row Wampum Social Layer and Matrilineal Council, by Dezirae Johnson and Harold Davis
IP case studies in textiles. Example: The National Movement of Maya Weavers. There are a few things going on with textiles IP. Large fashion houses copy traditional patterns and make lots of money off them, with no acknowledgement or sharing of profits to the people who created the designs and maintain the cultures and ecology that are part of the meaning of these patterns and symbols. There are also bio theft concerns related to the legalization and chemical extraction of psychedelic compounds. For example, some Bwiti leaders feel strongly that it is culturally dangerous to extract iboga into ibogaine, similar to the effects that extracting cocaine from the coca plant has on society.
Regional Working Groups
Local Blooms are essentially regional working groups, bringing diverse stakeholders and wisdom keepers together to collaborate on healthy, just bioregional economies. At a later stage of Bloom Network, we plan to implement topic-specific working groups to make better informed policy and finance decisions than politicians are typically able to make.
Example: Northeast Healthy Soil Network is a multi-stakeholder coalition formed around healthy soils, in the northeast United States. They thoroughly analyzed what leverage points different sets of people and organizations could focus on together to move toward healthy regional soils, waterways, and an equitable food system. While there are existing state-level working groups, to some extent they operate within siloed institutional structures and power dynamics. Whereas, cross-sector groups help achieve equitable and wise regional governance.
Another example of a bioregional working group would be housing access and ownership continuity, bringing together methods such as permanent real estate cooperatives, community land trusts, and regenerative or carbon-negative building techniques. Cross-regional or global working groups could be hubs for leaders from different regions to share best practices and troubleshoot together, so that in aggregate we have more access to different adaptations that are emerging regionally.
Structures for Managing Water
Water is tricky to regulate because it crosses geographic and policy boundaries in multiple ways. We recommend focusing on the scale of a bioregion or watershed, in collaboration with relevant existing entities.
Flood reduction and soil health improvement: For wetlands that are prone to increased flooding due to climate change, water parks can be used to buffer flooding. New Orleans’ Mirabeau Water Garden is one example. Soil health management helps draw water into the soil, prevents nutrient and toxin runoff, reduces risk of landslides, and increases topsoil available for high yield crops. Bloom Whangarai has scoped out a suburban flood mitigation approach using people’s yards as soil sponges – the purpose is both to educate people about soil and help them connect with nature, as well as to investigate if this approach could be effective at reducing flooding.
Successful projects: Regeneración Ecosistemas Perú is a gorgeous example of traditional Indigenous trade and ecosystem knowledge acting as a leader in watershed management, and restoring their economic and cultural sovereignty.
Self-Determination: Generally, we recommend loose on regulation (for most things) and deep on education and relationship building. In Bloom, local Blooms self determine their own budgets and what activities they focus on, based on the needs of their bioregion.
In today’s finance structures for both business and government in a centralized nation-state, resources are siphoned from communities and oppressed peoples. We need more socially equitable leadership distribution, and different game dynamics for who has power and why. One major feature of bioregional governance will be designing finance collaboration to disrupt extractive power dynamics.
Web3 has the capacity to enable equitable power dynamics. None of the existing finance sector pathways really has healthy solutions for what needs to happen right now, on their own. Smart contracts can bridge institutional and community finance pathways. Cryptocurrency enables more efficient international collaboration. Quadratic Voting can result in higher fidelity democracy. Case study 1 (Colorado State House of Representatives). Case study 2 (Gitcoin Grants). Also see risks as per CICOLab’s Blackpaper.
Citizen Led Finance
- Dark Matter Labs’ Smart Commons Platform
- Participatory budgeting: a democratic process that elicits project ideas from residents and stakeholders. Examples: Vallejo, CA | Conviction Voting in a DAO
Funder-field partnerships are a participatory philanthropy process where movement leaders and philanthropists come together to discuss strategic criteria and best placement of financial resources, rather than philanthropists who aren’t actively working day-to-day on the ground making the decisions. Examples include Femtheogen and Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory.
Regenerative Policy Frameworks
Here is a list of policy frameworks that can be adapted to other locations. Bloom is in touch with most of these coalitions if you would like an introduction to someone involved with the specific framework/movement.
Recommendation: develop policy frameworks at city and state levels that can easily be adapted in other industries/contexts. For example, policy for cooperatives that apply to multiple industries rather than solely finance or food, can greatly reduce the expense and increase the speed at which progressive, citizen-led finance can be rolled out.
Replicable business models will also support innovation and cooperative, place-based ownership. Bloom Network is exploring blockchain solutions to reward creators of models (templates) that other groups and people find valuable over time.
Examples: Long Beach Fresh’s local food policy templates. Vallejo, California’s Participatory Budgeting approach (see below). WEPOWER’s neighborhood citizen-led investment model. Also see: Zebra’s Unite SXSW Panel: “Who Gets to Decide, Flipping Power Dynamics in VC”. For cooperatives policy, refer to Nathan Schneider and Sustainable Economies Law Center in the United States. (Gather more references from other countries.)