We, citizens of Brussels, are coming together to rebuild our city as a decentralised autonomous organisation. 🔅
We believe that the services offered by the city should belong to citizens. We want to have a say in how they are run, we want to have the opportunity to contribute, make proposals and be rewarded for our contributions.
The technology upon which existing institutions have been built —paper and bureaucracy— served us well, but it is too slow to adapt to the rapid unravelling of changes happening in the world today (see deep adaptation, metacrisis).
🗳️ For one, we can only vote every 5 years. That’s 8 bits of data per citizen per decade. Such a low bandwidth doesn’t enable rapid feedback loops and iteration cycles.
📰 Official communication is only in French and Dutch, despite Brussels being the most diverse city in the world (after Dubai). The numerous official websites and apps are not open source, citizens can’t inspect them and contribute. Its finances are not transparent. Subsidies given here and there cannot be inspected in open data.
📱 Today we have the technology to build a new generation of institutions whose ownership can be in the hands of all stakeholders, where all citizens can inspect in full transparency the decisions and the flows of public money.
🔅 We call them DAOs, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations.
Unlike existing organisations (and institutions) that are built on a paper based official record (e.g. the Belgian Official Gazette), DAOs are organisations whose bylaws are deployed on a digital public blockchain.
This is a fundamental paradigm shift. It’s like moving from snail mail to email. 📮 👉 📧
⚡ Instead of having to pay hundreds of euros and wait days to publish amendments, additions to the blockchain take seconds for a fraction of the cost.
👮 Rules written in smart contracts don’t require an onerous and slow bureaucracy to enforce. They are enforced 100% of the time. Same rules apply to everyone. Everything can be inspected by anyone thanks to its open source and open data nature.
Like the wheel and the printing press, it is inevitable and it will profoundly reshape our society.
🏤 That being said, it would be naive to believe that smart contracts will replace all the rules, customs and agreements that make our city go round. Email hasn’t fully replaced the post office either.
☯️ That’s why we respect existing institutions. We are not here to compete with them, but to complete them.
🧩 Technology is only one piece of the puzzle. It is just a tool. It takes humans to make use of them to pursue whatever dream they have. And if we want a decentralised autonomous future where all citizens have the opportunity to participate, we also need new social technologies to organise ourselves. We draw inspiration from practices such as Liberating Structures, Non-Violent Communication, Deep Democracy and Sociocracy, as well as the Rochdale principles and Ostrom's principles.
🔥 In a time of profound change where we need to adapt to a changing climate, where citizens can’t accept anymore top down one-size-fits-all decisions (however well meaning), when citizens expect more transparency and more ways to participate in our institutions, it is our duty to explore how we can make use of all the new social and technical technologies at our disposal to offer alternative ways to coordinate and manage our city together.
🛡️ Brussels was built 1000 years ago. Over the centuries we have embraced different forms of governments, different ways to organise the economic life, education system and social care in our city. None of those systems can be seen as separate from the context and values of the times they were created in. Whether we use a belfry, an official gazette or a blockchain, we, citizens, use the knowledge and technology of our time to organise and steward the city.
That’s what we are here to do.
We are here to explore, learn, build and help each other through this great transition. We are here to take responsibility in stewarding Brussels in the 21st century.
We are explorers. We are pioneers.
Join us, citizen.
Here is to the next 1000 years 🍻
Signed by (add your name)
See also DAO Brussels - Values and principles (written in 2022)