Dickson, 38, wants to make sure abortion rights groups stay strong even if the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision Roe v. calf. So, with some partners, she founds Cowgirl DAO, a new decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that comes together quickly online and uses a buy-in-based proportional voting structure. One of the most famous DAOs lured many people into a $47 million bid to buy the US Constitution last year; It failed but sent an unexpected message about the financial strength of the system.
Cowgirl DAO will be selling digital art of cowgirls to fund abortion rights groups, and organizers were quick to pull together the Twitter meeting to talk about it.
Forget handing out flyers downtown; this is so 1995. Don’t even mention Kickstarter; You might as well try teleporting yourself back to 2015. Instead, it’s DAOs and NFTs, Dickson and her partners say, that could really move the needle. Web 3 seeks to exploit the speed and sophistication of new digital tools to raise money for causes they say they wouldn’t see otherwise, though skeptics might question if it’s all just traditional fundraising with fancier computer code.
Dickson is a photographer, animator and video artist working from her home studio in Dallas’ Cedar District. Her sensibility is a sort of pop art, laced with subtle social commentary. That winter, she was upset with Texas’ abortion law, which bans abortions where a fetal heartbeat is present and has made its way smoothed by the Supreme Court. So she created Computer Cowgirls, a 201 piece NFT artwork to negate its power. The kitschy-clad cowgirls moved with an empowering pride, subverting farm hand and cheerleader stereotypes.
They resonated. In February, Dickson sold out in a very short period of time, raising $30,000 in Ethereum cryptocurrency, or ETH. She paid a company to convert the cryptos into dollars and sent them to Fund Texas Choice. an Austin based non-profit organization which finances the transport of women who want abortions.
Now the goals are more ambitious.
“We were just stepping into action when the news broke yesterday to say what we can do to support the organizations working in IRL to combat this,” Audrey Taylor-Akwenye, a coding specialist who works with Dickson and aligns with handling @ 0xoddrey he told the group, using an acronym for “in real life”. “What we came up with is that we’re going to do a 10,000 NFT drop.”
She described a set of 10,000 of a new Cowgirl design by Dickson that would hopefully fetch $3 million. The pieces would be offered at one of three price points — $80, $240, and $2,400, depending on current value. The DAO would then decide who would receive the funds. They have set the sale for next week.
“There used to be urgency,” Dickson said. “But now the urgency has increased.”
“We just need to identify the organizations that will do the work,” added Madison Page, an online fitness entrepreneur in Los Angeles who has led Dickson’s strategy. “And then encourage or find out how they can accept crypto as payment. If anyone has an idea on this, feel free to raise the proverbial hand,” she said. “Please join the Discord.” Much of Web 3 comes to one platform to talk about talking on another platform.
The group admits that convincing traditional clinics and charities to accept crypto will not be easy. Page has suggested “computer cowgirl parties” where people can set up wallets and get “onboarded”.
“I really think the barrier is more psychological than practical,” she said.
The UkraineDAO is a model for this. Led by activist Alona Shevchenko and Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, it was raised more than 6 million dollars after the Russian invasion by selling plain NFTs of the Ukrainian flag. It’s already become something of a historical marker in Web 3’s condensed timelines, although it only happened in March.
As a speaker icon swayed with their voices, Twitter Space participants realized how tech tools can be used for social causes, how everyday people become nonprofit leaders overnight.
“I literally go through the collections and learn about you,” said user Steph Guerrero. “But I know when we’re organized, we can do amazing things.”
A woman following the @SisterJennTX handle intervened. “My question to you is how are your needs organized so that those of us who are new to Web 3 can help? Web 3 is moving at Mach speed. The rest of the world is a bit slower.”
“We kind of have a great need for Web 2,” Dickson assured, “people who have experience with non-profit organizations. On the other hand, we want Web 3 help – people who already have DAOs and want to become a mentor.”
The conversation centered on what would happen if charities could not “onboard” – should a third party be paid to exchange crypto for US dollars? Or a more willing charity to be found?
The uninitiated may wonder why all this techno wizardry is necessary when simple fundraising has worked well for decades. Isn’t that all pimped t-shirt sales?
But tell that to a Web 3 advocate and they’ll look at you like you’ve just read Magna Carta in Swahili. They find that the NFT approach is not only faster – it collects and gambles on donations to make them more attractive. (Parts are bought and resold if value fluctuates.)
Also, Page said, “there is an anonymous aspect that lends itself to people who feel safe donating 2 ETH (about $5,400). But it’s also very traceable, so it inspires a level of trust — people know that any money they donate goes directly to the cause.” (The blockchain, the code-heavy public ledger that houses all crypto Transactions taking place is a paradoxical beast indeed: everything is technically visible, but you have to know how to read the blockchain to find it.)
This venture is like selling T-shirts, like a tricycle is like a Ducati, Dickson said. “It’s just a completely 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 couple of weeks.”
At the meeting, the discussion revolved around tapping people’s rolodexes. Sister Jenn suggested a joint document with personality contacts. “Like ‘Does anyone know so and so or who knows Reese Witherspoon’s agent?’ ‘ she said, citing the NFT friendly actress.
Another user @wunksnft asked about the political process. “So after you guys get started 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 got it,” Page said.
“My concern would be that sometimes a voting mechanism would hold up the funding,” she said. “I have experience with that.”
Page assured that everything would be open. That, along with other objections, she said, should be gently refuted.
“Anybody who’s anybody in this room right now,” she said, “put your ETH where your mouth is.”