Cabin is building a network city for our citizens, who span the globe and come together to colive and create in nature.
Citizens have passports that give them access to coliving and residencies at Cabin neighborhoods. Over the next few years, our city will grow to 5,040 founding citizens—the number that Aristotle thought made for an ideal polis. We collectively govern our city and build a network of neighborhoods from the ground up.
Over the past two years, our online community has designed and built a thriving coliving property called Neighborhood Zero in the Texas Hill Country. We are now expanding a shared culture, economy, and governance across a global network of physical neighborhoods designed for strong community, fast internet, and access to nature.
This document outlines our core beliefs and plans to build a city:
Why we’re building a city
Who we are
What we believe
We are happiest living with people we admire
We can find our people online and get together in person
We can live anywhere and earn money online
How we’re doing it
Where we’re going
Next 5 Years
Next 5 Decades
Next 5 Centuries
A city is a densely settled area with clearly defined boundaries whose members work primarily on non-agricultural tasks. Cities share a culture, economy, and governance structure. Throughout history, they have served as fountains of human creativity and prosperity. They are where people come together to build new economies and ways of life.
But we haven’t built new cities in a long time. Phoenix, founded in 1868, is the youngest major American city. Cities like San Francisco haven’t changed much in the past century as development has ground to a halt. In the last 50 years, we’ve built our urban and suburban environment around cars and disconnected single family homes:
Americans are currently less happy with their lives than they’ve been in 50 years. There seem to be two main causes: increasing loneliness and decreasing standard of living.
The increase in loneliness has roots in the decline of America’s social associations of the 20th century, like the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, churches, and bowling leagues. The book Bowling Alone shows membership and participation in social and civic organizations swelled in the middle of the twentieth century and then went into steep decline starting in the mid-late 1960s.
This coincides with the rise of the car-centric suburban lifestyle, designed to shuttle single families around to single family homes. Suburban homes have become atomic units disconnected from a deep tapestry of local relationships.
The rise of the consumer internet, mobile phones, and social media has exacerbated this sense of loneliness by creating an explosion of screen time, parasocial relationships, and an unrealistic view of others’ social lives. Social media promotes anti-social passive engagement—we need in-person connections to build empathy through body language and subtle emotional signals.
Living standards have also been dropping. American life expectancy is at a 25 year low. Meanwhile, the basic costs of living — housing, food, education, and healthcare — have doubled over the same period, accounting for inflation:
We think it’s time to get back to the basics and try something different.
There’s a long history of back-to-the-land movements rejecting high living costs, gridlocked politics, and urban decay in favor of a greater degree of autonomy, resilience, and local community. In most cases, movements encounter the harsh reality of living off of the land and fail to proliferate their ideals. Occasionally, they have the tools to persevere and build new cities.
The good news is that in the last few decades, humans have gained new tools for city building. Economic, demographic, and social changes are colliding to unlock new ways of living and working. A new tech stack of coordination software and off-grid housing hardware are allowing online communities to manifest IRL and become more self-sufficient. The resulting cities can help people reconnect with each other and nature, improving both in the process.
We believe that the pace layers of civilization are bending in this direction:
When you add this all together, you end up with fertile ground for internet-native cities. Creating a high density of great people has historically required a city to be located in one place, but cities adapt to new technologies. The cities we live in today are designed around cars. We believe cities of the future will be organized online, and will be physically decentralized across a network of locations.
These network cities will be tied together in the same way cities always have been: shared cultures, economies, and governance structures. Our culture is co-created through gatherings, roles, and lore. Our collective coordination happens through polycentric governance of neighborhoods, guilds, fellowships, and citizens. Our economy is designed around the principles of import replacement, reciprocity, and regeneration.
Our network city is made up of independently owned and operated coliving neighborhoods that share three characteristics:
Access to nature
We offer more affordable, higher quality, more flexible housing options than you can get in traditional cities. By building for ourselves in rural areas, we aim to produce 10x less expensive housing options for our community. By designing for community amenities and access to nature, we can offer unparalleled quality for the price. By offering a continuous ala carte menu of coliving and work-stay exchanges across a network of neighborhoods, we provide flexibility and financial optionality to our citizens.
Cabin started with a gathering of online creators called the Creator Coop. As the world reopened in 2021, we met in person at a cabin in the Texas Hill Country. Late one night around a campfire, we dreamed up a residency program for creators governed by a community.
That week, we launched a crowdfund where community members could help sponsor creator residencies at the cabins. An incredible crew of 101 people from across the internet chipped in donations, and over the next few months, we collectively voted on which creators got residencies.
From those initial residencies, a DAO was born. Over 500 people are now holders of the ₡ABIN token, which is used to govern our shared treasury of funds and network of neighborhoods. Each month, we still vote on creators to win a free residency at our cabins.
A city starts with a high density of incredible humans who can attract more creative, productive, interesting people. Great cities attract ambitious people, and ambitious people create great cities. ₡ABIN holders include an incredible range of creators, founders, investors, leaders, and contributors from across the internet. We work with some of the best community strategic partners in the world, are recognized as a leading social DAO, and have started the public conversation about network cities.
Our community believes in three obvious truths:
We are happiest living with people we admire
We can find our people online and get together in person
We can live anywhere and earn money online
This idea (and the idea of obvious truths) is adapted from our friends at Radish, a coliving community in Oakland. Spend any time in a well-organized coliving community and it's immediately evident how different of a lifestyle it can be for human connection, novelty, and happiness.
Living together in community is a deeply natural thing for humans to do. This truth is so banal that it's easy to forget how far from it most of us choose to live. Most people prioritize houses with cars in the suburbs instead of community, nature, and co-creation. It doesn’t have to be this way—you can choose who is around your campfire.
At Cabin, we choose to surround ourselves with kind, thoughtful, creative, open-minded, playful, generous people. We are a mix of creators, builders, naturalists, gatherers, caretakers, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and doers. We are highly motivated people who want to do good in the world, but are low drama and easy-going.
Coliving in nature is the new old way of living. By returning to this timeless way of living, we can provide a happier, healthier, cheaper, and more flexible lifestyle for our community.
In the Facebook era, people met in person and then became “friends” online. But it makes more sense to do the opposite: find your friends online and then meet up in person.
There are at least 1000x more people to choose from online, and they conveniently gather into easily identifiable tribes. People in the dating pool are the most highly motivated searchers for strong new connections, and they have figured this out in droves:
But the physical world still matters. In order to build deep relationships, people need to come together, break bread, be present, and immerse themselves in the environment. Having common interests with someone is a good starting point, but to form deep relationships, you need to go through experiences together. Maybe someday there will be virtual realities with the same bandwidth as the real world, but for now, you can’t beat good old fashioned reality.
Opportunities to earn money online are skyrocketing. COVID-19 completely shifted the cultural Overton window on remote work, leading to a 5x increase in Americans working remotely over the past 5 years. This accelerated an already potent change in the nature of the firm.
Declining transaction costs and growing distribution channels are creating new ways of doing business, built around flexible independent work. This led to the gig and creator economies, and now it's coming for a wide range of indie knowledge work. This process has been rapidly accelerated by large language models, image models, and other emerging forms of artificial intelligence.
The boom in flexible work has enabled more people to explore flexible lifestyles. There’s been tremendous growth in the number of people working remotely, creating independently, and living nomadically:
This has created a huge increase in the number of people looking for new ways to live that better match their lifestyle. It used to be the case that we spent our working days with coworkers from the same company, and lived near wherever the office happened to be. Now, we can spend our days surrounded by a community of our choosing, cross-pollinating our work and lives alongside other creative professions.
Remote work also solves the core problem that has historically caused intentional communities to fail: it’s hard to bootstrap an economy living off of the land. Most intentional communities fail to build robust enough incomes to sustain themselves. By combining land-based practices with income earned online, remote work can completely change the economics of rural intentional communities.
When we say we’re collectively building a city, we mean it literally. Over the past two years, our online community has designed and built a full-time coliving property called Neighborhood Zero.
Created from the ground up by members of the community, Neighborhood Zero includes 8 bedrooms and bathrooms spread across 3 cabins, an outdoor spa, community gathering spaces, and an area for vans. It sits on 28-acres of the Texas Hill Country and is home to a rotating dinner party of Cabin colivers (and several longhorn cattle).
Cabin is building a network of physical locations like Neighborhood Zero. This network is managed through the collective coordination of Citizens and neighborhoods.
Here’s how it works:
Neighborhoods list offers for coliving, residencies, and build weeks in the City Directory. Listings start as outposts and become neighborhoods when they get enough votes from the community.
Citizens can apply for offers at neighborhoods and outposts. Some Citizens pay to colive at neighborhoods and others contribute skills through work-stay exchanges.
The Census shows each members’ roles, stamps, voting power, and citizenship. Some offers in the City Directory are only available to people who hold these credentials.
This marketplace for matching people and places operates as a decentralized network. Neighborhoods, citizens, token holders, and guilds each maintain self-sovereign autonomy over a part of this polycentric governance structure and marketplace. The Cabin community co-creates our culture, governance, and economy to support the development of this network of neighborhoods.
Our culture is co-created at virtual and physical gatherings where we come together in roles and build lore. People instigate cooperative coordination that replicates our cultural memes and deepens our collective sense of self. This game is a self-reinforcing social system for building places where our citizens live together.
We’ve gathered to live, work, and play together in places like California’s Eastern Sierra, the jungles of Puerto Rico, and the Portuguese Azores. We’ve colived in cabins in the woods, built permanent physical infrastructure at neighborhoods, and gathered in large groups to enjoy each other’s company and figure things out together. Through these gatherings, we’ve grown deeper connections and relationships among community members.
When you participate in our online and offline gatherings, you can earn roles and stamps that get added to your Census profile. Anyone can create their profile in our Census and begin building their reputation and identity within the community. These credentials are distributed by a decentralized network of community members, stored onchain, and publicly verifiable by anyone.
Passport stamps draw inspiration from merit badges, laptop stickers, and community patches. They provide a cultural vibe-check by showing what you’ve done with the community. We’ve distributed thousands of stamps to members who have onboarded, attended events, completed residencies, and colived with Cabin across the world.
We are co-creating the world’s first IRL RPG: an in-real life role playing game. Playing the game starts with choosing your role—archetypes who can help co-create a network city. These roles give people a path of contribution and direction as they join the community.
Roles form guilds and develop their own subcultures, rights of passage, skills, and practices. While we currently have six roles, we expect many more to emerge and specialize from within the community over time:
Caretaker: Operator of a neighborhood. Jack-of-all-trades responsible for a space.
Builder: Maker of physical things that improve neighborhoods.
Gatherer: Space-maker in residence building the container and culture.
Naturalist: Grower of plants, animals, and systems for the natural environment.
Creator: Very-online producer of art, novelty, content, and experiments.
Resident: Remote worker living across the neighborhood network.
The Greater Cabin Universe includes many lore-filled rabbit holes, like a buried treasure, non-fungible longhorn cattle, one sauna teams, and the ceremonial distribution of hats. Venkatesh Rao calls lorecraft the first “internet-native school of organizational thinking”. It encompasses the ways that stories, memes, language, and symbols can help define community norms and practices. Importantly, it emerges on its own when the vibes are right:
Lore cannot be engineered in the same way marketing can be. While you can shape lore as it emerges, it is a matter of subtle gardening and curation… Lore is something you witness, and attempt to shape as it emerges, if it emerges, not something you design and execute… You can only recognize and institutionalize.
To avoid smothering budding loreplants, we garden carefully and try not to take lore too seriously. But we do take seriously the idea that we can collectively grow a life after lifestyle for ourselves. This type of lore gardening is at the root of culture building:
At the beginning of the 18th century, “culture” was still only a verb. It meant to cultivate the land, to encourage natural growth: the culture of leeks or potatoes or gardens. But inevitably, the term was applied to mean the “cultivation” of the social conditions for a healthy society.
Matthew Arnold, who coined this use of the word, imagined intentional cultural development as a way to help people achieve humanistic goals in a post-religious society. He also advocated for a top-down cultural shaping of the masses towards the needs of the State. Lore provides us with collective tools to shape community cultures from the bottom up, using the memes of production.
We collectively manage our treasury, neighborhoods, guilds, and citizens via programmable polycentric governance games. Polycentric governance is an emergent system in which many diverse centers of partial authority collectively govern a network. Blockchains, which provide communities with self-sovereign tools for programmable governance, allow networks of internet strangers to manage resources collectively and transparently.
Onchain governance is a new type of leviathan that puts capture-resistant governance directly in the hands of a community. Members can self-custody tokens that represent roles, responsibilities, and governance powers and can be used autonomously and transparently to make organizational decisions without the need for a trusted central authority.
Legally, our DAO is structured as an Unincorporated Nonprofit Association (like a neighborhood association) made up of a constellation of other independently operated organizations and people who govern it onchain.
₡ABIN is our governance token, representing your voting power in community decisions. Anyone who holds or has been delegated 1000 ₡ can submit a governance proposal to the DAO. Proposals are selected using quadratic voting to increase equity among tokenholders. Tokenholders govern the DAO’s public treasury to grow its network of citizens, neighborhoods, and fellowships.
The City Directory determines which neighborhoods are inside of our city limits. Citizens can create new outposts for the network to consider. When outposts with at least 4 bedrooms at 20 mbps internet receive 1000 ₡ in votes, they become an official neighborhood and a part of our network city. The City Directory is governed as a simple token curated registry (TCR). There are more game-theoretically complete rules for managing the incentive structures of TCRs. We’ve mapped out how these rules could work for Cabin, and they can be added over time as the size and complexity of the network demands them.
Guilds are self-governing pods that grant roles to skilled Builders, Naturalists, Creators, Gatherers, and Caretakers. Over time, many more guilds will develop and specialize to help grow neighborhoods. Roles are represented onchain as Hats and may be required to participate in certain neighborhood offerings, like residency programs.
Apprentice status is self-selected by community members in the Census to signal interest in becoming a member of a guild.
Artisan status is granted to people who have completed the requirements to become a fully recognized guild member. This usually involves participating in an in-person event.
Custodians are responsible for managing guilds and distributing roles.
Citizenship is a subscription membership managed through a web-of-trust vouching system. A current Citizen must nominate you for citizenship, and can only vouch for up to ten people per year.
Citizens are granted chip-embedded passports, a numbered Citizen NFT, and ₡ABIN to participate in collective governance. They have exclusive access to offerings in the City Directory. Citizens also get access to our annual gathering, merch, and partnership perks.
Cities have historically been the source of new economies, and may be the only way to create emergent economic systems. The unpredictability of emergent systems is exactly what makes them hard to centrally plan. We don’t try to centrally control or plan our economy.
Instead, we are growing emergent local economies with programmable economic incentives designed around the principles of import replacement, reciprocity, and regeneration.
In The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs describes how cities grow economies through import replacement. Cities grow by importing goods, creating the capacity for replicating the goods internally, and then exporting the locally produced surplus. This surplus allows the city to earn (and replace) new imports with more complex and valuable goods and services, creating an economic cycle of growth. Producing your own goods and services creates new jobs and wealth within a community while developing a diverse and resilient local economy.
The internet creates new opportunities to apply the concept of import replacement to the economies of network cities. Crucially, network cities don’t need to bootstrap their economies from scratch. They can begin with remote workers, who stay economically connected online and can live and invest their resources anywhere. Remote work provides a financial basis for the community by allowing residents to import their income.
Imported income, attention, and goods create an economic basis for adding additional forms of work that grow the economy. This added work comes in the form of definancialized residencies designed around Cabin’s roles. Work-stay residencies allow neighborhoods to build homes, grow food, and make meaning together.
Cabin’s definancialized residencies become the basis for an economy of reciprocity and regeneration. As squad wealth grows within neighborhoods, it also creates and exports value in the form of relationships, skills, content, and work for members of the community. These exports generate more attention and income for the neighborhood, repeating the cycle.
Western economic and legal systems are largely designed around private property. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer describes the indigenous wisdom of economies designed around gifts:
From the viewpoint of a private property economy, the "gift" is deemed to be "free" because we obtain it free of charge, at no cost. But in the gift economy, gifts are not free. The essence of the gift is that it creates a set of relationships. The currency of a gift economy is, at its root, reciprocity. In Western thinking, private land is understood to be a "bundle of rights," whereas in a gift economy property has a "bundle of responsibilities" attached.
Definancialized exchange is a potent form of human relationship building. While we still rely on money to create economic efficiency, we also try to nurture forms of non-financial contribution that are built on intrinsic motivation.
At Cabin, this starts with housing. Neighborhoods offer work-stay residency programs to Builders, Naturalists, Gatherers, and Creators. In exchange for free housing, residents help build the regenerative systems that make neighborhoods thrive.
Reciprocity can take many other forms: shared meals, shoutouts, brags, and do-ocracy are all part of a gift economy. By finding ways to give our gifts to the community, we create deeper relationships, meaning, and value.
Regenerative economies build capacity and resilience sustainably. They overcome collective action problems to grow common-pool resources for local communities. Small groups producing real goods in close collaboration with the local environment results in regeneration:
By building neighborhoods from the ground up in rural areas, we can create better housing options in less time for fewer resources. Lower land costs, less regulation, off-grid infrastructure, and coliving make it feasible for communities to build 10x cheaper and better housing for themselves.
Neighborhoods can build their own housing, grow their own food, produce their own energy, manage their own water, and make their own meaning. By creating self-sufficient capacity in nature, we can build a globally resilient mesh network of sustainable capacity for human flourishing. The solarpunk movement showcases a tool-kit of renewable energy, local permaculture, and decentralized systems that enable an optimistic view of a regenerative future.
The best store of value is a local community, but global economic systems can’t make this kind of value legible, so they ignore it. Crypto-economic systems can provide the tools to grow, test, and evolve microeconomies for local communities. This opens up a new design space for building regenerative value structures.
Over the next few years, we plan to collectively curate our first 5,040 citizens and 500 active neighborhoods.
Aristotle argued that 5,040 citizens made for an ideal self-governing city, or polis. It’s enough people to allow for social, political, and economic diversity while still maintaining the ability to cohesively self-govern. It’s also a highly divisible number, and around the number of people you could squeeze into a physical location to hear a speaker before there were microphones.
Technology has come a long way since then, but we still believe 5,040 is a good number of citizens for Cabin to aim for in the next few years. Vibes don’t blitzscale. While we want to grow Cabin, we don’t want to grow it too fast. We believe that by starting with a strong community of initial citizens and giving the power of community growth to them, we can increase the number of citizens without outgrowing the vibe.
If existing citizens vouch for a few additional citizens each year, there will be 5,040 citizens in the next 3-5 years. Five thousand and forty is a good milestone for long-term community sustainability. It’s enough to support fellowships that can provide for the product, operations, and community-building needs of Cabin on an ongoing basis and reach profitability on our current runway:
To provide coliving and residency options for our 5,040 founding citizens, we will onboard our first 500 neighborhoods. The Census and City Directory will serve as a community sensemaking and coordination layer, allowing prospective neighborhoods to find like-minded community members, build reputation, and assemble resources.
Building new neighborhoods is a huge undertaking. By creating deep relationships across members of the community, we will form groups that have the skills, relationships, and resources to build permanent places we can call home.
In the next 50 years, we plan to cocreate a network city of over a million people concurrently living together in permanent intergenerational communities. We will live across a global network of neighborhoods deeply embedded in their natural environment.
Neighborhoods will range in size from a handful of people living in a house to thousands of people in large settlements that are dense, walkable, human-scaled, and regenerative. They will offer Citizens a combination of permanent and flexible living arrangements, and many will become specialized niches of community in the network.
Some of these niches will be designed for guilds: communities of builders, naturalists, gatherers, and creators. Others will center around as-of-yet unformed scenes, who will vibe check each other's passport stamps. As we age together as a community, we expect to see neighborhoods emerge that are designed for the full cycle of life stages. In particular, we will see a rapid expansion of Cabin neighborhoods designed for groups of families to live together in the next decade.
At the scale of millions of people, we would operate a set of protocols and products for managing network cities. This could include protocols designed around onchain primitives like:
a token curated registry for city directories
an onchain census for community identity and reputation
subscription membership tokens and passport cards
publicly verifiable self-sovereign voting
Societies across history have formed via decentralized autonomous networks of cooperating bands of humans. These local bands, tribes, villages, and towns have developed interdependent networks of cultural and economic exchange that allowed them to thrive.
Occasionally, a tenacious group of people uses an emerging set of technologies to build an enduring new system of living. The societies that emerge during these historical periods have become fountains of human culture, creativity, economic activity, and self-sovereign governance.
We are living through one of these periods, and we take that seriously enough to consider 500 year plans. But it would be ludicrous to use central planning exercises on these time horizons. The best we can do is learn from history and prepare for possibilities.
We study historical examples of societies that have created enduring systems of self-governance. Across the history of Western civilization, there’s a clear cycle of decentralized cities and centralized states. Mesopotamian river valley civilizations, Greek city-states, medieval market towns, and New England townships show us how federated systems can emerge and create conditions of peace and prosperity:
Indigenous groups that have been ignored in the Western canon have built societies and cities around an incredible diversity of governance structures and social contracts. We draw inspiration from many of these sources, including Catalhoyuk, Nebelivka, Uruk, Teotihuacan, and the Haudenosaunee. Our network of neighborhoods is designed to have the same type of decentralized autonomous local control, coupled with economic and cultural exchange, that has led to successful city building in the past.
Five hundred years ago, the largest cities had hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. Now, the largest cities are 100x bigger and most humans live in urban areas. If we are successful in building a network city of a million people over the next 50 years, over the next 500 we will likely see billions of people become citizens of network cities. We hope that this way of organizing ourselves can increase peace and prosperity in the same way it has when cities have emerged in the past.