🌱 Local Node Incubator - Beta Cohort Retrospective!

Incubating a new cohort of ReFi Local Nodes to join the ReFi DAO Network. If you’ve been wondering how web3 can be harnessed for positive, practical, and transformative impacts in real life, this one’s for you! Let's Grow 🌱


All around the world people are realizing the necessity and urgency for systems change, especially as related to shifting away from extractive economics to more regenerative approaches that sustainably meet our needs. “ReFi Local Nodes” is how ReFi DAO refers to the people and organizations who have stepped up to lead and connect across these kinds of regeneration efforts in their own communities. Recently we concluded the final session of our “Beta Cohort” in the Local Node Incubator program. This program brought together both aspiring and established Local Nodes to explore the theory and practice of community-based organizing around regenerative finance and systemic transformation.

Some key highlights from the cohort included:

  • Hosting 13 sessions, totaling over 20 hours of instructional content and exercises.

  • Over 100 participants attended the sessions, with more than 25 consistently tuning in each week throughout the course.

  • More than a dozen guest speakers provided insights on topics ranging from on-chain finance to local organizing strategies.

  • A total of 182 POAPs were minted and issued to verified attendees.

  • 18 Local Node Profile pages were created using our new template, including 12 for newly incubated nodes.

As a result of the program, we successfully incubated a new cohort of Local Nodes to join the network. See below for the updated Q2 2024 map and keep reading for the full retrospective!

Beta Cohort Incubator Retrospective

The Beta Cohort of the Local Node Incubator provided an opportunity to introduce Local Node leaders to a range of critical subjects at the intersection of local community organizing and the potential of web3 as a platform for designing and aligning transformative financial systems for place-based regeneration. Dive in below for a session-by-session breakdown! 👇

Session 1: Uniting for Regeneration 🌱

Session 1 marked the inaugural gathering aimed at exploring the essence and motivations behind the ReFi movement and its implementation at the local level. We also used 'bio cards' to facilitate introductions and allow everyone to showcase their expertise across relevant areas.

Session 2: WHY - Working With Purpose

The business of transforming systems is, as one might expect, complex. Our ability to create effective interventions in systems is often constrained by our understanding of what they are and what the transformative process involves. In this session, we introduced a high-level approach to systems (with a little help from the iceberg model) and that process in terms of the Why, the Who, the What, and the How.

  • The WHY: The purpose of the system and values-based motivations of stakeholders for engaging with it.

  • The WHO: The many stakeholder classes and types involved in the system.

  • The WHAT: The “thing” in terms of the system’s design and the interfaces we provide others via an app, platform, etc.

  • The HOW: The way we engage communities in the co-creation and the ongoing operations of the organization.

This framework also served as the logic for the content across the remaining sessions in the incubator.

Session 3: The WHO

The Who is all about the stakeholders and their relationship to the system. We created a new stakeholder mapping canvas tool to help local node operators get a clearer sense of these levels of relationship; as direct participants, partners, operators, external contributors, or others with indirect interest.

Session 4: The WHAT - A Solution Stack for Place-Based Regeneration

Local Nodes are situated between the global, wider world of web3 and the local needs of real-world people in communities. In other words, in the space between the macro and the micro: the mezzo. This means that far from being isolated, single-issue projects, they are ideally situated to serve as aggregators of many kinds of regenerative projects and programs and as enablers of those systems in their respective local contexts. Our guest speaker in this session was Ben West, previously of Gitcoin and now Thrive Protocol. Here’s how he described the way Gitcoin also embraced a pluralistic approach by hosting multiple rounds within each round Gitcoin offers:

Scott also shared his own 5 layer framework for categorizing the various components of a place-based system. The “compass” layer covers legal and governance considerations; the “capital” layer includes financial instruments and mechanisms (like Gitcoin); the “commerce” layer includes marketplaces and incentives (currencies); the “cooperative” layer includes operational elements such as the node’s own organization; and finally the “cost-benefit” layer includes open value accounting for all of the above.

Session 5: The WHAT pt 2 - Regenerative Interventions in Finance and Commerce

In this session we hosted the legendary Will Ruddick for an introduction to the world of bottom-up, community-powered, “endogenous” finance and how bringing communities together around new financial facilities works. He shared about his work with Grassroots Economics Foundation in Kenya, and his learning journey around traditional practices of value creation and exchange there. Have a listen:

Reprising his 2014 TEDx talk, Scott discussed how currencies are, as his mentor and advisor Bernard Lietaer so often put it: “an agreement within a community to use something as a medium of exchange.” By creating new agreements around what's fair and valued, communities can create as many new current-sees as they wish. We also discussed how digital marketplaces are powerful tools for making markets based on such agreements and values-based alignment.

Session 5.5: BONUS SESSION - Intro to Hypercerts and Minting

As we face global challenges, the need for effective public goods funding becomes paramount. In this bonus session, we explored the innovative world of hypercerts—a cutting-edge tool poised to transform how we track, reward, and scale positive impact. Participants gained an understanding of hypercerts and got hands-on with the process of creating and minting their first hypercerts with real-world applications.

Session 6: The WHAT pt 3 - Designing for Impact: Strategic Planning

This session aimed to deepen understanding of essential systems for community development and inspired reflection on each node's mission and vision. The session began with Juan from ReFi Medellin and Karla from ReFi Costa Rica, two of the most mature Local Nodes that, in just one year, have made some incredible progress. They presented projects such as collaborations with the army in Colombia and incubators for local impact projects in Costa Rica. Following their presentations, attendees participated in brainstorming sessions and strategic canvas mapping, connecting their initiatives to the broader ReFi movement and fostering collaboration.

Session 6.5: BONUS SESSION - “It’s Raining Grants in Web3” - An Overview and Brainstorm of Opportunities

In this bonus session, we explored a variety of current grant and fundraising opportunities for ReFi projects. We covered key programs such as Gitcoin Grants, Giveth's quadratic funding rounds, Optimism's RPGF and Cele Public Goods. The session concluded with a collaborative brainstorming to identify additional grant opportunities to benefit ecosystem projects, fostering innovation and collaboration.

Session 7: The HOW pt 1 - Co-creating Strategy via Collaborative Engagement with Multi-stakeholder Coalitions

Moving from the What into the How, we were joined by Sage Gibbons of Prosocial.World and turned our focus towards specific approaches and strategies for developing regenerative community systems with the communities for whom they are intended. Especially when we’re coming from a place of techno-optimism, where so much of “the solution” is technologically oriented, it is important to appreciate the value of bringing people together, creating new and deeper relationships between them, and inviting them into contexts where they can express their local context-informed needs and values in constructive ways that may inform future efforts and product development.

Session 8: The HOW pt 2 - Practical Considerations for Building Purpose-led Local Networks + Innovations in On-chain Finance

This session focused on the role that local currency and credit systems can play in re-circularizing the local economy and building up a sense of shared community identity. We were joined by Chris Hewitt of the Hudson Valley Current who shared about his journey from working in local print media to local currency and how opening up Tilda’s Kitchen, a cafe in upstate New York, has provided invaluable opportunities to build community, solidarity, and interest in joining the network of locals and businesses accepting Currents.

Session 9: The HOW pt 3 - Leadership, Operations & Conflict Management with Gravity DAO and Timotheé

We wrapped up the core content with a session more focused on the internal side of things. First we were joined by Juan from Gravity DAO, who shared their work creating a distributed conflict mediation service and the process they use in navigating conflicts.

We were also joined by Timotheé of The Androgynous Organisation (T.A.O.). He shared about the primal energies we bring into organizations through our own cultural and personal values, as well as the art of balancing leadership and followership, centralisation and decentralisation, crucial for scaling DAOs while aligning with core values and fostering a culture of care and radical innovation. As it happens, ReFi DAO recently voted on an MVP proposal for its own structure and governance which incorporates these values and approaches to working together.

Session 10: Finale - Beta Cohort Celebration & Closing Ceremony

Our final session took us on a reflective journey not so different from this summary, and provided an opportunity for a number of local node organizers to take the stage to share more about how they’re planning to move forward in their respective local communities. Monty also shared about the developments ReFi DAO at a global level and whats coming next...

Updated Node Developmental Stages

As a result of the program, we successfully incubated a new cohort of Local Nodes to join the network.

At the same time, we also proposed a new classification structure for ReFi Local Nodes, categorizing them into three stages: 🌱Seed, 🎋Sapling, and 🌳Canopy, aiming to reflect their development and impact within their communities.

  1. 🌱 Seed - Formative Stage: Seed nodes are typically focused on building a core team, identifying local needs, and crafting their vision. Founding members are laying the foundational principles that define the node’s unique purpose and direction.

  2. 🎋 Sapling - Established Stage: Sapling nodes have sprouted and are actively engaging with their communities based on a well-defined vision. They are implementing key activities and projects with meaningful partnerships, expanding their influence with events, project rollouts, etc. often with secured funding.

  3. 🌳 Canopy - Mature Stage: Canopy nodes are the most dedicated and influential Nodes that have reached a level of security and are making a significant impact on both local and broader regenerative practices. Akin to mature trees in a forest canopy, these Nodes provide shelter and support to their local community and projects, embodying the successful principles of regenerative finance.

At each stage ReFi DAO aims to nurture nodes from their initial engagement through to becoming leaders in the ecosystem, encouraging a journey of continuous growth, community contribution, and sustainable impact.

Feedback and Testimonials

Overall, the incubator received enthusiastic feedback from participants, emphasizing its strong community, networking opportunities, and high-quality content. Chris Georgen captured the essence of this sentiment by noting his highlight:

Getting to know the ReFi DAO core team as well as other local node operators! There's a lot of camaraderie and it feels like a real potential for mutual support going forward.

Here was how the course was rated by participants according to the course goals that were set at the outset of the program:

  • Q1: How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or a colleague? (Net Promoter Score -NPS) = 9.4/10

  • Q2: The sessions and content were relevant for Nodes at all stages. = 9.0/10

  • Q3: The Incubator helped me develop a better understanding of what being a Local Node means in practical terms. = 9.0/10

  • Q4: The Incubator helped us develop strategies for organizing in local communities. = 8.9/10

At the same time, there were also several suggestions to enhance future cohorts. The idea of creating a start guide or a summary of the calendar, topics, and essential tools like Figma and Notion was proposed. Participants also highlighted the need for more practical examples of ReFi applications and additional sessions to enhance the hands-on learning experience. Feedback also focused on the structure of practical exercises, suggesting that additional guidance and activities could be beneficial.

Thank you to Stewards and Organizers!

The success of the Local Node Beta Incubator was a testament to the dedication and hard work of its stewards and organizers. Huge thanks to Anna, Scott, Monty, and Jeremy as the course leads and organizers, and to the community stewards Karla, Susanne, Djimo, Tim, Tereza, and Adam who were instrumental in their mutual support. 💚

Anna Embracing New Beginnings at General Magic

We are also announcing that Anna Kaic will be leaving ReFi DAO to embark on an exciting new journey with General Magic as a Grants Manager. Anna has expressed immense gratitude for her time at ReFi DAO, where she has learned invaluable lessons.

“A special thanks to John Ellison and Daryl Edwards for being incredible mentors and to Monty Bryant for creating a great collaborative environment.” Anna Kaic

Anna is now off to make a positive impact in the world by helping impactful web3 projects secure the funding they need to thrive. We wish her all the best in her new role and are immensely grateful for her contributions to ReFi DAO.

A Regenerative Path Forward

The ReFi Local Node Beta Incubator successfully demonstrated the power of community-driven regenerative finance initiatives. Over 15 weeks, we cultivated a vibrant network of local nodes equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to foster systemic change in their communities. With a diverse range of sessions, high-quality content, and strong participant engagement, we have laid the foundation for sustainable, localized impact. As we celebrate the accomplishments of this cohort and bid farewell to Anna Kaic, we look forward to continuing our journey towards a regenerative future with the ongoing support and collaboration of our growing ReFi community. Let's keep the momentum growing! 🌱

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