interview

An Unlikely Crypto Creative [Ryu Kim, Landscape Architect]

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The “Unlikely Crypto Creative” series of interviews and stories are centered around creative professionals who have made their way into the world of blockchain and have begun to apply their practices to the new domain.

The Creative Crypto (TCC): Welcome Ryu! It’s wonderful to have you here to share your experiences with crypto and blockchain. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?


Ryu Kim: I’m a landscape architect and I used to work for an urban planning firm specializing in masterplanning and institutional projects. Currently, I manage operations at Herbert von King Park where I develop public programs and fundraising strategies for the conservancy. We look to support an ongoing schedule of public projects and other resources for everyone in the community. I live in New York and often work closely with the NYC Department of Transportation and Parks Department for community projects and activities around the city.

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I also co-found a design consultancy, Base Fifteen, a design studio where I work with government institutions to develop cultural plans and programs. This ranges from small-scale activities for special events as well as larger conferences for long-term mobilization like that of the UNESCO Creative City of Icheon, South Korea.

TCC: And how were you introduced to blockchain?


Last year, I was beginning my work with the Herbert von King Park (HvK) in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and the timing aligned with the initial ideas of Steem Park. My colleagues @hansikhouse and @voronoi (of @sndbox) were looking for a site to implement their project and I suggested that they could occupy a corner of the park and develop something that added onto the plans for a public conservatory garden. They explained their whole plan of converging the intention to Steem-power a design with the history and activities of the historic Olmsted park and for the first time, produce a public asset that wasn’t involved with giant donors or institutional grants.

Parks are always underfunded and constantly looking for new financial strategies. This is arguably the biggest obstacle to sustainable growth in the non-profit world. I quickly became interested in blockchain and how these private economies worked to support a different way of making for public good. After following the work of Sndbox, I understood that the tools were readily available and I got involved immediately.

TCC: How has that projected affected your work now?


After we helped launch the park, it peaked the attention of the overall HvK group and its stakeholders. The board of directors and administration were impressed that these young professionals could pull off making a major seasonal project without institutional support and public fundraisers. It was essentially a win-win for both sides as the park received a tremendous resource almost pro-bono and the crypto community/Sndbox were able to use the area to produce a compelling product.

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I also ended up joining Sndbox’s incubator program to further my education and participation with blockchain technology. I learned a tremendous amount about Steem while logging my articles and activities on Steemit.com, all the while fundraising for various new amenities for the park. I’ve used the steemit.com/@mintvilla account as a journal for the park’s development, design precedent research and general landscape and urban design contents. Over the last several months, the community and program helped me find more opportunities to connect landscape program and development with blockchain-powered opportunities.

TCC: What are you currently working on?


Most recently, I was awarded a creative grant by Consensys for their yearly Ethereal Summit in New York City. They distributed a number of grants for professionals to install their work at the conference. It was exciting to present alongside the famed Bitcoin Plantoid and the Satoshi Shrine. I had a chance to do what the HvK conservancy was wanting for a long time – a series of vibrant park signs that engage the public concerning the park’s rich history. I titled it Scapeshift 1.0 and had the first iteration installed temporarily around the conference. I believe it is the first creative project to intersect crypto technologies with landscape design and historic practices.

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I’d like to scope out and even help create more opportunities like this to help the growing blockchain sector impact social and cultural institutions. There are over 1700 parks in New York City alone, each competing for scarce resources and striving to become assets for their neighborhoods. The traditional model of funding hasn’t worked for them for the past few decades and likely won’t for the coming generations of park management and sustainability. I’m currently approaching larger NYC institutions and conservanies with various strategies to integrate blockchain and at least start to utilize the resources available today.

I truly believe that cryptocurrency offers a new economic model of support and after experimenting successfully in Brooklyn, I’m looking to adapt this technology across the city’s institutions.

TCC: What do envision to be blockchain’s impact on parks and non-profit organizations in the coming years?


The more and more I learn about the prospects of decentralization, distributing centralized wealth, and building a different kind of economy, the more I’m excited about the prospective transformations of the non-profit sector. The capacity is limitless and we’ll likely see developments of park-based tokens, blockchain-powered databases, and a new ecosystem of public engagement (one that is truly rewarded) emerge soon. It becomes clearer that non-profits can become more actionable and not tethered to a need to constantly ask for more money and more support.

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TCC: What would you suggest to people interested in learning about and utilizing blockchain?


Don’t be intimidated by all the new jargon and this general attitude of investment. This is only one aspect of the exciting new industry. There are already tools that can be used without deep knowledge of the tech and there are many more to come. The blockchain community is also generally very open and helpful as bringing in new users is one of the biggest motivations in the space. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask hypotheticals. Chances are, you’ll be surprised by the resources and community already available for you to tap into.

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TCC: Thanks so much for sharing this with us today! Where can people learn more about you and your work?


You can find more of my work at my office’s website, www.base15studio.com, and the entirety of the Scape Shift project here. Also, find my Steemit page at www.steemit.com/@mintvilla. Thank you for having me!


thumbnail and sketches illustrated by @zsolt.vidak | images courtesy of Ryu Kim
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