Launching Cabin Neighborhood Accelerator

This doc draws upon the thoughts and work of @prigoose, @Phil Levin, @jon , @Matai , @grin , @camlindsay , myself, and many more voices in the larger Cabin network. As you read these words, know that they’re sourced from this larger collective, not just me. For additional context on this project of starting Cabin neighborhoods and cohorts, check out the Cabin Labs - Spring 2024 Plan. Let’s dive in!

TL;DR

We’re launching neighborhood cohorts to support people in building vibrant local communities within close proximity to each other. We’re looking for aligned folks in the Cabin network to join these cohorts and collectively build our network city together.

Outline

  1. Storytime
  2. How do we build these neighborhoods?
  3. Our Progress So Far
  4. Cohort Logistics
  5. Who Can Join a Cohort?
  6. Let’s Do This

Storytime

The easiest way to explain what we’re building is to tell you a story…

A Neighborhood of Friends

Imagine you get a bunch of your closest friends to come move into your neighborhood. Some love throwing Open Mic Nights, 1 hosts a book club on that book you keep meaning to read, 2 friends who previously didn’t know each other start a weekly potluck that becomes the drumbeat of your community. You decide to go for a walk, ping the group, and 4 people spontaneously join you. A few friends decide to improve the neighborhood by hosting trash cleanup events.

You all realize that you can build really cool things together if you pool your resources. You start small and share a Costco membership, then you build a lending library for power tools. A few folks decide to build an app together after meeting each other in your neighborhood. Later, you all decide to rent the house down the street and 3 of your new friends move in. The rest of the community decides to collectively pay a quarter of the rent to turn the house into your community’s clubhouse + co-working space. You plant a community garden in the backyard. You slowly notice your body is more relaxed. There’s a deep sense of belonging. You’re home.

This is what we want to help people build at Cabin.

Here’s another scenario…

A Neighborhood of Families

Say you’re a parent. Imagine you live within a 5 min walk of 7 other families + a handful of friends who don’t have kids but love them. Your kids have their pick of wonderful places to play after school and you trust the other adults to look out for them. You can easily ask the group for help when you need it and they show up for you. Maybe the weekends have scheduled times where childcare is shared among a few adults so the other parents have some free time to themselves. Maybe 1 family organizes bulk food buying for the group so that you can all save time and money.

Maybe some of you decide to buy houses next door and kick the fences down so you can build all sorts of things together in your larger shared backyard. All the adults and kids gather regularly for a big family meal. Your kids are laughing with people you admire and you’re glad that your kids are going to be impacted by these genuinely good people. You feel more supported as a parent than you ever have and you get to support the people you care most about.

It does take a village…and you have it. You have the village.

This is what we want to help people build at Cabin.

These two stories are not fantasies. They’re inspired by real neighborhoods that exist already, built by real people who trial-and-errored their way into building beautiful communities of people who care about each other.

In this next chapter at Cabin, we are creating cohorts of people who want to build vibrant neighborhoods similar to the stories I shared above. This is our current experiment in building our network city on a grassroots, hyper-local level.

How do we build these neighborhoods?

Our current plan is to:

1. Build Peer-Support Cohorts of Neighborhood Stewards:

We’re forming cohorts of neighborhood builders (we’re calling them “neighborhood stewards”) and supporting them in building their vision for their neighborhood.

The plan is:

  • Bring together a bunch of passionate people building neighborhoods in different contexts around the world and create a container of mutual support, experimentation, and learning.
  • Bring in resources (think Art of Gathering by Priya Parker) and leaders who’ve successfully built neighborhoods (folks like Phil Levin from the Radish and Priya Rose from Fractal) to educate and support stewards on their journey.
  • Support the stewards in running different community-building experiments (ie knocking on doors, posting to social media, tweaking the wording, hosting regular events, shifting the facilitation of the events, iterating, iterating…). As each steward shares the experiments they’re running and what they learned, the rest of the folks in the cohorts learn and improve their approach as well.
  • Help them share what they’re learning publicly…we can rapidly learn what works for building local community and what doesn’t to create a loose playbook for future neighborhood stewards.
  • Highlight the patterns and strategies that tend to make the biggest difference on the journey of neighborhood-building. Support the conversations and soul-searching that enables people to thoughtfully create community.

2. Connect People Looking for Community with Cabin Neighborhoods

So many people want to be a part of a vibrant community. We hope to connect aligned folks together to participate in this decentralized web of neighborhoods by:

  • Putting out the batcall on social media + various Cabin channels we have that these neighborhoods are being built and need values-aligned folks to join them.
  • Updating the cabin.city website so folks can learn about the various neighborhoods being built and explore if joining a neighborhood would be a mutual good fit.

As we do all this, it’s important for us to remember that the path of building a community is 100% not linear – it’s emergent, organic, and messy. So we hold this plan lightly, knowing that how we support our global community build local community will change as we all walk this path.

Our Progress So Far

As of this writing, we’re about a month into running our first cohort: Cohort 0. The following Cabin folks are participating:

  • Cam Lindsay and his partner Shirah are building a neighborhood of friends in Oakland, CA
  • Jon Hillis and his partner Lauren are building a neighborhood of families in Larkspur, CA
  • Jackson and his friends are building a neighborhood for creatives in Venice Beach, CA
  • Grin and his partner Diana are building a neighborhood of families in Sky Pond, MA
  • My partner Jon and I are building a neighborhood of friends in Boulder, CO

We’re close to launching a Rural Cohort as well. The Rural Cohort is for folks who want to build long-term, place-based community in more rural regions.

  • Matai is facilitating this cohort with his partner Zoya and connecting the community in his Ojai, CA neighborhood.

Additionally, I’m currently looking for more parents to join @Katharina Horvath and her partner Stephen (who are in Porto, Portugal) for our first cohort focused on building neighborhoods of families.

We’re moving and grooving! And we want to start more cohorts so we can run many concurrent experiments and collectively improve our neighborhood-building approach. You’ll notice that everyone on the Cabin team is building a neighborhood in their city — which I love. Each of us are actively building community where we live and live experimenting on this shape together.

Cohort Logistics

What do these cohorts actually look like? The current shape is:

  • Free
  • 8 people or less per cohort
  • The group gathers on regular zoom calls (bimonthly is working for Cohort 0) + a private discord channel in the Cabin Discord Server.
  • Cohorts are organized by focus. For example, we could see the following distinct cohorts:
    • A Neighborhood for Families Cohort
    • A College Campus Cohort
    • A Post-College Neighborhood Cohort
    • A Rural Cohort for folks wanting to build long-lasting community in more spread out regions
    • …and focuses we don’t even know about yet.
  • Learnings and experiments will be shared between cohorts via discord and on the Neighborhood Stories section of the Cabin Forum

Who Can Join a Cohort?

We’re looking for people who:

  • Have a clear, long-term vision for what they want to build in their neighborhood, yet have the humility to know that community building is an emergent, organic process that can’t be controlled
  • Have a clear location where they want to live and build their neighborhood
  • Have enough space in their life to dedicate time each week to building their neighborhood (running experiments, sharing how they went, hosting gatherings, meeting with people, coming to cohort calls, that sort of thing)
  • Be willing to try different things, run experiments, be wrong, try something new, and keep going even when it’s hard.
  • Deeply intrinsically motivated to build community that they would be building their neighborhood on their own
  • Are excited to support others building similar things in other locations
  • Share Cabin’s larger vision of building a network city of decentralized villages around the world

Let’s Do This

If you feel deeply inspired by this vision and want to join us in building neighborhoods, I’d love to talk with you! If you know someone who feels aligned with this work, please share this doc with them so we can connect.

Here are the next steps:

  1. Please fill out this short form to signal your interest.
  2. We’ll schedule a call to talk about your vision for your neighborhood and explore if joining a cohort is a mutual good fit.

If you have questions, thoughts, feedback, etc. please share em in the replies below.

5 Likes

Amazing. Would love to participate in the parent cohort - I’ll fill out the form.

And I can think of a few others who might be a good fit here, lemme pass this on to them.

4 Likes

That’s the best news! I’m so glad to hear it. And yes I’d love to talk to any folks who want to join! Thank you!

1 Like

This is amazing! A beautiful picture of what can be. And this is just the beginning! Really excited to be taking part in the college cohort, and to learn more about the Boulder neighborhood!

3 Likes

Great job on sharing a vision through story, it really brings it to life, I am in Milwaukee currently and interested in all that you are building. I don’t currently live in a neighborhood that I want to stay in for much longer as it’s right downtown and I am past my downtown days. I live a slower life now and and want to move into a neighborhood with a little more space, parks and people who are more settled in the neighborhood. So what I’ve been leaning into is looking at neighborhoods in my city or beyond that have the vibe of who I am now and is more aligned with this vision that you have painted.

4 Likes

Love it. Here’s a resource that might show you how someone else decided on where to build a neighborhood in SF. This is a very thorough way to go about it: Choosing where our neighborhood is in SF

I’m excited for our chat next week and I’m very down to strategize about how to find what you’re looking for in your area + what you want to build that isn’t yet there.

1 Like

wow what an incredible resource and a lot of work went into this. it will be a great guideline for many others, and I am grateful they’ve shared it.

1 Like