[PIG] Participatory Commons Protocol (PCP) for Federated Collaborative Networks

Participatory Commons Protocol (PCP) for Federated Collaborative Networks


Benjamin Life

Scott Morris

Short Summary

Civil society and community groups attempting to coordinate the stewardship of their commons and local communities lack cohesive, protocolized, and interoperable tooling to engage in self-governance, agreement formation, peer accountability, and strategic coordination. Moreover, the lack of interoperable tooling makes the formation of federated solidarity networks a sluggish and bespoke process, relying on informal processes in which group consensus and undefined rights and authority slow or impede inter-group collaboration. We propose a synthesis of commons-based governance principles through a modular toolkit of collaborative financial, governance, operational, legal, technical, and social mechanisms. This research and toolkit is intended to formalize and streamline collaborative protocols and processes and facilitate the formation of federated, pro-social collaborative networks. Building upon the legacy and lineage of VillageLab’s participatory commons framework, the work of Elinor Ostrom, and others, we intend to equip and empower emerging digital and place-based communities with a library of social process tools, synthesized through their socio-technical implementation using existing on-chain and off-chain technologies like Hats Protocol, multi-signature wallets, and Guild.xyz.

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

We are attempting to improve the protocolization of Elinor Ostrom’s commons governance principles through a dynamic synthesis of participatory commons protocols, collaborative protocols, federation protocols, and others.

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

By adapting informal governance and collaborative processes into a modular, on-and-off-chain toolkit and corresponding design reference white paper, we are testing the hypothesis that inter-and-intra-group collaboration can be improved through interoperable infrastructures and clearly defined pathways to network formation and federation.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

We will conduct a series of field observations and expert interviews with a diverse array of blockchain-native and non-web3 civil society groups, ranging from Regenerate Cascadia (bioregional civil society group), ReFi DAO’s local nodes (a web3-friendly federated network of regenerative finance-focused local organizations), the Planetary Regeneration Alliance (multi-stakeholder infrastructure development alliance), and others. Our expert interviews will focus on leaders in commons management protocols and collaborative protocols such as Michel Bauwens, Jamaica Stevens, Magenta Ceiba, Michael Zargham, Jessica Zartler, and Jeff Emmett.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

Our prototype will be shared as a white paper describing aspects of design, implementation, case studies, and theory as well as a linked knowledge graph toolkit database documenting various methods in a unified taxonomy that can be applied on-chain and through participatory social processes. Additionally, we will also explore participatory mechanisms for public contribution to the toolkit to support its ongoing development.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

We will run applied research experiments with various volunteers from ReFi DAO Local Nodes and the Planetary Regeneration Alliance to test hypotheses in real-world collaborative settings.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

Michel Bauwens, Jamaica Stevens, Magenta Ceiba, Michael Zargham, Jessica Zartler, Jeff Emmett, Stephanie Rearick, Will Ruddick, Felix Fritsch.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

We intend to publish this research as an open standard for community groups and collaborative networks and will explore participatory mechanisms to empower the public to further refine and develop it as an open source mechanism toolkit. Through continued community engagement and commons governance of these open standards, we intend to continue to add additional models and modifications to the toolkit using the taxonomy we outline in our research. Through existing collaborative relationships with digital community platform builders like Hylo, Open Future Coalition, Social Roots, and the other members of the Collaborative Technology Alliance, we will socialize and seek adoption of these open standards across pro-social platform developers.

What is the success vision for your idea?

We envision a world in which community groups can easily form agreements and collaborative processes with clear participatory commons membranes, roles, and operations. We see these groups forming federated solidarity networks based on mutual benefit and shared theories of change. These networks would function as agile, community-driven non-profit groups that are able to self-organize at the local level to resolve community needs while simultaneously federating with global networks to share best practices, resources, and information.


I would love to collaborate with you on this! Definitely complementary with ARC Regenerative Communities Protocol and Portable Communities Protocol


Looks great, Benjamin. We should explore collaboration. We even have the same acronym. The Portable Communities Protocol could be a component of your PCP.


Thank you @bdegraf and @deiim ! I would LOVE to collaborate with you both on this. I’ve also already shared it with the Hylo team and some other epic allies holding commons governance pattern codes. Summer of Protocols is ON!

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@deiim good topic for a CTA Community Call…


I would love to help !

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Mos def. There’s also harmonics here with your RFC on belonging: Patterning a Language of Collective Practice. (I thought I submitted this like a week ago, but found it here, not-yet-submitted, in a lost browser tab.;-))