Narrowing our mission at CityDAO

Love the optimism @Blackacres. Sometimes we set the bar too high, and don’t appreciate the things we have done. Not long ago CityDAO didn’t exist, now we are known and got some cool projects going. We have done lots.


hey folks

I’m Daniel (not a citizen. For context, I’ve been organisation design and governance of communities for a bit over a decade, having been head of governance at Aragon last year and now advancing RnDAO - a DAO researching DAO ops and governance and building DAO tooling).

I was reading your post as we’re researching decision-making challenges and thought it might be useful to echo a bit of what I’m seeing here. Hope it helps :slight_smile:

This post was started with a quick problem statement (folks inundated with ideas going in different directions. i.e. risk of diverging too much) and followed by a solution proposal.

The debate then went into a mix of discussing whether the problem was worthwhile/valid (“I think our mission is fine/not fine” type of comments) and others discussing the details of the solution proposed (“the mission statement should be X or Y”) but often not agreeing on the problem definition. And then, a third group of messages offering different ‘solution spaces’ (i.e. agreeing somewhat with the problem but suggesting a mission statement is not the way to tackle it).

So it looks like there’s a fair bit of talking past each other.

I can continue but let me first check if this summary framing of the situation resonates and if you’d like me to continue discussing (no hard feelings if not, I’m just an outsider here… this is your community :slight_smile: )



I think your summary here is correct! some folks don’t think the new mission is important, a couple folks do and offered some suggestions, and then the post derailed off topic.

and yes i welcome further commentary / thoughts :slight_smile:


Thanks for confirming and welcoming my commentary.

As a starting point, I’d suggest just a social norm of trying to go a bit slower:

First, get buy-in and agreement on the problem.
And only then, after having agreed on the problem and agreed it’s a priority, you can work on said problems and discuss the best solution

So, for example, you could have a section in the forum for Problems and another for Solutions. If that’s too complicated, you can simply just try to keep the above in mind as a best practice when making proposals/comments

(note that if someone raises a point, it’s because they have a tension. That tension is true and undeniable. But that a person feels a tension is not the same as there being an agreed problem definition that the collective should prioritize.)

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Very well said, @danielo and thank you for your above reframing of the situation. The concept of tensions is quite relevant. I like your suggestion that we clarify whether a problem needs to be seen as a priority. Can I ask how you have determined this at Aragon? Is it through a vote, or just sort of a temperature check?

The issue of whether we need a new mission statement has gotten muddied with various other comments and topics. I liked @Blackacres hopeful comments on our current projects, @DAOvolution’s clarification on REITs and @will’s suggestion to stick with the original mission, which is what got us here in the first place. I think it seems like we have a tension, but maybe not a problem.


Aragon is a bit of a mess… very centralised, unfortunately. So I wouldn’t take them as an example.
In RnDAO (we also have our share of issues), the idea has been trying to enable people to solve their tensions without necessarily requiring others to change their behavior.
Or put another way, if I can solve my problem without your involvement, that’s ideal because I don’t need to agree with you.
So you can have different forms to prioritize based on how much you need others to change their ways.

And for that, the first thing is to understand what’s the real change that’s needed (we often jump to solutions or argue before understanding what’s causing the tension).

If someone suggested a mission change, there’s definitely something bothering them. Otherwise, they’ll be doing something else with their time.
Is there a way to solve their tension without getting everyone else to change/engage?

I don’t know. And don’t think anyone can know at this stage because the conversation was a bit all over the place. But if you folks can get into a habit of asking questions (seeking to really understand the tension before doing anything else), you’ll be 10x more effective than virtually any other DAO. Importantly, that’s about putting the emphasis on “solve their tension”, not on “without getting everyone else to change/engage”. It requires a good dose of empathy and curiosity


@scottfits proposed it, he is the founder and organizer of CityDAO @danielo, as opposed to just “someone”…

I won’t speak for him but suffice it to say, his overall experience at CityDAO is driving his opinion, and I don’t think its something he can solve on his own or without buy-in from the community.

Your points are well noted, however, what do you suggest as a solution when the founder of the project feels like its potentially headed off of the rails due to a lack of clear mission statement? That was the feedback I think most were hoping for here. Thanks again for trying, none of this is easy or it wouldn’t be an issue in the first place.

This was always my favorite and what rang true for me. This is from the first CityDAO Mirror Article. It has a purpose in that’s it’s goal is opportunity for all with regards to physical places.

That’s why we are building CityDAO. By making city assets digitally legible and applying mechanism design for public good, we can bolster accessibility, interoperability, and opportunity for all.
Announcing CityDAO - a city built on Ethereum — CityDAO

In some arenas we do not have the depth of expertise that other players in the space do with regards to tokenized real world assets. That’s fine. What I think we could be really good at, is helping paint the picture of how city assets having digital counterparts and levers can be positive for the public and individuals to improve opportunity and equity. We don’t have to create the final hardened version of these things, but sketches of what they may be like.

The expansion of ownership of property to different classes of individuals over time has had an enormous impact on society for good. What I’ve learned more than anything else here is that ‘ownership’ comprises so much more than who’s name is on the deed or who can profit from the sale of an asset.

Remove the blanket word governance and replace with who can have a say. We see in our cities people get upset when old buildings are torn down or shiny new ones go up, because it either impacts them directly or is against their ethos. More than anything else I imagine people want their voices understood when it comes to their city. To date, we have a hard time allowing others to make decisions about their city unless they control the capital. That isn’t always a bad thing, but isn’t always the equitable path.

Access and allowed use is deeply important. Libraries give anyone access to space for reading, meeting, learning etc no matter who you are. This wasn’t always the case, but has been immensely important. Permissions to use space is important.

I don’t think building on a single physical location is in our cards at this point. I don’t think Citizen Time is a good metric because it doesn’t address the why we want people from this group to spend time on property owned by this group.

A lot of our thinking has been what can we do to benefit ourselves, but I think if we take care of others, identify some real world problems and sketch out prototypes solutions (all of our solutions need not be exclusively blockchain focused) we may have a shot at making a tiny dent in this world.


Nicely said, that it’s not just about voices being heard, but understood. I agree that we can do a lot to identify real world problems, such as separating elements of ownership of land into things like access and permission to use, and sketch out solutions, hopefully without bankrupting ourselves in the process.

For me, much of this rests on whether we foster a positive community, which doesn’t mean we can’t have debate, dissent and disagreement. I believe that mission and vision are dynamic concepts, and that sometimes they need to float in the ocean of ideas like a message in a bottle before we are able to decipher its meaning.

Well said, I love this.

I think, fundamentally, the hard part is agreeing. As Alex was alluding to, ownership is actually nebulous. Governance and ownership are really the same thing, and both are difficult. DAOs really are an experiment in speedrunning history. Just think we are having all the classic debates, for profit or not for profit? Collectively-owned or privately owned? How should voting work? Should the wealthy have more say?

Just history playing out. Which is great. That said, a clear mission is good so even if we dont’ agree on the grand vision, we can agree on how to get there. We will discuss the above and will never agree, which is fine. That’s why I like the blockchain primitives idea – is the project furthering the use of blockchain in cities of the future? We can discuss the big questions and let them guide the bottle, but in the meantime, we use that question to decide whether a proposal should go forward.

It is well said, and @Da3vid has an excellent way with words! I am not sure how helpful it is in a post about narrowing our mission however :rofl:

I strongly agree with you that all we are watching at CityDAO is history repeating itself, which to me is sort of a bummer. Blockchain drew a lot of us in per our counter-culture belief that something was wrong with the culture we were being fed. To then sit and watch as people take advantage of gaps in governance, an ambiguous mission statement, and rampant politicking is disappointing, though in hindsight it was naïve of me to be surprised. Money and power have always made people act strangely and its no different at CityDAO. Its not too late though, to realize the promise of blockchain concepts like transparency and decentralization, and to build a better society than the one we find ourselves dealing with today. I think that is what we all came here for, no matter where our personal interests reside.

100% agree we need a clearer mission. The current one and the proposed one are both not clear enough imho

To me, the challenge CityDAO faces is that we are experimenting with new concepts that in many ways we have no idea how it will ultimately look when done.

Krause House is buying an NBA team. Since we know what an NBA team is, it means their mission is clear. ConstitutionDAO buying the Constitution, we know the Constitution is a piece of paper so buying it is very clear.

The concepts of Network State are so new right now, and a decentralized city, it’s all very vague by default of being so new

I think the shorter the better, something like ‘building a decentralized city of the future’, very similar to the first one

Everyone knows what a city is, so that’s easy to digest. Everyone in crypto knows what decentralized is so also easy to digest

I think you’re on to something here @alexthims

This is a copy/paste from that document: ‘CityDAO is building the city of the future on the Ethereum blockchain by tokenizing land, property rights, and governance’

That’s pretty crystal clear imo…if there was a vote happening I’d support this as the official

PS nice writing @scottfits, well done

I always liked this one, too. It’s why I came here - to be part of building a “city” and reframing what that could mean. Also, I care abouty the belief, as @DAOvolution suggeseted, that our current problematic culture could be reconsidered from the bottom up with a common good morality. This could all lead to “making a tiny dent in this world” as @alexthims eloquently put it.

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If I had any advice for @scottfits (and this is something as a founder I often get wrong too but anyhow…):
It would have been to start by talking just about the problem and get some agreement on the problem.

" I’ve been reading forum posts and I think folks are feeling inundated by a new firehose of enthusiastic ideas that are pulling us in different directions. This has brought an entrepreneurial spirit to the DAO, but now we run the risk of having a lot of ideas that aren’t channeled productively.“”

And stopping there.

Only after getting other folks to comment and build on top, they could have added the next bit
" What are other DAOs doing?… etc"

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