Brandon Ferdig

Posted on Feb 22, 2022Read on

From Homeless Camp to Cryptocurrency Conference

Living in a tent in the freezing weather in an encampment strewn with debris: This is the world I've explored the past few weeks.

This past weekend, though, I entered a world that in many ways is the opposite.

I do marketing for a tech startup in the blockchain industry, specifically, the area of decentralized finance (DeFi). This company ( hosted a social event at one of the largest blockchain/cryptocurrency conferences in the world: ETH Denver.

Here were all the communities around surrounding the latest trends in the field: NFTs, DAOs, DeFi, and more. It was mostly young people, whose creativity is unbound by this new frontier for reimagining art, gaming, finance, and even government.

One of many booths for companies in the blossoming industry

An attendee observes the dynamic art display

One of many presentations across several venues along Broadway in downtown Denver

One of four spaces for the Hackathon

At the event my company hosted Thursday night

Experiencing this conference was in striking contrast to my work at Minneapolis's North Loop homeless encampment. Yet as opposites often are, these two environments can be seen as two sides of the same coin.

This "coin" is our fragmenting country, Americans breaking off into groups. On one side of this trend, we have everything from schools to law enforcement to social services struggling to manage everyone under one system. As a result, some fragmenting groups are those falling behind and even falling through the system's cracks--with a thud onto the frozen ground of Minnesota winter. Then on the other side, we have the blossoming blockchain industry, radiating excitement at the new possibilities, opportunities, and their unprecedented vision for the world of tomorrow.

Also like a coin, the two sides meet.

This is because the technologies of cryptocurrency and decentralized organization provide more efficient and effective ways to serve others. And many in the blockchain space are doing just that.

Here were just a few presentations at ETH Denver:

  • Can DeFi Lift 1 Billion People out of Poverty?
  • Climate X Crypto - Decentralizing Climate Solutions
  • Democratizing and Disrupting Philanthropy

When matured, these technologies will allow for easier giving, tracking where funds go, and allowing many more people a seat at the table for decision-making. For my part, I hope to implement these benefits into our nonprofit, The Periphery Foundation.

Finally, while the homeless population may offer the most striking example of these trends, the harms/benefits affect us all. For example, while inflation (and prices) rise, decentralized finance allows anyone a way to counter this by offering higher interest rates on one's savings. Beyond this, the blockchain industry will provide new career options, new ways for artists to create and sell their work, and even better ways for communities to cooperate on public needs (policy and government).

The rise of the blockchain industry parallels (and contrasts) the rising general unrest in mainstream society--concerns about government, the economy, etc. But also in parallel are this industry's solutions to these problems.

Thanks to my work in blockchain and on the street, I get to be witness to both.

It’s been my pleasure sharing my first post here on Mirror.