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Adventures in mutual credit
Yesterday I wrote about how using a currency strengthens the story and gives value to the acts for which that currency was issued. I suggested that anyone can informally certify socially beneficial behaviour and accept those certificates as recognition of their own contributions. Today I will discuss how that principle might pan out in the macroeconomy.
When we are compelled to use a currency using such violent means as legal tender laws, latterly money transmission laws, taxes, bailiffs, and the throttling of alternatives, it hardly matters where the money gets its value, or if it has value at all. The 'value' of the dollar tends to mean its price expressed in other commercial credit currencies, but the real value is what the paper represents, what justified its issue.
The emission of money is always complemented by an equivalent value exchange somewhere in time.
In this talk to the Global Exchange Gathering last week, I show how the competition between timebanking platforms is a result of the software structures, and how even if different platforms can't share code, the can still service their users by becoming more interoperable.
The talk was very well received perhaps because I spent the previous five days in reconnaissance, and thus was able to say what this audience needed to hear.
There is much misunderstanding about the proper basis for issuing currency, especially with regard to somehow limiting the issuance to ensure that the issuers are not over-empowered and the currency tending to worthlessness. With Bitcoin we have a new expression in our vocabulary, 'proof of work'. This too is often misunderstood to mean that work provably done merits a currency reward, but if that were the case the amount of Bitcoin couldn't be fixed.
Swiss nonprofit Community Forge was founded in the aftermath of the 2008 banking implosion. The first mission statement was about giving communities the tools they needed, most especially the monetary tools, to become more independent and resilient. Tim Anderson, from the LETS in Geneva, had teamed up with Matthew Slater, a software developer to build a community web portal and accounting tool suitable for LETS.
Sieben Linden (Seven Linden trees) sits amongst forests, fields and sparsley populated villages in the plains of Northern Germany.
The land is owned by a cooperative in which all members buy a stake. There are a few large straw-bale houses which are designed for a family and several friends and guests, while half the members live in 'temporary' caravans waiting for the money and the people to come together for subsequent houses. Where would this money come from?
The ecovillage economy tour is an open experiment in data collection. The intention is to build a picture of the overall ecovillage economy so see what business or exchange opportunities might emerge.
We want to build a payments ecosystem so that community currency entrepreneurs can pick up appropriate components and make them work together quickly thus concentrating their resources on developing their Unique Sales Proposition. We want marketplace entrepreneurs and community currencies to be able to choose between Ripple, OpenMoney, and Cyclos for their transaction storage, and to know that these choices will not prevent them from intertrading. They need to be able to re-use existing mobile payments apps rather than write their own.
Amalurra, Basque for 'mother earth', was formed from a meditation group with life-coach Irene Goikolea over 20 years ago. Wanting to take their practice further, they bought an old seminary and oriented their lives around making it beautiful and offering hospitality. Fast forward to now, and there are several gleaming buildings, including a hotel, hostel, spa, cafe, restaurant, many spaces for meetings and workshops, a sweat-lodge next to a stream and extensive gardens.