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Ecovillages seek deeper exchange

For some years I have been drawn towards the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and around 3 years ago started talking to them about exchange and the benefits of not using money. This was never going to be a quick win for me or the movement and I have been employing all my relationship-building skills, my deep listening, my nomadic powers, my Drupal expertise, and my patience in order to serve them.

Last year I attempted to get a sense of ecovillage economies by touring several to share explicitly on that subject. It turns out that many in the movement are aware of economics and the benefits of exchange. Many ecovillages have informal exchange agreements with their neighbours and other ecovillages. There are currencies within Auroville and Findhorn, and Damanhur has a very long history with, I think every possible monetary model having been tried.

Then I was invited to the Green Pheonix festival last year, where many of the movements leaders have time to nurture relations and discuss matters in a more conducive and serendipitous environment than the sterile and tiring Skype which mediates most of their meetings. The exchange project idea received 1000CHF unsolicited donation which was a clear sign that it should go ahead. The money is being used so far to support my expenses to attend events.

So I was given a slot at this year's GEN international conference in Findhorn to explore the idea with a larger group and gage interest. The interest gaged was sufficient and the critical question of the (first) unit of account was decided to be based on existing bilateral agreements between ecovillages, which is to say, on hospitality.

In Green Phoenix last week the topic was one of the main themes. Green Pheonix has been a small but intense festival in which experts were given time to go deeply into their subjects, but this year the format changed and it became even small and more intense! We were 35 people mostly in one room. The only two people not living in an ecovillage were Jamie Brown and I. With my laptop out of order and my fees paid it seemed like a sign from the universe to attend (most of) the sessions. The discussion on global exchange has resulted in the formation of a new working group which will elicit a directory of ecovillage needs - it being felt that an offer-driven marketplace would reveal less useful information, and needs would reveal more actionable gaps in the economy.

Green Pheonix wishes to recast itself as a thinktank for GEN, and in order to continue going deeper, has asked for a three year commitment. I'm deeply honoured to be in such a forum, and with such people!

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