February 20, 2023

Letters from the Refi Observer

Letters from the Refi Observer
ReFi Songlines

Letter 2: Refi Lisboa Kick Off

I've been in the Lisbon Refi scene for about a year now, though somewhat voyeuristically due to my workload and relational capacity. I've been deliberately unsocial due to energy conservation but found friendships amongst some peers at ReFi spring which continue to persist despite my general absence. Seeds that were planed last season are continuing to grow.

Last Friday I was notified of a ReFi event hosted by ReFi DAO and found that there was very little information on the page. I've been through their founders circles programme and found it well organised, so decided to show up and potentially bump into folks I know. To be honest I was expecting it to be a bit of a pitch fest but was pleasantly surprised to hear the room was meditating as I arrived. Theres a sense of wholesomeness to such ritualistic practices that feels appropriate when used sparingly like this.

Naturally the lights came back and the programme started. First on the agenda was a presentation on network states by the courageous John Ellison who declared himself responsible for such a grand narrative, while the reasonably scoped first horizon felt humble enough and achievable - start with Lisbon and grow the Refi start-up scene.

The second presentation was by a non-profit who had developed what they refer to as the 'earth stack' - and in the opinion of this gonzo hitch-hiker it was probably the best presentation of the evening due to its level of direct applicability. The slides had sound architectural design that was both clear and epistemically transparent; with an informed set of values. High quality signal. Recommended. Look out for Tariq El Haj Omar if you wanna discover more.

Following on from this was a contextualising presentation from about ground truths; subsistence farmers and the potentials that long for actualisation above such a threshold, which led nicely to the ideals expressed by Traditional Dream Factory as collective offering - with details of their token sale. I found myself appreciating the Bea who was so close to the whole thing was not pushing the commercial aspect hard; with more interest in what the vision represents. These finished and we had a break.

Having recently shared my own submissions on commonwealth I noticed a lot of potential synergies and decided to test receptivity. Those that I signalled to felt almost allergic to commerce at this stage, no doubt from a long summer of grants. I don't blame them, transactions are for mediating trust with strangers. I'm probably one of those given I've been on the scenes outskirts for so long... Still for some reason it felt like a form of acceptance and inclusion as well; assumedly this was an implicit assertion of preferences towards correspondence and tribal fit?

Honestly I don't know so assume the best but quite frankly felt out of place during the break. It felt like there was anxiety present in the building as the collective nervous system seemed agitated, jumpy and concentrated; yet at the same time safe and well contained with a sense of wholesomeness.

After the break we reconvened in the presentation room. The chairs had been arranged in a circle and a spokesperson from Vlinder ushered in an inquiry around 'how we all win' and what inclusion and acceptance really means; accepting the unacceptable and that it's a positive sum game or bust. I can resonate; very few things in life are as binary as left/right, progressive/conservative dualities. Any experience is true from a subjective standpoint; what values do the facts point towards? How do we avoid the nihilistic trappings of chaotic subjectivism without resorting to a doctrine of 'one ring to rule them all'? As we progressed a few people added threads of their own and an unknown lady shared about her real experience of ground truth lock ins to really bring things home. I gently wept with her in silence, it seemed like the space was receptive of such vulnerable gestures.

The proceedings moved into a candle lit moment of silence, broken softly by John coalescing the room with smooth and wholesome narratives about honouring our indigenous human. So real for me having been instrumentalised much of my life and there's a lot of trauma getting processed. The lights came on and a friend seeing my whelmed state beamed some love to me through another I was with. All I could do was weep again until the tears dried on my face.

Catharsis. At last.