Lessons from the first Community Staking DAO Cohort

This document serves as a formalized set of reflections on the first year of the community Staking DAO Cohort Program at Regen Foundation. Through it we hope to identify:

  • What community staking DAOs are and why they are necessary to purpose driven blockchains.

  • Revisit the prioritization and qualification criteria to select the first cohort

  • Identify challenges our team experienced in creating a framework through which community staking DAOs could effectively own and govern the network.

  • Most importantly, identify important takeaways we deem essential to consider in the development of schemes of community stake and ownership.

We do this in order to inform the process for the next cohort of enDAOment, part of the larger ecosystem referred to as the Regen Commons. What follows is a non-exhaustive public examination of the process to date.

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Jump to the Challenges and Takeaway sections to get to the important updates.


Why do we need community staking DAOs and what are they?

  • Community Staking DAOs are essential in bringing ownership and governance power to the communities and initiatives Regen Network works to serve.

    • They are a web3 native way of supporting communities who practice regeneration to be shareholders in the larger Regen Network protocol.
  • Through a token transfer of 500,000 REGEN we bring founders’-level stake to regenerative communities.

  • In addition to token transfer, participants join a cohort which meets on a weekly / biweekly cadence to codevelop capacity and confidence for network engagement.

  • The tokens enfranchise communities in two core ways:

    • Structural Equity to counter plutocratic token schemas common to Proof-of-Stake.

    • They bring added resourcing for projects to integrate existing practices with web3 practices;Staking rewards from enDAOment transfer can be sold for USD to finance organizational growth.

  • Purpose-driven blockchains, which are opinionated and held around core values, require a dedicated community who stewards the protocol and advocates on behalf of the core values through governance.

    • Analogous to an enforcer or trustee to a purpose trust
  • Token transfers are an essential way in which DAO organizational practices can be developed from existing community organizing practices.

    • It is based from the beginning on listening and codifying what community governance practices are already in place.
  • For further discussion on the function of Community Staking DAOs, please refer here.

What we did

  • We outlined our strategy as well as prioritization schema for whom we would invite into the cohort.

  • We brought in 8 enDAOment candidates into an educational cohort to build their capacity to function as a DAO within the Regen Network ecosystem (minimum-viable thresholds articulated here).

  • We compiled a one pager for the csDAO program introducing the concept of regenerative DAOs through the precedent of the commons.

  • We created an intro page for candidate csDAO communities.

  • The Introduction outlines the participants and who has been enDAO’d to date.

  • We supported the buildout of the Regen Network Guides homepage.

  • Broadly speaking, we sought to support bioregional hubs with a wide range of different skills/approaches to regeneration.

  • We compiled a Legal Reference Guide for enDAOment.

  • The first cohort was simultaneously architects of the overall protocol of token enDAOment. An integral part of their participation is the design of the process.


The challenges to supporting community stake in the larger regen ecosystem are many. This non-exhaustive list outlines some of the salient challenges the Regen Foundation team engaged with in its first year of operation.

Disambiguating equity and equality and holding space for “outside” voices.

  • The csDAO can be understood as a form of structural equity for application-specific, purpose driven blockchains which seek to align token economic governance with higher values around planetary regeneration. Doing so means creating criteria which effectively foreground voices and perspectives of regenerators who would otherwise not “have a seat at the table” of governance. In selectively foregrounding voices through a prioritization matrix we are not arguing for “equal” representation of voices in regenerative economics in web3, but rather an equitable representation of voices. We have experienced criticism by a demographic which can broadly be described as white, male, crypto-native, global north, internet-fluent users who feel their feelings and voices have not been sufficiently engaged. We have also received criticism that our policies to support and foreground marginalized voices are not strong enough. Codifying our policies around voice and representation in ownership and governance is necessarily an iterative process of continuous revisitation.

It’s a challenge to find common synchronous formats across timezones and video platforms where all parties can join.

  • One of the hardest challenges building a global network of grassroots communities centers around timezones. It took months to finalize a time slot where California, USA East Coast, Europe, East Africa, India, and SouthEast Asia can meet. 10am EST on Wednesdays is where we settled because people on the US West Coast can wake up quite early, and people in Southeast Asia can stay up quite late, but ultimately can still see each other.

Learning processes can become reliant on point of contact

  • It is difficult for new communities to sit and work through the processes of finding aligned purpose, and steps (or the first few) to get there. It can be an uncomfortable sensation. The complex space which is decentralized ecological economics, requires intersectional thinking, diverse forms of understanding. The issues and topics can be complex. In response to this, a default can be to assume that a primary point of contact is the expert. In networks of knowledge and learning, how do we surpass tropes of being “taught” towards learning together? Finding fertile dynamics of co-authorship can be difficult.

Trust begins interpersonally, but one person cannot be held responsible to maintain its growth at scale

  • Team members who are active in building relationships amongst potential csDAO candidates can be met with untenable expectations to access. This becomes particularly the case when token transfer is primarily needed to fund core functionality of a potential partner. Maintaining personal relationships, (because that is what this is all built on), while developing criteria, patterns, and protocols for the csDAO to grow presents a challenge working across scales. Active communication around availability and access to the broader ecosystem is a necessary point of improvement for our team.

Greater integration between csDAOs and the Validator community is necessary.

  • The mechanics of delegated Proof-of-Stake governance on an application-specific blockchain like Regen Network are not obvious to most. Subsequent cohorts should be supported by more direct engagement with validators as well as a buddy system between the different communities. This also supports the potential for future csDAOs to be active in the validator set. We were aware of this challenge going into the process, but had challenges in actually getting specific validators paired up with specific enDAOment candidates.

There are high barriers to engagement for non-Web3 regenerative communities, and capacity building should consider the following 3 aspects.

  • There is a 3 part challenge between

    • Regenerative Communities

    • Tool Interface Development

    • Blockchain Architecture Abstraction

  • In order to support the voice of regenerators in network governance, we must work to make the tools and systems architecture grounded in application. The high degree of friction in grasping the abstract nature of Proof-of-Stake token economic schemes, as well as nascent tool UI/UX can make participation for regenerative communities difficult. Theoretically all points must evolve together.

  • Of particular importance is the challenge between iterative UI/UX development and regenerative community testing / tweaking.

Range in experiences difficult within a single meeting format

  • Beginners and participants with more specific interests need a natural way to differentiate at meetings in order to continue bringing in new interest while allowing more mature groups to form around dedicated research agendas.

Challenges of dual function of REGEN token as vote and currency in a bear market

  • REGEN tokens are both a digital currency, and a voting system. When economic circumstances are bull, regenerative communities more often view them as cash resourcing. When the market is bear, tokens are more often viewed as a system of governance. The dual function of the token in a vacillating economy can produce significant challenges for enDAOment.

  • Token enDAOments are not well suited for seed funding in a bear market. This biases what initiatives can participate without additional funding, and requires consistently revisiting how effective is the Regen Foundation in delivering on its purpose.


Building community and friendship around common ideals was primary

  • Technology must follow the culture and ideals of a group of people. We believe creating an environment on shared calls / meetings which is safe, supportive, sincere, and funny is absolutely essential in enfranchising organizations to leverage decentralized storage and governance to scale their impact. Everyone learns better when they are having fun, and what unites us is a mutual alignment towards planetary regeneration!

Set Expectations with potential partners for Organizational Capacity and Access through more active communication

  • Bridging the scale of the interpersonal relationship with that of network protocol requires a clear rhythm of regular correspondence. In our first cohort, at times our team was overwhelmed with requests for engagement. Developing a weekly, biweekly system to touch base with all parties is necessary in order to support healthy engagement across a diverse range of partnerships.

enDAO individual groups as well as entire cohort

  • The boundaries of DAOs can be nested, and this may be necessary in the initial phases of community staking DAO implementation. The organizations which comprised the first cohort of the csDAO had to help build the protocol to enDAO subsequent organizations. This merited the creation of an umbrella DAO which will play a key role in supporting subsequent cohorts. This brings about the idea of nested DAO structures and composable ecosystems.

Crucial importance to develop feasibility for Web3 onramps and offramps

  • One of the greatest challenges in developing ethical technology frameworks for regenerative economics is the issue of entering and exiting the tools. Degen Web3, DeFi, and most discord-native DAOs overwhelmingly emphasize what can be done once an individual / community has a wallet or blockchain identity. An absolutely core challenge for non-web3 native DAOs is securely maintaining keys, and digital identity. We refer to that as on-ramping. Conversely, ease of transfer from token to fiat is also essential in order to ensure communities tangibly receive value from their work.

  • In order to address the onramp / offramp challenge, we feel the following are important to consider:

    • Account abstraction—what levels of security are necessary when?

    • Clear resources on crypto compliance in global context

    • Payment schemes such as debit cards linked to wallets which streamline sale of tokens.

    • Offchain to Onchain oracles like Reality.eth, which provide trusted ways to bring off-chain decisions onchain.

    • More emphasis on visual communication over syntactical interfaces

Emphasize the importance in implementation over developing new funding pools.

  • We believe the crucial work is in the last mile, actually the last millimeter of implementation. At the level of implementation, the onramps and offramps described above are essential. The growth of novel funding schemes which implement new dispersal schemes through quadratic functions or governance are exciting, however without resolving the onramp and offramp issues, their efficacy largely stays within the web3 ecosystem and does not touch the ground. In order for regenerative economics supported by web3 to work, this threshold must be crossed, and often. We believe it is extremely important for organizations like the Regen Foundation to emphasize the applied and practical impact of such funding schemes towards ecosystem health.

Prioritize groups where power balance and trust are clear. Explore how groups module and multi-sig functionality can support governance for communities with more complex interpersonal dynamics in subsequent cohorts.

  • Given that much of the tooling and interfaces are in active development, we did not feel it was appropriate to enDAO communities where there was active schisms. Subsequent cohorts of the enDAOment can further define and refine the tools outlined above for collective governance. While the groups module is under development we opted for smaller, more tightly knit groups in order to keep complexity well scoped.

Non-profits in climate crypto should partner with value aligned initiatives across ecosystems rather than solely emphasizing one tech stack.

  • In the space of regenerative finance, many different technical stacks, protocols, and tool schemas are being developed.

  • We believe it is important to pursue multiple parallel tech frameworks which are united by shared ethics and purpose over technical features.

  • The culture and the purpose should drive interaction and interoperability over allegiance to one protocol over another. The culture must define the tools, not the other way around.

enDAOment transfer can be incremental in order to support engagement and activation of learning over a longer arc

  • Incremental versus lump sum transfers are an onramp for communities to consider the potential benefits of web3 for their organization. By making the process incremental, it supports ongoing engagement for communities to create the terms of their involvement.

Integrating totems and symbolism through which different csDAOs identify brings a more rich narrative of participation.

  • Whether it be through NFTs, iconography, or allusion, it is important that groups find a system of self representation which tethers their participation back to their broader purpose and ideals. How might world building be an active practice in the culture of community stake.


We believe this reflection is a necessary step in building a protocol for the Regen Commons. We believe this is in step with a “build in public” ethos. We will follow this post with a vision statement as well as selection priorities / criteria draft for the next cohort subject to public comment and discussion.

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