Written by Razali Samsudin, Co-founder of A Samsudin Brothers Projek - Streets of ADA
We co-founded A Samsudin Brothers Projek as an umbrella entity by which we can launch individual ‘Projeks’.
The art, design, and story is a collaborative effort between us, with Kuya Affendi leading on the art production. I am leading on the story writing and project management.
Streets of ADA is our projek aiming to do good and help those doing good, hence the term NFT4Good. With the power of Cardano's blockchain, and NFTs, help doesn't have to have an expiry date.
The good we talk about, our cause, is demonstrated through having the official support and partnership of the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated (PNNI), composed of 39 NGOs/POs.
We are working to raise awareness and support their collective mission, in synergy with developing the Streets of ADA universe and community.
Backstory on the Streets of ADA founding team
Kuya Affendi has a background in Art and Design, Architecture, Built Construction, Security, but his passions lie in Photography, 3D design, Digital Design, Illustration and Graphic Design. He is an avid photographer and family man, as a husband and father of 3 children.
He got into the rave scene in his late teens. Alongside friends who were DJs on pirate radio channels, they toured England and London, with his love for art and design, he made the flyers and promotional material for underground rave events that you would find on your car, in your letterbox or being handed to you as you left a rave party wanting to find out where the next one was at!
Those were the days of ‘jungle is massive’, when acid jazz, trip hop, drum ‘n’ bass, chill out music, and so called ‘alternative music’ (groups and artists like M Beat ft. General Levy, Goldie, Massive Attack, Everything but the Girl, Omni Trio, Shy FX, Jamiroquai, Field of Action and Hed Kandi and Ninja Tunes artists like Cinematic Orchestra studios) was maturing and making its experimental way out of underground clubs, smoke filled bedrooms and living room house parties, and into feature length movies, commercials and mainstream air and radio waves.
As some of Affendi’s friends made the ascent from underground to mainstream acts, others made a journey into ways of life that brought them into conflict with the law.
Going ‘back home’
During the autumn of 2006, I returned to London having survived a brush with death in a motorcycle accident alongside my kuya in Thailand. Upon leaving Bangkok as anti-royalist riots were breaking out, and returning home to East London, I began figuring out my next moves. Following talks with my kuya who was in Malaysia with family, we began plans to start a business in Malaysia in the biofuel industry.
Whilst planning my next trip to Malaysia, I attended a dinner gathering one evening, arranged by a close childhood friend of mine who wanted me to meet his martial arts coach and mentor, Usman Raja.
Usman Raja, mixed martial arts coach, counter-terrorism and deradicalisation expert and mentor.
"Raja is one of the UK's most renowned cage-fighting coaches, having fought in arenas across the UK during the early gritty years of the now fast growing sport, also known as mixed-martial arts (MMA).
He is also a man of deep ideas, including harnessing Islamic teaching to defeat the ideology of the terrorists."
I was privileged to cross paths with and have Usman Raja as my mentor and coach. He trained me in pro-Western boxing, Muay Thai, fitness and conditioning in a mixed martial arts and street self defence framework, out of TKO Gym in Canning Town and Roger Gracie Academy in Ladbroke Grove, London.
We are still in touch to this day, discussing all things philosophical, life on either side of the English channel and beyond, web3 and how tools such as NFTs can be used as a revolutionary force in a world of smoke and mirrors that plague NGOs , public administrations and treasuries.
Training back in TKO Gym, Canning Town, 2006.
Learning from warriors in the dojo. Usman Raja filming the guys sparring at TKO Gym, Canning Town, 2006.
Shifting perspectives and interests in sustainability
Jatropha plant being grown in our nursery in Malaysia, 2007.
In 2006, there was growing interest worldwide in the promotion of the Jatropha plant as an eco-friendly biofuel alternative to fossil fuels.
This ‘green solution’ was heralded as being a wonder plant, able to grow on arid and unused land, making said land productive, while providing sustainable livelihoods in the process.
The EU had committed to include biofuels as part of their renewable energy mix and drive to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020. With Malaysia and Indonesia being the world's leading producers of Palm oil and looking into biofuels and jatropha plant production and refining, the future looked bright from a GDP and economic growth point of view.
In 2007, our family founded a company in Malaysia and had a contract working in partnership with a Bio-Fuel multinational company based in Malaysia. Our nursery grew hundreds of Jatropha seedlings for contracted farmers in Malaysia. We thought we were doing good. That we were helping to build a better world, giving people from Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand jobs, by engaging them in a sustainable livelihood that brought us back in contact with nature and the land. We believed it would all be good for the planet and the community.
However, over the course of the year, we saw a rise in land grabbing acquisitions and land clearing for palm oil and rubber plantations all around us, and in our neighbouring Indonesia.
The narrative was that all this money made, all these jobs created, would have a trickle down effect of uplifting these communities and people out of poverty. However, the story left out some very important details, such as the cost on the environment locally and globally, the cost to ecosystems and all the lives that depend on the forests and habitats to thrive and flourish.
As we came to know, money and GDP growth is not the be all and end all, and nor should it be, despite what the TV would often report. We grew to become more aware of the international activism movement and impact that the Jatropha and biofuel industry was causing, with land grabs and resource allocation being affected in countries across Africa and Asia, in locations where water and food security were being compromised in favour of profit seeking export commodity crops, despite food and water being more of a priority for the people than a water thirsty crop that would enrich only a handful of actors.
“In 2007-08, we made a decision to cease and close operations. We ended our contract with the multinational company once we had reached the end of our terms of the arrangement. Our international team made up of staff from Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines all helped to close the nursery on-site. We didn't want to play any further part in an industry that was having such negative impacts. Many landowners were cheated of their lands, and stories were surfacing of how the company we were contracted with was tricking owners and manipulating them in order to take control of their lands for lengthy periods.
Large areas of lands and trees were being cut down to accommodate these Jatropha plants, which would lead to huge negative social and environmental impacts, in addition to the high costs needed to produce this fuel.”
Currently, Kuya Affendi is juggling being a father and husband with working as a freelance photographer and graphic designer and artist. He joined the Sustainable ADA team as Graphic Artist having designed our new brand logo.
He has 20 years of experience in agriculture and hydroponics, and also experience as a CCTV Town Watch Controller liaising and working alongside police, monitoring crime in our town area that has seen a rise in violent crime in recent years.
He has witnessed a lot during this time, having worked in an area with rising knife crime, robberies and murders. This has been amidst the context of a growing cost of living crisis that is sweeping the UK, as inflation rises and the economy heads out of the pandemic into a deeper recession, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.
My kuya and I spent much time in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore annually, and we are grateful to our parents, for their sacrifices and decision to bring us to visit and experience what life is like in their home countries, as this gave us a uniquely international and multicultural richness, spirit and outlook to life.
I understood early on how society is full of contradictions, inequities and injustices, and that with the lottery of life, being born in a certain country, with a certain passport, can put you on a course and trajectory of life that is full of more trials and hardships than some ever have to consider or experience.
I often look back at the journey I’ve had. During my late teens and twenties, I spent as much time as I could immersing myself in environments where I could learn and deepen my understanding and knowledge of systems, and problem solving and designing solutions for local and global problems, whilst having fun and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
Across the UK I attended workshops on permaculture, and interfaith dialogue. I dove deeper into myself searching for meaning and awakening spiritually with the help of poetry by Rumi, and inspiration from Sufi sheiks. I was inspired by my readings and conversation with National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis, I continued to follow my passions to find work and not a job.
Through project-based learning in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, I learned about social action campaigning, received mentor support from a former Goldman Sachs Director turned wellbeing start-up founder, and developed my leadership skills working with peers on the Uprising Leadership Programme.
I interned at NGOs, working alongside real heroes at Greenpeace (Indonesia, Jakarta) in the Forest Team, and at Forum for the Future (London). I strengthened my interpersonal and problem-solving skills working in security across London. I even lived as a running live piece of art, at the Tate Britain Museum.
In 2008, I returned to London from my time with family in Malaysia and returned to studying a part-time evening undergraduate degree in Economic and Social Policy in London, whilst working in security part-time and then as a Project Manager and Teacher in a special needs school in Tower Hamlets, a borough in London with the highest levels of child poverty in the UK. I worked with families, and students with Autism, teaching ICT skills and how to independently access the national curriculum and learn new skills using specialised software and hardware. It was a deeply transformative and fulfilling 4 years for me as I discovered my love and passion for working with young people and having a direct positive impact on people’s lives. I have since taught 1000s of students, connecting the unconnected to the internet and helping them to become independent users of these technologies.
At an event with the Greenpeace team for the Forest Fire team’s documentary screening, 2014. People affected by the toxic fumes and haze that were interviewed in their homes and villages, were in attendance at the screening.
My love and belief of the power of the written word led me to write articles as a freelance journalist and contributor to online international news agency Asialyst. I co-published articles written alongside my wife on topics such as the destruction of the Coral Triangle and its impacts on the lives of the Bajau Laut people, hydroelectric dams in China, and forest fires in Indonesia. I did this in between teaching English part-time in Paris, and working as a Communications Officer at Theatre Pixel.
“Martial Arts, sports and fitness, film and cinema, games, music and art have all had a tremendous influence on our lives. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to live in London and have an older brother who looked out for me, which was crucial for survival on the rough streets when you’re seen as an outsider or minority in a country you call home but that doesn’t make you feel like it’s your home from an early age. Where other English kids and also those from so-called ethnic minorities attempt to assert themselves and make you a victim.
My Kuya and I have both have had the privilege of being in the company of great mentors and teachers along our way, receiving their tutelage and instruction.
Bruce Lee was a huge influence and thanks to the library of literature and film my kuya had curated, I could explore and experiment with an open-minded approach to ideas, martial arts, philosophy, questions of social justice, identity, religion, and faith, law and lawlessness, crime and punishment.”
Since 2020, I delved deeper into independent research around my time Teaching Humanities at secondary school and university and working remotely due to the pandemic. I discovered Cardano and the Positive Blockchain for Good ecosystem during this time. Since then I have had the privilege of interviewing and meeting numerous project founders, teams, and creatives, in our efforts at Sustainable ADA to share their stories with a wider audience and community. It has been a time of highs and lows and an emotionally testing time, but a time that has hugely inspired me as to what is possible.
Due to family commitments and circumstances, I relocated to Paris with my wife and 5-month-old son and taught Geography, Sustainability, History, and Politics at the University of Cergy Paris, whilst continuing my independent research into projects in the Blockchain4Good, NFT4Good, and Cardano space. I went on to join mission-driven fellows at Cardano AIM in working on tools for the community supported by the Project Catalyst community, tools such as the Cardano AIM SDG Proposer Tool, and SDG Search Tool.
Since becoming a father in 2020, I’ve grown to know what it means to wear many hats, as I left my teaching role at Cergy University Paris, and gradually went full-time into the Cardano community thanks to the ever present support of my wife, Mum, Kuya and family, the Cardano community, and Cardano’s Project Catalyst, the world’s largest decentralised innovation fund.
This new flexibility to work remotely as a social entrepreneur has allowed me to be more present with my young son and family, while my wife has also worked remotely until having to transition to working back at the UNESCO office in the Education for Sustainable Development team, as the world ‘returned to a new normal.’
My values, and hunger to take action and find others who were like-minded in vision and mission, to build something impactful, led me to meet many inspiring individuals such as James Dunseith at Gimbalabs, Joshua at Proof of Africa, Sosha, Josh F and Mercy at wada, and Cole who had recently graduated from University with a Bachelors in Economics and Sustainability. Talking with Cole, we discovered there was much synergy to be had and so despite never having physically met, and being 5000+ miles apart, we joined forces in April 2021 to build Sustainable ADA.
I am grateful to have met many more inspiring people along the way, and even joined some in becoming a founding member of Cardano4Climate and The Catalyst School. I am also supporting wada as UN SDG and Education Coordinator, and helping The Art Suite in their efforts to be even more impactful as Social and Environmental Impact Projects Director.
Web 3, Cardano and the Philippines
I see web3, blockchain and Cardano as offering tools that can truly give some power back to the people, for real.
The promise of the ‘web3’ era gives ownership and creative power back to creators and people at large, with more open source, open access and free tools available now than ever before. Available for anyone with a device and internet connection and the know-how to explore a digital world and digital economy, build and join communities, and tap into their creative and entrepreneurial potential.
People can begin their journey of learning new concepts and ideas such as ‘trust in code’. To be able to hold actors accountable, using technology for good, that is publicly and transparently verifiable is a real game changer.
This means a lot in places such as the Philippines where I grew up hearing countless stories over family disputes over issues to do with rightful land ownership. When you throw corrupt politicians and public servants, and unethical and immoral businesses into the mix, it’s a deadly cocktail.
Land defenders and eco-warriors are being killed across the world for standing up for what is right against those who act with impunity. The Philippines is #3 in the world for murders of ecowarriors based on a report in 2020 by Global Witness.
The Philippines are also #1 in the world for NFT adoption. For a country that relies on almost 10% of their GDP thanks to remittances, and with the advantages offered by Cardano and crypto wallets, I believe there are some serious dots to be connected here for sustainable development and livelihoods to be realised sooner rather than later. These are just some of the motivations driving my Kuya Affendi and I to develop Streets of ADA.
“We are aiming to raise funds to support the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated (PNNI) financially and help raise awareness of their heroic efforts to combat climate change, corruption, illegal logging, mining and fishing in the Philippines, on the island of Palawan, known as the ‘last ecological frontier’. Our Mum and family are from and living in the Philippines, so this project is personal.”
Image credit: A Samsudin Brothers Projek - Streets of ADA
Why Cardano of all blockchains?
A belief in the power of Cardano, the vision and values of Charles Hoskinson, and its impact and values driven community to be a force for good and drive positive change in our world.
Having been actively part of this Cardano community since 2020, coming from the outside as a ‘lurker’ and into the mix as a community member and Project Catalyst funded proposer, I have carried out research into how projects funded are connected to the UN SDGs, and have also been involved in projects that survey the blockchain for good ecosystem.
As such, I am even more convinced of the ‘green credentials’, values, vision and mission of the impact oriented community that align with ours at A Samsudin Brothers Projek - Streets of ADA. Building a more equitable world for all, and enabling and empowering people with the tools and know how to do so will need all hands on deck and won't happen over night.
The Streets of ADA NFT
The first ‘drop’ and collection, named ‘Tiger Unit’ is targeted to be made available for the public to purchase/mint in Q1 2023.
Challenges within the Blockchain and NFT space
During a bear market, it is said to be time when the real work gets done, and is considered one of the best times to build.
As such, our team is busy building and working with partners and supporters to ensure we develop the best product and service possible for all stakeholders.
Despite our best intentions and work ethic, there will be some forces out of our control, such as the mainstream media that publishes stories that spread misinformation, disinformation, fear and distrust in this emerging technology, its community members and adherents. Regardless, with education, patience, and resources we continue to work with the mindset that actions speak louder than words, and the evidence will speak for itself.
The Streets of ADA NFT
We are still ironing out the finer details of how many NFTs in total we will create for the first Tiger Unit and future collections of Streets of ADA, and at what price points, considering we want this to be as inclusive ad affordable as possible whilst being financially viable for our team, our future plans for our roadmap and importantly, to be a positive impactful contribution to PNNI’s impact campaign.
The value of owning a Streets of ADA NFT.
We are in talks with our partners about the details of ownership and the IP and rights afforded to owners of the NFT and its attached perks and utility. ‘A Samsudin Brothers Projek’ and ‘Streets of ADA’, are trademarks protected under copyright, and we will be publishing documentation on the legal and financial implications and limitations that will apply to NFT holders for instance, in due course, in our whitepaper and made available via www.streetsofada.com.
The NFT itself will have artistic value with each NFT displaying unique characters and traits that are associated with the Streets of ADA universe and story we are building.
A Streets of ADA NFT will also have value as being the first of its kind. It will be the first NFT to facilitate and enable finance to reach a group of NGOs in the Philippines. Finance that will enable these NGOs to acquire the necessary equipment and resources on the frontlines where activists are working to combat the climate crisis, challenge corruption and destructive resource extraction in Palawan, the Philippines.
NFT Impact value - part of the return on investment is the knowledge and proof that you are part of a real positive impact. With the Streets of ADA NFT, you can keep track of the positive impact upon the environment and lives of people via the NFT which will act as your key and passport.
What about royalties?
We will aim to have royalties embedded, and more information on this once we have finalised the details of our collection with our community partners.
With the recent developments in the blockchain and NFT space regarding marketplaces on other chains, and decisions to remove the obligation to have royalties embedded, I think the Cardano community have an opportunity to waken the values of what Cardano was originally conceived to bring about in terms of pushing power to the edges and empowering those who are underserved, neglected and excluded from the traditional legacy systems we have come to know so well.