Dickson, 38, intends to ensure abortion rights groups stay strong even if the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 ruling in Roe vs. Wade. So she and a few partners form Cowgirl DAO, a new decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that meets quickly online and uses a proportional voting structure based on buy-ins. One of the most famous DAOs lured many people for a $47 million bid to buy the US Constitution last year; it failed but sent an unexpected message about the financial might of the system.
Cowgirl DAO will be selling digital art of cowgirls to fund abortion rights groups, and organizers had quickly set up the Twitter meeting to talk about it.
Forget distributing flyers downtown; it’s so 1995. Don’t even mention Kickstarter; you might as well try teleporting to 2015. Instead, it’s DAOs and NFTs, say Dickson and his partners, that might really move the needle. Web 3 seeks to harness the speed and finesse of new digital tools to raise funds for causes they believe wouldn’t otherwise see it, though skeptics might ask if it’s just fundraising. traditional funds with a more sophisticated computer code.
Dickson is a photographer, animator and videographer who works out of her home studio in the Cedars neighborhood of Dallas. his sensibility is a kind of pop art intertwined with subtle social commentary. This winter, she found herself angered by Texas abortion law that prohibits abortions in cases of fetal heartbeat and whose path was smoothed by the Supreme Court. So she created “Computer Cowgirls”, a set of 201 pieces of NFT art to negate her power. The kitschi-clad cowgirls moved with a swagger of empowerment, subverting the clichés of farmers and cheerleaders.
They resonated. In a very short time in February, Dickson sold out, raising $30,000 in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, or ETH. She paid a company to convert the crypto into dollars and sent them to Fund Texas Choice, an Austin nonprofit that funds transportation for women seeking abortions.
Now the goals are more ambitious.
“We just sprang into action as soon as the news broke yesterday to say what we can do to support the organizations working for IRL to fight this,” Audrey Taylor-Akwenye, a coding specialist who works with Dickson and goes by the @0xoddrey handle, told the group, using an acronym for “in real life”. “What we’ve come up with is we’re going to do a 10K NFT drop.”
She described a 10,000-piece set of a new Dickson cowgirl design that would hopefully fetch $3 million. Coins would be offered at one of three price points – $80, $240, and $2,400, depending on current values. The DAO would then decide who will receive the funds. They’ve set the sale for next week.
“There was an emergency before,” Dickson said. “But there is an increased urgency now.”
“We just need to identify the organizations that are doing the work,” added Madison Page, an online fitness entrepreneur in Los Angeles who guided Dickson’s strategy. “And then encourage them or find ways for them to accept crypto as payment. If anyone has any thoughts on that, please raise your proverbial hand,” she said. “Please contact the Discord.” A lot of Web 3 is going on one platform to talk about talking on another platform.
The group admits that it will not be easy to convince mainstream clinics and charities to accept crypto. Page suggested “computer cowgirl parties,” where people can create wallets and be “embedded.”
“I really think the barrier is more psychological than practical,” she said.
The model for this is UkraineDAO. Led by activist Alona Shevchenko and Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, he raised over $6 million after the Russian invasion by selling simple NFTs of the Ukrainian flag. In Web 3 compressed timelines, it’s already become something of a historical marker, even though it only happened in March.
As a speaker icon fluctuated with their voices, Twitter Space attendees noted how tech tools could be deployed for social causes, with everyday people transforming into nonprofit leaders overnight.
“I’m literally browsing the collections and learning more about you,” user Steph Guerrero said. “But I know if we are organized we can do amazing things.”
A woman who goes by the handle @SisterJennTX stepped in. “My question for you guys is how are your needs going to be organized so that those of us newer to Web 3 can help you? Web 3 moves at Mach speed. The rest of the world is a bit slower.
“We have a lot of Web 2 needs in some ways,” assured Dickson, “from people who have nonprofit experience. On the other hand, we want Web 3 help – people who already have DAOs and want to be coached.
The conversation revolved around what would happen if charities could not be “integrated” – should a third party be paid to convert crypto to US dollars? Or find a more willing charity?
The uninitiated might wonder why all this techno-witchcraft is necessary when simple fundraising donations have worked well for decades. Isn’t this all just inflated t-shirt sales?
But tell that to a Web 3 defender and they’ll look at you like you just read Magna Carta in Swahili. They note that the NFT approach isn’t just faster — it collects and gamifies donations to make them more engaging. (Coins are bought and resold as values fluctuate.)
Additionally, Page said, “there is an anonymous aspect that makes people feel safe donating 2 ETH (about $5,400). But it’s also very traceable, so it brings a level of trust – people know that all the money they donate is going directly to the cause. (The blockchain, the code-laden public ledger where all cryptographic transactions take place, is indeed a paradoxical beast: everything is technically visible, but you have to know how to read the blockchain to find it.)
This company is like selling t-shirts like a tricycle is like a Ducati, Dickson said. “It’s just a whole different way of working. Suddenly, I have assets that I never had as a photographer. I could have sold prints until the cows came home and never raised $30,000 in a few weeks.
At the meeting, the discussion turned to exploiting people’s Rolodexes. Sister Jenn suggested a shared document of personalities contacts. “Like, ‘Does anyone know so-and-so, or who knows Reese Witherspoon’s agent?’ “, she said, quoting the NFT-friendly actress.
Another user, @wunksnft, asked about the political process. “So after you’ve launched and the DAO is officially formed, making the decisions about who gets the money – is it all going to be decided by the DAO?”
“You get it,” Page said.
“My concern sometimes would be that a voting mechanism would delay getting the funds in hand,” she said. “I’ve had experience with that.”
Page reassured that everything would be exposed. This, and other objections, she said, should be gently refuted.
“Everyone who is anyone in this space right now,” she said, “put your ETH where your mouth is.”