There is no doubt that the world is in the midst of an unprecedented mega-crisis. It is a time of excitement and rapid change, as well as great danger. What can we do to try to discern how it will all turn out? Every society and every era has had its “seers” or “prophets,” but how does one judge which of them are to be believed? In the modern era, we tend to give more weight to predictions that are based on broad knowledge and rational arguments than upon religion and superstition. Two widely regarded present day seers are Kevin Carson and John Michael Greer. Things get interesting when there is a fundamental disagreement. So it is between these two, as described in a recent web post at City of the Future.
The debate that is described in the article, Catabolic Ephemeralization? Carson Versus Greer, is summarized in this excerpted paragraph:
So which is it? Are we headed for a future in which short-wave radio returns and a rebuilt postal service takes over from failing server farms, as Greer would have it? Or will we be able to “leapfrog” away from our old imploding infrastructure toward a world of distributed, highly efficient, peer-to-peer manufacturing facilitated by open source design?
It’s well worth reading. Find it here.
The current wave of cryptocurrencies, starting with bitcoin, are designed, monetarily speaking, within a very limited paradigm. They generally have a fixed quantity, and a fixed rate of issuance determined at the start, they find their value on the free market based on pure supply and demand, they have no possibility of redemption and no backing of any sort. Participation is open to anyone who can install a wallet.
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