NEAR & Social Good: Change Through Crypto

July 18, 2022 — NEAR Team

Harnessing emerging technologies and showing no signs of slowing, social good initiatives focused on bettering society and our planet have become a force in 2022. Despite a rocky crypto market, activism investment and funds focused on environmental, social, and governance factors (ESG) are thriving on NEAR and across the Web3 world. 

Growing to over $500B in 2021, ESG funds are making bold statements on the future of sustainability through innovation. Beyond traditional markets, significant social causes are using the blockchain and reaping benefits for the greater good, combating the ideas that crypto is environmentally wasteful and predatory in its practices. 

With its sustainable and infinitely-scalable blockchain, NEAR Protocol is an ideal platform for social initiatives, which can and often do overlap with tackling climate change. These projects know that NEAR is climate-neutral and committed to funding grants to reimagine business, creativity, and community for a more inclusive and sustainable future. 

From empowering underserved communities of musicians and disrupting big agriculture to supporting earth restoration projects and blazing a new path in community-based governance, countless social good initiatives are gravitating to NEAR. These projects are the perfect building blocks of a global community aligned with the Foundation’s goal: enabling community-driven innovation that ultimately benefits people worldwide.

Breathing life into art through blockchain

Emerging as a collaborative project in 2021 between artists from Nigeria, Cameroon, and Canada, Chapter One Foundation evolved quickly. What started as a collaboration track under DAO Records and the NxM guild has grown into a group of artists “fostering philanthropy and community for other creative in less fortunate circumstances.” 

Generating funds through NFT sales, C1 aims to “create opportunities for the less fortunate, by providing the tools needed to create revenue sources through the blockchain and NFTs.” The project provides up-and-coming artists with the tools, skills, and resources needed to breathe life into their art. Rooted in setting up recording and art facilities, C1 makes these spaces available to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access.

With an open-door policy that welcomes all artists to join, C1 provides the less fortunate with real-world savvy in navigating an ever-changing industry while earning revenue. To participate in this mission, people can contribute and purchase creative works from the C1 store. Under the Chapter One Global Charity Foundation, a staggering 30% of NFT sale proceeds go to the less privileged worldwide. 

By providing artists with much-needed tools to see their vision through from concept to completion, at-risk youth and marginalized populations of creatives now have access to safe, creative spaces. Operating on NEAR, this innovative zone also serves as a platform for creators to hone their art and entertainment industry knowledge. 

For the first time, creators will also have a vested interest in how the industry and its practices evolve. Beyond education and experiential learning, generating revenue through NFT sales creates a positive feedback loop in returning proceeds to C1, allowing the project to scale and expand its reach across the globe. 

Nature is non-fungible

On NEAR, a number of projects are leveraging blockchain technology to tackle climate-related issues. SISU, a community-driven project and DAO, supports earth restoration projects through Web3 funding mechanisms. Operating as a global network of organizations working on climate, SISU engages artists and creatives to contribute and earn while supporting their initiatives.

SISU uses blockchain to create multi-stakeholder, market-driven communities of earth restoration projects to further ecological projects and initiatives through public art and storytelling. Designed as a Web3-powered “human safety net”, SISU supports concrete restoration and conservation projects in local communities worldwide. 

One such project is the breeding of the native honey bees of Sierra Nevada. This honey bee initiative produces multiple positive outcomes. Not only is it a sustainable alternative for income generation and forest conservation, but it’s also a means of recovering and preserving ancestral knowledge from indigenous communities. 

This project is working to recover stingless beekeeping, or meliponiculture, as ancestral knowledge for the La Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta indigenous communities. Through technical assistance, equipment, resources, and infrastructure provision, SISU is restoring beekeeping as a sustainable income alternative. The goals: improve the quality of life of those involved, while guaranteeing the conservation of ecosystems and water sources.

Transforming the way humans connect with food

Lisbon-based Raiz is taking another approach to social and ecological good. This project uses NFTs to help fund vertical farms—the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers—in under-utilized urban spaces. Founded by Emiliano Gutierrez, Raiz’s mission is to transform urban areas into epicenters for the growing and harvesting of foods for local communities and restaurants. 

Raiz is ardently opposed to the agriculture industry’s stagnant business model, which ships harvested food across global markets. It aims to bring a renewed focus back to the local community while maintaining incredible taste and nutrients in their crops to disrupt this unsustainable model. As part of their vertical farming revolution, Raiz incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, optimizing plant growth through sustainable technology that directly impacts our planet.

Raiz uses NEAR-powered NFTs to generate yield and offer “tokenized impact for the bold.” Through NFTs, Raiz makes and releases digital artworks of plants linked to impact metrics such as carbon emissions and water savings—significant issues in traditional agriculture and industrial farming markets. 

Raiz is transforming local hydroponic, vertical farming, and solar energy systems into investable crypto assets by linking the physical with the digital. The Raiz NFT model has the potential to be used for other local food-growing efforts, resulting in people worldwide having greater access to tokenized environmental and local impact.

DAOs for positive social change on a global scale

Kin DAO emerged from a real-world co-op that was seeking solutions for the pressing issues of food insecurity, homelessness, poverty, fractured communities, and climate change. Since 2021, founders Asya Abdrahman and Adrian Bello have used blockchain to facilitate activism investments in art, regenerative innovation, and collective land stewardship. 

In June 2022, Kin DAO announced Primordia DAO, a year-long project DAO designed to be experienced as a conceptual art exhibition of village building online and IRL. Founded by Bay Area arts community members, Primordia employs NEAR’s smart contracts to develop decentralized systems, such as a network that could underpin art-based communities or regenerative systems like permaculture. Its founders have created art and educational programs that have served 50,000 people and counting. 

One of Primordia’s missions is providing historically-excluded communities with the skills to springboard them into the digital world by working with them to create collaborative artworks. Primordia DAO develops leaders with the abilities to self-govern, self-build, and establish digital villages based on real-world relationships that can meet the demands of real communities. 

The project will onboard 100 DAOs to NEAR by the end of the year so they can work together to achieve common objectives. As society transitions into the realms of regeneration and community-based government, Primordia is a crucial use case for the future of global coordination and creative community autonomy.

A mission for change starting from within

While a flourishing global community is taking the NEAR Foundation’s mission to improve the lives of the world’s citizens to the next level, NEAR recognizes that change starts from within.  To that end, it is taking unprecedented steps to achieve its mission and serve as a model for sustainable technology. 

NEAR’s blockchain scaling technology, Nightshade, divides computation across parallel “shards,” optimizing the already super cheap, exceptionally fast, incredibly secure, and ecologically friendly platform. Its underlying proof-of-stake (PoS) architecture makes the NEAR Protocol more environmentally-friendly than other blockchains. 

From inception, NEAR Foundation committed itself to climate-neutral certification. In 2021, the foundation engaged South Pole, a global climate solutions provider, to assess its climate footprint. At 174 tons of CO2 per year between the NEAR Foundation, all employees and contractors working on NEAR Protocol, and all validators, NEAR’s carbon footprint is a whopping 500,000 times more carbon efficient than Bitcoin.

NEAR is also committed to the total compensation of remaining exhaust through CO2 offsetting projects. With every transaction completed on the platform, NEAR plants trees on multiple continents to achieve carbon neutrality. 

The beginnings of a lifelong commitment

These projects are just the tip of the iceberg. The NEAR community’s commitment to fostering social change is global in scale and ambition. As the community grows, more and more people are working together to develop real solutions to our most pressing problems. 

Each DAO or other community-based initiatives operating on NEAR prove once and for all that crypto is not just another financial market. 

Stay tuned for a deeper look at NEAR’s commitment to promoting social good. Over the next month, we’ll focus on crypto’s dynamic aspects as a vehicle for positive change. Web3 is helping historically marginalized communities find their voice, and as the mission evolves, NEAR is unleashing a new level of community engagement and activism worldwide.  


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