Around the Campfire, Cabin Contributor Jon Hillis

How can capital benefit individual, environmental and community needs?

As all good stories begin, this one began at Home Depot. Jon wanted to make something, but couldn’t decide on what. So he asked Twitter, who suggested a fire pit. While we were on Zoom, Jon brought his laptop outside, so I could see it. It’s a circle of chairs, with rocks surrounding the pit and Texas Hill Country all around. 

Jon Hills is Caretaker at Cabin. He aspires to be a servant leader, emphasizing his intention to lead by doing, but conjurer of fire might be more fitting. Just as tending a good fire has many considerations, like wood type and wind (and marshmallows), as Cabin’s Caretaker, he continually cultivates ways for the community to gather together and to build great products for each other.

He had to rely on self reflection and asking himself challenging questions.

Jon had wanted to build a cabin in the woods and have conversations with independent creators about the creator economy and startup investing. You can see this thread throughout his life, of looking at individual and environmental needs and how capital can beneficially impact them.

Today, he gets the best of both worlds, contributing to a DAO and living in a cabin in the country, but he couldn’t have predicted it. There were times when he had to rely on self reflection and asking himself challenging questions. This pattern can only benefit his experience with the DAO, where everything is so new.

No day at Cabin is alike for Jon, where his main focus is to “supervise the execution of resolutions”. Sometimes it’s about the IRL experience of visiting the cabins, sometimes it’s web3 tooling and the tax/legal implications of using tokens.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to design post-hoc narratives about these cycles than to understand them as they happen.

Jon was leading intentional communities long before Cabin. As a Boy Scout, he was elected National Chief of the Order of the Arrow, and also began Scouts for Equality. As the Director of Product for Shoppers at Instacart, he led teams that connected shoppers with people who needed their groceries delivered. He also co-built Discoverboard, an online community where the cost to join increases as the community grows.

Jon has researched and experimented with ways that capital can be of benefit to communities.  He studied at Carleton College and Rocky Mountain Institute about “understanding how small groups of humans can collectively solve collective action problems”, and is a mentor at Capital.Community. Jon also writes “about tech companies and their product strategies, new marketplaces and labor models, complex adaptive systems and artificial intelligence, and how all of this affects society.” 

I just want to take more of the magical serendipity of the internet and bring it into high-bandwidth reality.

After working to build great products for freelancers, Jon felt conflicted: How does one act fair and kindly in a competitive marketplace that treats independent freelancers as commodified labor? He found his answers in 2 places: 

  1. Mentoring at Capital Communities, who “help arm the rebels with world-class tools for monetizing content, digital ownership, physical goods, communities, and network connections.”
  2. Using blogging and social media to learn, share what he learns and connect with a community around this conflict.

Connecting with these communities led Jon to cofound Cabin. When Twitter told him to make a fire pit, it was just the beginning. He built the shipping container cabins on land that was previously owned by his grandparents and where he camped as a kid. He invited members of his online community to stay in what could easily be called the group’s collective dream come true. Conversation around a fire pit at the cabin, in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Austin, is where the DAO began. Even before he became Caretaker of the DAO, Jon was inviting people to commune around the proverbial campfire and unleash their creativity.

    The most important part of the dream is that it’s not my dream.

Cabin is about building a future with decentralized cities. But what would it look like to build one? Jon considered the question, first on a sabbatical at a beach in Thailand and now as Caretaker of Cabins. So far, all he can come up with is a very excited, very DAO answer: “The most important part of the dream is that it’s not my dream. It’s about us, not me.” 

If you want to work (and eat s’mores) with creators, thinkers, and other leaders in the DAO ecosystem to build the future, join the DAO.

Header Image by Jasmine Mitchell (Twitter)

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