On September 10, Bitcoin Not Bombs launched a crowd-funding campaign through BitcoinStarter.com to raise 47btc to give hoodies to the homeless in time for Winter. There are only 10 days left in that Bitcoin Starter campaign, but there are a variety of other ways to contribute to the project. One of the often unspoken goals of Bitcoin Not Bombs is good PR for bitcoin, to make it more difficult for the enemies of monetary freedom to characterize the currency and the community as solely concerned with illicit activities, and to do a little guerrilla marketing for Bitcoin in a downtrodden demographic that could really benefit from this new technology, and would make natural Agorists.
Bitcoin Not Bombs is a launching pad for NGOs and social entrepreneurs into Bitcoin economy, offering premium publicity campaigns designed to facilitate an organization’s adoption of Bitcoin, to fully capitalize on that decision in their fundraising efforts, and to connect them with commercial partners where they can spend Bitcoin.
The Hoodie The Homeless project began when Mass Appeal Inc., the first screen printer to accept Bitcoin, offered Bitcoin Not Bombs a deal on 324 discontinued orange hoodies. The aim of the project is to purchase and print the entire lot. This is entirely a Bitcoin project. The fundraising is being done in Bitcoin, and the hoodies are being purchased with Bitcoin. No war dollars are exchanging hands, hence the “Not Bombs.”
In addition to the simple goal of keeping people warm this Winter, the secondary goal of this project is to explore potential interest in Bitcoin among the homeless population. Wired recently covered the trend of homeless people utilizing free WiFi access and services like BitcoinGet and Bitcoin Tapper to earn Bitcoin on the street. BitcoinGet pays users Bitcoin to watch YouTube videos. Bitcoin Tapper pays users Bitcoin to watch ads. This may be somewhat of a special case, for tech savvy homeless people, but that hurdles are getting smaller all the time. Hoodie The Homeless intends to do it’s first distribution in San Francisco, which is in the heart of the Silicon Valley, where the homeless carry mobile devices more than you might think.
Some of the advantages of Bitcoin for homeless people are obvious. A major problem homeless people face is robbery. Having no home means having no security, which means it’s difficult to ever accumulate enough wealth to change their conditions. Bitcoin is uniquely difficult to physically steal. Even if someone was using a mobile wallet on their phone, and the phone was stolen, if it was set up correctly it could be password protected or even backed up online.
Bitcoin also strikes at the root cause of a lot of poverty and homelessness in our society, namely inflation. That may seem indirect, but the devaluation of wages, and the increase in consumer prices hurts the poor most of all. A pocket full of change is less valuable every year, but Bitcoin has no such artificial separation between coins and paper notes. If homeless people are able to solicit donations, to do odd jobs, or offer services in exchange for Bitcoin they will immediately be on the opposite side of that economic wave toward worthlessness. They will be holding a deflationary currency, which incentives savings, and begins the trend toward lifting people out of poverty.
Another advantage of Bitcoin for homeless people is that it does not economically discriminate. A major hurdle faced by homeless people is paperwork. It’s hard to fill out applications without a permanent address. It’s hard to replace lost government forms like birth certificates and ID cards. But Bitcoin doesn’t care. You can open a Bitcoin wallet without a government ID or a street address, and you can convert Bitcoin into a variety of goods without paperwork. Sites like Gyft make it easy to convert Bitcoin into gift cards for a wide variety of places, but finding places to spend their Bitcoin would be as easy as attending a local Bitcoin Meetup. I guarantee you if a homeless person with a few mbtc to spend rolled up on a Bitcoin Meetup at a restaurant that didn’t take Bitcoin, someone there would be willing to help them square the bill. Suddenly, they would be plugged into a community with exponentially more opportunities for them to improve their conditions.
The point is that Bitcoin is a complete game changer. It’s not just a new toy for venture capitalists, although it is that. It also has the potential to radically change the economy from top to bottom.
There are currently three ways that people can support this project, all outlined on the campaign landing page:
BitcoinStarter is a crowd-funding platform that was created to help individuals and entrepreneurs achieve their project goals, large or small, in music, art, technology, gaming, or any other wide range of interests through the direct support of Bitcoin pledgers. You can sign up for BitcoinStarter.com, and pledge a donation to the Hoodie The Homeless donation drive. Bitcoin Starter campaigns are typically all-or-nothing fundraising drives, but for this campaign all the donations are going to the project regardless. The drive has currently raised just over 8btc, enough for about 70 hoodies.
Cash Into Coins:
CashIntoCoins.com is a service that allows you to deposit war dollars at any Wells Fargo, Bank of America, or a credit union with shared branches, and receive Bitcoin in exchange. If you use the bitcoin address below as your “send to” address the bitcoin will be contributed this project:
In addition, Cash Into Coins now gives you the option of contributing a portion of their processing fee on any purchase to Bitcoin Not Bombs. So, next time you want to buy Bitcoin for yourself, you contribute a small portion to this project by using Cash Into Coins.
Bitcoin Not Bombs t-shirt
You can pre-order the Bitcoin Not Bombs t-shirt. These were at hot item at BitCon 2013, and PorcFest X, and now they’re back. Each shirt is priced to cover the cost of one hoodie, and printed at the end of the campaign. Also, all donations to the Bitcoin Not Bombs general fund will go toward this project for the duration of the campaign.