✊The DAO Contributor
A Pact DAO contributor on building a hyper-local NYC DAO, learnings and advice for newcomers
I spoke to Alfredo, core contributor at Pact DAO on what it’s like to work in a DAO. Pact DAO is an NYC based DAO focused on building hyper local mutual aid and supporting community led initiatives. We previously interviewed the Founder Marisa Rando on founding Pact DAO.
This interview is part of the Impact DAO Research Study
D: How did you learn about Pact DAO?
A: At some point last year, I went down the rabbit hole of leftist crypto Twitter. I found The Blockchain Socialist, and once I saw The Blockchain Socialist, I was like, wow. He's like a podcaster, and an all-around kind of internet personality, for lack of a better word, a brand or something. He has a pseudonym, The Blockchain Socialist. So I was like, 'Oh, I've found this kind of little corner of the internet that is aligned with using crypto protocols for socialist causes.' And then I started following particular things. Then eventually, through one of these rabbit holes, I found a news story about Pact DAO and its crowdfunding campaign.
I noticed that Pact DAO was based in New York. I was like, 'Oh my God, this is a perfect opportunity.' One of the things that has always prevented me from getting involved in crypto or NFTs or all that stuff was the fact that I value in-person collaboration and in-person meetings.
The fact that this was local and I could talk to people and confirm that they were real people was a massive moment for me.
D: Which year was it when you got to know about Pact?
A: I don't remember which month. I remember it was probably like late last year (2021)
D: Then you reached out to the core team. Are you part of the core team?
D: So you met with Marisa, Founder of Pact DAO, and then what was next? Can you explain how you got associated with them?
Also, how does work get done in the organization, and what is your role?
A: Yeah, definitely not structured. As we're talking now, we're figuring out more structure. So how I got started was basically I went to Pact Dao's crowdfunding page, and I contributed to the campaign. This is the first crypto campaign thing that I actually contributed to.
Then I went into their Discord, and so they have a section where if you want to be more involved with the campaign, you fill out a questionnaire, like what would you like to help with, and stuff like that. So I submitted that, and then Marisa reached out, and we had a video chat. We just talked a couple of times about our priorities, how we could help, etc.
So out of that, she figured out I would be a good fit, and now we have weekly meetings on Monday, and we go through some priorities. The thing that I'm responsible for now is event organizing. We're organizing about 5-6 events this summer, all based around socialist causes like labor or abolitionist movements, food insecurity, and mutual aid.
Another thing that we do is, and this is not necessarily my role, planning out Pact DAO's future.
We just did a soft launch of our season one campaign, structuring how we're prioritizing mutual aid and organizing mutual aid around crypto and dual power. And how we to best leverage our assets and knowledge.
D: What do you think is the future of Pact DAO? What impact do you wanna make in New York City? Who are the people you wanna serve?
I feel like Pact DAO's model will be adopted by lots of cities, and that's why we are so interested in learning about you. It'll be easy for other cities to set up their DAOs once they know about your model.
A: Yeah, that's very encouraging to hear that. I hope to accelerate local organizations that either don't have enough funds or don't have enough people on the ground to be doing the things that they know work. Things like mutual aid, like that's the core thing that we do. Letting these community groups have consistent access to funds through crypto where they can withdraw or mobilize people they need through other organizations; that cross-channel collaboration.
We're also experimenting with a few pilot programs in the neighborhood, like Abolitionist organizations. Where we can either pay people to watch cops or organize movements that don't have surveillance attached to them.
So whether that's organizing a protest on social media or speeding up the criminal justice process through bail funds and paying access to lawyer fees. Things we know work, but specifically in a local organization that doesn't have the funds or the access that a larger nonprofit would.
I sincerely believe that the real work is being done by these local organizations. These neighborhood-based organizations know their community, what works, and what they need. So we are just an intermediary to get them what they need.
D: How important is fundraising for Pact DAO since mutual aid involves giving out funds.
A: We fundraise through our crowdfunding campaign on Mirror. Also, through grants. One of the programs we will be piloting is a rent relief pilot. So definitely, fundraising is a significant aspect.
Also for now we're sitting on a pile of crypto money that we wanna distribute. So the question is how can we most equitably distribute those funds.
D: What are your thoughts on fund distribution? Is it going to be need-based? How would you decide? Would you have a more participatory crypto-style approach to fund disbursement?
A: We're still figuring that out because we realize that we can't do everything, so that's why we have these pilot programs to see what resonates and how we're best able to help. So we're still very much figuring that out.
D: The aid money will be in crypto. Are you helping those community organizations set up with crypto wallets? Also, how are you empowering your community to stay safe with crypto?
A: Yeah, the very first event we had was educating the mutual aid world on ways to use crypto. So, education is a big part of what we realize we need to do.
We're building a resource portal that will live on our website on how to onboard to crypto and protect yourself.
So one of our core team members is tasked with building that resource portal. We are also working with another organization that deals exclusively with education in crypto. We're going to collaborate with them on an event, getting both of our people together, our communities together. So absolutely, education is a massive part of what we need to do.
D: I feel like hands-on education is the best. I've seen the Bitcoin community provide hands-on training to activists that live under authoritarian regimes. For example, helping them set up a crypto wallet, etc. So is hands-on education a focus for you?
A: Yes, I feel like one of the stumbling blocks is, I think that one of the biggest problems here is the kind of hesitation with crypto within the leftist circles that we are part of.
It's fascinating how there's that dichotomy between people who see crypto as an opportunity to free themselves from these authoritarian governments. And those in more or less democratically controlled governments that don't like the financialization of crypto and all of that.
So that's one of the reasons we are building very slowly and deliberately. And why we're doing a lot of community events and not forcing anyone to adopt crypto, or you have to have such and such a wallet to work with us, etc.
One of the things that we're building out is making it possible for people who don't want to be involved with crypto to have the option to withdraw funds in USD.
A chance to participate as little as possible within the crypto environment but can still get the benefits of being part of our collective.
We're making both happen, which I think in New York is what needs to happen because we don't want to force anyone to do anything they don't want to.
D: I've been documenting crypto's social good use cases for over a year. When I talk to mainstream media about the good happening in crypto, they are like, 'Hey, it's all hopes and dreams, and there's nothing really there. And I'm like, 'listen, these are the use cases; go read them.'
We are writing a book demonstrating the use cases of crypto for good. Pact DAO will be one of 12 DAOs listed as case studies in that book.
I feel one way to break that narrative is by highlighting the good. Because the bad narrative is so strong right now that people don't see past it.
Maybe as part of your resource center, positive use cases could be one of them, right?
A: Absolutely. It says a lot that we're continuing to build with almost more enthusiasm and momentum now that crypto is in the bear market.
I'm actually very happy that crypto is in a 'bear market' because of the people who are in it, and the people who are building are not after a return on investment. They're building the real solutions that need to be built.
D: How many people are there in your Discord? And how many of them are active?
A: So there are about 70 people who are in our Discord community. Nearly half of them, I would say, is active. And then in our core team, it's about 10. Although of that core team, of that 10, I think about 5-6 are active.
D: What have some of your learnings been?
A: What I have learned is that if you meet people where they are, like if you go to a community organization that is dealing with food insecurity or wants to accelerate abolition efforts, once they know that you are aligned with them on those goals, they will be more open to having the conversation on incorporating crypto into their game plan.
But if you speak first with, 'Hey, we're a crypto organization, or we're using crypto for this, and then you say, 'Oh, we can't partner with you on that - that approach is not gonna work.
You have to meet people where they are and be part of their community. You can't be an outsider. You have to be a neighbor.
You have to have that trust. And it really gives me optimism that there will be more positive use cases of crypto. As you said at the beginning of this conversation, there will be more and more of these use cases because I think it's inevitable.
It's just about making people aware of how this can be used and educating them. So it has made me a little more optimistic, which is one reason why I am still involved.
D: DAOs are such a different way of working. What advice do you have for people who wanna join? Do they need to have a different kind of mindset?
A: Yeah, I feel it's a different way of working. At least from all the conversations I've had, people understand that everyone has a different capacity in terms of how much work they can handle. And we work very asynchronously. So my advice is to the people looking at it -
Don't be intimidated by the fact that it might be new. If you can only contribute like 20 minutes a day, it's okay; your team will value that. Whether you want to contribute part-time or full-time, it's your capacity. So don't be turned off by thinking that it's gonna be a full-time job.
The other thing would be some advice for people getting started. Don't be intimidated by the things you don't know because everybody is learning this simultaneously.
As I said, this was my first DAO experience, and I'm learning along the way, and there are people alongside me that are learning. So that's such an encouraging environment to know that you're learning together.
The fact that DAOs are organized mainly virtually, I think, makes it a lot less intimidating because you can ask dumb questions that I think people wouldn't ask in person.
The biggest hesitation people have, other than time is education. Learning in that Discord is probably the biggest asset that people have, having those people around. You can directly message someone if you feel connected to one person more. So just don't be intimidated by the fact that I might not know something because the reality is no one knows everything.
D: That's so true, thank you for sharing your story; we are glad to have you as part of our study 🔸
🎙 Alfredo was interviewed on August 5th, 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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