Introducing PDX DAO

We’re excited to share PDX DAO, an experimental Ethereum education and public goods DAO based in Portland, Oregon.

As an organization we have three points of focus, representing three perspectives on localism we hope to see proliferated as Ethereum adoption expands. They are:

  1. creating a vehicle to seed and support local experiments in Ethereum and web3 technology, especially for the public good, with an emphasis on monetary localism, the ownership economy, and novel cooperative enterprises,

  2. initiating onboarding games to bring diverse communities of artists, makers, planners and designers into the crypto fold, along with their perspectives and knowledge-sets,

  3. generating an opportunity for local Ethereans to build experience and dip their toes into the new economy by contributing to and participating in DAO work and governance.

Why Portland?

Portland is a unique place. Our penchant for experimental industry, alternative economics and our ethos of community autonomy is virtually a stereotype at this point. (We’re green, we’re anti-corporate, we’re into open source, everyone knows it!). All of this makes it a robust place to experiment with blockchain use cases. This is especially true now, as crypto flowers out from its decentralized finance period to one in which it might enable new forms of economic organization that can make our cities more democratic, fair and free. Craft breweries and backyard chicken coops may be a punchline, but trends like them began when skill sets shared online bred a multitude of on-the-ground experiments that showed a desire to learn and own skills of economic reproduction. Ethereum can foster and develop this energy.

We intend to build connections between local crypto natives, eager neophytes, and the host of urban farmers, local manufacturers, artists, organizers and designers in the Portland area currently practicing web3 values without even knowing it. Our bet is that by welcoming these kindred spirits into the crypto fold, we can change the culture for the better. This is why we’ve taken onboarding up as a core cause. If Ethereum in particular has been host to the kind of technology positive, democratic entrepreneurship that we think represents the best of the ecosystem - a practical pluralism adequate to our city’s creativity - we believe that the network can only benefit from bringing a diversity of outsiders in.

Many have been brought into the crypto world by way of an investment hypothesis, or the promise of an unregulated “wild west” of financial machinations - but there is nothing particularly local about either of these avenues. We hope to seed new paths to adoption that bypass the degen pipeline, looking to the many subcultures and micro-industries that share an affinity for things like decentralization, alternative economics, open sources values, and cosmolocalism. By connecting these communities to web3 tools that exemplify their existing values, we can discover a landscape of new use cases and practical insights that will riff on and expand the core ethos of Ethereum, to help decentralization and economic democracy go viral from the ground up.

Our Story

The seed of PDX DAO was planted when members of a local regenerative economy initiative—PDX Commons Technology Project (@exeunt, @joshspector, @macks)—brushed shoulders with organizers of Portland’s local Ethereum meetup group, EthPDX (@christypdx, @vengist, @wackerow, @mike). PCTP was agnostic to blockchain and concerned with mutual credit, homebrew production tech, mutual aid and all things localism, while the EthPDX crew was passionate about the hypothesis of the infinite machine and interested in local application.

After a series of open conversations discussing everything from CNC technology to Layer-0 security, permaculture to pre-internet protocols, a joint vision was established. It was an instance that is archetypal in the life of pluralist orgs - when a diversity of thought finds, in a moment, a consensus vision. Our thesis: the Ethereum ecosystem contains all the formal infrastructure we need to build a regenerative local economy, so long as we can win the local talent to accomplish the task.

The summoning of the DAO went down at BridgeSpace Commons, a community warehouse space in SE Portland where PDX DAO holds our IRL meetings, often alongside groups of permaculturalists and seed experts, student climate activists, mutual aid projects and psychedelic enthusiasts, art collectives and dance crews. (The building itself and the network it contains is an important part of our multi-capital resource pool. But more on that below.) Since then, we’ve been having more discussions, building out our infrastructure, and making plans. Lots of plans.

Our Purpose

PDX DAO operates on the beliefs that (1) blockchain coordination mechanisms can provide rails for more egalitarian and democratic social and economic systems, and (2) this will happen at scale only after arising many times, independently, at the local scale. This local scale disruption is already having a renaissance of sorts in many parts of the world, but we seem to be lagging behind here in the states (with a few very notable exceptions). We see the city of Portland as a perfect place to stage the next chapter of the coordination metagame.

The kind of organic exchange of values described in our origin story is exactly what we hope to reproduce with PDX DAO, using outreach, education, and problem solving through participatory design. The last point is crucial. While the degen to regen pipeline has been a great source of value and talent for the Ethereum network, the culture will be under threat if it’s the only source. There is a rich alternative offered by the host of communities and subcultures that, with their affinity for distributed systems thinking and new economy experiments, are simply waiting to be onboarded (trust us, we know them) - given a thoughtful and good faith introduction, offered in a language they are ready to hear.

Most importantly, these diverse communities have an overall sense of experimentalism and systems design which we think mirrors the core spirit of Ethereum. If we invest in these communities, many of whom have already put decades of sweat equity into their own closely-aligned missions, the network will be rewarded tenfold by their breadth of knowledge and the practical value of their use-cases. This is how we touch grass.

Our Projects

Because of PDX DAO’s grounding in the community, our projects benefit from (and are designed around) a wealth of multi-capital resources that will increase the weight of any dollars we throw at them. Not least of these is BridgeSpace Commons, our home base and the network center for the kind of diverse local causes described above. While we share a responsibility to maintain funding for the warehouse, its core purpose is to provide cheap gathering space for orgs like ours that are working to further the local public good.

Local Rounds is a quarterly fundraising drive and buidl sprint for commons infrastructure in Portland Oregon. Each quarterly round will take a different sector of the urban commons as its object in a month-long cycle of awareness, inter-education (between builders and designers and the communities we’re engaging), participatory solutions design, and fundraising, ending in a hackathon. Protocols will build relationships with communities. Portlanders will be onboarded to web3. Crypto-natives will learn mind-bending things from communities. Participants will be rewarded with POAPs.

Round cycle (as currently envisioned)
Round 1: Urban Farms and Community Gardens|
Round 2: Makerspaces, Hackerspaces, Art Collectives
Round 3: Worker Coopertives, Platform Cooperatives & Experimental Enterprises
Round 4: TBD

In each case, the community will be brought to bear for small events, teach-ins, tours and work parties on locations (local urban farms and gardens, for ex.) while community members will be invited to small talks and onboarding events put on by PDX DAO and any web3 volunteers. The structure is designed so that the hackathon occurs only after builders have had time to be immersed in and hang out with the communities they’re building for. Products of the hackathon are, of course, only provocations meant to create a relationship and design path that can live on, in different cities and future projects.

A General Forum on Ethereum Localism. Alongside this (ideally, but not necessarily, after a “trial round” of the Local Rounds project) we have proposed the General Forum on Ethereum Localism, for the benefit of crypto-natives from all over who are thinking about and building local, value-aligned applications utilizing the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Our intention for this convening is to create a container where the Ethereum community can elaborate for itself, in a plurality of directions, what Ethereum localism can mean and look like. While we know the cultural imagination will outdo us, some examples might include:

  • Ethereum-enabled monetary localism – mutual credit networks, community tokens, circular economies, and other exotic programmable solutions to the problem of extra-local economic extraction.

  • DAOs as a tool of the urban commons - economic solidarity blocs for individuals (housing protection, unions, grassroots campaigns) and businesses (as mutual safety nets to protect against extractive megacorps), issue-specific grassroots fundraising sprints, and commons infrastructure management.

  • The premise that local food and material production systems are aligned with the Ethereum ethos of decentralization, security through redundancy, economic autonomy, and applied systems thinking.

This event is targeted to crypto-natives, and will broadly focus on the question of localism and web3. (The question of specific project applications and grassroots causes in the city of Portland will be left to Local Rounds as this forum’s compliment). A series of small tours and work parties will be hosted in the days leading up to the event to expose the community to some of the local projects in our orbit.

Open Salons and Technical Forums + Web3 Reading Group. On a smaller and more regular basis, we are laying out a series of meetups meant for EthPDX/any other web3 locals to cover both the theory and technical sides of the Ethereum project. The first open salon, led by @wackerow, took place at the end of March, with about a dozen ETH folks talking blockchain fundamentals, the mechanics of staking, running a node, various security protocols, and more. A technical forum is in the works with a planned talk and discussion delving further into the topic of security.

Meanwhile, @exeunt has put together an open syllabus for a web3 reading group covering theory elements, from the early cybernetic period through to cypherpunk, the financial crisis, solarpunk/lunarpunk and conversations about the future.

The city has always been a factory for experiments in democracy, pluralism, and economic freedom. The metacrisis requires that we bring all of those powers to bear. When we do so in reciprocal exchange with the decentralized web toolkits we have at our disposal, we’ll bring the distributed power of the broader world to each of our challenges. Local strategies inspiring global protocols that lay the ground for new strategic improvisation. This is the supercycle we’ve been waiting for.

For more info, and if you want to get involved, visit our website and join the EthPDX Discord. Projects and operations are public on

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