End of Year Message

(Randolph Hencken) #1

From the desk of Executive Director Randolph Hencken

I’ve just returned from an all-expenses paid meeting in Saudi Arabia, where I was invited to present our Floating City Project to an international audience of new city developers and investors. Due to an abundance of investigations, collaborations, and networking this past year and preceding years, I believe we have never been in a better position to launch the first seastead. I have never been more grateful for the professional work done by so many volunteers, especially our lawyers, diplomats, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

However, we need to refill our coffers.

Here’s why: In 2013 your generosity allowed us to bank enough donations to last us two years on a tight budget. This allowed me to make a strategic decision. It was time to make the first seastead happen. I requested that our small staff and large community of volunteers focus entirely on the Floating City Project and put off fundraising until necessary.

At our 2015 Board of Directors meeting, I received unanimous approval to press forward with our Floating City Project. Specifically, we all agreed that the strategy to secure an arrangement with a coastal nation to host our development, while authorizing the seastead to have administrative control over its own affairs, is the quickest most realistic path forward to developing the first bonafide seastead.

In Q3 and Q4 of 2015 we submitted proposals to seven nations. We are now engaged in various levels of discussions with four of them. We are developing specific pitches for another dozen nations that we will send out in Q1. It is tenable, that we will arrange for an agreement or legislation to be passed in one or more of these nations in the first half of 2016.

In order to keep the Institute vibrant and to pay for our extensive plans for 2016, I humbly request that you donate now and be among our most important pioneering donors. Donations are tax-deductible in the US.

Our Task Now

To bolster our proposals, we are bringing on additional partners in the fields of aquatic engineering and architecture, aquaculture, law, diplomacy and real estate development. In the new year, in collaboration with our partners, we will double down our efforts with our potential hosts, analyze sea conditions and bathymetry at optimal sites, produce construction plans for the seastead, seek financing, and begin marketing the development of the project. If all goes well, we will be ready to spin off a new company which will be able to start pre-selling units by the end of 2016.

Our Legal Team

We’ve devoted the past months to working with an innovative group of advisors drafting legislation that we think will be amenable to a host nation, while providing the seastead with adequate autonomy. We now have a draft of legislation for a host nation to pass into law. This high-level work is only possible because of dedicated and brilliant volunteers with extensive legal expertise – specifically I’d like to thank the legal scholars Tom W. Bell and Francesca Galea.

Our Present Challenge

One of the issues we’re struggling with is that our our survey questions in 2012 did not foresee our opportunities in 2015. Will seasteaders want to live in remote places like Palau, the Maldives, or Tuvalu? Or would they prefer to live close to major markets in the Mediterranean, Central America, or Asia? My hunch is that likely residents would prefer us to develop a seastead as close to a major market as possible, but I could be wrong. To help answer this question, we will send out a survey next year.

My Extraordinary Trip

I’m excited about my recent experience at the KAEC Forum, organized by King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), in partnership with the New Cities Foundation. I was privileged to present during the Disruptive Ideas portion of the program, and I was delighted by the attention the idea received. The KAEC Forum is a “global leadership exchange among key visionaries, partners and builders of the world’s largest and most innovative new city projects. The Forum’s chief objective is to generate cohesive strategies for making these cities of the future a sustainable success.” The forum was generous enough to sponsor my trip, and I’ve returned with many new prospects for locations, partners, and investors.

Our Whirlwind Year

My trip to KAEC was one of several expeditions this year seeking out new interest in our project. In 2015, sponsored trips took me to Kathmandu, where I gave a keynote at the Asian Liberty Forum; Austin Texas, where Joe Quirk and I spoke on a panel and lead a workshop about seasteading at the Voice and Exit Conference; Porcfest in New Hampshire, where Joe and I each gave hour-long presentations, his on the future of seasteading, mine on our near-term plans; and Las Vegas, where I gave a presentation to an elite group of technologists. Additionally Joe was brought to an all-expenses-paid exclusive entrepreneurs retreat in the Bahamas. All of these excursions have broadened our network, informed our strategy, and most importantly better positioned us to launch the first floating city.

Joe produced and published seven podcasts this year, and we hosted an architectural design contest to bring in fresh ideas for how to design our sea-city. If you haven’t listened to the podcasts or viewed the designs I encourage you to do so.

This Wonderful Community

What excites me most about seasteading isn’t the innovative technologies that we will implement. It isn’t the environmentally restorative, healthy aquaculture farms we are going to operate. It isn’t the ease of business from streamlined regulations. It isn’t the liberties of localized, voluntary governance. It’s the people. Over the past few years, I have met so many amazing people who gravitate to the seasteading vision. I would have never been privileged to meet these people had I not been fortunate enough to find my way into the Institute. It’s the people that inspire me to press forward with our audacious plan.

Thank You!

Before I sign off, I want to make one last pitch for funding. Seasteading is ultimately a community effort. Individuals can already set sail and live free on the seas. But there are few opportunities for communities to pioneer a new way of life on a new frontier. We’re not going to build a seastead on donations – the seastead will require major investments. When built, people of modest means will be able to relocate to the floating city and participate in the next great social experiment. We require donations now in order to reach the point where we can feasibly seek investments.

I get excited imagining living in a community where people are drawn to participate because we share some common values and a common vision. I’m guessing you’ve made it this far into my message because you share that pragmatic idealism with me. Your support is crucial for the Institute to succeed in 2016. We require funding to travel to host nations and pay professionals for their work, and of course we need funds to keep the lights on at our offices. I hope you’ll be generous this year and make a donation for our shared goals.

Onward to 2016,


P.S. There are numerous other advisors and ambassadors I owe thanks to, but I didn’t want to fill this letter with a long list of names and their associated contributions. You know who you are. Hopefully I’ve thanked you in person. We greatly appreciate all of the people who have gifted us their time, expertise, and financial support this year.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.seasteading.org/2015/12/end-of-year-message/

(Wilfried Ellmer) #6

@RandolphHencken - Thanks for the update - looks like a productive year for the TSI, looking forward to cooperate in the future Wilfried Ellmer - Oceanic Business Alliance / unleash potential /.

Great that TSI is focusing more on business now.


Randy this looks really exciting.

I look forward to seeing your documents both for the legal/independence structure and also the location. These are interdependent factors and I’m sure as you started pinning them down you found there were dependencies. More independence means further distance from population centers. A shorter supply chain means less dependence.

Two years ago I started writing a book on Seasteading and Libertarians. I spent a lot of time thinking about how these two factors work, and how a community is shaped. I spent half my life lving in rural communities with little government, and find the “city libertarians” to be very funny when they state how things would work, given that they haven’t tried it.

To me, there is almost two different movements: A. Seasteading as an ideal, and libertarianism as an ideal, that can never be reached and is perfect in every way.

Or: B. A realistic ocean born community that lives by some less-ideal version of laws, taxes and internal governing principles.

You need to ask people in your poll whether they want A or B. That is; are they willing to move to a community that is less than ideal, or are they going to stay at home and troll forums about ideals.

On this forum I’ve proposed a community near Point Roberts, Washington. It is a border location in a sheltered bay where you draw from two cities with international airports and a combined 15 million people. There are already more than 10,000 houseboats inearby and floating technology is well known there (there’s even a floating McDonalds!). It is an economically prosperous area where residents would pay their own way. No hurricanes or tropical storms threaten Point Roberts. Oddly, because it is not tropical, and not located close to where current people live (mostly California or Florida) no one is interested.

So I would predict that as Seasteading becomes real, the dreamers will continue to dream, but will not participate. The actual residents of any potential seastead will be 80-90% people who are living within 3 hours air/drive from their prior home. That this is less a lifestyle choice as much as an economic choice. That these people choose a lower cost way of life that is not too far from family, not a higher cost community that is farther away.

The Gulf of Fonseca and Lake Nicaragua are interesting sites that are just 3 hours fly time from Miami airport. Maldives Kiribati, Tuvalu all have more pleasant weather, but Americans just won’t venture that far to set up a new community. A seastead in the South Pacific or Southern Indian Ocean will be 90% serving locals. UAE is most active in seasteading because they have money and water readily available. Some UK people live in UAE but most Americans find the local rules too strict for comfort, so a seastead there would again be 80-90% locals.

Location drives economics. Economics dictate materials and life-safety factors. The average American can afford $100 per square foot (Roughly $1000 per square meter). Nearly all seastead plans come in around ten times that amount. If people have $1000 per square foot they just buy a condo on MS The World, right? So bringing the cost down to $200 and $150 and $100 per foot would be needed to cater to an American audience.

Just my own thoughts. I’ll be very interested in seeing the plans as they unfold. Having finished my first fictional book about a seastead in the Gulf of Fonseca, I’m busy writing in the second all about people with different libertarian political ideals trying to work together in a small community.

(Alex Smith) #27

agree with your location analyzing

i dont think you need to build near USA, if you build the city good, people will come to you
also with the rising of modern tech. its possible to do tropical farming at south pacific or southern indian ocean
and then just sell them to hindu or china or AU/NZ