He gave himself a moniker once: “techno hippie.” When I asked him why, he didn’t hesitate to elucidate: “I chose techno hippy because I’m into environmentalism, yoga, eastern/newage spirituality, music festivals, psychedelic drugs, tuning in, dropping out, ecotopia and the back-to-land movement and various other things associated with the counterculture of the 60’s,” he told CCN. “On the other hand I’m also really interested in the promise of technology and things like open source software, meshnets, encryption, cypherpunk, etc. to get humanity out of the mess we’re creating for ourselves and the planet.”
For the last few months, he’s been focused on Yummy Yards, an urban farming operation where his partner Chelsea and him are committed to growing vegetables for twenty weekly veggie box subscribers and two market days per week. The Bitcoin Co-op and CoinOS are two other projects that Soltys started that he’ll take up again once the farming season comes to a close in the winter. The co-op is an open membership organization for people interested in Bitcoin and CoinOS is an open source Bitcoin point-of-sale app that merchants can use to take payments. The cooperative grew out of the desire to start a Bitcoin business.
“I’d never participated in a co-op before but I’d heard a lot of buzz about them so I figured what better way to learn about them than to start one,” he adds.
Soltys believes that co-operation can be more efficient than competition. He likes the idea of an organization that’s inclusive and fosters a community of people working together for a common goal. “I think if Bitcoin achieves mass adoption, we will witness a societal shift away from top-down, coercive government structures and towards more grass-roots organizations that are run transparently by and for the people,” he tells CCN.
I’d like the co-op to be a model of such an organization.
Yummy Yards grows vegetables in people’s yards who have offered their unused space to the cooperative and on small plots of land that the cooperative leases in Vancouver. “Running a small business and growing food is satisfying because I feel like I’m becoming more of a producer rather than strictly a consumer,” Soltys says.
I’m learning skills and building assets and resources that give me some self-reliance and help create a more sustainable food system.
Some Soltys philosophical inspirations for the farm are Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin. In his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan outlines four basic ways in which human societies have obtained food. Pollan analyzes each process and suggests that human industry is illogical when scrutinized through the logic of nature. He laments the disconnect between our food habits and our ecology, as well as suggesting that how we eat is our most profound interaction with the natural world. Salatin is a farmer and proponent of “eco-friendly” meat products. He uses holistic management techniques of animal husbandry, without the use of chemicals. His meat is sold from farm-to-consumer through direct marketing.
These ways “are externalizing the costs of production and thus causing harm to people and environments in distant parts of the world that allow those of us in developed nations to enjoy a high standard of living without accounting for the total impacts of our consumption, and our food and energy systems.”
“Right now there aren’t a lot of consumer incentives to spend Bitcoin in the real world but if you can start getting discounts for it, then people might start taking more of an interest,” Soltys says. “A discount is a signal from the merchant that they’re serious about Bitcoin and not just reluctantly or temporarily trying it out to see if they can get some free publicity.” What is Soltys outlook for Bitcoin? This might not be too surprising.
“I’m taking a very relaxed long term attitude to Bitcoin these days. I have plenty of plans and ideas to work on over the next few years that I think will contribute to the crypto ecosystem,” he says.
Images from Shutterstock and Yummy Yards.