Using Blockchain To Pay For Reconstruction Efforts In Ukraine | Forbes

by UKCHP_Admin

With the creation of NFTs of the sunflower-painted destroyed buildings and cars, and the commitment to purchase by the crypto millionaire Brock Jeffrey Pierce, the usage of blockchain-based finance has entered a novel era of humanitarian relief.

The project’s creator Trek Thunder Kelly, a U.S.-based artist, together with Ukrainian artist, Helen Yanko has just completed six murals of Ukrainian sunflowers in municipalities around Kyiv that suffered heavy destruction during the Russian occupation.

“I reflected on the situation of my professional and personal network and artists have been one of the most vulnerable groups since the start of the war. As individuals are highly unlikely to pay for art in current times, however artists can offer their time and skills through this missing piece that has now emerged,” says Oleksiy Burak, co-creator.

Ukrainians have always had a strong connection with sunflowers. They not only symbolize the color of Ukraine’s national flag, but are also a leading agricultural product of the country. Ukraine was the largest global producer of both sunflower oil and sunflower meal before the Russian invasion decimated the industry.

“Traditionally, blockchain has been used in finance for digital payments through cryptocurrencies. As the technology evolves, as people engage with it, new applications of blockchain emerge, that interconnect different actors in the society in ways that are neither obvious nor expected. In research, we name this phenomenon ‘reframing,’ a shift in how a technology is perceived and used. Connecting the need for infrastructure reconstruction with digital art and decentralized finance might be an appealing reframe for blockchain” adds Mattia Bianchi, Professor at Stockholm School of Economics.

Painting on murals and cars is not only an act of putting a ‘temporary art-based bandage’ on the wounds in war-torn municipalities. The novelty is in using blockchain based finance to fund humanitarian work.

The growing popularization of blockchain-based technology, space for the appearance of novel triangulations that seemed far-fetched not long ago. Blockchain has allowed users to profit off selling their Wi-Fi signal to others with Helium, or profit from users connected to crowdfunded mobile phone infrastructure on, for example, with World Mobile in countries like Zanzibar. Triangulation between technology, artists, and charity organizations is just one more new frontier that has been crossed.

Even though Helium and World Mobile represent very different solutions, users are being paid for their participation in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem, shifting their usage of crypto from asset-classes to means of payment and utilities.

The project ‘Flowers For Hope’ (FFH) has a novel modus-operandi which the founders hope will be replicated in other conflict areas too. The local artists paint Ukrainian national symbols on ‘murals’, which are pieces of graphic artwork painted directly on walls, ceilings, or structures like a car.

The completed paintings are digitized as NFTs and offered to collectors, investors, philanthropists and to the public. The money raised from the sale of these artworks will return at least 80% to both the artists and the local charity called ‘Women and war’ which provide psychological assistance to individuals impacted by the turmoils of the war.

Similar to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), that spends up to 19% on fundraising and administrative costs, FFH strives for an an equivalent level of administration costs. Today its umbrella organization Beatify Earth that provides the legal structure, conducts costly international transfers, and Roji that hosts the NFT platform are responsible for the majority of the administration fees.

“The legal status of NFTs is already as of now a complex question.This project shows how NFTs can be used for a good purpose and how many more levels of complexity that can arise from the already established questions,” says Nicoll Corallius, project advisor.

Once the pilot project is completed it is expected to grow both in complexity and intensity. In Stockholm, where the project originated as a pro bono joint venture between Kelly, Swedish executives, a paint production company and members of the Polish Startup Community who reside in Sweden, the Polish Ambassador to Sweden H.E. Joanna Hofman sees another potential angle— the project taking place not only within Ukraine but also in other neighboring countries.

She sees the possibility of Ukrainian artists painting murals in Paris, Brussels, or other European capitals to provide additional aid for reconstruction and to ensure that societies will not become war-weary with increasing gas and oil prices.

Trek Kelly sees potential in collaborating with external partners that could provide tangible d embedded in the NFTs. For example, for subscriptions to services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, to provide additional incentives to the philanthropic community that would increase the popularization of the project.

Kelly envisions a multi-sided platform that brings art collectors, local Ukrainian NGOs & artists together with the goal of providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine—but the fine print is to be decided upon after an evaluation of the completed pilot project.

The Municipality of Irpin has already agreed to provide more walls for artists that would like to explore the idea. With the goal of ‘positive reframing’ by combining blockchain-based finance with humanitarian aid, the project is designed to be able to be replicated in nearby jurisdictions under the same umbrella organizations. However, the beauty of the decentralized umbrella organization is that the project can be replicated even without the participation of the core team members listed above, even today.



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