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.
Have you realised that the world, if not the universe, is a single organism and all the people, all the organisms are inter-connected and depend on each other for their welbeing? Do you feel a greater responsibility to the universe than just to replicate the molecular patterns and social memes which make you you? Have you perhaps devoted large chunks of your life to some Work? This mystical experience is sometimes called a 'dissolution of ego' but unfortunately most egos don't stay dissolved for long!
Politics have no relation to morals. - Niccolo Machiavelli
Hungary is about to pay off its debt to the IMF and has ordered their employees to leave the country “as soon as possible.” The Hungarian Minister of Economics says his government is confident that it is well positioned to pursue an independent economic policy.
Is this the start of a revolt of sovereign nations against the global bankers? Will others follow Hungary’s lead? What sort of backlash might be expected? Will the bankers try to influence next year’s elections, or failing that, will more drastic actions be taken to oust the present Hungarian government? As a member of the EU, Hungary will be no push-over like Libya.
The global banking farce is becoming ever more hilarious (if you can ignore the tragic consequences of this monumental fraud). Germany is seeking to repatriate its gold that is supposedly held by the US Federal Reserve, but the Fed says, “Nein, you cannot even examine it.”Watch this RT report to get the story: