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In the wake of the devastating wildfires that tore through the historic Hawaii town of Lahaina last month, killing over 100 people, the crypto community is being called to rally around a new NFT fundraiser aimed at providing relief to victims.
The fundraiser and NFT, "Maui Strong," is a collaboration between Hawaii-based artist Jasper Wong and emerging-tech news publication Decrypt. Proceeds from the sale of the open mint NFT will go directly to wildfire relief efforts on Maui through the Maui Strong Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
"The wildfires have left a trail of devastation that has been truly heart-wrenching," said Wong, a Hawaii arts community leader and founder of Worldwide Walls, an international coalition of mural artists.
"While I don't have any family residing in Maui—my family calls Oahu home—I do have friends living there, some of whom have tragically lost their homes,’ he explained.
The NFT features Wong's signature style of bright colors and intricate line work forming the shape of the island of Maui, with the words "Maui Strong" woven throughout.
"The very words are intricately formed to take the shape of Maui itself, symbolizing the enduring strength and resilience ingrained in the island's essence and its people," Wong said.
Decrypt Editor-in-Chief Guillermo Jimenez said he hopes the crypto community will come together to support victims of the tragedy.
"Our hearts go out to the people of Maui who have been affected by this awful tragedy. What they have suffered is unimaginable for most of us," said Jimenez. "We hope that this collective gesture from the art, NFT, and crypto communities will help bring them some much-needed relief."
He went on to praise Wong's inspirational work. "Jasper Wong is a tremendous artist and an inspiration to the people of Hawaii, and Maui Strong sends a powerful message to the inhabitants of the island who are still suffering from these devastating wildfires: the world has not forgotten about you."
The NFT will be available as an open mint, meaning there is no limit to the number that can be sold. Cryptocurrency holders will be able to mint the NFT for a donation starting at 0.01 ETH (around $15 at current prices).
Decrypt, a leading publication covering cryptocurrency, Web3, and emerging tech like artificial intelligence, is hosting the NFT fundraiser with Thirdweb, which is donating its industry-leading decentralized resources to the cause.
Thirdweb is a platform built specifically for NFT and metaverse projects, providing the tools and infrastructure for crypto-native apps. The company aims to make blockchain development accessible to everyone.
"With your support, you can help us direct relief efforts to those in need and once again remind the world that the Valley Isle is ‘Maui Strong,’" said Jimenez.
The Maui wildfires in early August were fueled by dry conditions and high winds driven by an offshore tropical storm. The blaze tore across the island at more than 80 miles an hour, and engulfed homes, businesses, and historic landmarks in Lahaina and other parts of West Maui. Hundreds are still missing, and thousands of residents are still displaced from their homes. Recovery efforts are expected to take months—and rebuilding will take years.
The Maui Strong Fund has already raised more than $61 million, and is providing financial resources that can be deployed quickly. Money raised will support evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services as identified by Hawaii Community Foundation partners doing critical work on Maui.
Wong hopes the fundraiser can play a small part in the long process of rebuilding. "The journey toward recovery is going to be a long one. I am hoping to help as much as I can through the years that lie ahead, offering assistance in whatever capacity possible," he said.