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Bangui, Central African Republic: Dawn had barely broken over Bangui, the capital city of the war torn Central African Republic. For a few minutes the warm golden glow of the early morning sun gave the beleaguered city a picture postcard look.

A morning light that us photographers covet, ‘The Golden Hour’ as we call it. The light is softer at dawn, with a depth of contrast that we find desirable. But this moment is very short and vanishes all too quickly as the sun slowly rises to its zenith.

Unfortunately, this so-called golden hour can give an illusion of comfort to any given subject, and in the case of the crumbling and broken city of Bangui, it needs all the help it can get.

But on this occasion I will not photographically camouflage or misrepresent the effects of a terrible, vicious civil war that has ripped this country and its capital apart. My cameras reluctantly remain at my side. I look at the rising sun accusingly and step through the rusting gates of the St Joseph’s Medical Centre.

St Joseph’s has seen the worst come through its gates in a war that has claimed the lives of so many; but by far the worst and saddest blight is “Malnutrition,” Sister Magherita Floris, who has been the driving force of the medical centre for over twenty years.

She tells me that the number of children being treated for acute malnutrition in Bangui “is so so many, too many, I can’t count, but we try to do our very best.”

The nuns of the centre indeed ‘do their best’ to try and alleviate—and very successfully too—the suffering of children with acute malnutrition. They have quite literally taken matters into their own hands.

Instead of waiting for high protein supplements from well meaning NGOs, which more often than not do not arrive because of security issues across the country, the nuns took the advice of a passing French Pharmacist, who gave them the formula and the technical skills to grow the vitamin rich green algae Spirulina in their own back yard.

With materials begged and borrowed from the local community the nuns single-handedly built the concrete tanks that would eventually grow the protein rich algae and save the lives of hundreds of babies and children.

Spirulina contains a total of 18 amino acids, in the exact proportions as mothers’ breast milk. The super rich algae has eight complete amino acids, regarded as essential for the human body.

Sister Magherita’s eyes sparkle with well deserved satisfaction as she tells me “none of our babies die anymore, we have a huge success with this.”

According to the United Nations, more children die from malnutrition and related diseases than from bullets. Malnutrition is even more deadly in the rainy season, when diarrhoea and malaria are at their peak. Both diseases put the lives of already malnourished children in danger. It is estimated 28,000 children will suffer from acute malnutrition this year alone.

The sisters of St Joseph’s have gone a little way to reduce this staggering number. Nutritionists globally have repeatedly recommended to governments that spirulina be used on a large scale to combat malnutrition because of its excellent nutritional value as well as its cost effectiveness.

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But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.



And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.



It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.



In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.



Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.



This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?


We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?



Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?



Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.



Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.


These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
About
Sebastian Rich
:
Sebastian Rich is Senior Contributing Photographer at Diplomatic Courier. Sebastian has been a photographer/cameraman in hard news, documentary and current affairs for over thirty years.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.