ReFi Retrospective: The CCA Unconference

Transitioning to a crypto commons requires the integration of local communities in protocol design.

What's a ReFi Unconference?

Crypto Commons Association (CCA) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2021 to connect and foster projects at the intersection of blockchain and the commons. Their goal has been to bring the power of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) to public goods and local sustainable economies, as well as to climate action and social justice struggles. Digital commons goods are public goods in the form of software, data sets, AI models, standards or content that are generally free cultural works and contribute to sustainable national and international digital development. The CCA are focused on ‘crypto commons’ - specifically ​​freely accessible web3 protocols that are beneficial to the common good by making planetary resource limits visible. These act as coordination mechanisms for decision-making in horizontally organised groups; as well as market mechanisms which, in addition to internalising external costs, generate funds for the regeneration of natural commons.

[CCA co-founders happier together. From left: Anna, Humberto, Felix Fritsch, Leo Basso, and Giulio Quarta]

CCA have a physical space in the Austrian Alps, called the ‘Crypto Commons Hub’, where they host thematic events, team retreats, artistic initiatives, and parties. It is a placemaking experiment to explore what a Regen life could be in a practical sense; living with communal spirit and deploying low tech infrastructures for the self sustainability of the Hub.

The most recent event was the ReFi Unconference, from the 30th of April to the 6th of May, where 60 Regens - representing 25 projects and all kinds of disciplines from computer science to arts - shared experiences, tools, strategies, feelings and warm vibes throughout the Hub, and some of the best convos happened in the hot tub! The conference was made possible due to the generosity of their principal sponsor, Regen Network and to the other event sponsors: ReFi DAO, Lower Austria Government and Telos Network.

Why?

Giulio explained: “We organised this Unconference and also contributed to the broader ReFi Spring initiative because we are fascinated by this young emerging field of blockchain for climate innovators and wanted to support its development. There are many aspects we are not enthusiastic about in the DeFi space, which of course also influence the ReFi movement. Our aim with this event was to address these problems by discussing them constructively and collectively.”

What did you learn?

They found less broad consensus on wild speculation for crazy abstract tokenomics and more focus on real world communities; less financialisation of everything by default and more cautious comprehension of where it makes sense and where it doesn’t.

“We covered a lot of topics and projects during a week of event! Zooming in on participants' efforts, ReFi projects, networks, tools, approaches, and zooming out on the broader geopolitical and ecological global context, policies, historical trends. We think these events are fundamental to put all the pieces together, to avoid over focusing on our own disciplinary perspective/practice (being too detached from the real world, or too immersed into practice), and to reconsider what we are doing at a fundamental level, to do it better!”


Among all the excellent contributions to the discussion, of highlight were Jeff Emmett and Jessica Zartler's take on the design and governance of the Commons. Their incredible experience crossing all the major crypto commons projects (Commons Stack, Token Engineering, BlockScience) is so valuable to our ecosystem and embody the ReFi movement greatly. The Holochain co-founders, Art Brock and Eric Harris-Braun, brought al the participants into a deep dive on “flows logic”; the art of designing and building systems suitable to the new societal and economic paradigm made of networks and complex flows.

“I’m especially excited about the upcoming launch of Holo apps as they sound amazing!” Giulio exclaimed!

Nena Jain from Regen Foundation - as well as many other participants - were very vocal about the importance of including local communities in the governance and design of ReFi protocols, and Felix Fritsch, co-founder at CCA thinks this is the crucial takeaway:

“We are hopeful that the ReFi movement can have a huge positive impact on stabilising the climate, as long as communities on the ground are given an adequate voice. The risk of ReFi being co-opted by Venture Capitalists and greedy green washy TradFi is very real, as are the continuation of exploitation under Green Capitalism and Green Colonialism at large. In reaction, we propose a vigilant and uneasy truce with big capital mainly in order to retain access to funding that accelerates the transition, without forgetting who should be in charge - sovereign local communities and their Commons.”

If you are excited by:

  • The possibilities of ReFi,
  • Sharing the CCA’s sentiments for the commons and their wariness of the intentions of big capital,
  • As well as the intention to explore liberating applications of DLTs and related technologies rather than simply protesting their extractive application,

Then they are delighted to welcome you into their community! Feel free to follow CCA on twitter, join their telegram channel, attend upcoming events or drop Giulio or Felix an email at cryptocommonshub@protonmail.com.

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