A perspective on Cabin's current state, questions and recommendations (Feb 2024)

This post originated from ideas shared in response to this thread: Clubs -> Neighborhoods. as I felt that establishing a shared understanding of current state would help us collaboratively move forward with more community members engaged in the design, planning, and execution feedback loops. If interested you can learn more about my background in relation to Cabin here.

1. Cabin’s current focus

Cabin’s current objectives are focused on growing Citizenship by 400 people this year (screenshot from the Winter 24 Roadmap as of Feb 2 2024):

With a group of 5 Pod contributors so far helping to make this happen:

  1. @jon is leading Cabin Labs, with myself (@Matai ) & @charlie as contributors
  2. @grin is Meeting Cabin’s Technical Needs
  3. @jxn is leading the Proposal: Rebooting Campfire for an ongoing Season 3

Enhanced Citizen benefits were just announced to make the $420 annual subscription membership more attractive to help enable the growth objectives (screenshot from Winter ‘24 State of the Network):

2. Questions and recommendations

Taking a step back for a second, here are some questions that I think we can ask ourselves. For each I propose some thoughts and recommendations:

A. Is growing Citizenship the most important objective we should be focused on?

I think the answer is no, and that our most important objective should be engaging with existing Citizens to create positive experiences. Why? Some thoughts:

  • Existing Citizens are the people who have made this community project so special, and are the best ambassadors to help onboard new ones.
  • Its harder to recruit a new member than it is to retain an existing one (some ChatGPT perspective + research for reference).

I think its easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing future business metrics over community engagement and retention when dealing with financial investments. I experienced this first hand with the rise and fall of Kift’s start-up house share for vanlifers (a note from Colin the founder for more); however DAOs are different. DAOs are intended to be:

  • Decentralized ~ groups of people collaborating
  • Autonomous ~ groups of people making decisions local to their area of interest
  • Organizations ~ emphasis on the S, what if we had multiple?

If Cabin’s membership subscription ended, the community would still exist. Regardless of what NFT or crypto we HODL, we are forming friendships as we collaborate to share space IRL and online that extend beyond any blockchain. As a lived experience example: for 1.5 years I worked and lived with Kift community members. Kift had a social enterprise funded by private and crowdsourced investment that wound up offering an awesome subscription membership to share houses and food with other vehicle dwellers (aka vanlifers et. al). Most subscription members were encouraged to purchase an NFT to become a life long Kift DAO member, sharing governance of 100% of NFT sales in a community treasury. The Kift community encompasses all Kiftable NFT holders and friends they hang out with online and IRL along the way. After ~3 years the Kift business scaled operations to 100+ paying members living together across ~3 sites, and although ultimately the Kift business is dissolving and suspended operations, the Kift community is actively hanging out IRL, many old and new informal members on a yearly caravan to Baja and elsewhere, and DAO members are still talking about where to buy land with the shared treasury. Fun fact: I first was introduced to Cabin by the same amazing person who introduced me to Kift @camlindsay, kicking off an epic journey of creating life long friendships and priceless experiences. Point of the story? Community is at the core of what we are trying to build, business and organizations are tools to use as helpful.

*A. Question: Is growing Citizenship the most important objective we should be focused on?
Recommendation: We should 1. emphasize existing community engagement as our top priority, creating meaningful opportunities for connection and experiences, while 2. create plans to drive higher membership renewals along with new sign ups.

I think that this ethos is reflected in our culture and amongst the community leaders I’ve met, but our current documented strategy seems to prioritize new member sign ups ahead of retaining existing members.

B. What organizations are needed to achieve Cabin’s vision?

Who knows for sure, but we are all on this journey to find out (more Cabin history & vision), and I think its only natural for us to continue improving how we organize and activate as a community.

How we organize boils in large part down to our systems of governance.

Based on my limited scope of observations. here is a draft visual chart showing how I understand decision making contextually flows, with these concentric circles representing the hierarchy of governance over the DAO’s treasury and IP resources.

While there is polycentricity amongst the layers, aka different groups making decisions independently, ultimately funds are first distributed by ₡abin governance token holders to Contributor Pods through proposals that request funding from the DAO, allowing them to use funds for operational and community activations once approved (e.g. creator residencies, hosting a Supper Club). While Contributor Pods and Cabin governance holders presumably try our best to take into account the diverse perspectives of other community members, I think we can continue a path of progressively enabling more decentralized approaches for funding initiatives, starting with our Supper Club / Local Club and Neighborhood efforts.

Diving deeper into the weeds and as far as I am aware, Cabin is currently organized as two legal entities:

  1. Unincorporated Non-Profit Association (UNA) established in Feb of 2022 that governs the DAO treasury using ₡abin to represent weighted voting power.
  2. Limited-Liability-Corporation (LLC) that acts as an API to the traditional Nation State and institutional finance world, making it easier to have a bank account and transact operationally. As much as we love doing things onchain, we can’t use crypto everywhere yet :sweat_smile:. I’m not sure how the legal governance rights for this entity are defined, but @jon announced its formation in Sept. 2023 and has been stewarding its ops through the First Fellowship into Cabin Labs.

So what about Outspoken Community Volunteers? I used this term to encompass everyone who may not currently be being paid by Cabin, but who is contributing something that those making decisions are informed by. Guilds of community members were also established alongside the launch of the network city, but Guilds are largely inactive today, with Pod contributors and ad-hoc community volunteers being the main force supporting Cabin’s activations and operations.

(Note my articulation of these observations may not reflect the broader truth given my limited depth of engagement on these topics.)

B. Question: What organizations are needed to achieve Cabin’s vision?
Recommendation: 1. We should focus on empowering a more decentralized team of active community leaders. This could be done through Guilds on a contextual level and Supper / Local Clubs on a regional level. 2. We should explore incorporating a 501c(7) Social Club Non-Profit to manage the annual membership model.

Ever heard of a 501c(7)? Neither had I until a fateful conversation with Chat GPT when thinking about models that might have worked better for Kift’s subscription business. They offer a few benefits to operating with an LLC from my perspective:

  1. The purpose of the organization is to benefit members’ defined social activities, establishing a community focused legal entity as the foundation.
  2. They allow an organization to collect membership dues and event fees to run community focused operations while qualifying for Federal and sometimes State Income Tax exemptions if certain conditions are met. I am not a tax or legal professional so DYOR/not financial or legal advice, but I’d be curious to learn if Cabin is currently paying any income tax, and whether a 501c7 Social Club non-profit could help better manage the subscription membership model in collaboration with the UNA and/or LLC.
  3. You aren’t allowed to publicly promote membership to maintain tax exempt status. You can have information on your website about membership, and you can still have up to 30% of revenue come from non-members, but you can’t promote sign ups in any marketing content or communications. We don’t like giving Meta or X more Ad revenue anyway, and I think investing marketing budgets into community activations is a better way to build a member base that is connected and excited to belong.

Furthermore, I think we should lean into the social aspects of Cabin more. In support of @camlindsay’s awesome post around Is Cabin a business or a government?, I love the idea of exploring how Cabin could support more Public Goods, Mutual Aid, and Social Impact initiatives. Some examples are how:

  • The Guilded Freelancer Cooperative offers their members financial and legal support by leveraging a shared treasury and infrastructure.
  • The Oakland East Bay Housing Cooperative offers members mutual aid support for community projects and support
  • Open Collective offers shared insurance discounts for members, and the ability for independent groups to apply for fiscal sponsorship from other organizations to operate approved projects within a given legal entities structure. What if Cabin Neighborhood Caretakers could collectively buy home and liability insurance at a discount? What if Cabin Citizens could get access to discount travel (:white_check_mark:) or other personal liability insurance?

After talking with folks at the 501 Collective organization back when we were exploring pivots for our Kift community efforts, I think there is a bright future for the use of 501c7’s to empower a wide variety of community projects, and if we could save more membership fees for Network State-esque community activations instead of Nation State taxes, seems like a no-brainer. :grin:

Lots more to explore on this front of tapping into how we can collectivize to reduce non-valued added expenditures of time and money, allowing us to focus more on what brings us joy and purpose.

C. What should Cabin provide community members to foster lasting and meaningful engagement?

This is a huge topic… some summary ideas:

  1. A cultural cache and sense of belonging. An ease of connection with strangers who share a similar expression of values, signaled by their choice to be a part of the Cabin community (words adapted from a talk with @Zakk )
  2. An online network of people and resources that community members can access
  3. An evolving physical network of places where community members can gather
  4. Opportunities to co-create to the future of the Cabin ecosystem by participating in DAO proposals, Pod initiatives and volunteer projects

As a guiding design principle, if we can help more of our community member’s basic needs be easily met (shelter, nutrition, and connection), we will have community members with more capacity to dedicate their time and energy towards creative passion projects that they are truly excited about, elevating the entire community experience as we grow.

C. Question: What should Cabin provide community members to foster lasting and meaningful engagement?
Recommendation: Focus on improving opportunitieis for engagement online and IRL through the Gatherer’s Guild, Supper / Local Clubs, Neighborhoods, and other initiatives proposed through a collaborative community design process.

Visual for reference from a comment originally published in the Winter '24 Roadmap. Btw the the moon is a metaphor for manifesting our community dreams. Mine are grounded on Planet Earth, but hey maybe we’ll have a Cabin on Mars some day :alien:
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For more details on proposed next steps, please check out the replies on the Local Clubs → Neighborhoods thread.

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Lots of great ideas. Looking forward to being part of the discussions.

I really want to participate in this but suddenly I need to travel early tomorrow so can’t make it as it’s too late for me. The coming week I’ll be in the middle east and that time difference is even bigger. Any chance to set up calls at 09:00 pst so it’s easier to join?

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All good! Will follow up with you over email to find a better time that works. Smooth travels!

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Hi Matai,
Thank you so much for this context and these thoughts.

  1. I agree with you about focusing on engaging current members. I would bet that there are plenty of citizens + folks in the discord who would jump into action if effectively engaged. And if they were effectively engaged, they’d likely attract new folks too. At a high level, I think seeing that the members of a DAO are building and actualizing their mission + seeing how one could easily join in is the most attractive reason to join a DAO like ours. So supporting, engaging, and activating current members in addition to our other marketing and community-building efforts feels spot on.

Looking ahead, my biggest desire is to understand the following:

  • Why are current citizens here? Why did they become citizens? What specifically made them a yes? What membership perks do they not care about?
  • What would make folks who are not yet citizens but are lurking in the discord, coming to calls, etc be a fuck yes to becoming citizens?

If you all have already conducted this community research, forgive me and I’d love to know the results. If not, the answers to these questions could dramatically help us build more of what matters to people. I’d love to help conduct this customer listening research if folks are amenable to this approach.

  • Wow, you’re expanding my brain here with these examples. I’d also throw in community land trusts as a shape we could explore in the future. Cabin’s nonprofit owns the land and stakeholders who occupy the land own and rent the buildings.
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Great questions! Yes, we have conducted community user research on these questions. You can find a summary of it in this post in :fax: Memos :

There’s also more detailed research available at these links:

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Awesome, thanks for this.

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