According to the UNHCR, there have been 483,597 registered refugees and asylum-seekers since February 28, 2018. From that number, 27,825 have been Ethiopians. But the global public—even Kenyan citizens—don’t seem to know much about the 10,000 Ethiopians entering Kenya. This photo project ties in both the intimacy and grief of the daily life as a refugee. Staying the night in a refugee shelter was an aspect that makes this perspective unique. There was the ability to form trusting relationships and expose the vulnerability of one family affected. On March 10th, 2018, Ethiopian citizens witnessed 13 innocent people of the Oromo tribe, get murdered by their own police. In August of 2017, Ethiopia lifted a 10-month state of emergency. since the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, stepped down from his position in February of this year, Ethiopia has reclaimed a state of emergency. After the death of the 13 people, the melting pot of Ethiopia and Kenya’s border mixed a little more than usual. Thousands fled to Kenya to find refuge, 80% of them women and children, and 1,500 children under the age of five. Families came with nothing but the clothes on their backs, sometimes walking for 12 hours, or more, straight. Locals in Kenyan villages took the first refugees in, aiding them in any way they could. The Kenyan Red Cross, UNHCR, and UNICEF were immediately notified and took action. Providing refugees with shelters, basic food, blankets, and water. Refugees grew to 9,667, says County Secretary Malich Boru, since they first arrived. Located in one of the four refugee camps, Dambala Fachana (DF), a 50-year-old woman by the name of Darmi Molu was one of the many civilians that witnessed the massacre of her people. She told me, “It happened in the night. We were eating and then we heard gun shots. We ran for our lives.” Molu, her granddaughter, and her daughter walked across the border together. Starting at 6 a.m. and finally entering into the camp at 6 p.m. The Red Cross volunteer, Diid Jarso, told me they were among the first people to arrive. Women line up to receive their rations of food every two weeks and in order to receive it; they first need to prove they had registered in the camp. Waiting for hours in line, they circle around a volunteer in a plastic chair who checks their names. In his hands is a list of all of the registered refugees. In their hands they carry dirty UNICEF water jugs and empty bags to be filled with maze. The line of bare feet leads to their fingerprints being stamped as they go back to their shelters with food, water, and vegetable oil. A small hospital operated by volunteers through the Red Cross, occupies a concrete building where there were two ladies on wooden beds hooked up to IV drips. They were both suffering from dehydration, the most common medical problem within the camp. In the next room over was a small girl, only one and a half years old getting a bloodied bandage removed from her left leg. Comforted by the arms of her father, she shed tears as the doctor removed the bandage and held her leg over a small metal bowl, letting the puss drain. Since this, Ethiopia has appointed a new prime minister in hopes of resurrecting peace within the country. Refugees are expected to stay in Kenya for another two months. Some are planning on staying. [caption id="attachment_8840" align="aligncenter" width="600"] April 1, 2018, Dambala Fachana, Kenya. One of the most common medical problems within the camp is dehydration. A woman is hooked up to an IV drip as her relative waits for her recovery. Photo by Emma Hall.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_8837" align="aligncenter" width="600"] April 1, 2018, Dambala Fachana, Kenya. Vegetable is also given as rations for the refugees to cook with. Photo by Emma Hall.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_8836" align="aligncenter" width="600"] April 1, 2018, Dambala Fachana, Kenya. Ethiopian refugees prove their identification in order to receive rations of food. Photo by Emma Hall.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_8835" align="aligncenter" width="600"] April 1, 2018, Dambala Fachana, Kenya. Refugee women wait in line to receive food and water rations for the next two weeks. Photo by Emma Hall.[/caption]  

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
Emma Hall
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.