From 22 to 28 of October in SKALA Ecovillage, Greece, we had the honor to explore together with the experts, Matthew Slater and Stewart Noble the issues of money and alternative and solidarity economy.
The last five years, Greece is in economic cyclone eye. A cyclone, which, as we all know, has a tremendous impact on the real lives of millions of people. Now, economists and politicians are trying to find ways to extend Greece’s debt, without even considering whether it should be repaid. We wonder, if it is an opportunity to redefine the measure of the value of money. If we stop using GDP as an indicator of economic success and if we set our resources in productive activities instead of military spending, security and inefficient ideologies, if we declare that “we do not want to be part in this madness”, how can we regain control of our productive resources and how do we do it with dignity and not with violence?
Matthew Slater, software activist from the UK, co-founder of the Swiss NGO Community Forge, alternative currency consultant, advises communities to create and manage complementary currencies, enabling:
1. promotion of local resources
2. increase in social cohesion and social dynamics
3. increasing economic resilience
4. promotion of local autonomy
5. reduction of environmental impacts
Together with him, Stewart Noble, with decades of practical experience in supporting local economies without money, showed us, how we create new “cells” of alternative economy.
Stewart Noble founded or supported most of the LETS in Scotland – local exchange trading system – explained to us in a direct and practical way, what are the Lets systems. Lets is a mutual aid system based on the community where people exchange goods and services by evaluating in terms of local currency, instead of spending cash.
The great attraction of alternative economy in a time of uncertainty is because a certain amount of cash that would otherwise be spent on services such as hairdresser or language courses etc. can be saved, as people pay each other in kind instead.
More specifically , in workshops with Matthew and Stewart we dealt with :
Offers and needs between us (SKALA Ecovillage) but also with the local community .
Relations with the local community – what can we offer to the local community and the world? What do we need? Afterwards Matthew led us in the trading floor game while Stewart put all the offers and wants into his SAM software and produced a printed directory.
Look at new offers and wants directory. Write some cheques for imaginary transactions, enter them in SAM and browse.
On Monday morning , Stewart left for Crete, promising to return in the spring and develop some Lets systems in Greece.
The next two afternoons Matthew led the workshops as follows :
1. How does money flow through Skala & members Map collective and individual economic inputs and outputs
2. Core business ideas. ASK everyone what kind of work creates flow, is effortless for them Discuss – where are the harmonics in the group Enquire: what is the economic situation now – how could it be developed?
On Tuesday we worked on the following themes:
1. Land Ownership & commitment
2. ASK everyone to plot on 4 axes: how much of them is in skala: heart, relationships, capital, income.
3. Enquire: What do other ecovillages do about ownership, commitment, participation in governance, and helping to shape the vision.
4. ASK everyone what would encourage them them to move towards the ‘full’ commitment.
5. Discuss: Is it possible and helpful to make full commitment (on those 4 axes) but for review after a time period, such as 5 years?
On Wednesday we put the topographic maps on the table and dreamed on the map, plotting the new professions of our eco-villages, which impressed us all so, to commit to the Christmas season to evolve more with the help of the method Dragon Dreaming.
All participants agreed that it was a realy valuable process. As a project, our steps led us already to the process of an adequate legal structure and commitment of the people involved, so now we are more aware, how we can move on to the next steps.
With the help of Matthew and Stewart we began to have an idea, that money is actually “common good”. We wondered if using Lets or time banking systems, we create a reality, where we measure the slightest exchange activity, which would lead us to a very narrow way of living and being and we saw that the road to abundance and grace passes through justice. Specialy here in Greece in times of economic crisis we want to create a basis of transparence and justice on the financial level and parallel to go for the abandance and grace to our relationships and exchanges.
We felt for the first time so strongly and clearly the great political importance of the issue of money in the creation of an alternative social model and we are determined to work for it. It is an issue associated with deep insecurities, fears, social and systemic patterns, illusions and political power. During these days, we went through a difficult issue, thanks to the delicate and confident handling by Matthew Slater and Stewart Noble.
Thank you for your work, for your selfless contribution and your humor.
With deep appreciation and love
On behalf of SKALA Ecovillage, Greece