Grassroots Bitcoin, held at Bitcoin Park in Nashville, Tennessee, brought Bitcoin meetup organizers from all over the country to collaborate together.
This is an opinion editorial by Evan Price, a software engineer of 15 years and advocate for privacy rights.
Americans love a good revival. A revival is religious fervor that spreads across the land, often leaving new churches and social movements in its wake. Revivals start with a deep and pervasive sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo. Then a few luminaries step up and begin preaching a new and better way to believe and to organize. These early folks preach to the masses and recruit a following. They take their message on the road and evangelize to as many people as they can reach.
In the wake of a revival, the social and legal landscape is irrevocably changed. New churches spring up and old ones are forced to splinter, shrink and adapt. Laws are passed and social institutions are forced to reckon with a newly organized and dedicated constituency. Related social movements fork off and forge their own path for societal change. Eventually, the religious fervor dies down as everyone adapts to the new reality of their country.
I think we are in the early stages of another American revival. Unlike past revivals, this one is not religious; it is monetary in nature.
I recently spent some time at Bitcoin Park in Nashville, Tennessee, getting to know other Bitcoin meetup organizers from all over the U.S. and Canada. We were invited by ODELL and bitkite to an event called Grassroots Bitcoin to collaborate and discuss how we can increase bitcoin adoption and support local communities. I met dozens of other meetup organizers. We swapped stories and learned about each others’ motivations, goals and hopes.
We saw presentations covering a variety of topics:
- Bitcoin as a tool for human rights.
- Bitcoin as a tool for small business.
- Strategies for how to grow your bitcoin meetup, both technical and social.
- Tools for self-sovereign cold storage.
- Tools and advice to help you buy, sell and manage bitcoin.
- How and why to work with politicians to advance our common goals.
You can listen to some of the discussions here.
There was an abundance of Bitcoin culture on display, from complementary pelican cases to the ultimate Bitcoin social event: a beefsteak dinner. I don't subscribe to all of the beliefs adopted by Bitcoiners. For example, I drove hours to get my first COVID-19 vaccine and I usually try to eat more vegetables than meat. But other common Bitcoin beliefs make good sense to me: Grow your own food and learn to shoot a gun because it could literally save your life one day. I think a growing social movement requires a vibrant cultural identity and Bitcoin is no exception.
One thing that struck me about this group was the diversity of personalities and backgrounds on display. There were city folks and country folks; Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists. I saw brogrammers rubbing elbows and sharing meals with ranchers. There were HVAC repair men, former cops and flight attendants. Bitcoin truly attracts men and women from all walks of life. Toward the end of the event, when a former pastor took the stage and declared that bitcoin is his new church, it dawned on me that we are in the early stages of another American revival. For a revival to catch on, it needs to appeal to a broad and deep cross section of society. That is exactly what I saw in Nashville.
Bitcoin's social movement is small and vigorous, rooted in a deep uneasiness and suspicion of the top-down forces at work in our society. I think a sea change has taken place in the past few years. Most of the meetups represented in Nashville were founded in the wake of the COVID lockdowns. I think our national response to the pandemic sparked a lot of skepticism that is now taking root at these meetups.
I've been a Bitcoiner for longer than I like to admit. I have had many conversations with no-coiners and their reactions ranged from mild interest to a visceral rejection. Over the years, I stopped initiating these conversations. In the past week, my eyes have been opened to the fiery, impassioned core of the movement. I have never talked to a group of Bitcoiners with greater conviction or sense of purpose. I think we're turning a corner; there has never been a better time to seek out bitcoin fence-sitters and give them the nudge they need to install a wallet and begin their journey.
Throughout the event, participants shared tales and pictures of all the normal folks they orange-pilled. It became a badge of honor to talk your waiter into downloading a bitcoin wallet and receiving their first tip in sats. Bitcoiners are hungry for converts and they carry a very compelling message in times of high inflation and rising autocracy. I think of 2020 as a drought in American society. People were told where they could go, how to behave and what to wear. For a freedom-loving populace, in a country founded on the ideals of individual liberty, this kind of environment is bound to provoke a counter-cultural reaction. Bitcoin organizers are the tip of the spear of a growing social movement. I see a fire burning in these folks and they are carrying these embers to the masses one person at a time.
Forest fires always start small. If conditions are ripe they grow at an exponential pace. Slowly at first, but if you stop paying attention, you will be caught off guard by the rapidity and intensity of the conflagration. After the fire passes, a new season of growth and renewal springs up from the ashes. Don't be caught off guard. Join your local Bitcoin meetup and let’s fix the root of so many problems in our society. Let’s fix the money.
One last note. I believe America’s robust culture of individual liberties uniquely positions us to be the home of Bitcoin. The home of freedom money. But this is far from guaranteed. In order to get there, we need the support of politicians. A revival can be a powerful tool to accelerate political careers. Invite your political representatives to a Bitcoin meetup. Show them first hand the potency of this social movement. Talk to them about the challenges you face trying to grow bitcoin adoption and how they can earn your vote. They are listening. Make sure they hear the right message.
This is a guest post by Evan Price. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.