Community Prosperity & Future Economies


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Guest lecture at Western State College's Biology Class-November 6, 2009

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  • Experiment by asking, “Who in the class has on them $5 that they feel is an abundance that has no specific commitment to be spent?” \n\n“Now, who in here is in a situation where they really need $5 to help make it through the day?”\n\nInvite the abundant student to offer the student in need the $5. \n\nExplain crabgrass versus oak trees.\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
  • Capture a space that offers comfort to the human body throughout the storms and you have shelter. Shelter has evolved, over the centuries, from basic protection to complex interior environments supported by waning fossil fuels, and elaborate infrastructures. \n\nPeople used caves for shelter the early days of humanity. As population grew, other methods of shelter were needed. People made shelter from animal skins and tree poles. As numbers of people grew and numbers of animals decreased, still other methods of shelter evolved. Later, people made shelters from logs and then chopped up more logs to heat them. Still the numbers of people grew while the number of trees decreased. People now make shelter from framed lumber (a more efficient use of trees). They use various fuel sources for temperature control, but the numbers of people continue to grow and the numbers of trees and sources of fuel continue to decrease. \n\nAs modern day conditions with both people and planet change around us, it is becoming necessary to reassess how we conceive of and manifest shelter. \n\n These performance achievements listed on the slide are incredible for Gunnison, CO, one of the coldest city (on average) in the lower 48 states yet sunniest for passive solar gain and located within the most stringent state water laws in the country. \n
  • Temperature control was introduced in shelters as humanity evolved and grew more aware of comfort. Comfortable temperature was achieved by the use of some form of fire for warming. In recent decades, cooling systems have evolved that also use some form of fire for energy to create the cool temperature. As temperature control became more desired and fuel became more precious, insulation emerged as a factor of new shelters. Insulation traps the temperature that is created inside the shelter. In modern times, millions of humans use some form of fire for both cooling and heating their often poorly insulated shelters. The problem is that the creation and delivery of fire has become so costly to both humans and the Earth that the end of available fire is in sight. \n\nTo meet our growing needs for inexpensive fuel to heat and cool our homes. Any form of centralized energy production results in delivery through wires and pipes, and this is a detriment to the quality of life on Earth. Even if centralized energy were produced in a harmless way, which may be possible, the delivery web is consuming us. The ever-increasing webs of wires and pipes, both above and below ground, are dangerous, unhealthy, ugly and expensive. Another downside of centralized energy production methods for controlling temperature in human shelters is dependency on the bureaucratic, political, and corporate giants that create and deliver the energy. These “giants” sometimes have a devastating effect on humanity themselves. And last there is the price (in money) that humans must forever pay for the manufacture and delivery of energy for maintaining a comfortable temperature in their shelter. This is felt in monthly expenses and taxes. \n\nThus, Earthships are intended to decentralize energy production and distribution in a way that cares for God creation.\n\n\n\n
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  • Volunteers from our community offered support to our earthship project, but lending institutions presented the biggest challenges. After 7 months of toiling with local, state and national banks amidst a depressed economic climate, we accepted the reality that we would need to seek private investors or facilitate the emergence of an alternative exchange system.\nWith no investors in sight we decided to organize a local Common Good Bank, a sensible economic system developed by the nonprofit organization, “Society to Benefit Everyone” based in Ashfield, MA. \nWe believe that, if others are to answer their creation care calling, they would need a bank that would inevitably fund their projects or businesses that take stewardship of our natural and social capital seriously. \nCommon good banks are designed to balance benefit to individuals with equal benefit to the greater good. By “Common Good”, I mean the well-being of each and every individual person beginning with those most in need, peace, justice, and a healthy sustainable planet. Families and churches are not strangers to this kind of stewardship. I believe extending our churches’ compassionate giving and stewardship practices into our local economic culture will provide the leadership and resources for generating resilient and creation caring communities. \n\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
  • On the scale of monetary policy and global economics, money is just plain bizarre. US money doesn’t come from the Treasury Department nor does much of it get printed at the mint. Money is lent into existence out of thin air by the Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve Bank is neither federal (it’s private) nor does it have a reserve of assets backing the money it lends out (it keeps only a small fraction in reserve). It is a group of private banks that, with little to no governmental oversight, have the ability to loan money they don’t have to the government or other banks and receive interest in return. Pretty amazing! The power to manipulate the global money supply rests with these banks. It is not surprising that the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve Banks include CEOs of some of the world’s largest corporations. Money and corporate power go hand in hand. The requirement for interest payments ensures that debt will always be larger than the supply of money, which in turns requires that the economy must always expand to pay for the ever increasing debt. The financial collapse we are now experiencing is an indication of just how out of control the whole privatized for-corporate-profit monetary system is.\n\nIt is enough to make even the most fun-loving person not want to play any more. But what can you do? You can’t live without money, can you? Can you? \n\nSome people are intentionally living without money – reducing their needs to match what the universe provides for them. Living outside the greed and scarcity of the money economy requires giving and sharing. Out of this has sprung the idea of the gift economy. If you were lucky enough to have grown up in a family where everyone helps out willingly, you already have a basic understanding of how a gift economy works. Everyone gives with no expectation of immediate personal reward. Worth is due to one’s contributions, not one’s possessions. Wikipedia is a simple example of how this works – in it knowledge is freely given. It is based on principles already at work in scientific research. The most successful scientist is the one who makes the greatest contribution in her field.\n\nThe following excerpts are from The Gift Economy: Not all economies are based on maximizing personal gain- some are founded on giving by Gifford Pinchot. One of the articles in Business On A Small Planet (IC#41)Summer 1995, Page 49\n\nPart of the pathway to a sustainable society comes from government actions such as regulations, taxes, subsidies, and partnerships that bias the market towards serving the common good. Part of the pathway to sustainability comes from building organizations with the capacity to support employees, to serve customers and stockholders, and to deliver ecological benefits - all at the same time. But neither government regulations and incentives, nor breakthroughs in corporate ability to address multiple bottom lines can ever be enough unless the people in the system care about more than a selfish vision of success.\nAccording to philosopher Lewis Mumford, fundamental change in civilizations comes when the culture changes its vision of what it is to be a human being. After a long period of seeing ourselves as conquerors of nature, we are due for such a change. We will begin facing the challenges caused by expanding technological power and growing population when we change what we are striving for. We need a new definition of success.\nSystems thinker and psychologist Gregory Bateson calls our view of ourselves as isolated individuals, "the epistemological error of Occidental civilization." Arne Naess, the Norwegian philosopher of deep ecology, suggests that we are at last moving beyond this error to a larger sense of self, a self which includes the planet. As Joanna Macy, another deep ecologist, puts it:\n"The obvious choice is to extend our notions of self interest. For example it would not occur to me to plead with you, 'Oh, don't saw off your leg. That would be an act of violence.' It wouldn't occur to me because your leg is part of your body. Well so are the trees in the Amazon rain basin. They are our external lungs. And we are beginning to realize that the world is our body."\n
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  • Community Prosperity & Future Economies

    1. 1. CommunityProsperity & future economies Eric Krawczyk, M.A., NCC
    2. 2. Crabgrass Scenario
    6. 6. “Just as the sun allows no darkness the lake allows no dryness the wind allows no calm the river, no silence…The Earthship allows no poverty.” –Michael Reynolds 6
    7. 7. Want a Common Good Bank? TM Let’s do it in GUNNISON! Sign up. 970-209-4200 or Common Good Finance, democratic economics for a sustainable worldCOMMON GOOD FINANCEALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC EXCHANGE SYSTEM 8
    8. 8. FreeconomyLiving without MoneyGift Economies Notice how, when tornadoes hit a town, when a hurricane, flood, or earthquake hits a city, suddenly money becomes meaningless, and people wake up and start helping each other and sharing.
    9. 9. Transition WhidbeyCatalyzing our community to work together toward greater food, energy, and economic self-reliance inresponse to predicted resource and energy constraints
    10. 10. What kind of prosperity are you living?How can the communities you belong to create prosperity in light of these ideas?
    11. 11. More Information••••••