Commons Stack

DAO Members Interviewed:

  1. Lívia Deschermayer, Cultural Build Lead
  2. Tamara Helenius, Program Manager
  3. Ivy Bagay, Communications and Legal Lead

Interviewer(s): Pauline de Mortain

What is Commons Stack

Founded in 2019, Commons Stack helps communities dedicated to public goods deploy regenerative microeconomies by providing open-source web3 toolkits. In other words, Commons Stack makes it easier for groups of people to manage shared resources - or ‘commons’. They create digital tools to help people fund, manage, and govern these ‘commons’ together.

A commons could be a natural resource, such as an endangered forest or unpolluted air. It could also be a digital resource, like Wikipedia, or a local service, like after-school care. It is, in short, any resource that can be co-owned and co-governed.

Commons Stack bases much of its work on the research of Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom (Elinor Ostrom’s Books. Before Ostrom, it was believed that a shared resource would be over-used and destroyed if left to its users, a phenomenon referred to as the “Tragedy of the Commons” (Tragedy of the Commons, Elinor Ostrom). Her economic research showed that this is not always the case. Small communities tend to establish self-enforced rules that lead to the sustainable use of shared resources.

However, Ostrom’s research also found that this does not appear to scale well in larger groups. Commons Stack hopes to empower communities - large and small, global and local - to manage their commons effectively. Commons Stack envisions these communities operating as ‘Platform Cooperatives’.

A good deal of Commons Stack’s work has focused on identifying ways to build sustainable economies based around a given commons. This could, for instance, remove the need for a constant flow of new funds to operate, thus allowing the commons to flourish. Blockchain technology presents an opportunity to experiment with tokens to incentivize this desirable outcome.

While anyone can mint a token, designing a effective token is not easy. This is why Commons Stack established the Token Engineering Commons (TEC). The TEC is a DAO dedicated to ‘sustainable and ethical design for token ecosystems’.

Commons Stack has also launched a membership organization called The Trusted Seed. The organization is home to a group of impact investors who are targeting long-term positive social impact. The group votes on token launches for new Commons through their governance token $TRUST.

More recently, the Trusted Seed played a major part in selecting the winner of the Commons Stack Prize - Grassroots Economics. They will now launch a Commons with all the benefit of the Commons Stack toolkit, expertise, and community. the experience gained from the first Commons deployment, the Token Engineering Commons (TEC).

Commons Stack has three divisions: Research, Products & Development, and Services. The research-based approach guides them to design tools that can be applied to commons upkeep, for example, the Augmented Bounding Curve for funding, Conviction Voting for prioritization, and the Analytics Dashboard for token launch. The “Praise System”, developed in collaboration with TEC, is another important invention. The Praise system (Praise) allows DAOs to collect data on people’s non-financial contributions and praise them.

Commons Stack hopes its tools will help people solve real-world coordination issues. Many of their tools rely on blockchain technology, and since blockchain technology is not widely adopted, the initial work will focus on organizations already in the blockchain space.

How Do They DAO

Although it operates in a non-hierarchical and open manner, Commons Stack itself is not yet officially a DAO. Its progressive decentralization towards a full DAO model is scheduled to begin in Q4 2023. In keeping with the goals of the Commons Stack, the emphasis is on moving deliberately, with sustainability in mind. In other words, the team appears in no rush to expand before they’re ready.

Commons Stack’s Trusted Seed Member organization of impact investors exercises governance power via the $TRUST token, mostly in deciding on token launches for new Commons, and voting for the winner of the Commons Stack Prize. The Commons Stack team also holds the $TRUST token.

For a deeper understanding of how Commons Stack operates, please refer to the following conversations with the team:

Interviews releasing soon on All About Impact DAOs Podcast

Interview with Lívia Deschermayer, Cultural Build Lead Interview with Tamara Helenius, Program Manager Interview with Ivy Bagay, Communications and Legal Lead