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Food as Distributed Commons: Cryptocurrencies as Slow Money


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How may one use cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and blockchain technologies to create sustainable, participatory projects in our communities. A hypothetical example using decentralized hydroponics urban farm will be used to consider implementation for funding and economically sustaining a "food grid" (analogous to the energy grid) that benefits everyone in the collective membership. Presented to Slow Money South Bay on August 4, 2015 by Evelyn Rodriguez.

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Food as Distributed Commons: Cryptocurrencies as Slow Money

  1. 1. Food as Distributed Commons Cryptocurrencies as Slow Money SLOW MONEY SOUTH BAY presentation by Evelyn Rodriguez @eve11 and @win6village
  2. 2. Why now? Not too early to plant seed. Start musing decentralized, peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, and their associated technologies such as the ledger, Blockchain. website in 1994. Few believed every business would one day have a website. Saw Internet as a “fad.”
  3. 3. There is a learning curve Take heart: a seasoned blockchain developer told me it takes months to get it. Not linear learning--but a spiral, he added.
  4. 4. Nature and Networks "These plants are not really individuals in the sense that Darwin thought they were individuals competing for survival of the fittest," says Suzanne Simard in the 2011 documentary Do Trees Communicate? "In fact they are interacting with each other, trying to help each other survive."
  5. 5. Decentralization The Internet is a decentralized architecture. Bitcoin and its ledger, Blockchain, is decentralized. Homestead Hamlet in Lincoln, Nebraska is decentralized.
  6. 6. What is Money? "At its essence, money is a ledger, a system used by society to keep score of who and what and when and where. Money is our way of recording distributed memory." - Stan Stalnake, essay in From Bitcoin to Burning Man
  7. 7. What is Bitcoin? "I've been working on a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third-party." - Satoshi Nakamoto First sentence from Satashi Nakamoto to a cryptography experts email list in 2008
  8. 8. Analogy to lockbox on gold nugget Xavier Hawk on funding permaculture eco-village with “PermaCredits.” (At 22:00 on Bitcoin.)
  9. 9. Blockchain is a decentralized ledger "The simple genius of this technology is that it cuts away the middleman yet maintains an infrastructure that allows strangers to deal with each other. It does this by taking the all-important role of ledger-keeping away from centralized financial institutions and handing it to a network of autonomous computers, creating a decentralized system of trust that operates outside the control of any one institution.” - The Age of Cryptocurrency
  10. 10. Blockchain as universal ledger “At their core, crytocurrencies are build around the principle of a universal, inviolable ledger, one that is made fully public and is constantly being verified by these high-powered computers, each essentially acting independently of the others.” - The Age of Cryptocurrency
  11. 11. Blockchain ledger replaces need for trusted middleman “The network-based ledger--which in the case of most cryptocurrencies is called a blockchain--works as a stand-in for the middlemen since it can just as effectively tell us whether the counterparty to a transaction is good for his or her money." - The Age of Cryptocurrency
  12. 12. City Blooms Modular Hydroponics City Blooms makes modular, portable, sensor-monitored hydroponics units = “easy,” decentralized farm. Could fund traditionally through Barnraiser, etc.
  13. 13. Think of fresh food like a Solar Grid “When most people think about the role of solar, they think of it as a substitute for other sources of energy. The unique point of solar photovoltaics is that it’s a form of distributed energy. Solar energy can be installed over a wide range of areas that other sources of energy can’t–on top of homes, on farms, at airports, harbours and anywhere off-grid. And that makes it special. It means that anyone can install solar energy. Anyone can participate.” - Atsuhiko Hirano, Director of Solar Frontier
  14. 14. Incent Others to Join Food Grid How do we structure something so other people are incentivized to be part of something larger than themselves? This is where Bitcoin (or alternative like Ethereum and its blockchain come in). Imagine an energy grid. How to encourage others to add their own solar panel (metaphorically) to the grid. What would be equivalent in food system? Add a container garden on your disused driveway in peri-urban San Jose. Add a hydroponics unit to the rooftop of your warehouse loft in Oakland. Be part of a membership organism. Call this urban agriculture grid or federation The PopupFarm Grid.
  15. 15. Hypothetical urban farm on disused land food grid Landholder gets token-credit, FreshCoin. Purchaser of City Blooms unit gets token- credit, FreshCoin. Enthusiast-supporter (armchair gardener) gets FreshCoin in exchange for Bitcoin. Volunteers tend plants get FreshCoins (trade for food which has a FreshCoin value, or they can exchange FreshCoin back into Bitcoin). Food distributed first to local members for X FreshCoins tokens (debit). Excess food is sold. Profits are credits rolled back into the PopupFarm membership network and food grid. Thus, FreshCoin “backed” by value of food. Anyone can sell their City Bloom cluster (or a container garden) entire or a share in one through selling of these token-credits.
  16. 16. Beyond Debt/Credit: Smart Contracts Meet Stephanie of NOMADGardens. From April 2014-2016 temporary urban community garden at to- be-developed site in Mission Bay, San Francisco. Imagine more roaming gardens: Plus Membership token-coin, for Developer/Landowner the “Smart” Contract on blockchain ledger spells out conditions of temporary lease or loan.
  17. 17. CryptoCitizen: Collaboration, Coops and Democracy “The crypto-citizen mentality is more self-responsibility-taking; designing, iterating, and participating in community sustainability initiatives, including self- defining what makes economic sense to me to participate in this. The PopupFarm Grid DCO (Distributed Collaborative Organization) helps on-board all of these users and use cases. Land permitted until 2018, great--let's set you up with a PopupFarm Grid smart contract to already start earning community participation FreshCoins against that. Kids’ paper routes is now container maintenance for neighbor's urban food unit. A series of smart contracts to onboard and offboard the diverse use cases.” - Melanie Swan (private email exchange) The Agora in ancient Greece was both a market AND a participatory citizen’s democracy gathering space.
  18. 18. Group Currency 18 families in a farm. Each person has an individual coin, or currency. Plus part of a larger group currency, FarmCoin. FarmCoin itself nested within larger MarketCoin (ex. all CUESA Farmer Markets participating vendors). Trade--like any local currency--also a MINIMUM basic income insured by pool of members. Possibly tap into group funds, as in moai, for new ventures. Can envision group currencies as tokens for an “arcade” of services and products produced by the collective.
  19. 19. Book resources
  20. 20. Resources White Papers: Satoshi Nakamoto white paper YouTube: Xavier Hawk interview on self-sustaining ecovillages, permaculture, and Bitcoin -- v=MUVqKfbG8ao PermaCredits, Cryptocurrency for permaculture -- https://m.
  21. 21. Resources: Articles Homestead Hamlets, by Tim Rinne, http://www.motherearthnews. com/homesteading-and-livestock/sustainable-farming/neighborhood-gardens-zm0z14amzsor.aspx Plants Have a Hidden Internet,, com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet What if Everything Ran Like the Internet, by Dave Pollard, How Society Will be Transformed by CryptoEconomics, by Noah Thorp, economics-b02b6765ca8c
  22. 22. Resources: Local People Ari Eisenstat, Draem Ventures, “The Future of Financial Technology: Impact Quantum Cryptoequity” Joel Dietz, DCO (Distributed Collaborative Organizations), (Palo Alto) Martin Koepellmann, Circles (Palo Alto) Evelyn Rodriguez, (San Mateo) Eric Smalls, Manna (Menlo Park) Melanie Swan, author Blockchain, Institute for Blockchain Studies see (Berkeley)
  23. 23. Resources GROUP CURRENCY Group Currency white paper, An implementation is Circles by Martin Koeppelmann (Palo Alto), see http: // Sunday September 6 Meetup, Basic Income on and off the Blockchain: Köppelmann, Waldman, Slepak - http: //www.meetup. com/EthereumSiliconValley/events/223221435/