It began after a bad breakup 11 years ago. I had just finished my graduate degree while working two jobs and found myself with a lot of time to think. I started ideating on a “third space” concept that would offer classes, co-working space, and a media-free room. Membership-driven with an emphasis on integration with the arts — hosting live shows, showcasing local artists. A global vision with a hyper-local manifestation.
Fast forward a move to NYC, a consulting gig, and meeting my (would be) husband, I start refining that original concept into a new membership club that would be called “Selwyn”. This was just before the launch of organizations like the Wing, Spring Street Social Society, etc. I wanted a focus on meaningful connection, access to educational events. I just couldn’t figure out how to make it inclusive. I actually had a dream during that time that Selwyn’s membership card made its way into all my male friends’ hands while I was denied access to the space I had created. It was a dilemma I couldn’t figure out how to meaningfully solve —and I wasn’t willing to risk moving forward without the right answer.
A few years go by as I make my way into the world of tech startup operations and pandemic parenting, realizing that every career conversation feels like I’m playing house. Maybe product? Maybe project management? Maybe COO? Nothing “felt right”, as they say.
Then it just clicked.
Time to reimagine the community concept — a world designed to meet women’s unique needs, powered by a cooperative business model that aligns the right incentives, governed by a DAO infrastructure. No gatekeeping. No capitalist agenda. No tribalism. A global community created without the obstacles women intrinsically face in our patriarchal system, anchored by a shared set of values. On-site caregivers — for kids and adults. Free transportation. A non-profit policy arm. Sliding scale. Social and educational supports. Multi-generational, multi-cultural. Online and irl. A space for touched-out moms to sit alone with hot coffee.
Hyper-local micro-communities equipping and humanizing women on their unique journeys toward self-determination.
We see some of this happening in women’s health and in the workplace. We have startups like Tia, Chief, and countless others who are at the forefront of reimagining these areas — creating new models and new communities. There is enough experimentation happening in these areas that I think there’s an emerging need to connect the dots between them — grounded by shared values, how might we partner to truly create a world designed by women for women?
All this is to not to say that women should be at odds with all other gender identities — I hold the term “woman” very loosely and believe there is certainly space always and for all time for every person who shares our values. There is space for everyone. Everyone who wants to be a part can and should be a part. If we know nothing else, we know we need each other.
This might sound like a naive optimist’s “utopia”, and — to be clear — I don’t believe this type of community can holistically right every wrong or solve every problem, but I’m a cynical pragmatist who is just provocative enough to say “Why not try?”. How close could we get? How would we measure success on a non-binary scale? Even if this fails, won’t it be enough to say that we are better educated in knowing why and how to build better in the future? It matters. The process matters.
Women need a generative space where they are free to be fully human.
I believe the wind is at our backs with the explosion of web3 capabilities and the resurgence of community-building — now is the time to create this space. I’m a true believer in integrative thinking — the future is hybrid. The best answers can usually be found between two dichotomies. This is an opportunity to design a community using that framework and templatize it across the globe. If you resonate with this vision, want to learn more, or just want to chat online or irl, you can find me on various platforms in web2 and web3 (@abbyedaya or @abbyd.eth). Let’s talk.