Cool Valley, Missouri, a small town of about 1,500 residents in the St. Louis County area, recently attracted international attention after its Mayor Jayson Stewart announced that he would give up to $ 1,000 in Bitcoin to each resident.
A passionate environmentalist who has spent years cleaning up the world’s oceans and working on a platform to correct old mistakes, Stewart believes that bitcoin education is key to growing his city’s prosperity, wellbeing, and sustainability. Just as he dreams of a world without environmental damage from irresponsible trash cans, he envisions a future in which Bitcoin will eliminate many of the evils of the financial system.
Hoping to see a Bitcoin-friendly bank in town soon, Stewart sees Bitcoin as a pathway that can increase the city’s fortune through more prosperity and business opportunities like mining facilities and even Bitcoin events.
“A lot revolves around fixing the flaws of the past financial system. In the past we didn’t have access to the amazing technology we have today when it comes to our financial system and storing our value. “
Stewart’s plan to distribute Bitcoin to the people of Cool Valley is already fully funded. He explains that the plan will be paid for by private donors with the aim of spreading acceptance and educating users. “Right now, the project is fully funded at $ 1,000 per household,” he said, adding that the city has received additional donations because “the story became more popular than I would have expected.”
A day in my life through the eyes of @JaelinCollier pic.twitter.com/N1mAerlvT7
– Mayor Jayson Stewart (@coolvalleymayor) September 22, 2021
Although Stewart believes it “would be very wise for a city to keep portions of its treasury in cryptocurrencies,” he explains that “there are legal barriers to doing so, many of which are set out in the state constitution regarding cities.” invest in assets. ”He makes it clear that his primary interest is that ordinary people and non-governmental entities benefit from Bitcoin. The more people involved in the Bitcoin network, the more powerful it can get.
“What I’m really excited about, and what I’m working on, is getting ordinary people to hold Bitcoin and that they really benefit from the appreciation of holding such an asset.”
Stewart has encountered a mixed range of reactions from residents of the town, from excitement and curiosity to confusion, the latter being common among older members of the community. “You have a lot of questions about ‘What is it?’, ‘How do I save it?’, ‘How do I get access to it?’”, He lists.
The distribution process is still ongoing, but education is one of the main goals of the project because in order to receive their BTC, residents need to understand what they are receiving. Workshops or similar learning opportunities are planned for this purpose. “We will get people to save their own bitcoins as soon as possible,” explains the mayor.
Missouri Mayor, @ coolvalleymayor, “In Bitcoin since 2015. I worked for a tech start-up and we were virtual assistants to wealthy clients in BTC in 2015” cc @BitcoinMagazine @ck_SNARKs pic.twitter.com/MGGUru3bki
– Kit (@kit_sats) September 22, 2021
Cool Valley is home to people from all walks of life, so “$ 1,000 looks like different things to different people”. The desire, however, is for residents to hold their coins for some time rather than sell them right away, partly due to Stewart’s transparent belief that they will increase in value over time. After all, patience is a virtue. To encourage this patience, there are plans to offer residents a higher withdrawal option if they agree to hold their coins for a specified period of time, with a smaller amount being given to those who wish to sell.
“We really just want them to be able to understand the asset and become self-confident with their storage understanding of how to hold their own keys.”
In addition to learning Bitcoin, Stewart’s initiative is likely to bring other indirect benefits to the community. For one, it is likely to attract many residents to general investing, which can bring many benefits in the future. Computer literacy is another area that is likely to improve due to the Bitcoin incentive, and the new users are likely to learn about other cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications as well. Hence, it is likely that the move will ultimately inspire some residents to seek careers in the blockchain industry.
Cleaning up the dirt of others
Stewart first interacted with Bitcoin in his early 30s in 2015 while working as an assistant for Magic, a San Francisco-based company that often saw “very, very wealthy customers” sending Bitcoin to the company’s wallets, the Stewart then converted to fiat-in to buy various goods. Although he didn’t have a thorough understanding of cryptocurrency, “I thought it was cool internet money,” he recalls.
As a child, Stewart dreamed of becoming a wildlife photographer and owning a nature reserve. Because of this, he left Magic later in 2015 to pursue a lifelong passion for environmental restoration and wildlife rehabilitation through his new business, PL28, operated from Cool Valley. PL28’s mission was to cleanse the oceans, a calling that was “the center of my life” for the next several years until Stewart ran for mayor’s office in 2019.
“Until I decided to run, I was just pulling plastic from oceans, rivers, and various waterways – to try and make the wildlife habitat a bit better for marine life.”
Through PL28, Stewart has helped clean up the seas in places like the Philippines, Haiti, the Bahamas, Los Angeles and Singapore. He explains that the cleaning process differs depending on the type of ecosystem. “Out at sea you can usually find abandoned fishing nets,” which are constantly capturing and killing wildlife, while in a river environment like that of St. Louis, “a lot of plastic bottles like milk jugs are collected,” he says.
While he loves spending time with marine animals, he regrets that the ocean cleanup job was “a lot more logistics”, like coordinating volunteers, as opposed to being on the ground. All in all, Stewart has “worked with people in 47 different countries to collect plastic from the ocean,” which plastic is usually made into recyclable plastic and then made premium goods from the recovered material.
Today Stewart is behind active ocean cleaning, but his adventurous spirit of clearing up the clutter and mistakes of the past continues to propel him.
Mayor of the small town
After high school, Stewart studied psychology at the University of Miami from 2008 to 2012. During his studies in 2011, he and his first year roommate founded the record company Pink Fader. The duo had obvious success because an act under their label “ended up getting Grammy nominated, which is cool, and we had a couple of songs that made it into the top 50,” recalls Stewart with a touch of pride.
For Stewart, who moved first with his family and later because of his entrepreneurial activities, Cool Valley has been “the most consistent place” at various stages of life. Young and armed with fresh ideas, he decided to run for mayor in hopes of improving services and revitalizing a suffering business district.
“I wanted to create more of a haven where humans and wildlife can safely live and interact together for both sides.”
It is a great honor to be mayor because “this small town in which I grew up wants me to be its representative and its leader.” He describes the job as a particularly broad area of responsibility that goes far beyond his previous activities and feels a strong sense of responsibility for the well-being of the citizens. He even has the option to grant pardons for certain crimes he announced last year for “any person convicted of nonviolent offenses involving cannabis and / or psilocybin mushrooms,” which earned him Commendations for “groundbreaking work to repair the harm of the war on drugs”.
At the other end of the spectrum of great ideals, “there are always little things that we would also talk about, like a pothole in the street or whatever,” he says of the things that preoccupy him.
Although there has not yet been a petition to rename the city, it is quite conceivable that the Bitcoin effect will specifically affect Cool Valley. While the city already has a Bitcoin ATM, there are many more options that should be considered. “We had a few people who got in touch about opening a mining facility,” says Stewart with a smile. He adds, “I’m trying to get a Bitcoin-friendly bank here.”
As luck would have it, Stewart has just joined the advisory board of Midwest BankCenter, a locally owned bank with nearly $ 2 billion in assets. “They’ve been meeting for 100 years, but I had my first board meeting with them just three days ago,” he laughs. When asked if you know him as the “Bitcoin guy”, Stewart proudly said, “You do that now!”
From his point of view, Stewart feels “a cautious optimism” in the local banking sector. It is clear that they want to avoid risks, “but they also enjoy the potential chance of big upward trends in their investments”.
Given the number of donors, it looks like there will be money left over after it is distributed to residents. With those funds, Stewart is studying solar lighting and other energy efficiency initiatives in Cool Valley, among other things. “There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt when it comes to the environmental impact of Bitcoin,” he admits, adding that he wants to set a positive example of the good that Bitcoin can bring.
With the University of Missouri-St. Louis Campus, which borders Cool Valley to the south, the city could be a great place to host a Bitcoin conference or even some kind of technology center one day. Mayor Stewart agrees and says, “I think that could be a pretty nice result – that would be super cool.”