Originally published on locational.network

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Grassroots social, economic and environmental community transformation — what role can web3 play? This was the issue explored by the participants of the Chainist Crypto Meetup Mainz in October.

The starting point of the discussion was examples of people launching initiatives for change in their communities. We intentionally started from the challenges of implementing positive local change, rather than the technical possibilities of web3.

Attendees also asked themselves: How could web3 concretely help me to become successfully active in my environment? The quest now is to figure out how web3 can deliver on the great promise for decentralized approaches for such enablers.

Of course, we discussed the pros and cons, but in the end we are confident that web3 can create decentralized functions that amend the underlying social contexts. This can grow into a strong support for the change makers and the communities they are working with to improve their situation.

Web3 also has the potential to extend this into a spatially dispersed network. Thus, to be able to integrate local initiatives into regional and global networks —again in a decentralized way.

Keeping this web3 means avoiding disadvantages that centralized structures have. Yet, centralized is not bad per se; centralized approaches can make sense in certain areas. It can get ugly when centralized power is without transparency and meaningful control.

In summary, three core elements stood out from the discussion of the supporting features that web3 can provide:

Coordinate & incentivise community activities — web3 can provide support for community-based activities by incentivizing collaboration and contributions. Different groups in a community can coordinate their activities.

Built visibility & reach — web3 mechanisms can help to document activities and also impacts. They can be summarized transparently accepting the sovereignty of community members.

Reputation & trust — This topic created a lot of interest, starting from discussing Reddit’s karma approach. Merit to the community should influence weight in governance — however: It is not about a “like economy”, mechanisms should be designed fairly and with a sense of reason.

These topics are usually the not first topics taken up when discussing web3 applications. Certainly, funding and the role of the token economy as driver of what was discussed in the three supporting features were kind of the “elephant in the room.”

Token engineering issues like omitting first mover advantages and providing sort of “benefit of the doubt” for everyone willing to start pushing a topic came up, among others.

Another issue in this context is the extent to which it is possible to harness the potential from within the community itself and deliberately open up for external inflows only at a stage when the governance of the community is stable.

What became obvious is that the concepts discussed — local to global, governance and token economy focussing on locally-led grassroots change makers — are a complex endeavour best to be addressed in a piecemeal approach.

A global community of local change communities — with cellular DAO governance and token economy — can serve as a medium- to long-term vision for this approach.

Quest now is to start with a concrete element out of this broad spectrum of possible starting points, building on what is already there in the vibrant space of socially conscious web3 projects (namely the #ReFi space).

Currently, thinking of the core team focusses on a crucial role behind the change maker itself. These are people willing to provide their know-how and understanding in early stages of the development of the approach, ideally a strong & mindful, maybe even wise supporter. We also view such individuals as excellent anchors for all governance, as key stewards.

Equally important is to continue all this thinking with people that already working as change maker or key supporter to build #buidl very close to the realities on the ground. For this, we continue working closely with the great #ReFi community, PositiveBlockchain, building of the huge experience of weltweit and #ActionNetworkWorldwide in working in locally-led development.

Special thanks to Brainbot for providing the venue and participation!

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