regenerative, prosocial village culture

Co-evolving technology and a culture of stewardship: Our plans for Hylo

Clare Politano
Terran Collective
Published in
7 min readNov 28, 2022

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We’ve created a new storytelling deck that we’re excited to share today about our plans for Hylo. This article is a companion to the story deck: Read this first, then brew yourself a cup of tea and settle in with our story of stewardship.

First of all: Technologies are products of the culture in which they emerge, and they guide the emergence of new cultures. New culture and new tools are coevolutionary. So as we work towards the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, we must also envision the culture and corresponding tools with which to craft that livable future.

Within Terran Collective, we call this a culture of stewardship. Stewardship is the responsible and loving management of a shared resource. It implies responsibilities, not rights. It indicates relationship, not ownership. In a nutshell, stewardship means care. Underneath all of our conditioning that may say otherwise, all the world is a commons, and we are all responsible for its care. We are all stewards. We just need to remember that.

To nurture this culture of stewardship, we’ll need tools expressly designed for care: mutual support, peer-to-peer collaboration, and self-governance of community resources for community resilience. We aim to provide these tools through Hylo — a donation-powered, open-source digital community tool for purpose-driven groups.

Hylo: Healthy groups for a healthy world

The purpose of Hylo is to activate the full collaborative potential of purpose-driven groups, so we can successfully work together to create a thriving planet for all. Hylo does this by helping groups evolve a healthy, prosocial culture.

A healthy group is prosocial: productive, equitable, and collaborative. It features a resilient constellation of deep relationships marked by trust and accountability, with clear agreements including protocols for distribution of resources and handling of conflict.

Our Theory of Change: Deep trust, strong relationships, and a collaborative culture are the substrate for healthy and effective groups because they set the stage for high-quality sensemaking, decision making, and impact.

As these aspects of the group deepen, the group up-levels its capacity for complex coordination like managing a shared landscape or community treasury. These things don’t just happen by clicking a button. Whether in-person or online, building and maintaining community is hard!

Like any living landscape, a community requires attentive and caring cultivation to thrive. Dedicated and skillful stewardship is a necessary precondition for growing healthy groups capable of complex coordination. This is the specific focus I recommend for the stewards of purpose-driven groups: do everything you can to nurture trust and relationship in your group, while simultaneously working together to scaffold a collaborative culture.

I cannot emphasize this enough: Move at the speed of trust*. There is no skipping ahead of the deep work of making human connections. In my experience, complex group activities like governance flow most easefully in groups of people who know and trust each other. With these relationships in place, alongside shared purpose, values, and agreements, groups can sort out big differences and tough decisions through vulnerable and respectful conversation. This is how we overgrow polarization and build coalitions united by purpose.

The Stewardship Toolkit: creating conditions for regeneration

Healthy groups need stewardship to develop and thrive. Groups need stewardship tools to achieve their goals. Our vision for Hylo is to develop these stewardship tools in an environment that also nurtures healthy group cultures capable of taking advantage of them.

Hylo is built through 100% relationship-driven development. We listen to the needs of our partners — people already working to grow healthy communities — and collaborate to design tools to amplify their work. We’ve noticed clear patterns in the needs of the purpose-driven groups with whom we work. These common needs are the basis of the Stewardship Toolkit that we are sharing for the first time in our new Hylo storytelling deck.

Our stewardship tools are calibrated for communities using online coordination to amplify on-the-ground impact. In the deck, we address the “What” (Prosocial), “How” (Dynamic Governance / Sociocracy), “Where” (Bioregions), and “Who” (Trust Graph), plus some of the first group functions we’ll unlock with this toolkit: participatory finance and collective moderation. Altogether, these elements will create the conditions for any group to maximize its regenerative impact.

While Hylo is for all kinds of groups, we are especially excited to support groups with a shared place-based context. This is because regeneration ultimately happens in the soil, not on the internet, and focusing on the bioregional scale unlocks a unique and untapped coordination space.

Why Hylo and not XYZ platform?

We’ll be the first to agree there’s a dizzying array of group collaboration software to choose from. Each one has good ideas about what groups need to be effective. Hylo’s relationship-driven development sets it radically apart from the sea of options. Plus we’re not funded by VC or other profit-seeking investors; we’re funded by the communities themselves, and we’re accountable to them to create things that really work.

Our partners choose Hylo for several reasons, after carefully considering the options in the space. These are some of the reasons they pick Hylo:

  • Hylo is built for collaboration across groups, not groups acting individually in a silo. Like us, our partners understand that the world is interconnected & interdependent, and that no one group will single-handedly regenerate the planet.
  • Hylo supports an interconnected and nested group architecture that matches how coalitions actually operate in real life.
  • It’s highly customizable. We make it easy for group stewards to curate an experience that’s a perfect match for their group culture.
  • Hylo facilitates the transition from top-down to peer-to-peer organizing, helping groups evolve in alignment with their vision and values and scale their impact.
  • Rooted in relationship. We work closely with our partners to understand their community’s needs and challenges, and solve them together. The opportunity to co-develop technology this way is rare and valuable.
  • Grounded in place. Hylo is one of the few community tools that has a geographic context, with specific capabilities for bioregional and place-based groups. This facilitates coordination at the scale regeneration actually happens: locally.
  • Hylo is a public good, a technology commons built in public with an active open source community contributing ideas, designs, and code.
  • Overall values-alignment. Hylo prioritizes sovereignty, interoperability, relationships, and care, and so do the communities we work with.

Hylo is already home to the Planetary Health Alliance, Prosocial World, OpenTEAM, Regen Network, Salmon Nation, and scores of other active groups leading the movement to create a world that works for all. Because Hylo is built in deep partnership with these groups according to their real-world needs, this platform is not a stand-alone, interchangeable technology that could be swapped out for some other community platform. Hylo is unique and special precisely because it is birthed from and embedded within this web of relationships. It is an integral part of the emerging ecosystem powering the regenerative movement.

Join the alliance

We are full of gratitude to our partners for resourcing Hylo’s core team to steadily improve the platform over the past two years. We love working this way, and we’re ready to scale up our work to meet the challenges of this moment in time and implement the full vision our community is asking for.

We are raising $2M in philanthropic donations to build the Stewardship Toolkit and features that generate self-sustaining revenue for Hylo. A contribution to Hylo is an investment in our whole ecosystem — contributing to the thriving of prosocial groups (Prosocial World), regenerative agriculture (OpenTEAM, Regen Network), public & environmental health (Planetary Health Alliance), the commons and cooperative movement (new partner coming soon to Hylo!), humane technology (Collaborative Technology Alliance), bioregional regeneration (Salmon Nation), and many other high impact domains in the regenerative movement.

people collaborating to create a better world

We’re forming an alliance of people and groups to manifest this vision, and you’re invited to be a part of it.

If you see the need for coordination tools for a livable future:
You belong here.

If you are part of a network of people engaged in regeneration:
You belong here.

If you have resources to support this work:
You belong here.

There is a place set for you at our table.

Check out the deck here.

Join us in Building Hylo.

Share resources to support this vision.

* with gratitude to the wise words of adrienne maree brown

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Clare Politano
Terran Collective

Software engineer & bioregional organizer building regenerative technology for collective governance @hylo @terrancollectiv.