Listening Session: Community meetings

Author: rafael Published: April 23, 2024

Community meetings

By Ubio on behalf of the Deep Funding Focus Group.

I grew up witnessing the collapse of African communal culture, just before ‘civilization’ ebbed off the remnant of what community living means, and created a much more cosmopolitan and independent 21st-century life… I consider myself lucky to be among the few who have had the privilege of seeing both of these two worlds. I was only a child, but my eidetic memory gives me flashes of what that old world looked like. I can recall vividly how we gathered every night under a big tree, directly below the moon, and shared stories of our day, our frustrations, our pains, and our aspirations. These meetings were normally large gatherings of family(ies). They were large because our social structure was never about nuclear families – every family belonged to a subfamily which belonged to the big family, and it’s a very recent concept in Africa to define our family as a unit of just father, mother, and children. But back to the point: these community meetings were never about coming up with some “big bang” ideas for businesses, innovations, etc (though it did happen sometimes). Instead, they were aimed at 

(i) Creating familial bonds

(ii) Sharing in each other’s pain and struggles

(iii) Catharsis and emotional therapy.

African communal living prioritized creating a structure for individuals to bond, share their struggles, and have emotional therapy – community meetings every night at a tree under the moon was one such structure.

Deep Funding – Deep Focus Community Meeting

In the spirit of the importance of community meetings under the moon, the Deep Funding Focus Group recently experimented with this approach in a listening session. Listening sessions typically are sessions where the community give their perspectives to the Deep Funding Focus Group, who gather these perspectives and share them with the Deep Funding team. But the recent listening session took a different approach – it was an experiment on communal meetings. Its objective was similar to the objective of creating a familial bond, allowing community members to share their feelings and have a space for catharsis. The idea for this approach to the listening session was due to the concerns that the whole family (community) shared concerning the plans to merge the AGIX token with the Fetch and Ocean tokens to create a new token called ASI. It was obvious there were palpable emotions in the community: people needed to talk, express themselves, and share their fears, their uncertainties, their happiness and expectation. And like the ancient traditional communities, the Deep Funding community did send a town crier to gather our community so we could talk about it together. It wasn’t about changing the outcomes of the vote on the token merger, or coming up with the most innovative idea;  it was just about that space for all to feel and share their feelings.

Deep Funding- Deep Focus Community Meeting Discussions

The meeting achieved its primary goal. At the peak of the meeting, we had more than 20 people in attendance, with about 16 people in the room at any one time. It was an open-style meeting – not many agenda items, no breakout rooms – the goal was simply to let people talk. We acknowledged that some people were not going to be expressive, as is typical of any family, and we made arrangements to capture this by using a Miro board to allow people to categorize their feelings and opinions, and express them only if they were comfortable with speaking.. The meeting started in high spirits and ended in high spirits – it opened with everyone sharing very similar opinions on how they felt “not-included” in the process, how they felt confused, and the issues with the voting process. After the first 15 minutes on the Miro board, when we moved to verbal discussion, personally I felt that the meeting became more polarized, with opposing views and feelings on how the merger was done and how each other felt. Since the goal of the meeting was not particularly to provide a balanced perspective, but just to allow people to speak, we just allowed both sides to keep expressing themselves till as the participants started dropping out, we decided to draw the curtain. 

If we are to draw any conclusions on what was discussed, we could summarize the discussions under these broad themes

  • Issues, questions, and uncertainties around the voting process
  • Centralized decision process and the lack of community involvement in the discussion process
  • The lack of clarity on the intermediate steps that led to the merger
  • The lack of any precedent for this, and lack of understanding of why the merger process and methodology is acceptable
  • The question of whether the bigger stakeholders should have a louder say in the merger process.

Deep Funding – Deep Focus Community Meeting Outcomes

Depending on how one looks at it, one may have a different perspective on the outcomes of the meeting. But personally, as a member of the Deep Funding Focus Group, I would say this was a positive one. Positive not necessarily because of what was discussed, but rather because it opened us to a new possibility of the future of listening sessions, we want to create this same feeling in our future work of engaging the community. I hope we will be able to tinker with this new concept, and use it in future, to engage the community to have this experience even more. That experience of communality to me is worth a thousand gold.

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