Cabin Labs - Spring 2024 Retreat Recap

Context

Cabin Labs is a pod within the DAO working on incubating bets and finding viable paths to becoming default alive (see Cabin Labs). In Spring 24, we are focused on building urban neighborhoods for friends & families (see Cabin Labs - Spring 2024). The Cabin Labs pod got together in LA for a seasonal IRL retreat; this post will share some of what we did, discussed, and took away.

Retreat Timeline

We packed 3 trips into 1 for this retreat.

First, @savkruger and I joined @Matai and a crew from Mars College (led by OG Cabin Build Week participant Nico) for a Protopian Retreat, hosted at the neighborhood Matai is building in Ojai, CA. It was awesome to see a place that has been growing as a cohousing community and neighborhood for 40 years (!), learn more about the incredible pop-up village known as Mars College from a bunch of Martians, and spend time around the campfire with friends old and new.

Next, @savkruger and I met up with @grin in Venice, CA for the Cabin Labs retreat. We coordinated the timing with Farcon, a conference for the Farcaster ecosystem founded by @grin & others last year in Boston and hosted by a new team this year in Venice. We spent some time checking out the latest in consumer crypto and seeing what Cabin could learn from the event. We also raided the costume closet from our awesome Burner host and SHOWED UP on the dance floor at Free Wifi:

Progress on goals

Neighborhood Cohorts

@savkruger has taken the lead on the Neighborhood Steward cohort-based program: Launching Cabin Neighborhood Accelerator, which started with 5 urban neighborhoods in Boulder, Oakland, Venice, Arlington, and Larkspur. After running a program with Cohort 0, we provided feedback to Savannah, who is now creating more structure and curriculum for the next cohorts.

The original plan was to run rural cohort for the next one, but we didn’t have strong traction or a clear enough value exchange for rural properties. Instead, Cabin Labs will continue to lean into urban neighborhoods and separate out neighborhoods for friends & neighborhoods for families for the next cohorts. Savannah is currently recruiting aligned participants for these next batches. Some incredible neighborhood builders like @KathiInPorto @Dahveed @prigoose have already started engaging and sharing their learnings before the cohort kicks off.

Steward Pipeline

We have reoriented the cabin.city landing page to focus on recruiting neighborhood stewards and getting them onto a 1:1 call with Savannah to join a cohort.

@grin is now rebuilding the onboarding flow and neighborhood pages to align with our this focus. People creating accounts enter a location and are placed into their local neighborhood. They will be able to see others in their area, upcoming events, their local steward, etc.

We launched The Network State Camp (https://tns.camp/) and started selling tickets. We expect this to be a strong source of leads for neighborhood stewards.

Pausing Citizenship, Crypto Features, and Outposts

In our Cabin Labs - Spring 2024 update, we shared plans to pause work on Citizenship, Crypto Features, and Outposts. It’s become clear from our work with 🏘️ Building Neighborhoods - Cabin that this is the right path.

Citizenship isn’t the right fit for the current iteration of what we’re building due to a lack of clear relevance to local neighborhood participants (see more discussion here: Cabin Citizenship 2.0). As Cabin Labs continues to refine our focus on urban neighborhoods, we are going to keep simplifying our current app and deprecating features that no longer fit, including the primary crypto-based onboarding flow, roles, neighborhood voting, etc. We are also updating all of our content (wiki, blog, obvious truths, etc) to better align with the current state.

Instead, we will focus on building tools for local urban neighborhoods (more on this below).

Decentralizing Pods

Cabin Labs is focused on incubating bets and spinning them out of Cabin Labs as independent pods. I’m excited to see @Matai, who led the charge on an incredible set of Supper Clubs over the past few months, spinning out his own proposal to continue building in this direction :saluting_face: Support for Community Gatherings

He joins @jxn, who has been producing Cabin’s excellent podcast, Campfire, under his own contributor pod (and who also made a guest appearance at Farcon shortly after the Creative Kickback he hosted for his budding Venice, CA neighborhood). @grin also spun out his own pod in January, and continues to work closely with Cabin Labs.

@savkruger remains a part of Cabin Labs and I’m excited to share that she is stepping into a full-time role leading the Neighborhood Cohort program! As the program gets up and running, we can evaluate when it can be spun out into its own proposal.

Looking forward

Our contrarian take on DAOs

Many of our peers from the 2021 vintage of DAOs are dead and gone. Hardly anyone is talking about or building new DAOs right now. In the First Fellowship retrospective, we shared this perspective:

At this retreat, we reaffirmed our belief in this approach. We are a DAO, and DAOs are not good at the same things companies are good at. The standard startup playbook is written for companies—applying this playbook to Cabin doesn’t work well. We are not going to follow this playbook.

We aren’t building a company, we’re building a city. To build a city, we need things that DAOs can uniquely create: legitimacy, local action, long-term bias, and lower core operating costs. We’ve been abundantly clear since the beginning that we would continue to build in a way that is community centric and long-term, even if it’s not what everyone else is doing right now. We think this is a unique advantage we have that will compound over time.

What this means in practice:

  1. Continuing to support a network of local neighborhoods as our core focus
  2. Keeping our burn rate low and finding long-term paths to financial sustainability
  3. Co-creating our brand & values and building in public
  4. Practicing governance of contributor pods that are loosely aligned towards our shared vision
  5. Cycling in new stewards, contributors, and leaders over time

As long as we continue to see highly engaged community members implementing the Cabin vision locally and staying connected to the network globally, we are on the right path.

Tools for neighborhoods

Cabin Labs will continue to focus on how we can best support neighborhood stewards in building the social infrastructure for strong urban neighborhoods.

We believe that the biggest opportunities are:

  1. Connecting stewards for mutual support in the neighborhood building process
  2. Helping people find neighborhoods to participate in locally
  3. Helping neighborhoods share resources and practice local functional sovereignty
  4. Finding models for local neighborhood financial sustainability that also support DAO financial sustainability

In particular, we are exploring some product bets to support this direction based on learnings from our current neighborhood stewards—including shared neighborhood treasuries, a neighborhood “fix it” bounty app, and urban third spaces for families.

The current crypto meta

Memecoins and L3s were the biggest discussion topic at Farcon and we considered what role Cabin might play in the current meta. No plans here for now because we don’t think this trend is clearly enough aligned with what we’re doing. If we can find a way to incorporate lessons from these projects in a way that makes sense for us, we’ll reconsider—but we aren’t going to chase trends for the sake of it.

Closing thoughts

Cabin is the first network city. We are building something deeply special and unique. I see it in the relationships between community members, the passion of neighborhood stewards, the participation on this forum, the earnest grappling with hard questions, the burning desire people have for what we’re creating. Building a city is a long, slow, hard process—but the value it creates is deep and meaningful.

If you are reading this, you are a part of that process, and I am grateful for you. I am especially grateful for two groups: the stewards building their local neighborhoods into strong communities & the contributors dedicating their heartbeats each day to this mission. Getting to spend time at the retreat in person with many of our neighborhood stewards and contributors was an incredible reminder of why we do what we do.

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Woowoop! Thanks for writing all this up! I’m excited about our direction and curious what others think of it.

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