There are many reasons we become motivated to accomplish tomorrow what we are working towards today. For David Baxter, founder of a unique coffee shop and a blockchain education company, it comes from a deeply personal place: his own experiences with poverty, work inequalities, and wage theft. And through it all, he remains optimistic and ever open to possibilities.
Last week I sat down with the 30-something self-taught programmer while he gleefully donned a holiday sweater in mid-November. The conversation that followed made it clear that Baxter is a listener/learner first and a planner/doer second. In today's article , we'll look at how a resilient spirit and the desire to contribute have led Baxter and a small team of comrades to where they're at. Namely, putting one foot in front of the other to address prevalent societal issues in a way that serves the local area while working on ways that example can inspire other companies and individuals across the globe.
South West USA
Baxter's response to workplace inequality and wage theft takes place, for now, in his home community of Mesa, AZ. His worker-directed company, Beanchain Coffee, comes with a business plan that sets the shop up as a distributed co-op (DisCO) that offers shared ownership and a greater chance for worker equality. The ample 5,500 sq ft (roughly 511 sq m) will house a community of coffee drinkers, learners, and resident business people who can lease offices, bringing yet another income stream to support the mission. The architectural plans are almost complete, and soon the interior of the building will be under construction. If all goes according to schedule, Baxter plans for the ribbon cutting in late Q1/early Q2 2023.
Manageable inconveniences pushing back the opening date haven't kept Baxter from building a coffee cart to offer refreshments at upcoming events at a local REI and for other occasions. Aside from this, he and a small team have also moved forward on testing Work Life Unbalance, the title of their NFT project built to help those who've experienced wage theft and support worker-directed companies. The inspiration for the NFT art comes from stories of vetted individuals who have been on the receiving end of the crime. These same souls will profit from the project and hope to inspire others to do the same.
Blockchain Learning Center (BLC), the educational side of the endeavor, was awarded funding from Project Catalyst in Fund 8. So far, the website has become host to various infographics highlighting specific blockchains, and some more general (all free of charge) and pre-printed conference and education displays that help their buyers "compose spaces for learning," as Baxter puts it. Beyond this growing pool of physical supplies is a selection of diverse courses also focused on distributed ledger technology––eight available at present, one of them by LidoNation's own Stephanie E. King.
A Fresh View
Baxter's late parents, both devout religionists, and firm in their economic beliefs, provided a gracious inspiration to his chosen way of being and doing in life. This inspiration allows him to respond to the world's needs in a way that he knows is right in his gut. Having abandoned the titles of his parents' creed, Baxter nonetheless found the beauty in the ethos they demonstrated and came away with a connection to integrity, a desire to listen to others, and help when he finds unfairness lurking. These give his altruistic business ventures plenty of fuel to empower others and himself well into the future.
As strong as his convictions and beliefs are, and as big as his personality is, he also is the kind of person that makes you feel like you can share your opposing thoughts when you have them. He wears the kind of easygoing attitude one receives as the result of significant experiences in life, even at his younger age. Rather than a typical leader per se, his kind of spirit finds energy in building a team of equals capable of unity and striving, arm in arm, to accomplish such lofty goals.
As mentioned, work on the inside of the soon-to-be coffee shop is imminent. The future will see a greater physical coming-together of the two businesses. BLC will soon begin assisting learners in their coursework inside Beanchain Coffee, helping students build their knowledge about Cardano and other blockchains so that all involved benefit creatively and economically. Down the road, goals for a second coffee cart and a coffee roastery are also in the plans. Two more areas of potential revenue, the second of which also lowers their cost of goods.
Another glimmer on the horizon exists in particular state funding the BLC may be able to use to carry a whole cohort through their classes without having to charge anything for the time. These funds, along with multiple streams, either active or emerging, will pave the way for the budding business to scale locally, replicate in nearby cities, and eventually wherever another connected DisCo forms to carry on the work anywhere across the globe!
The Finish Line
When it comes down to getting our hands dirty and carrying out a plan, sometimes we find that a situation is out of our control, and we have to pivot to continue and meet objectives in a slightly different way. Thankfully for Beanchain Coffee and Blockchain Learning Center, their founder maintains the resilience, patience, and diligence that likely spreads to the rest of the team or is bolstered by their own sets of virtues. The work being chipped away at, along with their weekly team meetings and open-office Discord spaces, prove that there is movement and that things are getting done reasonably, regardless of having to course-correct for extenuating circumstances.
In the end, with the distributed model both are using, the goals they hope to accomplish, and the mission they look to fulfill it will certainly be a boon to the Cardano community. We at Lido are excited to learn of the work they continue to do, and we plan to capture and share new updates, keeping everyone posted on their progress! Oh, and if you find yourself in Mesa next Spring and wanna treat him to a cup o' joe, he'll have an americano with oat milk, maybe a touch of honey for the season.