🌱All for Climate DAO Founders on Building a Web3 Climate Movement
Founders shares details on how they DAO and why web3 and climate go together
All for Climate DAO's vision is to be the Greenpeace of the 21st century. Their goal is to build a sustainable decentralized climate movement using web3 tools and ethos. The DAO empowers climate activists with shared infrastructure, connections, and orientation to web3 ways of doing things. The big idea is to enable climate solutions that are rooted locally and connected globally.
Crystal, a member of our DAO (Impact DAO Media), interviewed the co-founders, Leen and Xavier. Both the founders are big on governance principles of holacracy, sociocracy, and deep democracy. In addition, they are deeply inspired by the book, Reinventing Organizations, a bible for both DAOs and climate movements like Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future.
The two founders are one of the best thinkers on DAOs. The interview below is gold for anyone looking for the best in the DAO building.
C: Why did you decide to become a DAO? What was your motivation? Also, what defines you as a DAO?
X: We have been climate activists for a while. The climate movements are pushing for a sustainable future, but these movements are not sustainable. People are burning out doing activism and not being paid for it. So you must be actually highly privileged already to be able to participate. It shows that the problem is really deep.
It's a common belief that activism is a public good. But, like many other public goods, they are totally underserved and undervalued by the current capitalistic system.
Seeing the world of Web3 and DAOs, there's something exciting here. It's definitely worth exploring, and the best way to explore and learn is to do it.
So, we thought, let's just get started. Let's put up a discord server. Let's invite the community that we already have. The idea was - let's try to figure it out together; let's co-create this together. A DAO for climate movements, a 21st-century version of Greenpeace that will be decentralized, open to anyone, and value community work.
C: That's great. Lynn, do you wanna follow up with more about All for Climate in general?
L: Yeah. Those are the reasons why we wanted to become a DAO. Maybe adding one more reason to it that we've always been bridging worlds for activists. Our target group is citizens and activists, everyone working on climate and social justice projects.
There can be people starting a community garden and people who feel drawn to movements like Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for Future. So we've always been a bridge realizing that it was hard for grassroots citizens, for example, to apply for grants without setting up a nonprofit or opening up a bank account. Because it's mostly volunteer work, many people come and go. It's unsustainable because it must be combined with everyday life and going to work. So they are, by nature, very dynamic and limited in human resources.
And we thought a couple of years ago, 'Hey, why don't we start a shared infrastructure, shared bank account that all these collectives can use.’ And that's how All for Climate started.
We have all the legal stuff needed, we can receive donations and a bank account, and we use the Open Collective platform. So every collective's money is already by design via the Open Collective platform, decentralized and managed independently by every collective.
Then we bridge via the nonprofit and the collectives that want to apply for funding. So, for example, the European Climate Foundation or the Korea Foundation actually need this nonprofit legal structure for signatures. So then I come up, I sign, or I help them.
Then we discovered that there might be some exciting funds to make activism and community work sustainable in a financial way. And then last December (2011) we started bridging the old world with the new world by using Gitcoin, the web3 crowdfunding platform, to fundraise and provide a bridge to climate movements to web3.
Another reason is that we discovered that in the Web3/crypto world, the way people reorganize and rethink systems in a democratic, participatory way is very similar to activist movements. So we thought, 'My God, we should put those together. But, um, this is crazy, right?'
And in Web3, they call it a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). In the non-Web3, they read books by Frederic Laloux's Reinventing Organizations, organizing via sociocracy, and holacracy. That's when we decided to transition away from using the old-school way of managing a nonprofit structure to a more DAO way of organizing. Which is much more organic, completely flat, and permissionless.
C: Excellent. And that's your specialty too. Your background is deep democracy, correct?
L: Yeah, I'd re-trained myself a couple of years ago as a deep democracy facilitator. Deep democracy is a mindset and a method for democratic decision-making. It's an inclusive decision-making tool and offers a new way of engaging in a conversation with each other. It's a different mindset where you start working with what is in the group.
There's also a little bit of trauma processing going on, and without that sounding too serious, it's also like, how can we feel those old forces? How do we recognize old patterns? How do we put them on the table, and how can we work together? How can we see the things living in us as a voice, put it on the table, and work together and transform? Without putting labels on people, without isolating people, but working with what is and how we can move forward inclusive in a democratic way.
So it doesn't always work only with the mind. It goes deep into the body and includes feelings, opinions, and frustrations that you feel like, 'Hey, what are you feeling there? What's the tension alive? How do you feel? Put it on the table; let's work with it.' The no voices, what is hiding there? And then how can we work in a different way that is not polarizing. And not really putting people against each other but seeing it more from a holistic point of view.
C: We touched on this already, but this is a fundamental core difference between a DAO and a traditional organization; it's everyone participating together, moving as one, you know, collective unit when possible.
When I explain what is happening to people outside of Web3, we are talking here about a new form of governance and a new way of engaging with one another and making decisions. We're in this messy experiment right now, but, you know, a few years down the road, this process can hit on a much larger scale and help redefine things.
I'm in the United States, and polarization is our jam. So when I work with you and participate in the training on sociocracy and deep democracy, it gives me hope. Because we're creating these new communities that are fundamentally working differently than what has traditionally happened.
We'd love to understand how work gets done in the DAO. How do you structure work and roles? Are there timelines? How do we track? Anything you can share about the organization of work itself would be great.
X: One key thing to understand is there is no hierarchy. We are all co-owners of the DAO, so we all have equal access to the treasury and the decision-making process. So the game really is for everyone. We are all the same, all first-class citizens.
The idea is to listen, identify common issues in the community and offer a solution. If it is a common issue, many people will vote for a proposed solution. Then, once there is an agreement, a new working group emerges. Then we identify who wants to work on this. What's important is to also have a leader, a 'locomotive,' we call them in All for Climate DAO because without locomotives, there is no movement.
There's got to be someone who's gonna take the lead and make sure meetings are happening, notes are being taken, etc. It doesn't have to be the locomotive that needs to do that, but someone has to be there to make sure that things are moving forward.
To get things done, we use task-based bounties, like, if you do this, you will receive that much. For example, for the last Gitcoin climate round, we wanted to have 10 Twitter spaces. So we asked who wanted to be a host for an hour, and we'll pay 100 DAI for each. People could claim the different available bounties. To claim the money, they will have to submit a link to the recording of the Twitter space, and physically mark it as done to get paid. Anyone can take the initiative to create those bounties or make a proposal.
L: I think we also spent a lot of time figuring out the essential roles in the DAO. It's really navigate by tension. I think they call it sociocracy. And that's how it works. Oh, we feel an itch. Like, Oh, you believe that too, odd. We should do something about it. Is this important enough? Yes, it is. Okay. We create a little bounty, a role, and we see what happens when somebody gets a little bit of pay.
We've been working with a platform called 'Dework' that's relatively easy because you have these nice boards with all the roles.
We also started working with a platform called 'Clarity'; we can create some circles there. Since we follow the sociocracy training, we are inspired by creating circles. The circles help people from outside the DAO that want to start contributing. They know a little bit more and have more clarity on the roles, who the people are, where the circles are, and where I can contribute. So we think these tools are pretty essential.
X: It's still very early days, and those two are only emerging now. So it's also unclear which tools will still be there in a year or two.
Most of the tools out there have been built for an economic tissue made of hierarchies with managers reporting. All those concepts need to be reinvented for this world of DAOs. Before you had employees, you now have co-owners in DAOs. So how do you organize where anyone in the organization can take the lead and become a manager just for a week, a month, or three months, and then anyone can start another project? You know, it's interesting.
It's scary at times, too, because we don't know, we don't have like 50 years of books, you know, all those books you buy in airports. But the good news is that climate activists don't go to airports, so they're not being poisoned by all those management books. So, we need a lot of new books and developing good practices and tools to support such a new way of organizing.
C: I think the tools, the framework, and the deep democracy-type frameworks are essential. What I'm finding for myself is that I've been working in structures for 25 years. I am not used to just anyone being able to manage at any time. Then I'm also seeing my own shortcomings of procrastination. I'm like, 'Oh wait, other people, are involved in this. I can't put this off until the last minute. Here's this framework I need to look at.' So it's an exciting mental mind shift that has to happen when you get deep into DAOs. And to have those infrastructures in place. It really does make stepping into this world a little more coherent, I guess.
So, tokenomics: do you issue tokens? How are these given and defined?
X: We just started as a way to basically have our own kind of community currency. It can be used to acknowledge and reward people that contribute, even though we may not have the money yet to pay them. So at least, there is this recognition. And then, hopefully, as more money comes in, people will be able to exchange that currency for fiat or other currencies they might need based on their needs. So right now, it's mainly used more as a, like, equity in a startup, equity that is worth nothing at the beginning but with the hope that at some point will be worth something.
We also allocate based on the different people that contribute to the various collectives that are part of the 160 plus other collectives, so it's already decentralized. So we recognize the people who spend the time to verify and approve their expenses submitted by fellow activists in whatever actions they're doing. We also recognize the people who donate money to support those different collectives with tokens.
L: Yeah, I think the token is our way of experimenting. It's really an experiment for community building and an experiment to solve that issue that we started with in the beginning - activism/community building is a public good that is very under-rewarded. It's not financially sustainable. People are doing it in their free time. They are burning out while they are working for a sustainable world. So how can we maybe issue a token that creates a little bit of that reward, feeling rewarded and seen for the work they put out there for everyone. So it's an experiment. We don't know where it will go, but we are trying.
X: I think one thing that I would say, though, and the reason why we started, is that the first utility of the token is to really have a map of all the people that did contribute to the network. So that when you need to make decisions, you can invite all of those token holders to vote.
It's a good data point to know what other people who have, you know, most tokens, like, what do they think? Because at the end of the day, they're the ones who basically make All for Climate what it is today. We want to avoid people coming in and buying a bunch of tokens.
C: Delegation, too, I think a combination of community tokens and delegation as well, so that if they are sold, they still have to travel through someone directly connected, actively with the DAO.
What was the token design process? Did you all do it in-house or have external help or guidance? Did you look at other DAOs for inspiration when you made the token?
X: We made the token. Practices like keeping 50% for the treasury and those types of things. We made a couple of goals within the community where everyone was invited to participate and share what was essential. For example, what we just talked about is that the community is not for sale and also to recognize that not everyone has the exact needs. What does the community value?
We also decided to apply a qualitative algorithm to the money that people donate to the community, so it might cost $1 to get one token, but it will cost $10 to get two tokens.
It's exponentially expensive to get more tokens. This is to value the actual time contribution rather than the contribution of money.
So we don't want to reward that more than necessary. We don't want people to make a lot of money to buy a lot of voting tokens and voting power. All of those types of things. So then you iterate a couple of times, and then we propose a proposal. Then the sociocracy style is, 'is this good enough for now and safe enough to try? And we say, 'Okay, let's do it. rinse, repeat.'
C: What does voting look like in your organization? Does every decision come up for a vote? What voting style do you use?
L: We have a proper voting system in place. I think everything is decided via a community process, more in calls and with a proposal written in a Google doc, and then we talk about it. There's a lot of commenting going on, and then I think we make a decision good enough, for now, safe enough to try. It's more the feedback; is it working or it's not?
I do think that we will need a more formalized voting system when All for Climate is growing. But I think right now, the working groups are okay. We actually don't have the size that we have to set up a proper voting system. But, the working groups are small enough to take votes. So, for now, that works.
C: How do contributors learn about your DAO, and do you have a process to engage with them?
L: I think most people get to know us via Twitter, and we did the Gitcoin grants. I think we really started growing then. There is an onboarding process - we have an onboarding 'locomotive' setting up a procedure. We do onboarding calls every week. I think the move to 'Clarity' is helpful with onboarding in mind so that people have a clearer view of what is happening and where I would like to contribute.
C: How vital is onboarding for a DAO?
L: Well, extremely. Maybe I also have to add before I forget - there is, of course, the DAO, but there's also the fiscal host. So that's where I do the onboarding. An onboarding call with every collective we onboard are at least a half-hour call. So how important is it? I think it's vital!
We just put one of the values in All for Climate is that All for Climate really is about human conversations and human connections.
So, building a network of people where you feel welcome, where there are friendly people candidly smiling at you and saying, 'Hey, what are you dreaming about? And what's going on for you out there? Where would you like to contribute, and how can we help with that? Can we help you set up a new project, maybe? Here is the common infrastructure, and we can help you through that and go ahead. Or do you wanna join one of the existing projects?'
So it's really a very 1-1 conversation. People have the time to look around; there's no pressure. Human conversation, human-centered, is very, very, very important. So community building is definitely a value we want to see.
X: It can be overwhelming when you arrive in a discord server, and it's all those channels and conversations. You don't even know what you can say and who is who, so having this first human touch is so important. And then also the need for community calls where the community can see the common issues? So all of that basically helps everyone. So yeah, onboarding plus community calls are fundamental pillars in the DAO.
C: Yeah, this is the first DAO I've joined that had an onboarding human-to-human call. The other DAO I'm active in is so tiny that our town hall includes the whole team. And those are the two that I am the most committed to because it is about human relationships.
So I think onboarding and, as you said, Lynn, that human connection from the very beginning is probably more important, that other stuff can be built later.
X: People stay for the community. You stay because of the connected relationships and the people you meet. At the end of the day, money and tokens, it's just numbers. What we are craving is meaningful relationships and opportunities to grow and learn through those relationships.
L: I also think the global connection that we want to create. We have this thing rooted locally (like all the collectives we host, they are active just in their neighborhood, their cities, or where they are). And the All for Climate common infrastructure puts this globally connected layer on top of that. Some digital infrastructure stuff that is open for everybody; a Twitter account that you can use, a newsletter that's for everybody to put content in. But the human connection is where you feel like, 'oh wow, I'm part of a global movement. There are people worldwide, and you can connect with that community. So I think that's what All for Climate is providing, that globally connected, rooted local ethos.
C: Can you describe fundraising and income activities? Do you only raise in crypto or fiat? How do you manage the funds?
X: It started with the Gitcoin Climate round. We started working with them last December (2021). We had the opportunity to raise money for All for Climate DAO, which was really the main chunk of the money we had to play with for now.
We also want to avoid raising all the money centralized within the DAO in a single multi-sig. So what we do is whenever there is a project, we create new crowdfunding for that particular project. So now there are Artists for Climate. They have their own multi-sig.
Regens Unite which started within the All for Climate DAO, also has its own multi-sig and went ahead and raised money. So they have already raised more money than All for Climate, which is excellent.
You also want the decision-making process to be totally decentralized. Now that the projects have different wallets, they decide how best to use the funds. It doesn't matter if you're within All for Climate or not; do you agree that we need more solarpunk art? Yes. Okay, boom, here we go.
C: When I was putting the newsletter together for All for Climate DAO, I finally had time to go through and look at all the stuff and what the Artist for Climate Collective, and then the solarpunk has done within, you know, under the big umbrella.
I was shocked they've got their own multi-sig, and you had explained this to me. Still, I didn't quite conceptualize it because I'm so used to what we talked about earlier that, you know, traditional organizational structure. And then when I saw what they were actually doing, I was like, 'Oh, this is what Xavier was talking about. That's what it looks like in action.'
So it's really amazing. Its organization rises up with the organization.
X: In a traditional organization, the money needs to go to that single bank account, then you have a CEO, then all of that hierarchy, and then you need to do politics to go get the budget. That's all ego-driven, right? Then you can say, 'I manage such a big budget, and I have so many people, you know, in this organization that depends on this budget.' It gives you this false feeling of importance; its politics, it ego.
Our goal at All for Climate DAO is to connect people who share similar goals and to help them set up their own multi-sig to fund their mission.
We are just here as a support. If you're more successful than All for Climate, even better. That's kind of what's happening now with Regens Unite. That's fantastic.
L: All for Climate DAO's goal is always to help people be as successful as possible in their projects for the climate. That's why we are here. Like we allow you to be as successful as possible because we depend on it as a planet. So accessibility to resources, accessibility to decision making, to ownership as fast as we can. So we are here really to help people do that.
It doesn't work if we tell everybody what to do. So go figure it out, and here are some common infrastructure and tools you can use and go figure out. Then tell us what worked and what didn't work. So that's really what All for Climate does.
C: Can you tell us about the tools you use to power your DAO?
L: Open Collective, of course. Clarity, Dework, the Discord, gnosis safe. We also share, for example, a Zoom account. We have a Twitter that everybody has access to and an Instagram that everybody has access to. We have a shared Google Drive with templates and stuff that people can just take if they need. We have a GitBook as well.
X: It's all about coordination and giving access to information to everyone. Everybody should know how much money there is in the treasury at all times and what other people are thinking, so there's got to be some documentation that we build up together, a knowledge base of past meetings and stuff.
We talked earlier about how most of the tools have been designed with this concept of permission. Because they've been designed for hierarchies where everyone had different permission. Whereas in this case, actually, well, pretty much there are not that many levels of permissions, and in fact, we, at least in read-only, everyone has access to everything. The only permission is more about who can make a change, basically. So even there, we are very, very open.
C: What have been your strengths and challenges as a DAO?
L: We are a resilient community with friendly and motivated people. That's absolutely a strength. People really want to work. They really want to be there. They're also accommodating. They also care a lot about rewarding people for the work they do. We respect each other.
The challenge is financial sustainability. We put so much effort into promoting and helping other collectives and projects that we are not financially sustainable. We've been doing this for two and a half years, and we have not been able to pay a single rent from the money we earn.
It takes time to become an overnight success, and we are not there yet, that's for sure. So we are spending this time even though we still have no certainty on whether or not this would be a financially sustainable endeavor. But we believe in it. We want to make this work. We continued because other people started joining and contributing, which is fantastic.
The other strength is onboarding and also open-mindedness. There's a lot of pushback in the climate movement against crypto. In All for Climate, you have this community of people willing to explore. I think it's important because we know that we need system change, not climate change, but nobody has the answer; otherwise, we would already be there. So if you don't have the answer, then the best second thing you can do is explore.
And the worst thing you can do is keep going with the current system; that's not helping. So that's being comfortable and, in a way, lazy. Still, of course, not everyone has the same opportunities, sadly, to explore. So it belongs to the people who can do it for different reasons, share what they learn, and make it easier and more accessible. People who don't have the same privileges, and have less time to dedicate to this, can still start exploring themselves. And then, slowly but surely, more and more people will join the movement, and I hope to free people from wage slavery, from that system based on a digital generative economy.
C: You touched on something too that I think is essential. There's so much hesitation around Web3 and crypto because of what the media puts out there.
When I tell people I work with a climate DAO, they're like, 'What?'. And I said, 'Yeah! And these people are not just like, let's use paper straws. I mean, these are actually real active activists. So they're not going to use the technology burning the planet. There's a reason they're here.'
X: In the end, action speaks louder than words. There is no amount of social media reactions that's gonna change people's opinions. We just need to show people.
So yeah, that's what we are doing here by walking the walk. We're not just arguing. We escape the noise of all those social media, clickbait, and stuff. We just put our heads down and focus on what we can do together using the new tools, the new superpowers. Suppose it truly holds the key to the genesis of a new regenerative economy. In that case, the result will speak for itself. Either way, there is no point in arguing.
L: Adding to that, if web3 can give us the tools, a community currency, maybe, that will finally reward the community, then, by all means, let's embrace it and make sure that it is about building communities and not about anything else.
At this moment in our system, community work is not rewarded. The people that do community work are really the least rewarded; nurses, teachers, and community workers; are taken for granted. We need to change that. Those people are our safety net, or like we always say, 'community is immunity.'
So if we can use these new tools to do that, to build resilient communities, regenerative communities, then, by all means, we need to stay in this space and contribute to this space.
X: And I think it's like the beginning of the internet in many ways. We have known about this climate crisis since the seventies, before the internet. Still, in a world of centralized media channels, controlling what gets out is pretty easy. So it took the invention of the internet to get that information out.
Once you decentralize, you lose control over who gets to do what. So the internet has decentralized publication of information, sharing information to a point where, you know, all those planet movements exist today, thanks to the internet. Now we need the same for economic systems.
We need a new internet, not the internet of information, but the internet of money, of the economy. That's what this is all about. But, of course, it's not perfect. Of course, at first, it's not optimized because, like with anything new, the first version, it's just a proof of concept that does a lot of things that don't work very well.
We are still so early. So our goal with All For Climate is to break that taboo and say, 'No, you absolutely can be for the climate and into Web3.’ This is not an antagonist relationship.
Like you absolutely can be at the intersection of that. In fact, we need you to be there because we shape tools, then the tools shape us, and we want those climate activists.
We want the people who care about communities, about the environment to be in the driver's seat. So to use those technologies, creating those new templates for DAOs to ensure that the tools will be used for doing good in the world and building the future we want.
L: It's our moral obligation to be there. Otherwise, we've missed it again, and then it's the bad guys again. So, no, let's be there from the start. Get active. Really!
🎙 Leen and Xavier were interviewed on August 1st, 2022 as part of the Impact DAOs research project.
This post is part of a series on the Impact DAOs Research + Book project. This project is by Impact DAO Media, a collective of folks in web3 + impact + media. The team members on Twitter are @tranimal, @katerinabohlec, @Abeers123, @Poplinecreation, @crystaldstreet, @0xSardius, @karanth_harsha, @actThreeCC, @0xSiddhearta, @Value_Strat, @zaldarren, @astrocruz_s, @ashisharora27, @pop_timism, @alkohlmist, @ikonoklast, @bjuglas, @BlockchangeSol1, @sandeepdas9179, @happyplace888 + Kim on LI
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