We mourn the passing of one of the greatest and most courageous men of the past century, but the ideals that Nelson Mandela espoused and the work that he started must be continued by those of us who remain.
Lest we forget, Nelson Mandela was persecuted and opposed, not only by the Apartheid government in South Africa, but by the global power elite, generally, especially those who call themselves conservative. You may want to read this excellent article from the Think Progress website:
Here are some highlights:
1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism.
2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.”
3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process.
4. Mandela called out racism in America.
5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies.
6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions.
The article also catalogs some of the prominent America politicians and journalists who over the years denounced Mandela.
# # #
2 weeks ago Bill Still, producer of 'Money Masters' and veteran of monetary reform, likened the cryptocurrencies to the myriad depression era scrip currencies, saying the situation with the US dollar is so bad that people are taking matters into their own hands, and that these tools are the best we have for now. I took this as my cue to diversify from Bitcoin and dived in.
The cryptocurrency exchanges are pretty exciting places to be. They work just like conventional exchange web sites.
Last week it was announced officially that CES, which I mention frequently, the largest nonprofit exchange network in the world will migrate to Drupal in a project financed by government of New South Wales, Australia.
The exciting part though, is that this project will be open source as much as possible:
Huge gratitude to the timebanking movement in New Zealand which invited me and shunted me around the country introducing me to most of the active people in monetary reform and complementary currencies, and following in the footsteps of such legends as Tom Greco, Nicole Foss, and Margrit Kennedy. Highlights were as follows:
- Lincoln, nascent timebank, starting with Hamlets.
First they came for the terrorists but I did not speak out because I wasn't a Muslim
Then they came for the paedophiles but I did not speak out because I have children
Then they came for the hacktivists but I did not speak out because I don't understand computers
Then they came for the protesters but I did not speak out because activists know what they are risking
Then they came for the hoodies and dopeheads but I did not speak out because what would the neighbours think?
Then they came for the debtors but I did not speak out because after all debts must be paid.
This document is for developers aspiring to build their own mutual credit accounting ecosystem in Drupal, and for project managers who want to know what this package can do, out of the box. It describes the form, functions and features of the Community Accounting module, which is intended to be extended.
In this issue
November travel to Turkey and beyond
Summer tour report, Part 2. Sweden and England
Bangla-Pesa Charges Dropped
The Geo-political Struggle
On the move again
I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the 4th Green Economy Conference, Green Economy and Commons, 16-17 November 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey. As a panel member on the 16th, my topic will be, Reclaiming the Credit Commons: the Key to a Green Economy and Global Harmony.
Now, as we approach the end of a very busy and demanding year, I’m feeling the need for rest and renewal, so my intention is to travel onward from Turkey to southeast Asia where I will take a lengthy sabbatical. I will try to remain in touch, but don’t be surprised if email messages are not answered promptly. If your communication is really important, mark it “urgent” and keep trying, or Skype me.
European tour report — Part 2, Sweden and England
Following the Hague conference, I travelled to Sweden for a two week stay (June 24 to July 8) during which time I gave presentations and met with community currency activists in Gothenborg, Lindsberg, Gotland, and Stockholm.
My Gothenborg presentation, titled The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability: Toward a New Convivial World Order, was held in a lovely old church that has been converted into a community center and café that provides, among other things, services to the city’s homeless population. One of my Swedish hosts and main tour organizer, Marianne Påsse, sent out a report on that event. Here is an slightly adapted version of it:
We had a wonderful evening yesterday! We were around 50 people, including us. I was content with that (I had no idea of how many might come)! The evening started with a mini-concert; a leading violinist (Helga Hussel) accompanied by Barbro Fridén on accordion, playing Pearls of World Music. It was lovely listening to them in that very nice building, good acoustics!
After that I spoke a little…making a bridge between Charles Eisenstein’s recent presentation (Approx. 25% of the audience were listening to him in the same building some weeks ago) and Thomas. I also asked the audience to raise their hands if they needed translation of some expressions (happened just 2 or three times…once at the very first picture).
Thomas presented a power point show with very well selected pictures. He spoke about them and…it is good to be able to read at the same time (Microphone is necessary). He spoke for approximately one hour, and people were very interested and kept him busy for another ½ hour, until I closed the session (it was late). The questions were very accurate and in depth. People came up to me afterwards and thanked for a very interesting evening. Afterwards Yoshi and Jackie had an evening meal and chat at our place. And today we pack for Lindsberg! So, we are very pleased!
At a summer gathering at an intentional community in Lindsberg I lead two workshops on successive days, each one beginning with a slide presentation. These were titled, Building Resilient Communities: A New Paradigm for Community Development, and The Global Financial Meltdown: Its Causes, and Opportunities for Localized Restructuring. The participants in each of these sessions were few in number but enthusiastic.
As it happened, I was in Sweden at the right time to participate in the Almedalen Week on the island of Gotland. This has become an annual event that brings together a wide variety of business people, politicians, academics, grassroots activists and ordinary folks. You can learn more about this remarkable event at http://www.almedalsveckan.info/.
I had no official role in the Almedalen proceedings, but was able to attend a few of the 2,000+ organized sessions and got to shake hands and chat a bit with the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski (son of Zbigniew Brzezinski who was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter).
I finished up my Sweden tour in Stockholm, where I was hosted by an American friend who has been living there for several years with his Swedish wife and young son. In Stockholm I got to meet some of the main figures in the JAK Bank, a unique financial institution that since 1970 has been providing interest-free loans. They together with a few other groups organized an event for me which attracted a sizeable crowd, where I repeated the presentation I gave in Gothenborg.
England (July 8 – July 20)
I may at times complain about it, but I love Britain, and this time I had the opportunity to be in the Lake District at a time when the weather was simply superb (“the first real summer we’ve had in seven years,” the locals told me).
The focal point of my visit was a full day workshop (July 12), Unlocking Local Wealth, held at Cumbria University in Lancaster, an event organized by the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) of the University of Cumbria Business School, in association with the New Economics Foundation, the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, and Impact International. The event was billed as “a one day workshop with world experts on alternative currencies and exchange systems.”
That workshop was preceded the day before by a gathering in which most of the same “world experts” came together to “clarify an action research agenda, explore ideas for collaboration, begin grant mapping,” and provide “feedback on one key new initiative (Eurocat).” Then, that evening, there was a public event titled, Starting Your Own Currency: Why and How? sponsored by (IFLAS ) in association with Lancaster’s Ethical Small Traders Association. This event featured a keynote presentation by John Rogers followed by my response and a general discussion.
Here are the links to videos that were recorded during that event:
Along with a few other colleagues, I had the pleasure of enjoying a few more days of discussions and Jem’s hospitality at his home overlooking Lake Windermere.
My England photos are here:
I’ll report the final portion of my tour (Greece (July 20 – August 21)) in the next edition of my newsletter
Bangla-Pesa Charges Dropped
I reported earlier that one our close associates, Will Ruddick, along with several of the local currency activist there in Kenya had been arrested and their Bangla-Pesa currency project shut down. I’m happy to report that finally, the charges against them have been dropped. You can read about it here. (A very interesting earlier account that describes their ordeal can be found here.
This is great news, not only because the threat of punishment has been removed, but because this important development project may again have a chance to improve the lot of poor micro-entrepreneurs in Kenya and to demonstrate the power of the local credit clearing model in alleviating poverty. The Bangla-Pesa project is the most significant complementary currency project that I am aware of and has the potential to become THE model for other communities to follow. It deserves strongest support.
[Update. This just in from Will: We won! The official court order to release us was just released last week and can be seen here: http://koru.or.ke/Bangla-Pesa-Dream-Nov Not only have we been acquitted but we've been given a relaunch date of November 23rd to restart the program
Will adds, We've also created this 3 minute cartoon to explain how these programs form an effective barrier against poverty and market stagnation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaspBGmsdLE Please share widely.
The Geo-political Struggle
Alvin Toffler observed more than 30 years ago that the power of nation states was in decline and predicted that the trend would continue. It is clear that national governments are ceding sovereignty, not to global democratic institutions, but to transnational corporate entities resulting in a New (fascist) World Order that bypass all the checks on power that have been built into democratic governments over the past three centuries. George Monbiot’s recent article, Elite Insurgency, articulates some current features of that shift.
And Karen Hudes has revealed that World Bank corruption is an inherent element in the global Elite takeover. After Twenty one years at the World Bank, she has blown the lid off the cover-up of the corrupt global financial regime. Watch this interview with Karen: http://youtu.be/M4VGoXV5vYg . A longer interview in four part can be seen here.
These are a few pertinent quotes from her interviews:
“This is a massive cover-up; this makes Watergate look like tidally-winks.”
“Big boys who think they own the world.”
“We don’t have a democracy here.”
“The Federal Reserve has “gamed” the capital markets.”
“This whole country is so corrupt, you can’t begin to imagine. I can’t tell this to the people because the press is owned by those thugs”
“Stakeholder analysis” identifies a “super entity” of ownership and control.
All of that is very troubling, but we have a choice—to build our own (democratic) new world order from the bottom up, community-by-community. We cannot be complacent; we must reduce our dependence upon corporate controlled mega-systems, especially banks, and secure the availability of the necessities of life within our local regions.
# # #
After some excellent discussions at Den Hague in June, and lots of talk on a mailing list, 6 of us met in Berlin to hammer out this intertrading protocol [below].
This is based on what I published eighteen months ago, but with a few tweaks and a whole social side as well.
This protocol includes a sort of template for intertrading communities to decide how they work, and the API to implement.
Not often am I the richest person in the party, but in Berlin's bitcoin district last month, Meals at Room 77 were on me.
This photographic memento shows me logging in to blockchain.info where my wallet is hosted.
In this issue
- European tour report — Part 1, the Hague Conference
It’s been quite a while since my last newsletter went out in early June. Since then, a great deal has been accomplished. My European tour, which spanned nine weeks from mid-June to the latter part of August, was successful, productive, exciting, and I might add, exhausting. I’ll say more about that below, but most recently, I provided a remote presentation (via Skype) to a group assembled at Kalikalos on Mt Pelion in Greece as part of the week-long workshop titled Occupy Money. Then, toward the end of September, I participated in the 34th Annual International Convention of the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA) in Las Vegas where I shared the podium with Annette Riggs and Rob van Hilten in a panel session about Understanding Diverse Exchange System Models: From Bitcoin and Berkshares, to Transparent Credit Clearing Networks. Unfortunately, that session was not recorded, but the slides that I prepared as talking points can be seen here. Needless to say it was not possible to cover them all in the short time provided.
Upon my return to Arizona from Europe I had to begin searching for another residence, since the house where I had been renting a room is no longer available. I’ve just moved into another shared housing arrangement which I hope will turn out to be suitable, at least temporarily.
This uprooting, combined with the let-down that followed the summer’s excitement, has caused me to deeply ponder the questions, What’s next? and Where do I want to be? While my energy level is not what it once was, I still enjoy relatively good health and am able to adapt to different environments so long as they provide a reasonable level of comfort for living and working. I’m growing impatient to hear opportunity’s knock, still hoping to involve myself in a breakthrough project that is adequately funded, with an able and energetic team that can achieve results that are on a par with the best business start-ups.
European Tour Report—Part 1, June, 2013
The first 4 weeks of my tour were a whirlwind of presentations, workshops, interviews and discussions. I’ll skip the details and report only the highlights, starting with the Hague conference, then report on the rest of the tour in my next newsletter.
The Netherlands and 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems (CCS)
It was a great pleasure to again visit (for the third time) STRO in Utrecht and to discuss with Henk van Arkel and the STRO team our various projects and common interests. STRO, with projects in several countries, is one of the most effective organizations working in the area of sustainable economics, community empowerment, and exchange alternatives. Together with Time/bank The Hague, they sponsored my first tour presentation (on June 18) for practitioners and social entrepreneurs. My slide show was titled The Exchange Revolution: Taking complementary currencies and moneyless trading to a new level, which described the various issues that must be considered in creating and managing alternative exchange mechanisms.
The CCS Conference in Den Hague far exceeded my original high expectations. I’m very encouraged and inspired by the quality of the presentations and discussion sessions that occurred during the entire 5 days of the conference. It seems that the movement has reached a new high level of competence and increasing cohesion, and seems poised to achieve significant results in both the theory and practice of community empowerment through the creation of systems for providing local liquidity. That, of course, is a prerequisite to transcending the growth imperative and transitioning to a steady-state economy. I expect that progress will be very rapid from this point onward.
Presentations, documents, and interviews from the Academic portion (June 19 and 20) of the Conference are available toward the bottom of this link. You will find what I think is a pretty good interview with me here, and brief video interviews of 27 presenters from Day 3 (policy makers day) can be found on the YouTube channel of Qoin. More video recordings by Hagen Schmidt of some of the sessions are to be found at this link.
As usual, I took many photos to document my travels and events. The pictures of the Netherlands portion of the tour can be found at this link.
Among the practitioner sessions that I participated in during the final two days of the conference were the following.
* Intertrading. One of the two discussion groups I proposed in the “open space” was about networking credit clearing exchanges together and development of the necessary intertrading protocols. We had quite a lively and productive discussion, which has become an ongoing process since Sebastiano Scrofina set up a Google group for that purpose. If you want to view the posts or join the discussion, go to this link.
* Measures of value and Units of account. Another session I lead was about measures of value and units of account. This also resulted in a lively discussion. Thanks to Zsuzsanna Szalay, we have a voice recording made with a digital recorder. You can download the file from this link.
* Business Models for Complementary Currencies. Daniel Neis provided input for a session on business models. Pertinent links are provided in his post to a Google group which he has started for discussion on that topic. You can read it, and join the conversation by going to this link.
As a side note, it always amazes me to see how effectively the Dutch deal with personal transportation. Besides having a very efficient network of trains, trams, and buses, their use of bicycles exceeds that of any other people I’ve visited, even urban Chinese. They make bike travel safe and convenient by providing many bike “roads” that keep bike traffic physically separated from motor vehicle traffic, and by providing huge amounts of space for bike parking at train stations and other locations.
I hope you are all enjoying the cooler Fall weather.
Americans have been taught to not trust the Russians. And there is good reason to not trust them given the history of the cold war. But the American people also have good reason to not trust our own politicians, either. Democrat or Republican, the same agenda is pushed forward, an agenda that further centralizes power at the top of the political pyramid, concentrates ever more wealth in the hands of a small global elite, and pushes the world ever closer to a global feudal and fascist society in which the trappings of democratic government remain but the substance of popular self-rule has been thoroughly torn out.
I’ve often wondered when the American people, as well as the rest of the world, would say, “enough!” Perhaps that time has arrived. I wonder what went on behind the scenes that has caused the US administration to back down on its threats to attack Syria. Is it the lack of support from the American people? Is it the lack of support from Britain and our other allies? Is it resistance from Russia, China, and other governments that have not yet been co-opted, coerced, or otherwise brought into alignment with the agenda of the New World Order?
It’s probably all of these, as well as, perhaps some cracks developing within the ranks of the elite itself. In a remarkable turn of events, Russian President Vladimir Putin was allowed to address the American people directly in that icon of American media, The New York Times. In his op-ed that was published on Wednesday, September 11, Putin called for a reasoned approach to the problems of Syria and of the entire middle-east, saying, “We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law.”
You can read the entire article here: A Plea for Caution From Russia, What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria.
If the American government truly believes in the rule of law, then let it submit to that rule.
Also, thanks for reading and sharing the important news on Trust is the Only Currency that's not covered by mainstream media. Though it's been quite dormant the last year as I've moved my efforts over to Shareable, it's reached close to 100,000 hits with no publicity or promotion. Now it's time to take action!
By Mira Luna8/29/13From Shareable Brazil is recognized as one of the most advanced countries in terms of the development of solidarity economy though it's received little attention in the media, partly because of the Portuguese language barrier. I was lucky enough to conduct an interview through a translator that has contacts with the movement. This is an interview with Luigi Verardo, a consultant at ANTEAG (National Association of Workers in Self-managing Enterprises), translated by Miguel Hirota.
To give some context, the solidarity economy movement emerged in Brazil when the country was hit by a recession caused by the liberalization of capital markets in the late 90's. Many businesses closed and traditional employment opportunities shrank significantly. Then in 2003, the Brazilian Forum on the Solidarity Economy was established, formalizing the movement. That same year, the Network of Government Policymakers on Solidarity Economy first met and the National Secretary of Solidarity Economy was established under President Lula. In 2004, the first National Meeting of Solidarity Economy Enterprises took place. Today, there are more than 120 local solidarity economy forums and 27 state forums held on a regular basis. Working groups communicate with the forums and government and develop technical plans and operational aspects of the movement.
Values of the Solidarity Economy, as cited by the National Secretariat of Solidarity Economy of Brazil:
- Democratization of the economic relations
- Co-operation instead of forced competition
- Valuing diversity. Human beings are more important than profits
- Valuing local knowledge, constant learning and training
- Social justice and emancipation
- Protection of the environment
As part of Brazil's mission to share their experiences with the world, Brazil will be represented at the 5th International Meeting of the Social Solidarity Economy in Manila, Oct. 15-18, 2013.
What is the current state of Brazilian Solidarity Economy?
Currently Solidarity Economy is going through a redefinition process. It was built up with a social organization by the people and also with an institution (Brazilian government’s public policies). The relationship between these two entities hasn't fully matured. So there’s a need to work for autonomy and to deepen their characteristics.
What are some of the most exciting or important recent developments?
Among what has happened recently, the 5th National Plenary of Solidarity Economy (09th to 13th December 2012, at Luziânia, Goiás: see http://e.eita.org.br/vplenaria for the final report in Portuguese) and the 2nd Solidarity Economy Social Forum (11th to 14th July 2013, at Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul).
What tools do you use to strengthen Solidarity Economy?
The tools to strengthen are: holding plenaries, forum activities, communication between participants, mappings, trainings and funding.
What are its major accomplishments?
We have many accomplishments.
- Holding and broadening of forums (national forums, state-level forums all over Brazil regional and local forums).
- Having achieved, by way of the petition to the Letter to then President Lula, the National Secretary of Solidarity Economy (SENAES) and appointing the Prof. Paul Singer as its secretary.
- Linking Solidarity Economy with self-management. Defining Solidarity Economy’s principles.
- Having set up a social network and movement beyond political parties.
- Doing activities that combine the policies of the Brazilian Solidarity Economy Forum (FBES) with that of SENAES by way of mapping existing Solidarity Economy practices in Brazil.
What are its major challenges?
We can point out, among other challenges, the problem of segmentation due to the fact that Solidarity Economy has been built up from three segments (public policymakers, different organizations and businesses) with a policy to put businesses as main players. As a perspective to get over this picture, there’s a need to deepen the characterization as a social movement with policy and culture to promote necessary autonomy for its development.
What enabled the movement in Brazil to move so fast and be so successful compared to other countries?
The movement’s organization has been developed quite quickly thanks to the following reasons:
The fact that the FBES organization was born as a fruit of the activities at the 1st World Social Forum which took place in Brazil in 2001. The fact it was held in Brazil promoted a significant impact among Brazilians who could join directly or indirectly. First of all a working group, the Brazilian Working Group of Solidarity Economy, was set up with the mission to diffuse and organize state-level forums at different regions, which turned into FBES in 2003 with representation, at that time, in almost every Brazilian state.
Solidarity Economy’s proposal found, especially in the first five years of the last decade, a fertile context - at that time there used to be a high level of unemployment, precariousness of the labor market and little social mobility.
With Lula’s election for president, at the end of 2002, there were a lot of expectations and possibilities to promote the solidarity economy within the executive power.
What role has government played? Has the government been helpful or resistant?
The government was both helpful and resistant.
There are difficulties for the government to work with social organizations. The State’s very structure is against promoting social organizations and movements. The executive power has its priorities, in the legislative power, the opposition parties created hurdles.
For more details on the organizational structure of Brazil's Solidarity Economy see this brief.
The International Reciprocal Exchange Association (IRTA), the premier association of the commercial “barter” industry, has been for more than forty years promoting the interests of small and medium sized enterprises by assisting its member trade exchanges to provide them with liquidity and effective opportunities for moneyless trading.
Since 2005, IRTA has been reaching out to the wider grassroots community of researchers, developers, and organizers of private currencies and complementary exchange mechanisms and has broadened its advocacy to include them.
The upcoming 34th Annual International Convention of the IRTA in Las Vegas will provide a unique opportunity for social entrepreneurs and monetary activists to further consolidate programs of cooperation with the well-established commercial “barter” sector of the moneyless exchange movement. The Convention will be held from Sept. 19 thru 21 at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.
Along with IRTA President and experienced trade exchange operator Annette Riggs, and Rob van Hilten, Executive Director of QOIN, a consultancy for community currencies, I will be a panelist in a Saturday session (September 21) titled Understanding Diverse Exchange System Models: From Bitcoin and Berkshares, to Transparent Credit Clearing Networks. This session will consider three basic topics of discussion:
Bitcoin, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The benefits and limitations of cash-based local currencies.
The emerging global exchange network.
There is still time to register for this important event. You can get details about the convention program and secure your place by visiting the IRTA website at http://www.irta.com/.
# # #
In June, I reported the launch and abrupt shutdown of an exciting community development project in a poor suburb of Mombasa, Kenya. The Bangla-Pesa voucher system, conceived and organized by American aid worker Will Ruddick and several local micro-entrepreneurs, is intended to provide additional liquidity that makes it possible for unmet needs of local residents to be satisfied out of their own excess productive capacity.
After a mere two weeks of operation, the Government of Kenya arrested Ruddick and five local micro-entrepreneurs, charging them with forgery. Amidst an indignant outcry from the global development and complementary currency community, the case bounced around through the Kenyan bureaucracy and on Friday, the central bank finally dropped the charges.You can read about this latest development on the Koru Kenya website.
Now, the way appears to be clear for this project to move forward and to build upon its early success. The Bangla-Pesa project is in my opinion one of the most promising current developments in the realm of alternative exchange and community development and deserves wide support as other similar communities line up to replicate it.
Here are 6 short and inspiring videos that tell the whole story. I suggest that you view them all starting with the background of the Bangla-Pesa up through the State’s withdrawing the case. These videos are automatically played in sequence.–t.h.g.
I was struck by a sentence in a paper by Warren Coats,
Natural market behavior in the face of an excess supply of money held by the public is to spend more...
It asserts that there is a 'natural' behaviour and that economists can understand it. I think a very careful examination of nature is required especially in the light of the profession's poor track record on predictions.
Regarding effective community initiatives, you might want to read this inspiring article from Der Spiegel about two Greek women in Athens who have done some remarkable social action things: People Power: Young Greeks Team Up to Combat Crisis.
This story shows what Greeks can do, and are doing, to make things better for themselves, aside from government policies and actions, by organizing “self-help initiatives to provide free medical care, repair street lighting and monitor public spending.”
The rest of the world might follow their lead. read about it here.
In the Common Good Economy, decisions will be made independently in each Common Good Community, about how to accomplish their mission (make the community sustainable, get everyone’s basic needs met, and help people elsewhere). And they will be empowered — with money — to act on those decisions.
We want the organizational structure of Common Good Finance to reflect those same principles. This means that decision-making and authority must be spread out through the organization, rather than residing solely in a few individuals in a hierarchy like this:
Our Senior Policy Analyst John G. Root, Jr. has proposed a solution. He suggests a system of Organizing Circles, based on sociocracy.
The idea is very simple and very similar to the committee/subcommittee structure typical of many small nonprofits and the workgroup structure of many corporations (see diagram). Each committee and subcommittee is a team, charged with a specific mission. Representatives from related teams meet to coordinate their efforts in service to the larger mission of the “parent” committee.Team members may be volunteers, paid staff, consultants, or a mix, depending on the organization. Typically, committees and subcommittees are convened by someone in the parent committee, to take on a specific aspect of the parent’s overall mission.Differences
That’s the conventional committee/subcommittee model. So how are Organizing Circles different? Two ways:
1. In the Organizing Circle model, each “child” team has not one but two people who participate on the parent committee:
- an elected representative of the child committee represents that team’s interests in the parent committee
- the convener represents the parent’s interests in the child committee
2. Subcommittees are created by invitation rather than by appointment. The invitation to participate on a subcommittee goes out to all members of the organization and details the skills, responsibilities, and commitment required.Significance
At first glance these differences sound trivial and inefficient. But they have three enormously important results:
- Leadership. Leadership arises from both directions. People who are identified by their peers as potential leaders get elected to a position of broader authority (serving on the parent committee). And a person in a position of authority (serving on a parent committee) can take on leadership by convening a subcommittee. This system allows proven, trusted leaders to “bubble up” from the trenches.
- Accountability. Leaders are accountable not just to a single boss, but also to two entire committees — not just to their own leader, but to their peers and followers as well.
- Discipline. Mission and expectations throughout the organization are clear (in writing!) right from the beginning.
That’s it. That is the essence of Organizing Circles.Board
One final piece: Where does the board of directors fit in? and the Executive Director?
We are proposing that the system be used throughout our organization, so that the board is the top-level parent committee and its subcommittees elect representatives to join the board. The board will elect an Executive Director. Leaders of committees will be accountable to their committee members and to the board as a whole as well as to the Executive Director. The Executive Director will represent the organization to the public. The IRS and other governmental agencies will represent the public to the board in the usual ways.
The “Coming Together for a Common Good Economy” Founding Members’ Retreat was held Friday evening, January 28 through Sunday lunch, January 30 at the historic Inn at Shaker Mill Farm in Canaan, NY. A special thanks for the wonderful rate and comfortable accommodations to our welcoming host, Ingram Paperny. Paul Deslauriers and Christopher Schaefer were amazing facilitators and Becky Meier expertly handled most of the nitty gritty details, with lots of help from many others (especially with meal prep and clean-up and with the Saturday night talent show). Thanks to all of you!
The retreat included brainstorming together, breaking into small groups to work on various issues, and inspirational talks, both planned and adhoc. We discovered that we have fabulously insightful, articulate, and passionate people in our Founding Members group! Discovering shared core values was an especially inspiring activity. The top values we discovered were: love, transparency, harmony with nature, integrity, sovereignty, empowerment, and community. A recurring theme was the need for diversity, particularly racial and ethnic diversity, gender diversity (we need more women), LGBT diversity, and age diversity.
There was an evening of entertainment provided by many of the forty talented attendees, including singing, accordion playing, a psychic trick, skits, poetry reading, humor, and more. Fidel Moreno and Susan Jameson’s Native American drumming and chanting was a wonderful gift to all of us! One of the highlights of the evening was watching William Spademan and Christopher Schaefer dancing together.
A vote was held to elect members of a Nominating Committee to assist the current Board in finding additional Board members. Becky Meier, Chris Schaefer, and Laura Geilen were elected to the committee. The first meeting will be held this week. And members of an action group were determined so that we can begin to sort out the work in front of us. Their first meeting was Sunday, February 6.
It is exciting that we have come far enough in the progress toward establishing local Common Good Economies that we have held our first retreat and are following up on the ideas we generated! It is a milestone and feels very significant. First, we had to attract sufficient persons to become Founding Members (serious supporters and future depositors, regardless of amount of money donated, or size of pledges for future loans and investments in the bank); then we had to generate a level of excitement, engagement, and interest to attract sufficient of those Founding Members to attend an entire weekend retreat; and then we had to sustain that level of commitment in order to set follow-up activities and persons who volunteered time to get them done.
So we feel like we are really on our way now! On our way to figuring out how we want to interact with each other…on the areas of special focus that we need to work within to get this undertaking accomplished…and all of the associated tasks for each of those areas of special focus. And, now, we are having people take ownership of various areas in order to begin the first tasks of educating ourselves about the work in front of us and how to do it and understanding subsequent steps.
We are still fledglings in this enterprise and have huge amounts of work in front of us, but our direction is set and our commitment is strong. Bringing local Common Good Economies into reality in our physical world, communities where there is a level playing field, where no one is left out, where everyone’s input and actions are welcomed and appreciated, where everyone’s needs are taken into account, where integrity and love are our watchwords–who could fail to be inspired?
January 28-30, 2011
The Inn at the Shaker Mill Farm
Notes compiled by Becky Meier
Attendees: Alan Becker, Anaelisa Vanegas, Andrew Baker, Anna Busser Erik, Becky Meier, Ben Schawinsky, Chris Schaefer, Chris Rawlings, Daniel Kinsey, Dave Pearson, David Edwards, Donal Butterfield, Elfie Six, Emily Peyton, Fidel Moreno, Fred Meier, Gonzalo Burmudez, James Cumming, Janet Henderson, John Root, Jr., John Root, Sr, Kathy Cardella, Laura Geilen, Mario Geilen, Mark Miller, Mark Roberts, Nancy Root, Nigel Hinds, Owen deRis, Paul Deslauriers, Richard Kerver, Rick DeVoe, Robert Connors, Rose Stanley, Susan Jameson, Todd Chinook, Tom Harter, Tom Finnell, Wes Orlowski, and William Spademan
Retreat Activity Planners and Facilitators: Chris Schaefer, Paul Deslauriers
Retreat Coordinator: Becky Meier
Native American Blessing by Fidel Moreno
Small Groups of 3: Why are you here? What do you hope for?
Why are we here?
to converse with like minds
to be part of something meaningful
to create abundance
to organize ourselves
to work together
to find our fire
to find meaningful ways to plug into common good economy
due to income disparity
to assure survival
for congenial and intelligent company
to help concept to work
to get organized
to make progress
in order to get the show on the road
to simplify the message
to watch the Big Bird land
to get to 1.5 million
to get new DNA
to pull in the same direction
to get ideas for sustainable economics
Hope for /Outcomes
sustainable system of checks and balances that can stand competition from other banks
emergence of new paradigm of ethics and integrity
transformation of community
clarification of the message and banking
learn from the wise ones
anchor of certainty
news releaser to get attention
ability to receive gifts
knowing how to explain to others
banking system based on love and generosity
a sense of trust
defuse fear of money
Emily Peyton introduced John Root, Jr.
Philosophy of Common Good Bank, by John Root, Jr.
Love is the only reality; everything else is illusion. Everything in economy is an exchange. Our egotism is justified when we decide if an exchange will make us better off and since both parties to the exchange make this judgment (that they will be better off as a result of the exchange), in the aggregate we should all be increasingly better off. Human nature is the source of our abundance and we are all inspired to serve our community and most happy when we can do that and be recognized. CGE can create the ability to follow your inspiration- material and spiritual, measurable and immeasurable value, products and services, educated child, inspired performance. As soon as you are empowered to act on the basis of your capacity to love, we can fund our inspirations and build a common good economy.
Chris Rawlings (Board member) introduced William Spademan
William Spademan spoke about history and structure
Structure must follow spirit.
This weekend is aimed at having structure catch up with our intentions.
2002 Created ideal society and how to get there for future’s invention.
Started messy; it will tune itself up.
Governance is the key.
Has to be bottom up.
Money/economics gives power.
William sent out proposals and others critiqued them.
2003-4 Created Local currency through Society to Benefit Everyone (S2BE), perceived as flaky, cumbersome; then, thought of Credit Union, Mutual Bank, conversion from Credit Union to Stock Bank.
Finally arrived at decision that starting with a Stock Bank from the beginning and matching it with a mutual credit association made the best sense. Solved some regulatory problems by marrying bank model with a mutual credit system model.
Create one infrastructure that could be replicated.
July 2006 incorporated.
March 2007 William had a head injury and much was put on hold.
2008- Developed partner organizations, no money.
2009- 30 failed grant applications. Advertised job of organizers as independent contractors, receiving a percentage of what they raised. Got about 2 dozen organizers as independent contractors. Organizers not raising enough to continue.
2010- Hired consultants. Advice: Simplify message; get a stronger more active board. Explosion of active participation in Eastern NY and Western MA
Formal Board not that active. We want a more active board.
Have recreated ourselves a number of times.
Love is the first principle- taking care of everyone. Freedom is second principle- model must honor our individual initiatives, model must gather people, work with humans at our existing levels, resist corruption, and be transparent. Align personal profit to community profit.
Creativity Serves Order- Native American saying
Andrew Baker (Board member) read letters from two other Board members: Carol Lewis and Karen Robero
Janet Henderson introduced Rick DeVoe
Rick spoke about political aspects and organizational structure.
We WILL do this.
Social Activist and Organizer. Usually it’s been People against the Money. Strange to shift gears.
Soldiers perform sacrifice. Why not activists?
We need to find the front line- our soldiers.
We’re out of practice being true citizens. Re-Creation of the common space.
Stories of activism in 1970s
We are on the front line of social change with this model.
Need to do it right. Model will require true citizenship.
Will need to survive the counter attack, defend what we are about to build.
Need to be authentic.
People doubt the current institutions but don’t know who and what to believe in.
This resonates with people. That’s how I know we’re going to succeed.
We are picking up the mantle of populist movement- joining economic and political rights.
We’re going to take the high road to the high ground and hold it.
We need to define ourselves; don’t let adversaries define us.
Economic and political rights are inseparable.
MLK: Nothing is more powerful than the unarmed truth.
We need to learn to believe in ourselves. The vast majority of us are of good character and good conscience. We need to overcome cynicism.
Martin Buber: The truth is God’s alone- It is humanity’s duty to pursue it.
Paul Deslauriers: What are our Common Values?
be powerful motivators of personal action
align and harmonize
energize and Inspire
values in action can replace rules
serve as foundation for strategies, policies and compensation.
Divided into small groups to brainstorm values.
Reported back from values groups and put values on flip charts.
Becky taught Russian Peace Song, If the People Lived their Lives as if it were a Song.
Leaders from small groups created list synthesized from all groups.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Each participant received three stars to attach next to the core values they felt most connected to, resulting in the following:
Harmony with Nature 17
Best Practices 7
Compassionate Communication 5
Note: A video of the values activity we participated in is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhUHSAP8tl8
Presentation on existing organizational structure.
Structure of current organization:
William Spademan: Designer and Executive Director
William, Rick and John serving as Executive Committee
We are a 501(c) (3), incorporated as the Society for the Benefit of Everyone.
We have a Board of Directors of nine people and a Board of Advisors.
We get legal advice from Ropes and Gray and three other legal firms.
We have an active IT team that meets weekly (electronically).
We have a Board of Directors for the Bank, once it’s chartered.
In 2005 Mike Novel was appointed CGE Bank CEO and Leonette Coleman, Chief Lending Officer.
The Executive Committee has phone contact daily and in person meetings every 1 1/2 weeks; decisions are made by consensus.
The Board meets monthly. It’s mostly been following consultant advice and assessing Board commitment. It has been reconstituted in the last six months. The members have been appointed by William. Eventually, they should be elected by the membership. They function as an advisory board.
There are currently eight regional Organizers (Sarah Noyes, CA, Todd Chinnock, CA, Anna Busser Erik, NY, Amiya Chaudoir and Randy Jones, OR, Eric Krawczyk, CO, Chris Meyer and Wendell Wiebe-Powell, Michianna, Tom Finnell, VT, and Emily Peyton, VT.)
We need to continue to develop leaders.
The Campaign will begin in the spring. We will need outreach, media, social networking, Powerpoint.
We need Education/Orientation/Workshops on Mutual Credit, how money is created, alternative currency, and different structures of democracy.
We need Founding Members meetings to practice the democracy we are preaching. Focus on the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley. Use college students to spread the word.
Broke into small groups to brainstorm areas that needed strengthening.
Reported back to plenum.
Synthesized groups’ brainstorming lists into categories. Put questions pertaining to each category on separate flip charts. In groups, came up with recommendations. Below are the questions and recommendations made by the groups, although they probably need to be updated by members in each group.
Community Building: Elfie Six, Tom Finnell, Anna Busser Erik, Nancy Root, Janet Henderson, Tom Harter, John Root, Sr
Marketing: Alan Becker, Mark Miller, Daniel Kinsey
Diversity: James Cumming, Wes Orlowski, Mark Roberts, Anaelisa Vanegas
Spirituality: Kathy Cardella, Ben Schawinsky, Owen deRis, Susan Jameson (Elfie Six)
Peace Force: Donal Butterfield, Emily Peyton, Mario Geilen, Robert Connors
Leadership Training: Becky Meier, Fidel Moreno, Gonzalo Burmudez, Laura Geilen, Rick DeVoe, William Spademan
IT: Richard Kerver, Dave Pearson
Board: Nigel Hinds, Andrew Baker, John Root, Jr, Todd Chinnock
Listening to the voice of spirit in our individual and collective lives
Guiding humanity out of its adolescence into its adulthood:
The movement from Homosapien to Homodivinitus
Workshops to embody spirit, love, light and values
Love, Freedom, Beauty, Longevity
Knowing there is enough
Conscious Reality Creation Work
ie: Humble Shadow Work
The Work- Byron Katie
The High Energy Zone, Paul DesLauriers
Encourage a personal practice
Global midwives and midhusbands
Educate young children
Members educate each other out of skills present
Educate self and others on values
Develop a resource data base (time, skills)
An education on the world of finance
Needed: A training program for organizers
Q: How should it be developed? Content? How should it be carried out? Are organizers sufficiently knowledgeable and educated?
Leadership: talent, skills, experience, commitment, vision
We want some kind of completion certificate, using a committee to determine if a person passes or not.
Types of training:
Training Program for Public representatives of the Bank
Training to orient founding members
Leaders support group including mentorship and interns
Training facilitators for the common good communities
Developing job descriptions and roles
Figure out skills necessary for jobs
Who makes the hiring decision?
Hiring by volunteers or by selection
Training and support
Aggressive Outreach to Diverse Communities
Get coalitions of churches involved, as well as LGBT communities
Get youth organizations involved
Have approximate equal gender split on the board
Non-Violent Communication training for Board and Staff
Search Committee, recruiting
Chair and Vice Chair
A few NVC Retreats for Board and senior staff
Board Completion- full 24 people, 6 months
Second NVC retreat
Local Groups/Community Building
Create space for divergent standpoints
Community Division Development
Create basis for decision-making following “6 characteristics of energy”
Developing investment priorities/visions
How viable not to have a physical building?
How to harmonize with nature
Relationship of local bank with community- function?
Decisions on interest or not (loans)
Localvore movement- building connections
ATD symposium- doing it
More gatherings- “tendrils” connecting: planting the seed deep
Economical in operation
Developing Local Division
1. Find one organizer for a locality- commitment, groundwork
2. Have a meeting space and time, get list of interested people, develop group of committed persons
3. Series of meetings, explaining bank, create vision, find needs, sign up founding members and “wait and see” members
4. In 6 months- open local bank branch.
Local Groups- Community Building
1. Access to physical space to meet and internet meeting- don’t necessarily need to own or rent
Need teller access
Teleconferencing would help when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible
2. Economical operation/efficiency
3. Mutual interface between bank and local interest groups
4. Education, reading, meeting, social network, lectures, courses
5. Regular meetings / ongoing
- local executive committee- 3 people to consider people for membership on Board
- general members
6. Make goods and services of members transparent and accessible.
7. Interface between local executive and professional central bank- explanation
8. Critical mass
First one central bank
9. How we work together
- voting procedures (rank vote)
- listening with respect, tolerance and interest in others
- safe space
- mediation if necessary and NVC training
10. Creating vision of need and sustainability (local)
Develop investment priorities (transition towns)
Equalize wage disparity
11. Local decisions on loans, interest, mutual credit
Bank Charter Requirement
Who will lobby MA banking commission on CGB behalf?
How will CGB prepare to Lobby MA Bank Commission?
How will CGB mutual credit association fight “blowback” from entrenched financial interests in USA?
Will CGB have a political arm to affect mutual credit association and charters?
Will CGB mandate nonviolent purpose (of loans, grants, etc.)? also ethically environmentally responsible
Triple bottom line
Tasks vs opposition
Seek bank examiners, bank commissioners to lobby governor re commission
Create documentary film on CGE- 5 year process- seek and support
Establish courses in CGB for MBA programs, with college professors
Start college student outreach
Hold student retreat here and offer certificate with college credit
Marketing, Promotion, Art
What is our sizzler? packaging
How do we manage our image?
How to create promo materials?
How best to do solid press releases?
Simplify our message
Short videos on website and U-tube
Money as love b=versus profit
Artistic license granted- involve artists
An internet radio program
Creative endeavor: What sill society look like after CGB goes viral?
Howard Zinn film “Let People Speak”
Potlatch, occasion, passion
A banner we can use at public events
Branding, logos, design work-up
We need to share a clear understanding of the strategy for community to the public about the bank and the mutual credit system.
Define CGB Products/Services and Needs in marketplace (feasibility studies)
2) Framing Talking Points
3) Pro bono ad agency
4) Draft Sample News Releases (and critique)
5) Create a game board or computer
6) Use the internet
Define and differentiate CGB from competition
1) Create a strong local economy through mutual credit
2) Create sovereignty through depositor’s association vote process
3) Create monetary expansion in local economy
4) What does 10% local economy look like? 20%? 40%?
Model and Systems
Improving the model
Using B-corporation certification
Best practices of Ethical Banking
Look at different cultural model of leadership and bring in
Talk to B-Corp banks like Grameen and Green, etc. Pick their brains ask for assistance
Economic 101: how real banks work in the real economy
Guest Speaker: Ellen Brown
Writers- develop our own text book
Use of mutual credit system as stepping stone, prior to opening CGB
Develop self checks
Leader-free structures and enforcing sovereignty
Compensation/Income Benefits (not discussed)
Q: How many average sized residential mortgage loans does it take to pay a loan officer, and by extension to cover the bank’s overhead?
Members can decide on compensation (influence)
Staff development as key benefit
Miscellaneous (not discussed)
Reinvesting in infrastructure: manufacturing and local agriculture
For a mutual credit system to work, it has to be small and face to face.
Does a working bank need to be larger than that?
All ideas are ideas not laws
An education program that involves reading groups and resource materials
Equalize wage disparities
Don’t reinvent the wheel- look at existing models,
Another sheet, Untitled
Workshops w/ Mike R.
Core education/envisioning group (every 2 weeks)
Generate projects and recruit
When this group exists and properly trained. Create mutual credit systems in local economy as an educational and marketing tool to create financial power for CGB
Internal marketing (for CGB creators)
External marketing (for general public)
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Groups met and were asked to choose one person to present the suggestions for each committee to the plenary session and also to choose one person to head a Coordinating Committee coming out of the retreat.
Met back in the main room for the presentations of their recommendations for others.
Coordinating Committee members:
Nigel Hines, Board
Elfie Six, Community
Mark Miller and Alan Becker, Marketing
Bob Connors, Peace Force
Becky Meier, Leadership
James Cumming and Anaelisa Vanegas, Diversity
Susan Jameson, Spirituality
Dave Pearson, IT
Coordinating Group set meeting for Sunday, February 6th, 10-1.
After a break, John, William, and Rick spoke briefly. John said he is incredibly grateful for the Founding Members. We get to re-think…do those concrete things that re-create the world… William said he feels immensely blessed. He went over the various committees’ recommendations. Rick said that we have the idea whose time has come. There is tension between established structure and individual sovereignty. Integrate this weekend’s work with 1) Campaign, including facilitation, 2) Orientation and training, 3) Creating Common Good Communities in the present. We now have a low-income option: a donation of any amount and no requirement for any pledges; you agree to recruit two other Founding Members.
Chris Schaefer led an activity: Each person: Pick a postcard that speaks to you about your connection to money. Share with group your emotional connection to money and how your postcard relates.
In groups of 2-3, discuss whether retreat met your expectations.
Back in large group, go around and each person say a sentence or two about their experiences.
Lots of thanking of individuals for their contributions to Common Good and to the retreat.
Google “The Secret of Oz”, describes banking-money systems
Esther and Jerry Hicks, “The Vortex” Book
The Money Masters Documentary
Web of Debt, Ellen Brown
Handbook for a New Paradigm
Money as Debt, movie, Google
Yahoo! “The Crash Course” by Chris Martenson
Lost Science of Money, Stephen Zarlenga
For-Giving- Book by Robin Wright
Common Good Economy Retreat
January 28-30, 2011
Focus Group Recommendations
Common Good Peace Force
(how to preempt effective opposition)
- Recruit the opposition
- Recruit bank expertise
- Get young people involved
- Educational programs for youngsters
- Maybe make a documentary film
- Political outreach
- Internal / external
- Get supporters up to speed
- Seek pro bono advertising
- Clarify how CGB is different
- Write press releases
- Use the internet, especially social networking
- Create a board game
- Create a mutual credit system now
- Use common good democracy now
- Research and illustrate what a community looks like with various percentages of local buying
- Certification process
- Training for leaders in several roles:
- Public presentations (several types/levels)
- Orientations for Founding Members
- Common Good Community facilitators
- Training Trainers
- Ongoing mutual/mentoring support
- Committee to develop job specifics
- We need it (for diverse viewpoints, etc.)
- Board diversity (matching US percents)
- Outreach to low-income/minority communities
- Simple, inclusive language
- Nonviolent communication training for newcomers
- Diversity training for everyone
- More diverse executive committee
- Nominating committee to revise and add to board
- Distinguish between CGF / CGB boards
- Active coordinating committee
- Charge the committee with what it should do and by when
- Get the house in order, then focus on the nuts & bolts of starting a bank
Common Good Communities
- Need a meeting space
- Need a way to explain it easily and sign people up
- Open a branch within 6 months
- Use internet and teleconferencing
- Have a teller
- Regular meetings
- Create a save psychic space that embodies our underlying values
- Is more advanced than other areas, but behind schedule
- No rocket science, but no mistakes!
- Mostly standard bank stuff but some different
- Open source when possible, plus built or bought. Thanks partly to encryption technology, open source is often more secure than proprietary software.
- Extend web resources to include video, audio, etc.
- Use social media / youtube
- Listen to spirit to guide us
- Be ready for our “stuff” to come up
- Leaders should have a daily spiritual practice
- Specific workshops
- Society is moving from adolescence to adulthood
- Homo sapiens is becoming homo divinitus
- There is enough (in the world)
- This group will continue to meet and be active