The Seasteading Institute April 2013 Newsletter
April 14, 2013 by Eric Jacobus
Dear Friends of The Seasteading Institute,
In celebrating our five-year anniversary, we have been reflecting on the many milestones we have already achieved, and accelerating our efforts to enable the development of seasteads in the near future. Please join us in celebrating five years of seasteading by making a generous donation and entering our raffle before the end of the month.
I trust this newsletter update will reflect our renewed sense of commitment to empowering a dedicated community with the knowledge and connections necessary to venture out to the high seas. While Blueseed and other seasteading-related undertakings are edging closer to a move offshore, the Institute’s capacity for inspiring new audiences has never been stronger.
On Tuesday, April 16, our co-author on the seasteading book and I will be appearing on the Glenn Beck Program for a full episode centered around seasteading and free cities. Recently, Beck has been exploring concepts of alternative governance, with a specific set of ideals he envisions for a model municipality, Independence, USA. We are excited that Glenn has taken up the call for small experimental governance, and we plan to enlighten he and his viewers on the advantages of creating experimental cities at sea, rather than the Texas location he has chosen. To watch the program online, you can sign up for two weeks of trial access to The Blaze TV network, or buy a subscription.
Also of importance, we are seeking aspiring seasteaders with the financial capacity to own or lease a unit on a seastead for qualitative interviews. We are conducting research to determine what common denominator exists among the pioneers so we can design a seastead that will meet their needs. If you would like to live and/or operate a business on a seastead, and you are financially secure, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In celebration of five years,
Randolph Hencken, Executive Director
P.S. We are grateful for all of our supporters who have donated already this month, but we can only achieve our of vision with the broad support of our community. Please join us and make a donation today, which automatically enters you into our raffle.
- Celebrate 5 Years of Seasteading and Enter our Raffle!
- Watch Randolph Hencken and Joe Quirk on Glenn Beck Program this Tuesday
- Seeking Aspiring Seasteaders for Survey Research
- Sea Farming Project Submitted to USAID Development Innovation Ventures
- Podcast: Legal Advisor O.Shane Balloun Explains Recent Supreme Court Ruling and Its Impact on Seasteading
- Book Manuscript Submitted – “Seasteading: How Ocean Cities will Save the Environment, Cure Diseases, Feed the World, and Launch Millions out of Poverty”
- Blueseed Update
- Joe Quirk Speaks at TEDx Burning Man
- New York Magazine Gets It Wrong
- Keith Rutledge Joins Engineering Board of Advisors
- Conference Highlights: James O’Neill on Non-Violence
- Featured Ambassador Tal Tsfany
- Ephemerisle 2013 – Year of the Art Boat
We are entering everyone who donates between now and April 30 into our anniversary raffle, giving our community members the chance to win either an autographed copy of “How to Start Your Own Country” by Erwin S. Strauss (priceless) or a brand new ASUS 21.5″ LCD monitor ($175 value).
Five years ago, the Institute set out to illuminate a practical course to overcoming the legal, economic, and technical obstacles of seasteading. What began as an online open-source thought experiment, moderated by Patri Friedman in his spare time, has progressed into a worldwide movement of technology enthusiasts, humanitarian entrepreneurs, and maritime professionals. We are now on the verge of creating seasteading technology capable of revolutionizing the way that rules evolve and governments operate. But we can only accomplish our dream with the support of our community. Please commemorate the Institute’s five-year anniversary, and help fulfill our vision with a generous tax-deductible donation.
This Tuesday, April 16, at 5PM ET, Executive Director Randolph Hencken and Author/Seasteading Spokesman Joe Quirk will appear on The Glenn Beck Program on The Blaze TV network. The Blaze can be viewed on the Dish Network or online with a subscription; for people wishing to view the program who don’t have a subscription or Dish TV, The Blaze offers a free 2 week promotional subscription. The segment will be archived on The Blaze’s site for several days after airing.
Our understanding is that the hour-long episode will primarily focus on seasteading and the free cities movement. Beck featured seasteading on his program in 2008 when he was on CNN, in an interview segment with Joe Lonsdale, an early seasteading supporter and original member of the Institute’s board.
More recently, Beck has been exploring concepts of alternative governance, with a specific set of ideals for the model of municipal moneyness he envisions, Independence, USA. While the Institute is intent on maintaining a neutral position with regard to the internal policies in a particular seasteading experiment, we are glad to promote the discussion in front of a very large audience. This is an unprecedented opportunity for us to attract thousands of new people to our community. We hope to sway viewers from a conservative or libertarian ideology towards our more fluid conception of innovative governance, while discussing the process of developing a free city at sea.
Please tune in and hear more about our seasteading vision.
We are currently conducting interviews with potential future seastead residents and business owners as a first step toward assessing the most suitable design, location, and other criteria for a comprehensive seastead plan – a roadmap to the first seastead platform. The survey is aimed at individuals with a strong interest in making an actual seastead their place of residence and/or business headquarters. Survey participants must have the financial means to afford an upscale residence in a major metropolitan area (our first ClubStead report estimated that costs of living on a seastead would be comparable), and the capacity to conduct business at least a short distance from the mainland.
If you think you fit this description, please send an email to email@example.com explaining your present circumstances and we will get back to you to schedule an appointment.
Last November, Institute staff worked with senior aquaculture specialist Ricardo Radulovich and ambassador Ryan Garcia to submit a letter of intent to Development Innovation Ventures, a program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID DIV supports breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development problems. Our proposal is to bring Dr. Radulovich’s decades of sea farming experience in a systematic fashion to four impoverished coastal regions around the world, using easily replicable models of profitable, aquatic food production. We believe this method of distribution and avenue of funding can accelerate another agricultural revolution – at sea.
After reviewing our letter of intent, USAID invited us to submit a full application. On April 4, we submitted a proposal describing how seaweed farming and complementary aquaculture production can greatly improve conditions for small fishing populations currently facing food shortages and insecurity due to climate change and overfishing. The application emphasizes primary productivity of seaweed, cultivated in coastal and near-coastal waters, as the best way to increase food production on a global scale. Production sufficient amounts of food on land is becoming increasingly difficult, due to the lack of available new land, the global deceleration in crop yields per acre, and erratic weather brought on by a changing climate.
Radulovich’s simple yet innovative primary production method involves tying seaweeds to long ropes and mooring the ropes with sandbags or concrete blocks. Secondary production of shellfish, filter-feeders, and larger herbivorous fish only require minimal additional materials, which are readily available in the developing world. Fishermen who are now struggling to earn a livelihood could use their fishing equipment and familiarity on the ocean to master the sea farming trade with ease, making it a perfect fit coastal nations facing extreme hunger shortages.
If our application is selected, the program would distribute approximately $1.75 million across four tropical developing nations: Costa Rica, Panama, Thailand and Tanzania. Dr. Radulovich’s has colleagues from prestigious research institutions who are already engaged in various humanitarian seaweed farming projects, and will lead the efforts in their respective home countries. We are eager to spearhead this combination of ocean stewardship and innovative, low-cost technology in the untapped frontier of coastal waters. By doing so, we will be positioning ourselves as future leaders of responsible ocean habitation in deeper waters, further ashore.
In summary, we are proposing nothing short of a Blue Revolution – we hope the evaluators at USAID will grasp the full power and practicality of our vision.
[7 out of 9 Supreme Court justices agree – just because it floats doesn’t make it a boat!]
Research & Communications Coordinator Charlie Deist spoke with O.Shane Balloun, one of the Institute’s legal advisors, to talk about the details of the case, and the bearing of the new definition on our legal strategy going forward. We recorded the conversation in podcast form for the benefit of our community. Balloun is the author of the original legal strategy document, The True Obstacle to the Autonomy of Seasteads: American Law Enforcement over Homesteads on the High Seas. He practices admiralty law in the state of Washington, and is one of the most qualified commentators on seasteading legal strategy.
In 2002, our founder and chairman of the Board Patri Friedman began to pen an informal online manuscript detailing a practical strategy for creating startup countries at sea. Up until then, such endeavors seemed locked in a tragic boom-and-bust cycle, leaving supporters perpetually wondering, “What could possibly have gone wrong?” Answers to this question, cased in a freshly polished vision, will be forthcoming early next year when a seasteading book for a mainstream audience hits the shelves under the title *Seasteading: How Ocean Cities will Save the Environment, Cure Diseases, Feed the World, and Launch Millions out of Poverty*.
In the intervening decade since the webbed draft was started, the manuscript has been continually revised – eventually, it was superseded by The Seasteading Institute’s website, complete with professional research into the myriad challenges of seasteading. Last year, the book format for inspiring practical seasteading ventures was given new life, when Patri teamed up with co-author Joe Quirk under a deal with publishing powerhouse Simon & Schuster. The duo has been combining their talents, overhauling the original tone and structure, to produce an informative yet highly entertaining manuscript, which they submitted to the publishers for initial review last month.
We see huge potential in the latest draft, and initial feedback from the publisher has provided further cause for optimism. Although the book is not due out until next year, we are already squirming with anticipation of the response it will yield among independent thinkers who have yet to hear this vision pitched in such compelling and realistic terms.
Since our update last year, much has happened at the commercial seasteading venture, Blueseed. With constant press coverage in practically every major US outlet, and in numerous international ones, Blueseed has kept advancing the notion of ocean communities while racking up financial support.
More than 400 startup companies, totaling about 1,300 entrepreneurs from 67 countries, have expressed interest in locating on the ship. Besides customers, Blueseed has amassed an impressive portfolio of strategic, capital, and pipeline partners, including renowned law firms Fenwick & West and Pillsbury; the marine division of Rolls Royce; Startup Weekend (organizer of hundreds of startup events per year, around the world), Start-up Chile and many international startup accelerators; plus partners in maritime security, waste handling, helicopter transportation, and coworking space management.
Blueseed’s greatest achievement has been garnering investor support. In December 2012, Blueseed closed a seed round of funding from Floodgate Fund (Mike Males), Correlation Ventures (Trevor Kienzle) and Xu Xiaoping of Chinese angel fund ZhenFund.
To accelerate the launch of the ship, Blueseed pivoted from buying and retrofitting a used cruise ship, to chartering an existing ship, with minimal retrofits. The launch cost has been brought down to $27M, with a planned date around Q3 2014. Of the $27M, $9M is currently reserved for an investor based in Silicon Valley.
Recognizing the desire of many investors to participate in the venture for smaller sums, Blueseed applied to and was accepted by AngelList, an online investment community for taking micro-investments as small as $1,000. For more information, check out Blueseed’s AngelList profile.
Have you heard Joe Quirk, co-author of the upcoming seasteading book, talk about what drives progress? If not, this short video from last year’s TEDx at Burning Man will give you a taste of the proactive social, political and environmental agenda we’re spearheading under the banner of startup seastead communities.
The incredible outburst of applause at the end demonstrates that our vision of competitive governance is no longer just for political theorists and libertarians – it is finding brand new support among a much wider audience of independent thinkers.
With his characteristic knack for making complex topics more relatable, Quirk asks the audience of “Burners” to imagine a world in which localized governments spread across a desert must compete for citizens living in mobile homes, a la Burning Man. Once the connection to mobile, modular communities on the ocean clicks, he begins highlighting actual entrepreneurs from our community seeking to turn the tide on climate change with innovative aquaculture and renewable energy ventures. This message is part of our broader strategy to tie seasteading to existing traditions of civil society, and show how progress on key global issues can be accomplished apart from increasingly bitter and divisive political battles. If you are ready to stop arguing and start advancing humanity through peaceful cooperation and technological innovation, please share this video with your political friends and foes alike.
Dan Amira, a writer for New York Magazine, apparently picked up on the Washington Times angle to seasteading, featuring our mission alongside plans for four other so-called conservative utopias. While the label of conservative can be fairly applied to a concept like “The Citadel,” which explicitly discourages liberals from applying to their walled-compound-with-mandatory-militia-training, we wish to reiterate what differentiates seasteading from the conservative or even avowedly libertarian efforts that populate the rest of Amira’s list.
Most importantly, while other movements exposit a single ideology or set of rules for improving society, our stance is that the ideal form of governance in a rapidly changing world cannot be known a priori. However, we do know that current systems are not delivering sufficient solutions to major issues such as financial stability, regulation of advanced medical technologies, and environmental sustainability. To find something better, we have to try many new ideas, and observe what works, i.e., what attracts the most citizens through innovative political and social systems.
Amira comes closer to the truth than many authors in recognizing that we seek to enable experimentation with a wide variety of political ideas, but he still can’t resist applying labels that mischaracterize the seasteading movement. Finally, although we see serious problems with the state of governance on land, our vision is not rooted in escapism. Instead we seek solutions that will improve the functionality of government on land and at sea, through the demonstration of best-practices and innovations.
Our new engineering advisory board member Keith Rutledge graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1976 with a BA in international relations and a minor in engineering. He holds a California Community College lifetime teaching credential in engineering and has taught architectural and energy design, drafting and construction courses. In 1978 he co-founded a renewable energy contracting company and a nonprofit educational and scientific organization specializing in renewable energy training programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past 35 years Keith has maintained professional activities in renewable energy and clean air transportation fields as a contractor, administrator, project manager, sales manager, financier, trainer and designer. He is a co-founder, director and CFO of Smart Hybrid Systems, Inc., a small energy appliance developer and manufacturer, contracting with entities such as Sempra Utilities, Southern California Gas Company and the Electric Power Research Institute, demonstrating hydrogen fuel cells with combined heat, power and storage capabilities. He is co-owner and managing member of Greenstone Renewables LLC, developing utility scale solar farm projects. He is a co-founder and director of the Renewable Energy Development Institute, promoting sustainable and renewable energy and transportation. Keith holds two US Patents in the hydrogen energy area and has utilized hydrogen generated from solar energy for power, heat, and cooking. He designed and built his off-grid passive solar home in 1984 utilizing photovoltaics for power and solar thermal collectors for space and water heating. Keith sees opportunities for sustainable and renewable seasteading developments in power, water, transportation, aquaculture, manufacturing and chemical applications that are cost-effective and good for the planet.
We are thrilled to welcome Keith to the team, and look forward to applying his years of engineering and business expertise to critical seasteading challenges!
We can sometimes feel lonely as seasteaders – separated from all the talk of conventional politics, the ‘blame game,’ and standard prescriptions of democratic reform. Our fundamental principles of peace and voluntarism, taken to their logical end, often lead us to surprising, and indeed radical conclusions. In this video, seasteading board member James O’Neill reminds us of the importance in striving to see through the endless contradictions of modern discourse, even when this leads us to disruptive truths.
Tal Tsfany joined the ambassadors team in February, with big plans to bring the vision of seasteading to his personal and professional networks. His deep connections in the realms of political philosophy as well as business and technology make him a powerful addition to our movement. Tal is currently a Vice President of Amdocs, a leading global telecommunications IT and software provider. He is also a board member of a fast-growing startup, Base, which is working to redefine the world of customer relationship management (CRM). A 42-year-old husband and father of three, Tal moved from Israel to Atlanta, Georgia in 2006. By the age of 27, he was the CEO of a 650-person test preparation company.
Next month, Tal will be representing the Institute at ATLOSCon, an annual weekend-long meeting of Objectivists from the Atlanta area. Tal’s entrepreneurial spirit and successes will undoubtedly bolster the credibility of our audacious mission and win new minds to our cause.
“Seasteading could be the next step towards a securing a future of total individual freedom for my kids and many other kids. I believe that with the intellectual power that can be recruited and the technologies that can be leveraged, this vision has a good chance of materializing in the mid-term future.”
Ephemerisle, the self-organizing annual floating festival initiated by The Seateading Institute in 2009, is once again taking place this summer from July 10-14, on the Sacramento River Delta. We are proud of the traditions that have emerged and the community that has grown up around the small-scale seasteading simulation. Our staff looks forward to reuniting with old friends, and making new ones this year, in the “Year of the Art Boat.”
For more information on Ephemerisle 2013, visit the Facebook page. General information on the event and experiences from previous years can be found on the Wiki page.