Common Good Finance


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Panel presentation at the High Country Citizens’ Alliance 10th annual Sustainable Communities Symposium on "examining our definition of prosperity and identify ways for our community to transition to a more fulfilling, equitable, prosperous and sustainable lifestyle"-
October 17, 2009 at the Aspinall Wilson Center in Gunnison, CO.

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  • 1. Thank HCCA, panel and participants. \n2. Introductions of Casey and Chris Brown.\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • -As my wife and I began planning to settle into a home following our marriage, we recalled our visit to Taos where we encountered the resilient, resurgent and revolutionary earthship community. We also remembered the creation care message we received from Matthew Sleeth, a former emergency room physician, resigned from his position as chief of the medical staff and director of the ER to teach, preach, and write about faith and the environment throughout the country, Dr. Matthew Sleeth has been eagerly sought at notable secular schools such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, and Middlebury– using creation care to build unprecedented bridges between science and religion.\n\n-I felt called to build the earthship design in Gunnison and over a year and half of planning broke ground June 9th of this year. Unfortunately, the economic climate is significantly different than it was a year and half ago when I visited with brokers and lenders. In March, I was advised by these same brokers and lenders to pursue investments with our local banks as they had lost all of their investors who supported alternative building design. I applied to 2 local banks and one state bank in Gunnison. After 5 months of toiling with the loan to value formulas used by our single bottom line bank models we learned that building projects that are not already proven to be no risk on paper are funded while needed projects and businesses that will help our community transition to a post-carbon world are not. I was told by one bank that we could not receive a construction loan without 60% collateral and from another that our project needed some unknown collateral between 60% and 100% cash-backed. What transition-minded citizens of our community are being told is that, in order to bring the social and environmental solutions to our valley, we need to have our own funds to invest instead of our local banks. If we have them, but prefer not to pull them out of our own investments, we could then call on our banks to borrow. As educators, my wife and I had saved 25% which I thought would be enough, but not for the infinite growth modeled banks in our finite planet.\n
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  • -after hearing Dr. Devon Pena speak at the Headwaters keynote last night, I never became more hopeful for the Common Good Bank concept to take root in this region. His response to the 3 E’s came from the resurgence of mutual reliance models of economic relations introduced by his work “The Last Commons” which promotes the retention of resource as a common property and permits the users to create their own system of governance. This solution, previously discarded by most economists, was coincidentally and simultaneously reinforced by the 1st women to win the Nobel prize in economics, Professor Elinor Ostrum of the U. of Indiana. The Nobel committee analyzed her book, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990) where Ostrom objects to the presumption that common property governance necessarily implies a "tragedy." \n\n-This tragedy refers to a 1968 article “The Tragedy of the Commons” where Garret Hardin believes the tragedy derives from the fact that selfish interest is a universal quality of the human being and this inevitably leads to environmental degradation because too many people competing for limited resources will eventually exceed the "carrying capacity" of the land. This led to the (in)famous tenet: "That which is owned by no one, will be abused by all." The actual quote is: "Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all." \n\nWhat are the “commons” in Gunnison valley? How should we locally conceive rules and enforcement mechanisms that enable us to sustain tolerable outcomes? What I believe is we don’t have an exchange system that supports the “commons” in the Gunnison valley with a local democratic process for governing our investments and community reciprocities?. \n\n-Contrary to Hardin’s mischaracterization of the “commons”, the Nobel Committee noted that Ostrom finds that users of “the commons” themselves conceive rules and enforcement mechanisms that enable them to sustain tolerable outcomes. By contrast, governmentally imposed restrictions are often counterproductive because central authorities lack knowledge about local conditions and have insufficient legitimacy. Indeed, Ostrom points out many cases in which central government intervention has created more chaos than order.\n\n
  • -Some of our actions already align with this philosophy, such as farmers’ markets, commitments to buy locally-produced goods, and creating carbon-reducing actions plans\n
  • -When I reflect on my knowledge/power relations unequally subverted by our current single-bottom line banks, I feel a revolting surge to bring justice to this unequal power relation. I don’t want an equal piece of the same carcinogenic pie, I want a Common Good Bank that will bring justice to this imbalance. I hope I can express how Common Good Banks can bring the revolution of this power relation, the resurgence of mutual reliance models, and the resiliency to democratically endure the disturbances of the natural order of life.\n\nI believe this justice lies in The Common Good Bank model and I hope to express this in my presentation. \n\n\n\n\nToday, I want to introduce to you an alternative exchange model that emerged as a result of the the exponential entropy between equity, economics and ecology . \n \n
  • Common good banks will be a new kind of community savings bank, designed very differently from traditional banks: All of the bank's profits will go to schools and other nonprofits. Depositors will decide what the bank should invest in. The bank's top priority will be sustainability and economic justice. \n\nAccording to Common Good Finance, the project's nonprofit promoter, several hundred people around the world worked together for seven years to design a new sustainable, democratic, community-based economic system. Common good banks are the result. As the project's website says, "This is not just another bank with a social agenda. This is a social agenda with a bank."\n\nUnder the common good bank plan, customers will receive a Common Good Card: a local credit/debit card that will be processed by the bank's own computers, using cell phone and internet technology. Unlike ordinary credit cards that cost businesses two percent plus a per-transaction fee, businesses can accept the Common Good Card without any fees at all. This feature makes it possible for any small business to accept credit cards and could save local businesses thousands of dollars in credit card fees.\n\nAnother interesting innovation of the common good bank plan is its distributed network structure. Any community with fifty or more depositors can create its own virtual bank, as a "Community Division". Community members get to vote on local investment priorities for their deposits and on how to spend the profits from those investments to advance the common good.\n\nThe design also includes a system for communities to create money locally, for local grants to schools and other nonprofits. Again, the depositors decide democratically how much money to create and what organizations to grant it to.\n\nInnovative direct democratic control is at the heart of common good banks. In each Community Division, depositors direct the bank's investment priorities, contributions of the bank's profits, and local currency grants and loans for the greater good of all. Economic democracy can save the world from corporate domination.\n\nThe common good bank™ decision system is a hands-on 100% democracy (every voice counts) suitable even for large diverse groups -- a blend of liquid democracy, Condorcet, instant runoff, approval voting, internet voting, town meeting style discussions and a spirit of consensus. The common good bank™ decision system has distinct advantages over each of those components alone.\n
  • In my christian and school counseling study and professional experience, I have encountered the growth, development and healing that comes from clients who embrace chaos, disequilibrium and disruption by building the mental, physical, social and emotional resiliency in their lives. Understanding that the natural order of life is in fact not orderly, but a constant fluctuation between imbalance and homeostasis and that our view of the world can have room to embrace human flawedness, can be the necessary truth for guiding us into the prosperous and healthy future we wish to transition toward. I am not happy with how poorly our faith-based communities have modeled mutual reliance in caring for the common good, have created unequal power relations among differing ideologies or underdeveloped the resiliency for enduring the disruptions in our lives. I challenge the faith-based communities to bridge the gap with the secular to help redefine prosperity and provide leadership in celebrating the common good. \n\nDr. Pena developed and moderates the Environmental & Food Justice blog \n\nIn his WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2009 entry he proposes that “democracy involve sustained daily lived experience in the practice of local place-based self-governance.” He believes this type of democracy is the underlying principle that informs the Nobel laureate Ostrom's work.\n\nLike Ostrom, he too is a passionate proponent of place-based participatory democracy and believes, the embracing of the ideas (and economic theories) underlying the struggle for the recovery and restoration of the commons is perhaps the most profound democratic challenge of the 21st century. \n\nI would agree with Dr. Pena that the recovery and restoration of the common good by the development of the Common Good Bank can be the exchange system solution to the most profound democratic challenge of the 21st century.\n\n
  • Please visit our booth to sign up as a future depositor, borrower or investor of the Common Good Bank of Gunnison. \n
  • Common Good Finance

    1. 1. presented by Eric Krawczyk, Gunnison Division Organizer
    3. 3. THE DILEMMAHow will this isolated headwatertown of Gunnison fund thetransition to a prosperous andresilient community mitigating the“long emergencies” of peak oil,economic crisis and climate change?
    4. 4. DR. DEVON PENA Environmental justice ethics are often expressed by thestatement: “We don’t want an equal piece of the samecarcinogenic pie.” How do we define prosperity in light of this statement?
    6. 6. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN......if the “common good” was the bottom-line for bank decisions?
    8. 8. Want a Common Good Bank? TM Let’s do it in GUNNISON! Sign up. 970-209-4200 or ekrawczyk@commongoodbank.comCommonGoodBank.comCommon Good Finance, democratic economics for a sustainable worldVISIT OUR BOOTH TO SIGN UP