January 26, 2009

Forum on the Solidarity Economy, MARCH 2009

Forum on the Solidarity Economy:
Building Another World
March 19-22, 2009
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Co-convened with Universidad de los Andes (Venezuela)
& RIPESS-NA (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy - North America)

Background: About the Forum
Forum Schedule (.xls download)
Registration & Workshop Proposal Form (.doc download) Please note: Deadline for submissions extended until January 23!

* Co-sponsor the Forum on the Solidarity Economy
* Program Booklet ads - support the Forum by taking out an ad
* Logistical information: travel, accommodations

An Historic Opportunity

The current economic crisis and the possible death throes of neoliberalism (corporate-led globalization), offers us an historic opening to advance a new framework for economic development. We have an opportunity to push for a fundamental transformation in our economic and social system, one that puts people and planet before private profits and power.

Continue reading "Forum on the Solidarity Economy, MARCH 2009" »

November 30, 2007

New Artist Book on Alternative Economies

“Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” book

The exhibition project “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” by Oliver Ressler focuses on diverse concepts and models for alternative economies and societies, which all share a rejection of the capitalist system of rule.

The book “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” is a collaborative effort of the artist and Wyspa Insitute of Art (www.wyspa.art.pl), following the presentation in the “Health and Safety” exhibition at Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk, 2004 and shows the current status of the ongoing project.
It includes an introduction by Aneta Szylak, the new essay “Questions from an Artist Who Speaks (and Reads, Writes, Thinks, and Acts)“ / “Pytania od artysty który przemawia (a także czyta, pisze myśli i działa)“ by Gregory Sholette, and the following texts, which are based on transcriptions of video interviews that were carried out by Oliver Ressler for the project between 2003 and 2007:

Chaia Heller: Libertarian Municipalism / Komunalizm Libertariański
Takis Fotopoulos: Inclusive Democracy / Demokracja inkluzywna
Michael Albert: Participatory Economics / Ekonomia uczestnicząca
Heinz Dieterich: The Socialism of the 21st Century / Socjalizm 21. wieku
Paul Cockshott: Towards a New Socialism / W kierunku Nowego Socjalizmu
p.m.: bolo’bolo
Marge Piercy: Utopian Feminist Visions / Utopijne idee feministyczne
Ralf Burnicki: Anarchist Consensual Democracy / Anarchistyczna Demokracja Konsensualna
Maria Mies: The Subsistence Perspective / Perspektywa naturalna
Nancy Folbre: Caring Labor / Praca opiekuńcza
Christoph Spehr: Free Cooperation / Wolna Współpraca
John Holloway: Change the World Without Taking Power / Zmieniaj świat bez przejmowania władzy
The Zapatista Good Government / Dobry Rząd Zapatystów
Todor Kuljic: Yugoslavia’s Workers Self-Management / Samozarządzanie robotników w Jugosławii
Salomé Moltó: Workers’ Collectives during the Spanish Revolution / Kolektywy robotnicze podczas rewolucji hiszpańskiej
Alain Dalotel: The Paris Commune 1871 / Komuna Paryska 1871 roku

The book is published under Creative Commons license.

Editors: Aneta Szylak (Wyspa Insitute of Art) & Oliver Ressler, 240 pages (20 pages in color), languages: English and Polish, ISBN 978-83-924665-0-5, EUR 18,- (+ EUR 7,35 postage fees)

Purchase inquiries: roma.piotrowska@wyspa.art.pl or oliver.ressler@chello.at (only Euro-zone)

October 5, 2007

Freeconomy Site Launched

I just read about this new site http://www.justfortheloveofit.org for people to network and share.

The guy who started it is walking from Ireland to India with no money. Check it out: http://www.justfortheloveofit.org/p_story.php

September 29, 2007

Venture Sharing

Our friend Daniel sent us this link to a site about Venture Communism (http://www.telekommunisten.net/venture-communism) - Venture Capitalists there's some new competition!

August 23, 2007

Local Currencies in the News!

Zulma Aguiar sent me this article about BerkShares from Reuters:
New age town in U.S. embraces dollar alternative
Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:06AM EDT

By Scott Malone

GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A walk down Main Street in this New England town calls to mind the pictures of Norman Rockwell, who lived nearby and chronicled small-town American life in the mid-20th Century.

So it is fitting that the artist's face adorns the 50 BerkShares note, one of five denominations in a currency adopted by towns in western Massachusetts to support locally owned businesses over national chains.

"I just love the feel of using a local currency," said Trice Atchison, 43, a teacher who used BerkShares to buy a snack at a cafe in Great Barrington, a town of about 7,400 people. "It keeps the profit within the community."

There are about 844,000 BerkShares in circulation, worth $759,600 at the fixed exchange rate of 1 BerkShare to 90 U.S. cents, according to program organizers. The paper scrip is available in denominations of one, five, 10, 20 and 50.

In their 10 months of circulation, they've become a regular feature of the local economy. Businesses that accept BerkShares treat them interchangeably with dollars: a $1 cup of coffee sells for 1 BerkShare, a 10 percent discount for people paying in BerkShares.

Named for the local Berkshire Hills, BerkShares are accepted in about 280 cafes, coffee shops, grocery stores and other businesses in Great Barrington and neighboring towns, including Stockbridge, the town where Rockwell lived for a quarter century.

"BerkShares are cash, and so people have transferred their cash habits to BerkShares," said Susan Witt, executive director of the E.F. Schumacher Society, a nonprofit group that set up the program. "They might have 50 in their pocket, but not 150. They're buying their lunch, their coffee, a small birthday present."

Great Barrington attracts weekend residents and tourists from the New York area who help to support its wealth of organic farms, yoga studios, cafes and businesses like Allow Yourself to Be, which offers services ranging from massage to "chakra balancing" and Infinite Quest, which sells "past life regression therapy."


The BerkShares program is one of about a dozen such efforts in the nation. Local groups in California, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin run similar ones. One of the oldest is Ithaca Hours, which went into circulation in 1991 in Ithaca, New York.

About $120,000 of that currency circulates in the rural town. Unlike BerkShares, Ithaca Hours cannot officially be freely converted to dollars, though some businesses buy them.

Stephen Burkle, president of the Ithaca Hours program, said the notes are a badge of local pride.

"At the beginning it was very hard to get small businesses to get on board with it," said Burkle, who also owns a music store in Ithaca. "When Ithaca Hours first started, there wasn't a Home Depot in town, there wasn't a Borders, there wasn't a Starbucks. Now that there are, it's a mechanism for small businesses to compete with national chains."

U.S. law prevents states from issuing their own currency but allows private groups to print paper scrip, though not coins, said Lewis Solomon, a professor of law at George Washington University, who studies local currencies.

"As long as you don't turn out quarters and you don't turn out something that looks like the U.S. dollar, it's legal," Solomon said.


The BerkShares experiment comes as the dollar is losing some of its status on international markets, with governments shifting some reserves into euros, the pound and other investments as the U.S. currency has slid in value.

But the dollar is still the currency that businesses in Great Barrington need to pay most of their bills.

"The promise of this program is for it to be a completed circle," said Matt Rubiner, owner of Rubiner's cheese shop and Rubi's cafe. Some local farmers who supply him accept BerkShares, but he pays most of his bills in dollars.

"The circle isn't quite completed yet in most cases, and someone has to take the hit," Rubiner said, referring to the 10 percent discount. "The person who takes the hit is the merchant, it's me."

Meanwhile, Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., a western Massachusetts bank that exchanges BerkShares for dollars, is considering BerkShares-denominated checks and debit cards.

"Businesses aren't comfortable walking around with wads of BerkShares to pay for their supplies or their advertising," said Melissa Joyce, a branch officer with the bank, which has 25 branches, six of which exchange BerkShares. "I do hope that we're able to develop the checking account and debit card, because it will make it easier for everyone.

June 23, 2007

Freegans in the NY Times

There's an overview of "freegans" in the Home and Garden Section (!) of the NY Times. Here's an excerpt:

Freegans are scavengers of the developed world, living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet, and to distance themselves from what they see as out-of-control consumerism. They forage through supermarket trash and eat the slightly bruised produce or just-expired canned goods that are routinely thrown out, and negotiate gifts of surplus food from sympathetic stores and restaurants.

June 13, 2007

Maine Time Banks

We were just in Portland, Maine a couple weeks back and stumbled upon a flyer for Maine Time Banks, a local currency circulating in Portland. Based on their website, www.mainetimebanks.org, they seem well established and very organized. Over 700 members trade "time dollars" with each other for over 800 different services.

Cat's Out of the Bag

I ran into this cool looking project a couple days ago, small comic books that attempt to make the workings of capitalism visable. In the spirit of religious comics like those made by Jack Chic, these little illustrated books help envision the real inner workings of capitalist economics and hopefully help people create other ways to live. Their website is catsoutofthebag.com.

May 31, 2007

Sharing Couches

Wow, this not-for-profit site connects travellers around the world with free places to stay!

and this one does too: http://www.globalfreeloaders.com!

April 6, 2007

Baby Sitting/Child Care Co-operatives

I ran into a friend of mine from college a few weeks ago. She told me about the child care cooperative she belongs to in Brooklyn. It's really simple. There are several families that share in child care. If one member needs a baby sitter, they send out an email to the other families on the list and then someone volunteers. They never have to pay for babysitting and the children in the network get to play together often, it's pretty awesome.

Here are some articles about this idea. It seems there are some formal ways to do it but it seems like the informal way works just as well.