The impacts of the Web3 space are unfolding in real-time. There is so much potential for equitable opportunities and redistributed wealth, while at the same time there are regular cases of malicious hacks and plagiarized art. With such a double-edged sword of potential, the bright future of the NFT space will come from projects that are intentionally doing well and doing good.
There are many such projects that are built on AuthenTech values of inclusivity and impact. Here are seven to pay attention to.
Ancient Warriors Empire was founded by African and Latin American entrepreneurs Emmanuel Udotong, Luis Carchi and Isaiah Udotong. Building on their experiences from Ivy League universities and tech careers, they saw an important opportunity to onboard thousands of BIPOC people into Web3. As one of the first exhibits of African and Latin American culture on the blockchain, the NFT collection showcases historically-inspired warriors from some of the greatest empires of the last millennium. The project revolves around running physical NFT galleries around the world to highlight underrepresented artists.
“The crypto revolution is fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in our lifetime,” Udotong shared. “We are striving to ensure that the benefits of Web3 reach our people who have been historically disenfranchised and underrepresented in technological and economic advancement. It is not a nice-to-have but rather an absolute necessity for people of color to populate and lead in the development of Web3 society.”
Censored is a collaboration between innovative NFT artist Pak and imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which turns the collector into the creator. Collectors of the open edition NFT could write their own message when minting it, which would then be crossed out (censored) and locked from trading. The collection also contains a 1/1 NFT called Clock, which counts the number of days since Assange was arrested in April 2019. If the Clock goes to zero, the censored NFTs will be released. Clock was acquired by AssangeDAO for $52 million to fund Assange’s legal defense and campaign to raise awareness about the free speech implications of his case.
“Because of my own experiences as a creator, I was working on a collection on censorship. I needed an iconic figure to make the concept work, so it was a wonderful match when Assange’s family contacted me for a collaboration,” Pak shared. “The promise was there; the tokens were free to claim, but not really free. A wallet-locked, non transferable and aesthetically censored token. Finally, if the ‘Clock’ hits zero, they will be free, unlocked, uncensored. This collection, I think, captures many aspects of decentralized communities and authority.”
Meta Angels is an NFT membership community harnessing metaverse relationships to unlock real life opportunities. Meta Angels was founded by Alexandra Cavoulacos, Allyson Downey and Max Siegman, guided by their core values of generosity, transparency, and accessibility. The 10,000 angel NFTs reflect a broad representation of skin colors and genders, an impressive feat by Sarana Haeata (AKA Aslan Ruby), the Māori-Australian artist behind the collection. Through a first-of-its-kind lending program, holders of a Meta Angels NFT can share the benefits of membership with someone else, to make the community accessible to people who might otherwise be priced out. The team hopes people will loan to friends, family, mentees, colleagues and non-profits they support.
Cavoulacos explained the rationale behind this innovative smart contract. “One of our top priorities is ensuring membership in Meta Angels remains accessible, and that the people who could most benefit from being part of the community aren’t priced out. We’re committed to fostering relationships that drive real life impact — whether that’s knowledge, connections, advice, or support — and want to ensure that impact isn’t consolidated like in so many traditional membership clubs and networking groups.”
NFTcuba.art, founded by Gianni D’Alerta, is a community portal and NFT series that provides access for Cubans around the world to showcase their art. Understanding that residents of Cuba have limited access to web applications, including many of the ones that provide digital artists the chance to promote and sell their work, D’Alerta strives to make the economic opportunities of Web3 available to Cuban artists. In addition to being a discovery and communication platform, NFTcuba.art launched and funded a Cafetera Challenge, in which Cuban artists design NFTs based on the Italian moka pot that is common in Cuban households.
“NFTs provide liberation from the confines of centralized systems of power,” D’Alerta shared. “They give a sense of freedom to those gasping to be heard, to those wanting to create, build and interact with the rest of the world. The sovereignty of Web3 means that people who are oppressed can still feel freedom. They will never be completely censored as long as they can make their own rules on the blockchain.”
Tunney Munney is the first NFT project by legendary artist Peter Tunney. Known for building inclusive and impactful art communities in the real world, including Wynwood Walls and TriBeCa, Tunney is now building a modern art ecosystem and community in the Metaverse. This bridge between the physical and digital world extends to the causes that Tunney champions as well. Continuing his long-standing work to free those who have been unjustly incarcerated, Tunney is allocating 25% of all secondary market NFT royalties to the Tunney Munney Foundation, a charitable trust that serves to support wrongful conviction projects, including The Innocence Project and The Sunny Center.
“The idea of owning a piece of art, owning the NFT, helps us be engaged and feel connected to other people. That connective tissue to the artist gives you a way to interact, appreciate and absorb the mojo of the artist,” Tunney explained. “Through my NFT sales, I can continue to support prison reform and address wrongful incarceration. And I hope that other NFT projects will start assigning portions of their royalties in a similar way.”
Visible Women, founded by Stacey Yael, is an NFT community to empower women and promote gender equality. Through custom NFT portraits for each member, along with a curated newsletter full of feminist content, Visible Women aspires to onboard 100,000 women into the NFT space.
According to Yael, “It is clear that the virtual world is mimicking the real world in that women are not being adequately represented. For example, female artists accounted for just 5% of all NFT sales in the last 21 months. This is our opportunity to generate gender equity in the virtual world as a way to then influence the real world. Inspired by the wisdom of Gloria Steinem, Visible Women’s clear directive is that women must have seats at the table.”
Women Rise is an NFT collection that celebrates women activists, artists, scientists and leaders. Founded and illustrated by Maliha Abidi, a Pakistani-American author and artist, Women Rise is focused on social justice through women’s rights, gender equality and girl’s education. In addition to contributing 10 percent of project proceeds to organizations doing this work, Women Rise is working towards building a school in the metaverse to educate the 258 million children who are currently not in school.
“What I am doing in this space is an extension of the work I have been doing for the past decade,” shared Abidi. “I previously used the power of Web 2.0 to communicate with people and campaign for these causes. Given the resources and innovation of Web 3.0, creating a diverse and inclusive space is important. And it is even more important to use these resources to resolve real world issues, especially the ones impacting marginalized communities.”
These are just a few examples of an entire wave of NFT projects that is emerging. Those that prioritize inclusivity, impact and values through the art they create and the communities they foster. As technology and activism work to push bad players out of the Web3 spotlight, there is a huge opportunity for more projects to follow similar playbooks as they continue to innovate and unlock potential.
Author disclosure: I own several of these NFTs, but was not incentivized to write about them. Always do your own research when assessing NFT investments.