Monthly Archives: December 2011

Organizing for local self-reliance and sustainability

This upcoming webinar promises to describe what may be a good model for organizing and  funding local enterprises that contribute to local self-reliance and sustainability, plus providing ways to secure your savings in investments that will have lasting real value–t.h.g..

Co-op Power: A Model for Local Investment, New Business Development and Job Creation

Webinar Speaker:

Lynn Benander of Co-op Power and Northeast Biodiesel

Date and Time: Tuesday, January 10 at 10am PT, (11am MT / 12pm CT / 1pm ET)

Coop Power

About the topic:

Maybe you know that cooperatives use their shared ownership structure and member fees to fund the cooperative itself. Join BALLE to learn how Co-op Power – a consumer-owned energy cooperative serving southern New England and eastern New York – is stretching the bounds of the cooperative structure and yielding amazing community capital returns in the process.

Co-op Power’s Local Organizing Councils have:

Raised more than $300,000 in member equity, $600,000 in member loans, and $850,000 in local investment to support the development of community-scale clean energy projects.

Worked together to support a growing number of new living economy enterprises, like a 3-million gallon biodiesel processing plant.

Created more than 100 jobs over just five years.

Focused on working with communities of color and limited resource communities to build a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future.

Explore this cutting-edge use of cooperative structure for going beyond member equity to finance local businesses and create new jobs – and how you can put the cooperative model to work in your community.

Learn more about our speaker and her organizations here.

How to use BALLE’s Accelerating Community Capital Webinar Series

Gather with others from your area to participate in a “viewing party” for each Accelerating Community Capital webinar.

Hold a discussion group afterward to investigate how your community can apply what you learn.

Groups can participate using just one member’s registration!

Hear firsthand about the best models working right now that you can replicate where you live.

Ask the presenters the questions you need to build local investing in your area.

Space is limited; register now!

CES, a prototype global exchange system for the 21st century

In a new article titled, Reinventing Money – A Community Exchange System from South Africa Conquers the World, Tim Jenkin describes the development and operation of the Community Exchange System (CES) which he founded in 2002. Beginning as a single local credit clearing exchange, CES has evolved into a global network of more than 340 local exchanges distributed over 34 countries.

“The CES web site is just a tool for managing exchange groups, for keeping accounts and for advertising. Each group administers itself and has its own rules and conditions of use. This keeps the overall system democratic and provides the basis for a multitude of separate but interacting local economies. Some groups base their unit of value on the national currency while others use time (e.g hours or minutes)… The long-term vision of CES is to democratise the entire network.”

“The CES has been operating for nearly nine years now and, though it is still minuscule compared to the global financial system, has demonstrated that it is as versatile as the conventional money system, and indeed more efficient in many ways. It caters to fairly large volumes of trade, permits international trade, provides an extremely efficient means of tax collection through an optional transaction levy, handles multiple conversion rates seamlessly and clears accounts instantaneously.”

While the CES prototype needs some refinement, it provides an operational “proof of concept” for the creation of a locally controlled, yet globally useful system of exchange that transcends the dysfunctional interest-based, debt-money system that is driving the world to destruction. I fully agree with Tim’s conclusions that:

“In the new era of declining energy and other natural resources, the global economy is inevitably going to have to contract. The debt-based money system looks increasingly unstable in the current low-growth environment and definitely cannot operate in a steady state or degrowth environment. A new exchange system  that operates something like CES will be needed. Such an exchange system simply reflects the economic situation, it does not drive it. When  interest is removed as a factor in exchange, the growth imperative is removed along with the debt bondage that most of us live under.

Extraction mechanisms such as speculation, derivatives, securitisation, hedging and other casino-like activities that allow a parasitic class to skim off the wealth of a society are also excluded. The decentralisation of control and lack of opportunities to hijack the exchange system for private gain will return the money power to ordinary people. No longer will those who currently control the financial system be the ones who decide where society puts it efforts and how it allocates its resources.

The realisation that money is information and not real stuff is hugely liberating because it means that a local community can create its own exchange system and not be dependent on the dysfunctional global one that is driving humanity to the brink of disaster.

This has all been made possible by our ability to share information on the internet. Local communities should jump at the opportunity to be able to define and control their own destinies instead of allowing financial institutions and governments to do it.”

I encourage all to read the entirety of Tim’s article. You can read it online or download the pdf file here.–t.h.g.

2011 End-of-year Newsletter

Holiday Greetings!

Here is an update on what I’ve been thinking and doing since my return from Asia two months ago. I know this is a busy time of year for everyone, so I’ll keep it brief.

Michigan conference and presentation links

The 2011 International Conference on Sustainability, Transition & Culture Change: Vision, Action, Leadership that was held in Michigan in November was very productive and enjoyable. Amongst the participants with whom I had opportunity to interact were Australian economist Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics, Nicole Foss of Automatic Earth, and Albert Bates of the Eco-village Training Center and The Farm in Tennessee. I was also inspired to hear the stories of a number of land-based participants from Michigan and the Midwest who have taken significant steps to prepare for the transformation and are well positioned to thrive throughout the chrysalis stage of the ongoing societal metamorphosis.

I gave a somewhat abbreviated version of my slide presentation on The Emerging Butterfly Society. This was recorded, along with the rest of the conference proceedings, and can be accessed at http://www.livestream.com/localfuture/video?clipId=pla_ade24121-d46d-4448-863c-babe129a604f . Be sure to also watch Albert Bates’ amazing story about the history of The Farm. It’s a remarkable tale of what a small group of people can achieve to help others when they have love in their hearts and shared objectives.

I was also invited, by one of my colleagues who lives in the area, to be interviewed for a cable TV series that he produces (Investigating Community Resilience), for a program called Outside In. On the day following the conference we met at Up North studio in Traverse City, Michigan to record two half-hour segments that were to be broadcast via cable during the following weeks. These are now available on the program website. The first segment can be downloaded at http://ir.nrec.org/content/author-tom-greco-talk-about-history-money-and-debt, and the second at http://ir.nrec.org/content/more-tom-greco.

I think these went particularly well because the interviewer, Dave Barrons, is an TV personality with many years of experience who has a strong interest in the topics of my books and was well prepared with some excellent questions. Please watch these and pass the word along to your networks.

The next in this series of Local Future conferences is being planned for the end of May 2012. Since next year’s BALLE conference will be held in Grand Rapids from May 15 to 18, it seems advantageous to hold it in the same city immediately following. Watch the LF website for details.

Jubilee: The only way out of the Global Financial Predicament

As I wrote more than three years ago in The End of Money, “the growth god is dead.” We must face the fact that the limits to physical growth have been reached. This does not necessarily mean a decline in living standards or a global war for control of resources. There is plenty enough to provide a dignified life for everyone on the planet and even two or three billion more. We have been tremendously successful in developing “labor saving” machinery and technologies that can make us more healthier and more comfortable. The problem is that those benefits have not been equitably distributed and the whole range of incentives that are built into the industrial society promotes waste and conflict. We can all live much better while consuming less stuff, but to achieve that we’ll need to reinvent money, banking and finance. Accelerating debt growth cannot continue much longer. One way or another, much of the existing debt will need to be written off in the coming years. Will it be done deliberately, fairly, and systematically, or in a chaotic collapse of the global financial system?

If you want to understand what is happening on the global financial front, please watch this dialog between Chris Martenson and James Turk as they talk about Europe and the global economy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BsMj59hyJOQ.

And for a good understanding of the underlying factors that are bringing an the end to growth, and to get some direction on what to do to adapt, you may want to consult the following:

  • Richard Heinberg (The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economy),
  • Michael Ruppert (Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World and Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil),
  • Chris Martenson (The Crash Course).

The Occupy Movement

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted a number of comments and links to materials about the Occupy movement. The most recent of these highlights a panel session that was held on November 10th at the New School in New York City. The panel was titled, Occupy Everywhere: On the New Politics and Possibilities of the Movement Against Corporate Power. It featured Oscar-winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore; Naomi Klein, best-selling author of the Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center and publisher of ColorLines; Occupy Wall Street organizer Patrick Bruner; and journalist William Greider, author of Come Home America, Who Will Tell the People?, and, Secrets of the Temple (about the Federal Reserve). The panelists provided some interesting perspectives on the movement. You can find the video and a transcript of the proceedings at the Democracy Now! website.

Yes! Magazine, in conjunction with Berrett-Koehler Publishers, has just come out with an excellent booklet, This Changes Everything, which both describes and gives some direction to the Occupy movement.

This Changes Everything shows how the movement is shifting the way people view themselves and the world, the kind of society they believe is possible, and their own involvement in creating a society that works for the 99% rather than just the 1%.”

It features brief statements by more than a dozen leading voices, including David Korten, Naomi Klein, and Ralph Nader. You can get a copy from Yes! Magazine.

I’m confident that what began as a protest and expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo will quickly shift into a broad-based citizens’ movement to establish a true government “by the people and for the people” and a world that works for all. If you’re not already a part of this exciting process, Get Informed and get onboard…

Plato o plomo

I recently read the book, Killing Pablo, a story written by Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down). I didn’t seek it out, it just appeared, so I grabbed it. It’s all about money, drugs, power, violence, and corruption, specifically related to the Columbian drug cartels and Pablo Escobar. It is an astounding example of the breakdown of law and order and the corrupting power of extreme wealth, particularly when in the hands of ruthless sociopaths. That is not to say that Escobar was the only one using the tactics of violence and terror. In the end, it seems it was the use of those same tactics by paramilitary groups with shadowy connections to both the Columbian and U.S. governments that brought Escobar down.

This is a chilling story of what can happen when terror, intimidation, and assassinations become a way of political life. The cartels and power brokers had (have?) a way of posing a choice to the government and military officials they sought to corrupt—plato o plomo, (silver or lead)? That was no idle threat. The cartel(s) had (have?) the wherewithal to carry it out. No one was safe in Columbia during that time. They could protect neither themselves nor their families. Police, soldiers, politicians, legislators, and judges were assassinated by the thousands, their family members kidnapped and often murdered, and innocent civilians killed in frequent bombings. This is a book that will cure you of any residual naiveté you may have regarding money, power, and politics.

THRIVE

I recently viewed the movie THRIVE: What on Earth Will it Take?, and attended a discussion group about it in Berkeley. The movie, a documentary produced by Foster Gamble, addresses the same basic questions that set me on my current path many years ago, namely, why is there so much suffering and deprivation amidst great opulence, and why is the earth being continually despoiled with no end in sight? What will it take to enable everyone on the planet to live a dignified life and realize their full potential?

While some may not relate well to the first part of the movie that considers free energy and UFOs, the movie is well worth viewing for its description of the domineering mindset and elite control that characterize our present reality, and for its inspirational vision of what our future could be. THRIVE groups are springing up in many places as people seek to understand the dimensions of our situation, and to help one another decide on appropriate actions.

*     *     *

Finally, this verse from a Christmas card caught my eye:

     May the true meaning of Christmas fill your heart with happiness all year!

Whatever your religious background might be, I invite you to contemplate these questions, What is the true meaning of Christmas? What is it that all religions are supposed to provide? How can we make religion a force that brings us all together instead of one that separates us?

And here is my wish for the New Year, and forever more—

        Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All!

Tom

Let’s walk away and play a different game.

In this short video by Katie Teague, David Korten describes the fundamental strategy that I have been advocating for a long time. Forget about petitioning Congress or appealing to the power structure. The old system cannot be reformed; it must be transcended. We need to reduce our dependence upon their systems, structures and institutions, and learn to share and cooperate in building new ones that serve the common good. That must begin with the greatest of all our dependencies–money.

Katie Teague is the producer of the film, Money and Life.

Did Libya’s Gadhafi Threaten the Global Power Structure?-Part 2

Here’s another report from RT television about the reasons for the NATO invasion of Libya and the overthrow of the Gadhafi government.