Ethereum Localism

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= conference in Portland, Oregon, held in October 2023



"We believe the Ethereum machine is untapped until its creations are touching soil on the level of the local, just as our cities and communities are squandering their singular gifts if they aren’t contributing to the global conversation. The urban center especially, with its dense entanglement of networks, its magical collision of artificial and organic, is a radical testing ground for any technology, and these same entanglements announce loudly the need for coordination tools and positive sum games. There is still so much discovery to be done, so many answers to the question: “what can a blockchain do?”

Our intention for this convening is to create a container where the Ethereum community can elaborate for itself, in a plurality of directions, what an experimentalism of the city can mean and look like for web3. While we know the cultural imagination will outdo us, some examples might include:

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.

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

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, and should be supported as our natural allies.

It seems much of the web3 world is waiting for some nebulous global catalyst to deliver blockchain to the masses. Many seem to think speculation will save us - the return of the bull. This not only violates the natural processes by which technology sees adoption, but it is antithetical to the bottom-up nature of decentralization. Bull or bear market, the work has always been done by passionate technologist anons experimenting without sanction or promise of financial gain.

Disruptive technological adoption is driven by practical material solutions – technologies aren’t real until they matter. This mattering means, above all, foregrounding simplicity and backgrounding complexity, a task that can be as difficult as developing the tech itself. It’s why adoption occurs long after a proof-of-concept exists. It’s also the window when the battles of capture and decentralization are fought; too often, the generative work happens at the grassroots level, the fruits of its labor then captured by centralized entities.

By design, web3 is inoculated from that threat - or so the story goes. We are here to say that this immunity can’t be assumed, but must be assured through practice. We know from history that the kind of technological simplicity that precedes real adoption requires local application, in all its experimental plurality. If this is so, then every site of novel local use is a potential inoculation site, a defense against capture. If the logic of protocols is a first breath of resilience, community use is its conclusion. Localism is an anticapture technology.

This is why PDX DAO is embracing a grassroots approach by using Ethereum tools for solving existing problems at the local level - that is, for mattering. We want to connect and merge tomorrow's end-users with today's tool-builders to begin iterating now on technology solutions that solve practical problems for communities while inventing new use cases for the globe. In this infinite garden of feedback, localism is globalism, and this conference hopes to underline that break in the binary."