b. Context & Learnings
c. How it could work
d. Open questions
b. Context & Learnings
c. How it could work
d. Open questions
b. Context & Learnings
c. How it could work
d. Open questions
- Case studies
What if we focused on helping Clubs grow into Neighborhoods by developing social 3rd spaces for Cabin Citizens? Here’s how it could work:
Start a Supper Club → Get 10+ Citizen Commits → Open a Cabin 3rd Space → Grow a Neighborhood
What I’m proposing in this post is essentially a merging of the learnings from the 3 experimental bets of the past season (originally outlined in Fall 23 Product Directions ) into one coherent product direction for Cabin:
- The Neighborhood for Families : building villages for families to raise kids near friends
- Network Citizens : subscription membership for citizens
- Social Clubhouse : operating membership clubs
It also draws heavily on recent community discussions, including:
- Clubs -> Neighborhoods
- An approach for launching local clubs
- A perspective on Cabin's current state, questions and recommendations (Feb 2024)
In the sections below, I outline how Neighborhoods, Citizenship, and Cabins could evolve to fit this model.
Current: A coliving house for digital nomads in nature, voted on by the community
- exurban or rural
- generally focused on coliving / short term rentals as a business model
- broadly interpretable definition leads to wide range of offerings (see Cabin)
- governance is top down (TCR) instead of bottom up
Proposed: A place where at least 10 Citizens have organized a local community 3rd space funded by Cabin
- urban or suburban (still with access to nature)
- focused on Citizenship access to a 3rd space as business model
- more specific definition & clear, immediate value to existing community
- governance is do-ocratic and demonstrates local collective action
Two of our most popular product Memos have been about building Neighborhoods for Families:
We’ve known there’s strong community interest & clear alignment with our long-term vision of building a network of modern villages for intergenerational living. But we haven’t taken bigger bets in this direction yet because of the risks summarized here: The Neighborhood for Families.
We believe “core pain point” and “size of market” are 10/10, but had doubts on “feasibility of execution” and “ability to be 10x better than alternatives”, based on the assumption that we would try to build them in within the existing framework of rural coliving environments:
However, as we’ve seen from the successes of projects like The Neighborhood in SF, Radish in Oakland, and Fractal in NYC, many of these issues can be mitigated by building closer to existing urban areas where you don’t have to get people to relocate and do greenfield development.
According to @prigoose at Fractal, the two key components to make this type of project work are:
- A recurring dinner party
- A third space
These are both things we can help coordinate and provide to local communities interested in building a “Fractal for X”.
- Host a monthly Supper Club to begin building community in a local area
- Get together with ten Citizens and commit to $100-200 / month subscription
- Cabin rents a community third space (aka a Cabin) that is locally managed by Club Steward
- Citizens get access to their local third space & stays across the network
- People visit neighborhoods and eventually start moving there
Other opportunities for Clubs to pursue as they grow include include:
- Civic engagement (eg trash cleanup, park potluck, natal support group)
- Urban improvement (eg build a park bench, fix a pothole, start a garden)
- Relocate the squad to a solarpunk village (eg buy land and build power, water, sewage, and housing systems)
Or, in the words of @savkruger:
- Should we transition the definition of a neighborhood and deprecate current city directory listings that don’t match this new approach?
- How could we evolve the product to create a Neighborhood Race style leaderboard where people could see existing Commits and join a neighborhood?
Current: A subscription membership ($420/yr) that gives you a laundry list of benefits that are difficult to summarize:
Connect with community globally
- Visit or live at 25+ properties
- Connect with 350+ Cabin Citizens across dozens of countries
- Stay 7-nights at the Citizen Clubhouse Neighborhood Zero
- Attend a seasonal Citizen gatherings (4 x year)
Participate in building locally
- Receive 25 ₡ABIN each year + 10 ₡ABIN per referral
- $450 reimbursement for hosting Supper Clubs
- Found a Cabin neighborhood, outpost or local chapter
- Vouch for others to join
Access special benefits and gatherings
- Cabin gear welcome gifts and merch drops
- Tickets to conferences and events
- Discounts and perks with partner organizations
- Citizen NFT & physical passport card (numbered sequentially)
Proposed: A subscription membership (~$100-200/mo) that gives you 24/7 access to your local community Cabin and 24 nights per year at any Cabin in the network.
The current Citizenship benefits are based on user research that we completed as part of Network Citizens
However, they have a few issues:
- they’re complicated, multi-faceted, and hard to summarize / explain simply
- they’re a big bundle of things, but often people are buying for only one or two pieces of the bundle
- we’re seeing some traction, but doesn’t feel like we have clear product market fit
There’s an opportunity to radically simplify the core membership offering and orient it around tangible, local club goods. Or, in the words of @camlindsay:
Citizenship would essentially become a coordination game for local Clubs to crowdfund new Cabin 3rd spaces to create a Neighborhood. It rhymes with an idea we pursued last year: Neighborhood Race, but with lower stakes than greenfield development (see Neighborhood Race in the History of experiments). How it could work:
- Any current Citizen can create a new proposed Neighborhood location
- Anyone can go to cabin.city and commit to a $100-200 / mo membership to a proposed location
- When 10+ people have committed, we activate memberships, they become Citizens of that location and we rent a Cabin (3rd space)
- More Citizens can continue to join the Cabin, and we work with the Club Steward to grow to a number of Citizens that can sustainably support the 3rd space
- What do we do about existing Citizens / benefits?
- Should we have membership tiers or different costs for different locations?
- Will there be a sufficient demand at the price point that covers the cost of renting Cabins?
- What happens to vouching? How do we vet who joins an existing space?
Current: Used to describe the brand, community, and city
Proposed: Used to describe the brand, community, city, and 3rd space
Over the past season, we ran an experiment in turning Neighborhood Zero into a subscription membership club (see Clubhouse). @charlie shared the learnings from this experiment here: Deep Work Club Experiment Learnings
The experiment had mixed results: some revenue generated through local club memberships, but a low conversion due to the demographic and distance from urban center. Charlie’s recommendation was to orient more towards families and/or consider spots closer to urban areas:
@savkruger shared some great thoughts about the value of building local clubs towards a 3rd space here: Clubs -> Neighborhoods - #5 by savkruger, as well as in a follow up call that we recorded (@Matai can hopefully share the video).
10+ Citizens come together and commit to a monthly membership. We rent an apartment or house as a 3rd space that meets the following criteria:
- Dining Room
- Living Room
- Coworking space
- 2+ bedrooms
- Housing cost & availability
- School quality
- Access to nature
- Access to airports
- Vibrant downtown
(see more here on ideal location criteria: Exploring Villages for Families in Colorado)
- Running a consistent monthly Supper Club
- 10+ committed Citizens
- Someone willing to take on the role as Steward for the space
- Landlord willing to rent for 3rd space
- We can install a Ring camera, lock, etc
- Playbook & support for Stewards
- Liability insurance
- Monthly cleaning crew
- Can we find spaces willing to rent to us under this arrangement?
- Can we find spaces with a reasonable tradeoff of amenities and cost to make this viable?
Here are six specific examples of where I think this model could thrive in the Americas:
- Spy Pond - Massachusetts
- Larkspur - Northern California
- North Boulder Park - Colorado
- Neighborhood Zero - Texas
- Ojai - Southern California
- Prospera & Morazan - Honduras
There are many other places with a strong presence in our community that could also be good fits but were not included as case studies for brevity, including:
- North America (Portland/Seattle, Washington; Venice, California; Toronto, Ontario; Alameda, California)
- Central America (Guanacaste, Costa Rica; San Juan, Puerto Rico)
- Europe (Berlin, Germany; London, UK; Sofia, Bulgaria; Lisbon, Portugal)
- Asia (Bangalore, India; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Taipei, Taiwan)
1. Spy Pond - Mass (@grin)
Heading northwest out of Boston, after passing through Cambridge, you come to a charming small town called Arlington. If you keep going, you’ll be in Lexington & Concord. Arlington sits on Spy Pond, which is a neighbor to Walden Pond. It’s just been sitting there, quietly in the middle of famous American landmarks for hundreds of years:
It has a neighborhood that sits between the town’s small urban area and Spy Pond nature preserve. There are athletic fields, schools, bike paths, and a train station a mile away:
In particular, the houses around Spy Pond Field in between town and the pond form a lovely core of low setback family and multi-family houses with front porches:
To get specific and tangible, here is a 3 bed 1 bath apartment on the market right now for $3400 / month. This is a great example of a potential Cabin 3rd space:
2. Larkspur - CA (@jon)
Across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco is the town of Larkspur. It has a charming walkable downtown, regular ferries to SF, extensive bike paths, beautiful parks along the marshes of the San Francisco Bay, and hundreds of miles of trails on Mt. Tam.
The town’s central urban district feels out of the 19th century, complete with a hundred year old saloon called the Silver Peso. It’s delightfully walkable and packed with popular restaurants:
Right next to Mt. Tam, there are apartment buildings offering 2 bedroom units for $2900 / mo:
3. North Boulder Park - Colorado (@savkruger)
Boulder runs along the edge of the Flatirons, from south to north: UC Boulder, Downtown, Pearl Street, North Boulder Park
Near the park, there’s a 3 bedroom bungalow with a huge backyard for $4k / mo. Just imagine the gardening that could be done here:
4. Neighborhood Zero - Texas (@jon)
Neighborhood Zero is tucked in the Texas Hill Country, 45 minutes west of Austin. It sits on 50 acres near Hill Country natural destinations like Pedernales Falls States Park, Hamilton Pool, and the Highland Lakes.
Neighborhood Zero features a Texas-scale expanse of rolling hills, scrubby forest, and winding creek. The sky spanning sunsets and stars makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, even though it’s a quick drive to Austin. The property has several houses, gardens, a tool library, solarpunk infrastructure, and art installations built by the community.
The original container home built on the property makes for a perfect Cabin (that’s what it was designed for). It has 4 ensuite bedrooms and and a large open kitchen / dining / living room. Let’s assume something like $3k / mo rent:
5. Ojai - Southern California (@Matai)
Halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara sits the Ojai Valley, a pocket of beautiful farmland and mountains north of Malibu:
The Ojai Valley combines fantastic weather, beautiful nature, and fertile farming land:
Throughout the Valley, there are a number of emerging eco-villages, intentional communities, and collaborative farms—places like this where we might be able to establish a Cabin 3rd space:
Looking out over the barrier reefs of tropical Roatan is Prospera, a special economic zone in Honduras located on Pristine Bay.
In addition to a large greenfield development zone, there’s a fully built resort with a combination clubhouse, hotel, pools, restaurants, apartments, and single family homes. They even have their own onsite Montessori school and dive shop:
In the greenfield development, they are finalizing their first residential building, the 14 story Duna tower. Here’s the rendering (left) and real, nearly complete first tower (right), from my recent visit:
As I shared in Reflections on Vitalia, Prospera, and popup cities, there may be an opportunity to get an apartment in Duna (possibly for free) that we could open as a Cabin:
As an added bonus, adjacent ZEDE Cuidad Morazan is already a Cabin neighborhood, and rents a barebones 2 bedroom apartment for the shockingly low rate of $150 / month: