Applications and Use Cases

Reno Mayor Views Blockchain and NFTs as a Means to Transform City

June 04, 2021

Reno, Nevada mayor Hillary Schieve is joining other cities and states in the U.S. by embracing blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to try to give the city a boost. Schieve's somewhat controversial decision centers around a steel and stained-glass sculpture originally created for the 2016 Burning Man festival that sits in the city center.

In a lengthy interview with Wired, Schieve explains how the sculpture called Space Whale, which features a humpback whale and its calf, was originally created to draw attention to "hypocrisy toward protecting the oceans." Reno leased the sculpture after the festival's conclusion for $64,000. It has since fallen into disrepair, with shattered panes and dull metal framing.

After the artists and Schieve unsuccessfully attempted to sell the piece, she made the decision to craft a NFT on the Tezos blockchain. She chose Tezos instead of the popular NFT platform Ethereum because of its lower energy consumption.

The NFT consists of a .CAD file and video from the artist representing the artwork. The actual sculpture would remain in downtown Reno. Schieve said the NFT is designed to raise funds to repair and preserve the sculpture in the city center. The NFT may also be expanded to offer benefits like accompanying Schieve and other elected officials on their annual sojourn to Burning Man, which takes place just north of Reno.

As a proponent of blockchain for a variety of uses, Schieve's choices have been criticized at times. She joins Cleveland, which declared itself Blockland in 2018, as well as Wyoming, which touts itself as a regulatory haven for cryptocurrency.

Schieve has also tweeted bout the Chainlink blockchain platform, which hosts the Link cryptocurrency. Schieve is an investor, having researched a number of blockchains and the problems they may potentially solve. She decided to purchase Link after learning about the cryptography the platform uses to keep digital identities like driver's licenses and vaccine cards secure.

The blockchain and cryptocurrency push is part of a long-term strategy to transition Reno away from gambling and toward technology, according to Schieve. The city has already attracted some industrial tech hubs like the Tesla Gigafactory and data centers for Google and Apple. Schieve believes its strategic position close to Lake Tahoe and Silicon Valley, coupled with affordable housing, make it an ideal tech hub. NFTs and blockchain may be a gateway toward achieving that goal.

Edited by Luke Bellos



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