Upe: A New Platform for Connected, Empowered Communities

We are excited to introduce U.pe on Mirror. We are a revolutionary platform designed to empower local communities by merging the physical and digital worlds.

At its root, U.pe is about giving communities the tools they need to better connect, collaborate, and drive real change with boots on the ground and utilizing the power of blockchain technology. Talk about mass adoption at its core ;)!

Since the 2020 pandemic, many communities across Costa Rica have faced significant infrastructure issues, resulting in fragmented access to essential resources like food, water, and electricity. This lack of connectivity made it difficult for locals to communicate their needs and coordinate solutions. Before U.pe's inception, the founders volunteered to be part of a community operations team for food deliveries to all those who lost their jobs. They developed a web app to track food delivery and assess the needs in each community. Since Costa Rica does not have addresses, the data collected helped NGOs keep track of vital information about each household.

More than 100 volunteers showed up to drive and deliver to neighboring communities. As food packages were being loaded in cars, volunteers were trained on the U.pe app. The information collected was invaluable, and the impact made is beyond measure. The amount of effort locals put into coordinating relief efforts fuels U.pe today.

It became apparent that the beach towns in Guanacaste are full of resourceful, good samaritans. They need the right tools to coordinate and syndicate information.

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Upe has been prototyping, deploying, and gathering feedback on tools built using open-source components since 2021. Here's a quick rundown of what U.pe has achieved so far:

  • Streamline Local Information: Upe built a progressive web app to make it easy to view real-time, hyperlocal updates without digging through fragmented social media groups or outdated websites. The U.pe platform receives 5-10k unique visitors monthly and has 20+ contributors providing information.

  • Foster Real-Time Community Chat: Locals ask for information about weather alerts, power outages, and sharing events in the Upe community forum.

  • Syndicate Weekly Digest: Locals who want to keep their finger on the pulse without keeping up with infinite group chats and social channels get a list of community events this week.

  • Boost Community Autonomy: Communities own and control their local data on Upe. Locals decide what goes on their community page: no third parties or outside interests.

  • Collaborate With Government and Community Organizations: Upe teamed up with Costa Rica's Tourism Ministry and ADI Tamarindo (visitetamarindo.cr/) to promote the country's digital nomad visa and Tamarindo as a destination.

  • Embrace Diversity: The U.pe website is available in English and Spanish. Our contributors already showcase 48% women and 30% minorities. But we want to keep improving on inclusion.

Here's where we aim to go:

  • Increase Participation: U.pe's blockchain-based incentives engage more users as they progress through roles such as Explorers, Contributors, Local Sherpas, and Community Leaders.

  • Facilitate Coordination: U.pe connects like-minded community members and helps coordinate local action.

  • Deploy Community-Led Projects: From NGOs to small businesses, U.pe helps communities bring their ideas to life. U.pe is collaborating with local NGOs like The Clean Wave, SalveMonos, Playa Grande Association, and Bored Ape #5472 to raise awareness for howler monkey habitat conservation and crowdfund monkey bridges to counteract deforestation.

Our upcoming Season 2 experiment will showcase U.pe's potential across three local Guanacaste, Costa Rica communities. But this is just the beginning. Our vision is a network of interconnected, self-reliant communities across Latin America.

You can help drive this vision forward in many ways. Help us get there today:

  • Join U.pe and start participating in the local community conversation

  • Spread the word to get more locals involved

  • Help onboard local Costa Ricans

  • Contribute beneficial local content and updates

  • Please support us financially to extend our reach

  • Collaborate with expertise, resources, or partnerships

  • Become a Upe ambassador and champion our mission

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The time for fragmented, disconnected communities is over. Decentralized doesn't mean disconnected. The future is local, inclusive, transparent, and empowered.

Get to know the Team:

As a serial entrepreneur and community advocate, Ben brings decades of experience operating several businesses in Costa Rica. He serves as a board member for the ADI Tamarindo and has been instrumental in various community projects. One of his earliest endeavors was a tourist information center. Ben recognized in 2008 that reliable local information was hard to come by–and 15 years later, the situation still has room for improvement. He sees Upe as an opportunity to share relevant information with his local community.

DBrick has been a staple in her Costa Rican community for nearly 20 years. As a creative, she's leveraged artistic talents, mainly as a graphic designer and a little front-end dev work. She uses her tech skills to help local businesses and organizations share and amplify their messages. In January 2011, DBrick inherited Potrero Post, a Tumblr account. The web page listed the important community contacts, upcoming events, and more. She has faithfully continued to maintain this information as a volunteer. Her experience and grassroots network allow her invaluable insights into what her community needs, and like Ben, she believes Upe is developing a tool that is beneficial to her community and others like hers.

Raised in a family-owned surf on the East Coast, Van's community roots are steeped in fun and getting stoked. Finding her constantly in the middle, Van developed a knack for organizing, sharing, and syndicating information amongst her group, where she was a freelance writer in local print and digital publications. Over the years, Van acquired technical skills in front-end web dev, SEO, and social media and started an agency. Her client roster includes local businesses, Fortune 500s, and e-commerce shops. After she moved to Costa Rica, emails poured in from friends, family, and former surf shop customers who wanted information about the area. She decided it would be more efficient to create a website about the community than to keep answering individuals' emails. For Van, Upe is the next logical evolution of the community website built over ten years ago.

4d4n does all of Upe's technical heavy lifting and is responsible for architecting and maintaining the community's tools. If Ben, Van, and DBrick dream it -- 4d4n is the one who codes the solution. Before moving to Costa Rica, he designed and implemented emergency response systems for cities and counties across the United States. His attention to detail and ability to reverse engineer almost anything has been instrumental in everything Upe has shipped. His vision for Upe is to be a community tool that makes hyperlocal information readily accessible to those who need it the most.

Companion planting…

Seeding collective strengths to create the backbone of information for Guanacaste.

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