Report on the first Collaborative Finance Gathering at the Commons Hub, Austria, May 22-28, 2023.
It was an honour to be asked by the Commons Hub to design a conference and I took the opportunity to bring together crypto-people with some working on more traditional complementary currency innovations. I arranged the mornings so that each one covered a different 'structure' of credit (a taxonomy I have yet to write about), namely mutual credit, mesh credit (i.e. ripple/trustlines systems), local voucher systems, and multilateral offset clearing, in which invoices are aggregated and cancelled out as far as possible.
I was lucky that the cornerstone project, Informal Systems was willing enough to sponsor the event, and they also sent their whole Multilateral Offset Clearing team, using the event for team-building and in-person working. Other Sponsors were EthicHub, The community Currency Alliance, Holo, and Ripple creator Ryan Fugger.
I was really helped by Julio from Circles who helped tremendously with the gender balance by bringing the whole team and by inviting people from less developed countries (Guatemala, Syria) where my knowledge is scant.
Also present were: Resource, Mutual Credit Services, Grassroots Economics, Sikoba, LedgerLoops/Federated Bookkeeping, MyCHIPS, Regen Foundation, Hudson Valley Current, Celo, the Blockchain Socialist, also releasing a book, Good Dollar, Grassroots Economics, EveWeath, Mutual Credit Services, Sikoba, BAERgeld, and Block Science. In total there were at least 60 people there every day of the week!
I used my opening address to stress that, having come so far, we shouldn't be making sage-on-the-stage presentations to each other as if youtube were the medium, but should instead be generating conversation and learning. I exhorted everyone to open themselves to listening and collaboration. As the week progressed I was blown away by the enthusiasm with which sessions were attended, the quality of dialogue, the willingness to understand, and the intensity of the open space discussions. People started saying to me "something is really happening here" and "I've never known anything like it". A few days after the conference ended, I want to try to capture the outcomes.
The main outcome I think is that a protocol working group will be set up to look at interoperability of the projects represented. This is essential if our initiatives are to scale up rather than competing destructively with each other. I very much hope that the funded projects will feel more inclined to spread their money around, having met and built trust with projects in the same field with similar discourses. I'm hoping also to run a track in the next Crypto Commons Gathering on monetary theory, in hope of converting talent from the blockchain space to the credit theory of money.
In conclusion, the event was a pleasure to design, and Felix and Giulio from the Commons Hub provided all the support I needed, pandering to my spontaneous creative ideas and even running the open space track, because I was exhausted. I want to thank them and Jeff for annointing himself head troll in my stead, and everyone for making the event a stonking success!
Watch the Live Streams.