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Adventures in mutual credit

About four years ago I realised that my work with local exchange systems could be much more impactful if I concentrated on commercial business barter rather than on LETS and time banks. I joined the LinkedIn group, Think Barter and voiced some ideas about reducing costs and increasing interoperability with open source software. The response was disappointing to say the least. I heard a lot of parroted and wrong prejudices against open source and was treated mostly with indifference. hanging around for so long with people who want to change the world for the better, I wasn't expecting to...
This article develops the idea from my recent post, Is money like energy Money is very difficult to understand; it seems to behave like nothing else in the universe such that every analogy captures only a part of its behaviour. Its properties as both a commodity and as an agreement seem deeply paradoxical. This may be an indication that we need to look at it from a level. It is easy to examine the tokens which move from hand to hand - their inscriptions and their value, or the transactions - their form and meaning. The tokens flow in the opposite direction to the goods and services; their...
I am often told that money is like energy; that it flows around the community creating economic activity remaining essentially the same, never being destroyed. But this metaphor doesn't satisfy me. it works quite well for cash whether fiat or backed, but most of our money is not cash and in fact behaves very differently. It is tempting when exploring the True nature of money, as theologians study the bread in the Eucharist, to study the tokens and the exchanges. One popular approach is to posit a substance called 'value' which resides in the tokens, either intrinsically because the tokens...
Neal Gorenfo in Shareable did a great job of introducing the upcoming platform cooperativism conference by explaining the rise of Death Star platforms and a counter-proposition that these platforms could or should be run as cooperatives. I'm dubious about the way in which these horizontal platforms conceive of community. As Gorenfo said, Platform coops may be able to create a deeper community experience than Death Stars, which routinely feign community ethos for profit. This is because the 'community' in one of these horizontal platforms is a group oriented around one particular need....
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...
I was honoured to be invited to Skala ecovillage in Greece. Anna and Nikiforos are 3 years into their fourth attempt to build a community on their property near Thessaloniki on which currently abide 7 adults plus 3 volunteers and some children. I'm still not sure what they thought I would bring, but their main concern is to take the project from merely living together to building a future together. Nikiforos is a highly skilled engineer running a family business 50km away putting all his income into Skala. Most of the others are paying a fixed rent for basic accommodation but not investing...
A long time ago, when Stewart was an estate agent, interest rates jumped from 5% to 15% in a day (Thanks to George Soros) and three of his clients committed suicide. Stewart decided to design a new, less money-centric life, and started New Morray LETS in Forres, near Findhorn, Scotland twenty years ago. His energy and commitment helped the LETS to grow steadily and now he reckons 60% of his economic life is through LETS. Working with a friend, he developed and fine-tuned a MS Access application to administer the whole system, including printing the directories. Soon he was travelling all over...
The wonderful Robin Hood Collective is gathering for 4 days in London and I so regret being unable to attend that I'm writing this post for all the assembled! I'd like to introduce myself and share what I'm doing and what I would like to see Robin Hood doing. I've been working on community money systems since 2008, firstly writing free software for timebanks and LETS, and then nomading and networking and teaching amongst them. In fact my software is by far the most used open source software in the field, since it is mature and highly configurable. The organisation I co-founded in Geneva...
While anecdotal evidence abounds for strange coincidences mind to mind communications, and the supposed laws of physics being broken in ways we find meaningful, it has been very hard to capture these events in a laboratory in a way that the rump of the scientific body finds acceptable. Rupert Sheldrake has spent a whole career applying scientific method to try to measure and understand these phenomenon but while many 'common' people seem perfectly accepting of those ideas, serious and professional scientists are not, and such topics continue to be outside the realm of serious science despite...
The first 'Transition Pounds' in the UK, Totnes, Brixton, Stroud, Lewes, and then Bristol lacked proper theoretical foundations, and achieved very limited circulation. Even today, on its fourth issue, the Totnes pound is extremely sluggish. Even with discounts, pound-backed (proxy-pound) models in which national money is captured for the local economy lack incentives for those local pounds to circulate. These projects no longer promise economic development, but instead acknowledge that local notes act as a 'nudge' in people's wallets to encourage them to spend locally, where they otherwise...

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