Interview - Cardano SPO #104: GAIA Stake Pool [GAIA]

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Today’s guest on the Cardano SPO column is a stake pool operated by Brian and his wife Lisa from Alberta, Canada, who are nature lovers and developing a card game: GAIA Stake Pool [GAIA].

The previous guest was a stake pool operated by Wayne who is passionate about off-grid living and is successfully validating blocks in his motorhome.

This column is where I invite Stake Pool Operators (SPO) to share their stories and vision as a way to connect with and learn about the Cardano Community.

Hi, thanks for your time. Tell us something about yourself/your team, where are you based and what are your backgrounds?

Hi Patryk, thanks very much for the interview. My name is Brian Lee, and I own and operate GAIA Stake Pool [GAIA] with my wife Lisa. We live in Alberta, Canada with our two dogs, cat, and horse, and we are avid hikers and nature lovers. I have a background in art, design, and computing, and worked in the entertainment industry as an art director prior to my deep dive into Cardano and my own projects.

Lisa is the bigger nature enthusiast of the two of us — she’s worked with horses, fish, and reptiles in the past. She also has a casual podcast about cryptozoology called Rocky Mountain Cryptids, which you can find on your favourite streaming platforms. Lisa currently works at Starbucks as a shift supervisor and coffee master.

We wanted our stake pool to be about making a positive impact for the environment. With this in mind, we run our pool on green servers powered completely from hydropower and wind, making our server impact net zero. We also donate half of our pool operator profit (or at least 20% of pool operator income) to charities that heal the Earth. Combined with our environmental efforts, GAIA is carbon negative.

What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become a Stake Pool Operator (SPO)

I first heard about cryptocurrency from a friend in university, and at the time the concept didn’t make much sense to me. I didn’t understand how digital “fake” money could have value. However, the more I heard about cryptocurrency in the news, the more I thought I should devote some time and research into this.

This research led me down a path I wasn’t expecting — the realisation of how “fake”, flawed, and corrupt the fiat money system is, and how a digital token can bring more value and be more of a store of value than fiat money. Cryptocurrency and blockchain tech is in a unique position to upend so many of our traditional governmental and financial systems that have become bloated, rotten, and stagnant.

When I first invested in Cardano and became a part of the community in 2017, I chose Cardano over other blockchains primarily because of the science-based approach, but also because of the vision to change the world with Cardano for the better. When staking went live with the Shelly mainnet, I found out I could do more for Cardano and the community by becoming a stake pool operator, and I jumped at the opportunity. I learned how to code in Linux, and got GAIA Stake Pool up and running in October of 2020.

The biggest challenge I think we will face as a society when it comes to blockchain will be if we gain more freedom or less freedom based on how world governments implement this technology. If governments choose to adopt and build on a platform like Cardano in an open and transparent manner, then I think that is the best case scenario. As a blockchain, I think Cardano still is in the best position to deliver on the promise of a better world through cryptocurrency

You’re involved with The CNC Ala project, what is it? And what’s the utility of the token?

After working with Veritree on the Cardano Forest project, the Climate Neutral Cardano group was in search of another reforestation project to collaborate on.

We were connected with a local Madagascar NGO called Tetikasa Ala, looking to fund the planting of 100,000 fruit and vegetable plants. Tetikasa Ala had successfully completed their pilot project, and after our own due diligence, the CNC group partnered with Tetikasa Ala to create the CNC Ala project.

The CNC Ala project (Ala means “forest” in Malagasy), is a regeneration and permaculture project in central Madagascar where drought and deforestation have created desperate conditions for people, plants and animals. Madagascar is home to a huge number of the world’s most exotic and endangered species, and 50% of households face real food insecurity.

The benefits the CNC Ala project brings include:

  • Rainwater retention and irrigation
  • Soil regeneration and erosion control
  • Establishment of nurseries and food forests
  • Permaculture reforestation with endemic, aromatic and fruit tree species
  • Teaching of regenerative practices and the value of permaculture over deforestation
  • Establishing regenerative agriculture in local stakeholder communities to achieve economic and food autonomy

To date the group has successfully raised over 87,000 ADA for Madagascar. Donations are still ongoing, and you can view the live status on the CNC Ala Dashboard.

The current utility of the CNC Ala token comes from the positive impact of the project, as well as the NFT rewards that CNC Ala token holders can claim from our amazing NFT partners: Proxies NFT, Yummi Universe, M₳D₳’s Lemur, and Earth Natives.

The planned snapshot for the mint is on September 22nd, and the planned mint date is on September 27th. Token holders will be able to claim their NFTs through our dedicated claiming portal.

Full details of the NFT claim can be found here.

You’re also working on a card game called Captivate, tell us more. Are you using NFTs? When will it be possible to play?

Captivate is a fast-paced tabletop card game of strategy, skill, and memory for 2–4 players. Flip over cards and capture them to score points, but watch out — your opponents have plans of their own!

Captivate is quick to learn even for a large group, but difficult to master. There are many features to keep you and your friends playing over and over again. Captivate: Cardano Edition features iconic characters from Cardano pop culture, like the “King of the Rats” Charles Hoskinson himself.

Combine themes or multiple decks for exciting battles, and to increase the number of players to 5+.

Captivate was successfully funded thanks to the amazing Cardano community in Project Catalyst Fund 9, and we are finalising artwork for printing the game.

For each Captivate card in the game, we are creating digital FT versions of the cards which are available for GAIA delegators to claim. As long as a delegator is staking 100 or more ADA to GAIA, they can claim new Captivate cards the first epoch of every month. If we don’t yet have new Captivate cards minted in a month, then we have a GAIA Art Drop instead, which features other artwork I’ve created in the past.

As an extra reward for supporting us through staking and collecting the Captivate FTs, if someone collects a complete set of Captivate FTs, they can redeem it for a premium printed version of the game with a limited print run of 1000 copies.

We do also plan on making a digital version of the game in the future, so integrating the FTs into that could be a possibility.

We have a few physical playtest versions of the game already printed that we use for showcasing gameplay, and our current release date is estimated at early to mid 2024.

Great contribution. Any closing remarks? Where can people stay in touch?

It’s been an incredible experience being a part of the Cardano community. There have definitely been tough times trying to survive as a small pool in the ecosystem, but we are here to stay.

With dedication and perseverance to our mission and values, we believe that together we can make a better world for the future. We hope that what we are doing resonates with others, and are always happy to chat.

If you like what we do, please consider supporting us with your stake at GAIA, and try out Captivate when it is released — it is extremely fun. We love what we do, and wish to continue to build in the Cardano ecosystem.

We can be easily reached through Twitter @GAIAstakepool or @FrostloreGames, as well as on Discord or Twitch.

Here if you’d like to learn more about:

Thank you for your time, and for the interview Patryk, it is an honour to be featured. Together we are all changing the world for the better by being a part of Cardano, and it’s exciting to see how the future will be shaped by this community.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the people interviewed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOG. Moreover, this content is for educational purposes, it doesn’t constitute financial advice.

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