LEDGER is a European project financed by the European Commission. They are looking for 32 Minimum Viable Products and Services, in order to achieve new models that preserve citizens’ digital sovereignty, where data is a common good owned by citizens and wealth created by data-driven platforms is equally distributed.
Based upon our last ten years of research and development, Bloom Network’s proposal for this program is to build open source peer-to-peer economic modules using smart organization tools to support the emerging market of regenerative enterprise.
Specific to this moment of collapse, Bloom is connected with groups working around the world on a) open source supply chains, b) regional food resilience, and c) mutual aid societies. All of these groups are using Google Sheets + Facebook, and none are connected to each other. We want to support them with distributed ledger tools and use this opportunity to switch to more data sovereign and open collaboration systems.
On a technical level, these are some of the modules we will create, using established P2P governance software including Aragon and Autark’s Open Enterprise suite:
Local budgeting: the ability of local chapters to automatically receive a percentage of membership dues
Participatory budgeting among members of the cooperative
Cross-sector finance: bridging the funding gap to the grassroots sector which is inherently decentralized, by using decentralized project management software to empower efficient mobilization across organizational boundaries
These are some of the needs we’ve identified that we plan to address during the program:
The ability to collaborate across different movements and industries, without the intermediation of centralized corporations, and with data sovereignty
Greater visibility of regenerative initiatives, including peer-to-peer technologies, to the general public
Restorative justice governance: improving the ability of historically marginalized groups to have power and voice in decisions about where funding is allocated and what programs are developed
The modules we create will be both technical using existing decentralized governance and project management software, and also social, documenting the social processes and leadership methods that Bloom Network has found effective over the past ten years across our 100+ local chapter networks.
Our goal is to set up and test digital infrastructure for an international distributed cooperative that can be used and adapted by other networks. Through the Ledger program, we would receive support in selecting existing P2P privacy-protecting technologies to utilize, as well as business support to actualize the research and development we’ve done in the emerging market of regenerative enterprise, to support equitable post-pandemic economies.
1) Increase the accessibility of peer-to-peer 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.
July 6, 12pm Pacific (Register here) Already since beginning this series, a few working groups have formed. We’re currently feeling out the right balance between training/introduction calls and calls where we hack on Bloom Network itself. On July 6 we’ll plot out next steps for 1) setting up a continuous fundraiser to raise a community loan through Bloom memberships, utilizing DAO technology (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and 2) looking into creating a protocol for the types of value exchanges Bloom members want to do with each other. If you are brand new to the dWeb / Web 3 etc, you’ll still be able to learn things during this session.
Below are sessions we plan to host over the coming year. We are forming the schedule month-by-month as we go. If you have the ability to do one of these trainings or explain to noobs what these projects are, please get in touch, thank you!
Decentralized web protocols – designed for privacy, distributed power and control of resources, and better connectivity in the developing world. Featuring Scuttlebutt, Blockstack, IPFS, Swarm.
Training: How to use cryptocurrency for the first time – bitcoin and ethereum, introduction to wallets Samourai and Coinpayments.net, introduction to Metamask
How digital platforms enable decentralized governance, including introductions to Aragon, DaoStack, and Colony
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.
Publishing and media distribution on the decentralized web
Art and the blockchain: tools for artists to be compensated for digital sharing of their works
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.
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.
Token Engineering – what is it, when not to use it, how communities can use it now – cutting through the noise
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.
Introduction to deFi – What is decentralized finance, what tools exist to do it, and what are good use cases for it?
Regen Network – a regenerative agriculture application of blockchain designed to incentivize carbon drawdown and ecosystem restoration
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
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
Decolonizing Wealth – a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance
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.
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.
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
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.
Blockchain for Social Justice is a collective of social justice minded individuals from various sectors coming together to support the development of blockchain projects that serve the most vulnerable. They do developer training, community education, and project design consulting. Director Daisy Ozim will be a keynote speaker at Bloom’s Pollination conference in San Francisco, 2019.
They believe every blockchain project should be designed to uplift marginalized communities and eliminate the wealth gap, poverty, inter-generational trauma and promote true democracy within unfair institutions.
Cryptocurrency is a tool of economic sovereignty. In order to make sure it is used as such, efforts must be made to reclaim its purpose.
Their crew hosted a conference in San Francisco in 2018. Simulation did a series of video interviews with the presenters. Listening to these is a great way to find an introduction to what is going on in cryptocurrency and some of the most interesting social equity use cases of it. Here’s the first one with McKenzie Slaughter of Beyond Capital Markets. Watch the whole series here.
Lastly, check out the B4SJ resources page to support people in accessing the tools and knowledge necessary to engage in the blockchain ecosystem.