Caretaker's Notes: Fall 22
Jon Hillis
0xbeC2
September 28th, 2022

I’ve been living on the road a lot this summer—jumping around between Texas, Minnesota, California, Colorado, and the East Coast. Dropping into different little pockets of the greater Cabin universe has given me a stronger sense of what it will be like for people to live across the Cabin network. For this update, I’ll share some of the slices of Cabin I was fortunate to be a part of during my recent travels.

some of the Montaia crew looking at the mountains and cheesing for the camera
some of the Montaia crew looking at the mountains and cheesing for the camera

My personal highlight of the season was spending time at Montaia, a Cabin neighborhood in the Eastern Sierra. I flew into Bishop, CA and within minutes I was up in the mountains, hearing stories of the epic tubing adventure of the previous day and participating in a group circle where people were opening up and getting to know each other. As soon as I joined the squad of colivers there, I knew I was back home at Cabin: an incredible group of humans had come together in a stunning part of nature and were forming deep relationships. It was a moment of joy for me to realize that this was just happening in a place I’d never been with people I’d never met.

To top it off, I got to join in and help lead a backpacking expedition through the wilderness into the backside of Yosemite. Backpacking has always been one of my favorite activities. I’ve covered many hundreds of miles of trail across some of the best nature in the world—but nothing prepared me for the jutting rock peaks, deep alpine lakes, and wide open meadows of true Sierra wilderness. It was magical:

one of the many beautiful alpine lakes we visited (and jumped in)
one of the many beautiful alpine lakes we visited (and jumped in)

Which brings me to the most exciting news of this update: a new Caretaker has joined Cabin. Kaela, who created Montaia, embodies what it means to be a Caretaker. The biggest bottleneck to building our network of neighborhoods is great Caretakers: people who build a sense of place and create space for others to join them. Caretakers are leaders and builders of the physical and social spaces that make up Cabin. It’s a deeply challenging and rewarding job, which makes it fun to swap stories and learn from others who also practice the art of deep community building. A huge welcome to Kaela, with whom I look forward to welcoming many more Caretakers to Cabin in the future! (Maybe I can even get her to start writing some of these posts…)

Kaela holding others up during an acroyoga session at Montaia
Kaela holding others up during an acroyoga session at Montaia

After Montaia, the Cabin train headed to Denver for MCON. As a lead sponsor, we ran core programming spaces for connection and coherence, sold our first merch, talked to dozens of squads interested in starting Cabin neighborhoods, and gave people the opportunity to apply to come colive with us. Our programming in The Room and Phil’s talks on co-buying were packed sessions that we heard from many people was a highlight of the conference:

Phil shares the path to successful co-buying of property
Phil shares the path to successful co-buying of property

I’m grateful to the team of Cabin contributors who came out to support our MCON efforts (including Kaela, who—as she often does—was taking the picture and therefore is not pictured):

The crew doing an IRL Coordinape Give circle at the end of the conference
The crew doing an IRL Coordinape Give circle at the end of the conference

We also rolled out beautiful posters, which included Cabin’s newly worded principles:

Conserve. Colive. Create.
Conserve. Colive. Create.

It’s too early in Cabin’s journey to write anything down in stone (or on-chain), but I do think these three words could serve as what Balaji might call our moral innovation or what Toby Shorin might call our flavor of Life After Lifestyle. While Balaji insists network states should have One Commandment, our network city prefers Three Suggestions:

Conserve. Colive. Create.

Conserve is about our relationship with nature and the land we live on. It's about building a sustainable future by living in balance with the earth's natural systems.

Colive is about our relationships with each other. To borrow Radish's "obvious truth": we are happiest and healthiest surrounded by people we love and admire.

Create is about what we can do when we live in this type of environment: imagine and build great things with other people across the world.

No governance process or declaration could make these words into values for Cabin — only we can do it, by living in accordance with them. Conveniently, we think these principles make for a simple set of guidelines for a well-lived life.

In the weeks since MCON, Cabin hosted its first international events. Community members gathered for Build Weeks in Puerto Rico, an island camping retreat in Greece, and a builder residency at Neighborhood Zero. Despite a hurricane in Puerto Rico (everyone is safe!), a hard-working crew came together to build a beautiful new outdoor community space:

An outdoor patio and the Cabin build crew that made it happen
An outdoor patio and the Cabin build crew that made it happen

I was particularly excited to get back home to Neighborhood Zero after a long set of traveling. While it’s great to bounce across the Cabin network, it’s even better to have a neighborhood you can call home. Charlie, our Builder in Residence for the fall, was already there when I arrived. Building physical spaces is a core motivation that led me to work on Cabin, and I can see that same energy in Charlie. You can see it too in the hilarious, fun, and informative weekly YouTube series he’s been producing:

Spending time with Charlie as he simultaneously builds and creates videos about his building process has been such a clear reminder of one of our core feedback loops as an organization—the one between builders and creators:

the builder-creator growth loop (or perhaps a form of import replacement, for the Jane Jacobs nerds out there)
the builder-creator growth loop (or perhaps a form of import replacement, for the Jane Jacobs nerds out there)

Charlie and I spent hours walking around the property, considering and modifying the emerging master plan. We talked through design, material, and placement options for buildings we’ll be completing this fall. And we talked about the path towards providing a 10x cheaper and better lifestyle for people by drastically reducing housing costs and building community-centric living spaces.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a front page story headlined Key Housing Crisis Factor: The Disappearance of Starter Homes in the US. It makes the case that Americans want more low-cost housing, but developers are not building it for two reasons: land costs and regulation. In urban areas, high land costs and excessive regulation make it economically impossible for developers to build the lower cost housing people want. But while these two factors are crippling housing in urban areas, they are the same two factors that are allowing Cabin to develop lower cost housing for flexible online workers.

We have a long way to go before we can deliver a consistently 10x cheaper and better living experience for people, but we are building a basic proof-of-concept. This week, Dwell announced a partnership with Adobu to sell 540 square foot prefabricated and installed 1-bedroom homes for around $400,000. For comparison, this is roughly the cost of our 1280 square foot 4-bed / 4-bath custom prefab shipping container home. And now, Charlie is building tiny homes using partially prefabbed sheds (which we call shedrooms) for under $25k. If we keep innovating on our building methods, I am confident we can create long-term spaces for communities that offer a better and much more affordable lifestyle for people.

A compelling moral innovation is one that responds to people’s basic needs and offers a different, better path. As I’ve lived in community with Cabin people this season, it’s become abundantly clear to me that we are building this type of innovation. We can conserve nature, colive with people we love and admire, and create spaces together that are simultaneously more affordable and better living environments. We’re not there yet, but the path is becoming clear in front of us. See you out on the trail.

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