Sunday, December 26, 2010

Assumptions and what's to come

I am struggling to get my brain organized. I have so many ideas, there are so many projects and so much information, new inspiring books, lots of passions...I honestly admit I have no idea what will happen in 2011. It seems to be an invitation to stop worrying about it and just wait and put my energy where the passion and inspiration seduce me. 

Every new entry in this blog seems further and further away from its original topic which is a New Economic System for Humanity. But really, I feel that this system has to be holistic, it has to include all the aspects of a human being that the current system has ignored for so long or has manipulated thus far. 

Up to now, I know that the problem is not money as such, and there is not really any problem with earning money out of doing something one believes is positive for humanity. I say this because I used to preferred non-profit organizations based on the idea that "aaahhh ok, you don't want money, you must be good then". Maybe it all depends on what I want that money for or how I will spend it. Money for the sake of money does not do anything and has been the cause of so much suffering, to the point that we believe that live depends on it. I often hear comments like "...but I need to eat, I need to educate my kids, I need to pay for a place to live". In my country, Colombia, I even heard many times...even I said it at some point, I would have kids only if I could ensure I would have the money to pay for what they need, otherwise "I'm not bringing another child to suffer on this planet". Another common thought I heard was "I want my children to have all what I couldn't have".  Let's look at this unexamined assumptions separately:

1) "I need money to eat/educate myself/educate my kids/to have a house". This assumption often translates to "I need money to live". I once asked someone to give me all the money she had on her pocket and/or wallet. After that, we stayed in silence looking at each other's eyes. She was expecting another instruction I suppose. After a while I said "you're still alive...what you need to be alive is not money, is live itself". Many years after that, I was having a conversation with a friend and I brought that statement up, she replied "well, yes...but...I need money to buy food, and to educate myself so I can get a job to buy food and a place to live". And someone else wisely suggested to me "yes, that is how it works at the moment, that's how it looks like, but it doesn't mean that it is the way it's meant to be, or that it will never change, or that it cannot change". Vegetables and fruits come from the earth, I sow seeds and transplant plants, not coins. So what I need to eat is the alive earth, not money. Knowledge and wisdom are transferred in many ways across cultures, families, generations, friends, knowledge and wisdom is contained in all what I see every day, and every person is generating knowledge every second. Money can actually be an obstruction to education because of the limiting believe that you need money instead of the actual wisdom contained in a situation. 

2) "I'm not bringing another child to suffer on this planet". Fair enough...I mean, I understand that we don't want to see starving kids in the world. But, what is our definition of suffering?? I do not have financial restrictions at the moment, however I cannot say that I have the perfect free-of-suffering life. Is money itself really the thing that makes us happy or unhappy?? Does it really switch on and off my happiness button?? It was pretty sad to realize that I did not have control over my inner emotional state, and to discover that it depends on everything else. At the same time, I discovered that this lack of control can be beneficial for the selfish me, who may always be able to find someone else to blame for my unhappiness, instead of assuming the responsibility involved in acknowledging that I allowed myself to be in such situation. How much money do I think I need to make the decision to have a baby?? Bringing life to earth depends on whether or not I have money to support that life...It just doesn't make sense. I see the natural world and it doesn't work like me. 

3) "I want my children to have all what I couldn't have"...what does that mean? Happiness for my kids is represented in me giving them as much stuff as they are happy to receive?? and of course, the only way to get that stuff is buy working in some, most likely, meaningless job so I can get the money to get all this stuff. Can I really ensure my kids will be happy if I can provide them with...things?? Many people say "well, that's the real world" and they console themselves with that excuse and, at the same time, give themselves the permission to keep the 'real world' as it is and avoid taking any responsibility for it. 

That said, I'll look at the other side of the coin, as we say in my country. Money is useful, is meant to be a catalyst, a tool to quicken the rate of exchange...not sure if that is the appropriate use of words but, one of the functions of money is to be a medium of exchange, and it is in that spirit that I use it to exchange knowledge and wisdom (or go to an education institution), to support all the exchanges necessary for vegies and fruits to get to my plate on my table, and to support all the activities that need to happen so I can have a place to sleep with my family. The source of happiness in that money comes from the fact that I am allowing good things to happen by putting the money in circulation for others to make use of it too. I believe that it is the spending of money and the creation of its abundance what supports a happier existence of human beings on earth. On the contrary, what I see happening in the world as it currently is, is the hoarding of money for pure and extreme fear of being death if there is not enough of it, again, linking life to money itself. Biological processes do not happen because of money. Life does not happen because of money. I believe that the monetary system is one of many projections of our inner state in the world.

Do we need to accumulate money?? I think it may be necessary sometimes, but it does not have to be the rule. Big infrastructure projects may need to have some basic financial capacity to go ahead, for example. For profit business may accumulate money for certain periods of time to invest in the improvement of their services or relationships, which attempt to create a better future for society, not necessarily to sell more of meaningless goods and services. I have big hopes that if we change the source of our desire to generate profits, we can change the structure of how we do business and engage in entrepreneurial ventures. If the source is fear, then the result is what we have, if the source is love, the results are beyond our mental capacity. In the 'real world' of fear, the cheapest price does not show what it costs to my being, to consume what I am consuming. The cheapest price allows me to save some money at the expense of my true wellbeing, at the expense of my aliveness and the capacity to support others in their efforts to 'survive'. The cheapest price really means nothing, often nor does it the highest price. I am interested to see how the new economics based on collaboration, openness and trustworthiness would establish a process of price formation. How will the price for anything be created?? The idea of 'retrospectives' of BetterMeans is inspirational on this matter. I'll provide a link to it soon. 

As I write, I feel that what 2011 has for me is an exciting and amazing journey to the exploration and confrontation of my own fears. In 2010 I visualized many things, and took my first little step towards making my dreams come true. The one event I put together with the help of so many people, really took me to the edge. Anyone could say that I failed: Few attendants and barely covered costs. However, at the end of the weekend. I was more alive than ever. Few but high quality participants that have 'real life' projects and are looking for solutions. I could have cried for the next week after not having achieved any of my initial expectations, but instead, I realized that this event was the first of many steps that  I have to take to dissolve my fears. Failure does not exist unless I am captive of what the world has to say about me. In other words I may say "I failed...and what!! I am not afraid to try again"...that really is anything but failure!!!

To start structuring my ideas somewhere, I dream of having my own business that projects what I think. I am pretty sure I know what that business is about, and 2011 will potentially be a year where I'll have to hit the wall many times to learn and get some experience. This is from scratch, even becoming a good blogger is part of the process. I have no work experience but I am confident that it will not be an obstacle to get me where I want to get...which I don't know where it is yet...I am in the process of discovering what it is that I want to passionately do in this world and not be ashamed of making money from it. Whether that money is official, complementary or both I don't know...everything is possible and probably better to be able to access them all. 

Welcome 2011!!! 


Saturday, December 4, 2010

"The Answer to How is Yes" on Fear vs Love...reflections on the "changing the economic dream event"

Peter Block is an author that I have not had the opportunity to read yet, but whom I profoundly admire for his approach to community building. He has a book called "The answer to how is Yes". What this title speaks to me is that, when we are facing a situation that we want to change, generally improve, we ask the question "how do I do it?", but hidden underneath this question, what we are really asking is 'can I do it?'. And the answer is YES. The 'can I do it' and 'how do I do it' questions somehow imply that I want to do something but lack the information and even the inspiration to do it, it seems to me that when I ask 'how do I', meaning 'can I', I am actually feeling powerless, hopeless, maybe incapable, and potentially not wise enough to address the issue that is of my concern. In these questions I read and hear fear. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of being idealistic, unreal, and fear of those who may have the answer to 'how to do it'.

One of the main conclusions I came up with from the weekend, is that most of humanity wants to change the world in one way or another. We don't want poverty, we don't want injustice, we don't want wars, corruption, polluted rivers, air, oceans, we don't want mass extinction. But I often ask myself where are we acting from when we are making the decision to change something, anything?? and, why do we want to change it?? what is so wrong about it that I want to change it?? and really...what is it that I want to change??

Well, it seems that often I want to create change out of actions that come only from the rational mind, as in; "the problem is this, and I think that's is wrong because X,Y and Z, therefore what we have to do is A,B and C". This position has to start from the assumption that I am not part of the problem, which implies that I don't take any responsibility for the state the world is in, rather, I am part of the 'right' people with the 'right' solution. And when I realized that, I understood that those who I blame for the state of the world, are simultaneously blaming me. I see this as a day-in-day-out situation everywhere around the world: Politics, economics, environment...debates like climate change are stuck in a battle to defend personal perspectives because of this I'm-right-you're-wrong discussion, instead of uncovering the deeper layers of the problem...and yes, I'm probably stating by that, that that is see?? The right-and-wrong fight, takes me to act out of fear too: fear of me being wrong, and fear of the potential risk to die if, for instance, I don't 'act against climate change and those who don't think there is a problem'. Thus...what am I doing different really?? am I changing the world as I supposedly and desperately want?? 

From a perspective of mind and heart balance, focusing on defending my point of view seems rather fundamentalist. And here is where I see the immense importance of my believe system, whatever that may be, my theory is that, regardless of the system, you are following those ideas in an attempt to be a better person. Even when the ideas are not religious/spiritual. I tend to have a bit of a giggle when I heard talks about being atheist, secularism, or science and religion discrepancies, because, for those who don't follow any religion, whatever they use to attack the notion, being this science or something else, has the same effect on them as religion teachings have in their followers. Whether it is objective or subjective believes, we use them for the same purpose: Create a better world. The question is then: what is a better world?? and how can we create it without having to kill anybody?? Is it possible to have 'the best world'?? and are we ever going to be satisfied with the world we get?? Acting from the heart, may make a difference on the world we create and by acting from the heart, I probably mean, taking the risk to jump in the water without fear...because fear and love cannot act together although they need each other. 

Thus, I ended up thinking that changing the world, saving the planet, eliminating poverty and so on, is not really what I want. What I deeply want and need is to have a happy world and happy surroundings. I think I've been confused all my life because I always thought that to be happy, I had to change others, I had to convince people that they're wrong so that they can change and create a space in the way I wanted it to be so that I can be happy. My recent reflection from the event says different: I don't want to change the world, I want to change what I experience from the world. I want to experience love, and happiness, and compassion...if I see happy children everywhere, I'll experience good emotions, I don't want to experience sadness. Changing this perspective has made a huge difference in the way I'm trying to do things now. I went from a state of anxiety, sense of not enough time and acting as if death was chasing and catching up on me, to what it feels to be like a temporary stage of calmed reflection about what the next step might be. 

The problem with this conclusion is that love, compassion and forgiveness are difficult to sell in a world of actions and practice. The first question that comes to mind is 'how can we translate love, compassion and forgiveness into practice in this world??' and again, what that question really means is 'can that really happen in this crazy world??'...again, the answer is yes. If I can love, forgive and feel the pain of the world as my own pain, then I definitely can put that into actions that express it. In fact, the world I have today, is an attempt to do that!! I just need to try something different...I need to stop asking "how" and start asking maybe, where or when, or who is doing something similar when...I need to step back from the cloud of fear and endless discussions about righteousness and wrongness. I've tried those discussions all my life and the world still is what it is, I think it is about time to try something different. Good news are, this 'something different' is emerging and it is not just a nice dream. There are now tools and projects that I see as the direct result of acts of fearless love, compassion and forgiveness and I'm sure the people who are creating these things are immensely happy. 

And 'what to do with the people that have created so much suffering in this world??', 'are they not going to pay for all what they have done??' asks my brain consumed in fear, and my heart answers: If you leave them behind, you're not doing anything different to what you have already done, and the result will be a world equally unjust to them, as the unjust world you have today for others. You don't have to change them, you just have to change yourself and leave the door open to when they want to knock. 

And what has this to do with money/finance/economics?? Well...I've many times wanted to inflict some sort of punishment to bankers to be honest, and to consumerists, and maybe capitalists and socialists, and corporate men...the list goes on and on I gonna leave them behind?? then I'll have to live with the idea that I'll have a world with only about 5% of the current population, actually, I'll have to live with the idea that I wouldn't be part of that world. What am I going to do with the 95% then, including myself....???...I guess I  better review that idea.

Seriously thinking about writing 'The Economic Dream' by Tatiana Spanish. Where can I start from??

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

At the verge of a heart attack!!! but a good one!!

I just feel that I can't keep up with all the information that emerges about new ways to do things. I don't want to be judgmental, but it does seem to me that if we don't wake up, we will be left behind. 

Many people, from all religious and spiritual backgrounds and whether they believe on the story they hear of or not, seem to be worried about what will happen to the world in the next couple of years. On the one hand, even those who don't believe in the story of 2012, have something to fear about it. We see the news about the environmental, social and economic crisis slapping us on the face every single day...and we are trying to find a place to hide when the day comes....but the more I avoid the bad news, the more good ones I get and I find myself continuously asking...will it really be that bad??

Well I do not think so. I must admit I do not know where to start from because I find myself surrounded by endless possibilities of a new, great world to live on!!! Many of us don't see it because we are too busy trying to protect ourselves from the old paradigms. We don't see it because we are too scared of jumping and try something new...but what is emerging now is just that: Amazingly, absolutely, completely, entirely new, new from the very base of the structure. 

So if you do believe in the stories that tell you that the end of the world is around the corner, I would like to share my vision about it with you: The end of the selfish world, the end of the over-competitive world, the end of the all-for-the-money world, the end of hierarchical world, the end of the rich and the poor, the end of social injustice, the end of our disconnection from nature, the end of our disconnection with ourselves, our bodies, the food we eat, the end of our lack of compassion for others and ourselves, the end of our lack of forgiveness  of others and ourselves, the end of meaningless jobs, the end of the absurd pursuit of money to gain temporary happiness, the end of poisoning food and poisoning 'medicine', the end of the world of fear....the end of that world is around the corner. 

"And what about all the suffering, chaos and killing bit of the prophecies??" you may ask...well, I have two things to say about it. 1) At a collective level, do you need more suffering in this world??? Do you need more killing??? Is this not enough chaos??? How much more do you need to see to think that the world is in crisis and suffering?? and 2) at the personal level, the suffering and the chaos may happen to you if you refuse to let go of your old ideological and material attachments (and I'm not talking about "you have to be poor to be saved"), if you refuse to admit that something new is coming, if you refuse to let go of your ambition for power over people instead of aiming at power with people. If you keep your fears about sharing what you know, if you keep thinking that what you have and what you know must be kept for you and you only, and maybe for your children. If you keep thinking that money is the key to heaven, what keeps you alive, what feeds you, what makes you get up every morning, and what you need in this world to survive; Then you will suffer, because what is coming is about the complete opposite. 

So what made me write this was the discovery of the book "UnMarketing: Stop marketing. Start Engaging" by Scott Stratten, "Brains on Fire: Igniting powerful, sustainable, word of mouth movements" by various authors, look it up at Amazon, "Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone is connected. Connect your business to everyone" By Mitch Joel. Also, looking at suggestions made by email or skype I found "The Mesh: Why the future of Business is Sharing?" by Lisa Gansky. Obviously I haven't read them yet, but a quick look at what's available in Amazon, plus reading the reviews, excites me....

So...there you are, and there is another myriad of books and things happening:

Enjoy the end of the world!!!

Tatiana Maya

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Friday the 26th of November: Symposium

4:30 pm - Registration starts

5:00 pm – Symposium

6:35 pm – Break

6:45 pm – Symposium

7:35 pm – Break

7:40 pm – Symposium

9:00 pm – End of Symposium.

Saturday the 27th of November: Open Space Forum for changing the economic dream.
9:00 am – Opening the Space

10:45 - Morning tea

11:00 am - Open Space forum

12:15 pm – Lunch

1:15 pm - Open Space Forum

2:30 pm – Afternoon Tea

2:45 pm – Open Space forum

6:00 pm – Workshop close


All the specific details will be delivered during the weekend. This is only a guide about expected times.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Future Of Money Project by Venessa Miemis

Original post here
What are young adults thinking about money and value? How can we create new systems of wealth generation and abundance? What does the future hold for banks and other financial institutions in the wake of massive peer to peer exchange?
“The Future of Money” begins a conversation on these topics and invites your participation (twitter hashtag #futureofmoney)
We did it! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this process over the past few months!
I presented this video to a room full of bankers (200+, standing room only!) as part of my keynote on Monday, 25 October 2010, at the SIBOS Conference in Amsterdam. Though I don’t think most of them “got it,” the seed has been planted. And apparently someone found my talk compelling enough to quote me in an article on! yay! (Sibos kicks off with call for innovation).
It will be interesting to see if we whetted their appetite enough that Swift or another organization might want to provide funding for us to take the project further. Perhaps we could roll out a whole video series that dives deeper into what is really going on with peer to peer exchange, the emergence of complimentary currencies, and the social movements that are fueling this (wealth generating commons, open innovation, coworking and open design spaces, sharing, cooperatives, collaboration, data transparency, social networks, mobility, etc).
In all, I’m so pleased with this experience and the energy and activity supporting it. We crowdfunded over $5,700 over on, and donations are still rolling in! Pretty amazing, and resonant with a comment Linus Olsson of Flattr makes in the video, describing the new way people are thinking about micropayments and the funding of an individual’s creative process -
It’s not a question that you pay for what you already got. You actually pay for what you will get… the things that can be made because you paid.
Please pass the video around, and let’s keep the conversation going. In just 2 days since we posted it online, it’s received over 4,000 views! Share, embed, spread! A Future of Money page has also been started on Facebook, and the #futureofmoney hashtag is alive and well on Twitter. :)
I’d love any feedback on the video from you, or any suggestions as to where we go from here. As you know, we will also be creating an infographic as the final part of this particular project, so stay on the lookout for its release in the next few weeks!
Below is the transcript of my talk – it’s quite brief because I only had 15 minutes total, and the video took up half that time. I’ve also listed all the people who appear in the video, along with links to their initiatives/projects.
Thanks again to all!
“I’m going to talk to you about the changes that are taking place in the way my generation is redefining money and value and wealth. To help convey this message, I spent the past three weeks co-producing a video with a creative studio in Berlin, especially for this event. Just using webcams and Skype, we interviewed people from around the world – from Thailand, Sweden, Germany, the UK, the US, Mexico – all of whom are involved with initiatives that enable new forms of peer to peer value exchange. So, without further explanation, here is the world premiere of The Future of Money.
(video played)
I hope you found that both though provoking and entertaining. There was a lot of information there, so if I had to distill it down into one main concept, one takeaway, it’s this:
There is a class of young, intelligent, creative people who are disillusioned with the debt-based monetary system, and are busy building the infrastructures for a commons-based economy, which is emerging, right now, in parallel to what currently exists. The foundation of this economy is built on trust… and transparency…. and the ability of distributed networks to self organize. And using the Web as a grounds for experimentation, we’re learning more effective ways to link unmet needs with unused resources, innovate, generate wealth, and build resilient communities.
This is the prototype of the future. This is where the opportunities are.
I hope that during the Innotribe sessions the remainder of the week, we can explore ways to create bridges between these two worlds and ways of thinking, and co-evolve the next global economy.”
Future of Money Interviewees:
Featuring (in order of appearance):
Edward Harran, Attention Philanthropist
Caroline Woolard, Our Goods
Alan Rosenblith, Director, The Money Fix
Hans Schoenburg, Founder, GiftFlow
Ashni Mohnot, Founder, Enzi
Linus Olsson, Founder, Flattr
Jerry Michalski, Founder, Relationship Economy Expedition
Georg Zoche, Founder, Transnational Republic
Fernanda Ibarra, Advocate, Metacurrency Project
Jessica Harris, One Blue Dot Share Networks
Michel Bauwens, Founder, P2P Foundation
Douglas Rushkoff, Author, Program or be Programmed

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trusting the process

The registration due date was getting closer, I had to be away for more than a week and I hadn't promoted my event to ensure I would get the participants I wanted to have. In other words, I hadn't completely recovered my peace on mind around this event. Slowly but surely I've been re-investing time for myself, my house, my projects and my family...although parenthood is putting a lot of pressure! Thus I finally felt strong enough to let go and let God, I discovered a very deep enjoyment about controlling my surroundings that I thought it had already vanished. Now, with aspects of my life becoming more and more complex, all these supposedly tackled issues, are resurfacing to be dealt with again at a deeper level.

After being away, doing other things, talking to different people about different projects, all of them interesting and promising, I started to think again about how I can be part of all I want to be part of, without having the anguish of not having enough time nor money, without facing frustrations and without finishing the day exhausted, drained and in a terrible mood. Memories of previous spiritual practices that brought so much peace into my life, and the appearance of Centering Prayer, seem to have started to put my life back on God's track. 

I decided to allow people to donate what I consider is needed to cover the costs of delivering the event. I feel in peace with the idea of trusting that everything that needs to happen, will happen. Instead of learning how to control things and putting myself in such a state of stress, I decided to learn from the way life works. I was also a bit sad with the idea of excluding potential attendants due to a established cost of participation. Being this event about finding different ways to our economic issues, preventing people from participating because they don't have money, didn't seem quite right. I do have many ideas that I believe, official money would help to put in place a lot quicker, but I also realized that it is not in my hands to convince people and/or force them to believe that what I want to do, is the right thing to do. I know I'll finish my days with plenty of memories to be happy and grateful about. I feel called to just offer the space for people to start important conversations about passions I have, so those who share those passions with me, will show up and will get from those experiences, what they are called to learn or do. 

Whether people want to donate nothing, less, the exact amount or more, is entirely up to their own process of valuing their experience. And what I'll do with that money is entirely coherent with my interpretation of the principles that guide my life: compassion and love for the planet, and global citizenship.

I hope to meet many people on our weekend.

Tatiana Maya

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My partner 'Money'

I decided to pursue this passion about economics, money, the dysfunctional relationship we, both as individuals and as a society, have with them and how we can heal such relationship. What a journey!! It all started without my conscious consent to it.

I came to Australia to do a master of environmental management. I had a couple of student type of jobs to 'survive', always concerned about the economy, I didn't exactly know why but something didn't seem to be right, specifically in terms of economic development and environmental degradation, sustainability seemed impossible in these terms. However, money and economics always seemed to be the main platform sustaining our delusions. Then I met Paula and Alvaro, who God put in my way to start a conscious process of awakening. After many many maaaaany personal issues around frustrating mainstream green jobs, I ended up attending an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, became a CAIBU, also member of Brislets and Transition Annerley, all with the purpose to get out of the old dream and built a new one for the global population.

In all this research about money I decided to tap into my own narrow idea that if your work is good you must be a volunteer or if you get some money, it must be very little. Then I came up with Changing the Economic Dream event and said "ok, the basic problem with money is that it is hoarded because it's been kept scarce so you create some sort of feeling of never having enough, or always needing more because otherwise you won't be able to live. Also, the way we create money makes it more available to those who already have it, and more scarce to those who already lack it...right, I'll charge enough to cover the costs, enough to provide an excellent event and enough to reinvest and redistribute profits amongst those who also want to change the economic structure but like me, lack the tool". 

From the moment I made the price known to the public, I started a frantic race to make sure everything was covered. I abandoned my self to the event, all sorts of anxious feelings came up, the head would not stop asking me questions, all day sitting in front of the computer, trying to be everywhere at once, the house started to reflect my inner state of unease, my personal relationships also reflected that, plus I haven't been able to make clear to people what is it that I want from this and future events. Then I got a series of emails that took me deeper into my fear to failure and further away from my inner peace. Things that usually didn't affect me, started to do so, I became more vulnerable to the 'out there' world and felt into the old game of allowing the illusion of the world to impact my state of being. I felt into the game of "you" and "me", and "those who hurt me"...I discovered that my relationship to money is not at all healed and that I have a fear to failure, but I also remember that there is no way to fail because in any case I will learn. Once I pass away some time in the future, what will happen to failure?? Failure doesn't exist...I'm not here for others to think that I am perfect. If I depend on what others think and say of me, then I am prey of the world, then I am not in the world but of the world. I even discovered that I was giving strict monetary value to all my work!! As if money reflects the true value of what we do...that is how entrenched the illusion is.

Big breath....a week away with family and the opportunity to sit in front of the sea, recharge my batteries and return to daily spiritual practices, learn from my plants, thank all this and start returning to the flow of Life and the Love of God.  There is nothing wrong with money. I believe that the problem is our relationship with it. That is, our relationship with ourselves that is reflected in how we see money, how we create it, why we create it, what we use it for and what we want to do with it. Our relationship with money says quite a lot of how we see ourselves and how we value our actions. Money is a catalyst of social processes but it is us who make of it a limitation to the full expression of what we are capable of.

Thus I managed to let go some of my own issues and decided to change venue and change some of the logistics. By doing this I am able to reduce registration costs, incorporate more  community building features to the event, give people more options to attend, encourage trading in BrisLets, take pressure out of my shoulders, and finally I thought that instead of me reporting on how I am reinvesting money from the events, it would be best if people voluntarily donate to a list of projects I am involved in. That way they could use the donation process to discover their own relationship with money. There is still information to gather but, things are flowing much easier than a 2 weeks ago and I feel I at peace with the decisions.

Mixing Symposium and economics

The Symposium gives a general framework of the state of the world and some of the causes, but it doesn't specifically tap on the economic issue even when the topic is tacitly present throughout the material. My purpose is to work on that bit that I feel is missing. I would like to provide the space for like-mind people to start conversations in whatever way feels right for them to enter in action specifically in the area of economics...I say 'specifically' but notice that there is a HUGE space for infinite possibilities to work on. That is why I chose Open Space Technology so that you make the calls and follow your own ideals instead of me telling you what I think is right. I'll provide a framework to the topics but you will make the decisions, and if you even want to say that the framework is not appropriate, that is great, that is how we'll progress in this journey, that's what your feedbacks are for and I thank you in advance for that. 

A project for the future is to specifically create an Economic Symposium with the help of, or in partnership with, the Pachamama Alliance, to make sure I keep the intention and purpose of it. 

Summarizing a couple of projects I have in mind, this is what you would be able to donate to:

Community Currency Magazine, where I am in charge of following up what's happening in Australia and New Zeland to report, link and write articles about it. Next issue will be out in about 3 weeks or so.

Community Exchange System (CES), which is the accounting platform that most of Australian LETS, including Brislets, use to register their tradings, is working on the Open Source version of it, which involves huge amounts of money. It would benefit 8000 of users in Australia and many other thousands of people around the world. It is a big step towards efficiency of the system. 

Community Forge, which is working on how to allow trading between the CES and other systems to make trading even more world wide. 

The Future Of Money Project, by Venessa Miemis consists in a video interviewing money innovators...I am in love of the vision of these people.

The New Economics for Humanity, which is to provide as much space as possible in many places and start creating the community of people who want to work on this...there is an awful lot of work to every cent you donate will help. I'll create a Donations page where you'll be able to choose where you want your money to go.

Thanks to you all and thanks to all the people behind this work...yes, all of you.

Tatiana Maya

Monday, October 4, 2010

Collaborative Consumption

A few weeks ago, I got a copy of Rachel Botsman’s new book, What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.
The general theme of the book is that we’re shifting away from a society of hyper-consumption and equating personal self-worth with amount of material good accumulated, and instead to a world where our ability to access and exchange resources, develop a reputation, and build community and social capital takes precedence in how we choose to express who we are and what we choose to define us.
The authors give hundreds of examples of how people are finding new ways to share and exchange value - what they call “collaborative consumption” - using social lending platforms (ZopaLendingClubProsper), open barter networks (ITEX,Bartercard), peer-to-peer coworking and currencies (Hub Culture), reuse networks (Freecycle), car sharing (ZipCarGoGet), bike sharing (BIXI), swap trading (SwapTree), and peer to peer rentals for plots of land (Landshare, a room for the night (Airbnb), or any other item you could imagine (Zilok).
The list goes on, and the book is packed with some pretty interesting statistics (for instance, did you know that bike sharing is the fastest-growing form of transportation in the world, or that peer-to-peer social lending is set to grow to $5 billion by 2013?). All the examples are broken down in three main categories of collaborative consumption: product service systems, redistribution markets, and collaborative lifestyles - which highlights that there are numerous ways that consumption is being redefined.

I loved that in the closing chapters, they pull out “design thinking” as being at the center of collaborative consumption. (we’ve had thorough discussions on that topic here before) The idea is that it’s not just about creating more things anymore, but aboutthinking from a systems perspective and understanding how to find the balance in the relationship between business, sustainability, and consumption. Our planet can’t handle an endless supply of product creation, so the shift is underway for us to begin to design for participation, collaboration, and enabling new experiences. When this intention is present in design, it can lead to empowerment, changes in the thoughts and behaviors of large groups of people, and advances in conscious decision-making.

All in all, if you’re unaware of what’s happening in the peer-to-peer exchange space, this book will quickly bring you up to speed.

In closing, here are a few of my main takeaways:
- The Internet enables a new infrastructure for participation, reducing the transaction costs of matching the wants and needs of people and giving them the opportunity to coordinate. We’re finding this enables us to allocate resources and solve distribution problems more rapidly and effectively.
- By taking out the middlemen, people can begin to build trust with one other again. In the online space, this becomes transparent as reputation systems become more robust, revealing our interests, our social connections, and the trail of behaviors and actions across the Web.
- The “Tragedy of the Commons” is not a given. People are capable of sharing resources if given the tools to self-organize, coordinate, and monitor each other.
- New marketplaces are being built for people to build community, shape their personal identities, earn recognition, and participate in meaningful activity. They are finding new outlets for autonomy, control, freedom, and self-expression. While these activities strengthen social capital, they are also done for very practical reasons - to save time and/or money, to be more sustainable, or to gain access to better services.
- Aided by new communication infrastructures, we are learning to find the balance between the pursuit of one’s own self-interest and the greater good.
For more information or to order a copy of the book, check out the online hub for Collaborative Consumption. You can follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelBotsman.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What is the Problem with Our Current Money System??

by blietaer

Our modern monetary systems share in common the fact that they consist of a nationwide, government-enforced monopoly of a single type of currency, created by banksthrough loans attached to positive interest rates, and naturally or artificially kept scarce.   While these particular features of our money system have permitted the accumulation of capital that enabled rapid industrialization during the modern era, they also have a number of hidden but far-reaching counterproductive side effects.

The use of positive interest alone is responsible for driving (1) the short-term thinking that drives our economic decisions, (2) the relentless pressure for economic growth which feeds hyper-consumerism; (3) growing inequities; (4) the greed and rampant speculation which regularly make the front page of our media, (5) and the weakening of social ties and erosion of community.   I have written more at length about these dynamics in mybooksarticles, and interviews, but I invite you to read a brief overview of the main effects of interest to understand how our national currencies generate competition and erodes community.

From Monopoly to Monetary Ecology.  To be clear, the problem is neither our national currencies nor the use of interest per se, but the monopolistic use of these types of currencies which are only well-suited for certain purposes but not for others.   The fundamental problem with our current monetary system is that it is not sufficiently diverse, and as a result it dams and bottlenecks our creative energies, and keeps us trapped in a world of scarcity and suffering, when we actually have the capacity to create a very different reality.   Our conventional money facilitates particular types of (commercial) flows but does not adequately support other types of flows within communities.   When a broader spectrum of currencies is in place, people can complete more transactions, enabling more people to meet their needs and enter into exchange relationships.  Because complementary currencies do not bear interests and are issued in sufficient supply, they encourage cooperation amongst participants, and can counterbalance some of the side-effects of conventional money.

Biologist Elizabeth Sahtouris once asked: “How would a body survive if we decided that all the blood should go to the brain or the liver, or certain organs should only be irrigated with blood on certain conditions?” This is precisely what is happening to our world economy under a monoculture of national currencies that are distributed based on a centralized decision making system controlled by a few financial institutions.  All the blood (dollars, euros etc.) is being sent to specific organs that are supplied while others (communities and regions) are often starved to death.  When they are not properly counterbalanced by complementary currencies, national currencies promote embolism (which is the accumulation of blood in one place).

Adopting a diversity of currencies is just as important to human survival as bio-diversity is to the fate of the earth.  This is not a metaphor. Our peer-reviewed scientific research on the conditions under which  complex flow networks are sustainable demonstrates that money systems share with natural ecosystems the need for a higher diversity and interconnectivity.  The conclusion: to ensure such diversity, we need to actively support the circulation of different types of currencies for different types of purposes.    Promoting a healthier monetary system requires the use of three different kinds of currencies alongside our national currencies: (1) an inflation-proof global complementary currency designed to stabilize the world economy;  (2)  business-to-business currencies designed to counteract the effects of conventional money shortages during periods of economic crises and  contraction; and (3) community currencies that address a variety of social problems and strengthen the fabric of society.

Revising our agreements around money.  Most of the fundamental rules and agreements we have around money were created centuries ago, at a time that was widely different from ours, and by a small group of stakeholders concerned with a narrow set of interests.  As a consequence, they are ill-equipped to serve the challenges and objectives of our current world.   As long as our monetary system remains a blind spot to us, we remain unable to alter its powerful influence on the way we think and act.  As soon as we gain monetary literacy, we can begin examining the nature and implications of the monetary agreements in which we unconsciously participate.  We can start identifying the conditions under which they serve or do not serve the needs of our times, and begin create agreements that better serve our needs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Event Updates

At the moment we are working on options for providing meals. We are committed to give as much as we can and of the better quality. That means, we're attempting to offer vegetarian lunches on Saturday and Sunday (most likely a buffet style on Sunday), made with local produced organic vegies. We would also love to have local produce fruit and organic milk for morning and afternoon tea on Saturday and Sunday. Our ability to provide this, depends on how much people we get registered by the 31st of October. Ideally, the 18th of October will give us a clearer picture to manage our budget. If we don't get the numbers we need to afford these expenses, we would still provide meals and morning/afternoon tea. However, we won't be able to ensure local produce organic ingredients.

Also, the event will start on Friday from between 3pm and 5pm, to give workers a chance to leave their offices earlier but not miss the whole day. And Depending on when we start, we might finish between 7pm and 9pm. At the moment we don't plan to cater for this afternoon/evening because the event was initially planned to be a 2 days workshop, not 3 days Symposium and Open Space Forum. Thus, we suggest potential attendants to bring you own food on Friday.

Apparently some people feel this effort is hypocrite due to the participation fee. I strongly suggest to read our "about us" page on the blog to find out our motivations behind these charges. And also invite you to consider the length of the event, with its implications, and level of commitment we have to  make of this event something worth attending to. The "changing the economic dream - event" page on our blog has more info about what you can expect and bring to the weekend.

To reduce waste and avoid incurring in further expenses, we ask participants to bring your own 'mess kit' for the entire weekend.

Do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions.

Kindest Regards

Tatiana Maya
The New Economics for Humanity

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Poor People??? SCREW THEM!!! "

No body actually said it, but that's what I heard this afternoon at the BrisLets Annual General Meeting. Read it if you have the time...pretty long.

We were listening to the Treasurer about the 2009-2010 financial year and statements of accounts in official money. We were down from about $800 compared to the previous financial year. The money we had, about $300, was collected from new membership fees who are a 'for life' $20 per member, which means that in theory we had 15 new users in the system. Someone did the homework to look at the actual new members of the system and noticed that in fact, we had 50 new members, not 15. So the big question was: 'where is the money from this people?". The answer was that at some meeting, it was decided that Brislets would allow potential users to join in, try it out and pay afterwards. So 35 people haven't paid yet....people went mad!!

How come people are there without paying?!?!?! Some sort of united voice amongst the attendants was saying "I've paid my fee, it's not fair that I pay and others are there for free". Recruiting people is something that BrisLets wants to see happening. They really want to see the system growing. However, for many people Brislets is not the best thing they want to do for $20. On the other hand, many people who would find the system useful and would provide services (skills) to it, do not have $20. One of the social issues that LETS tackles is, precisely, poverty and unemployment. Nevertheless, in the midst of the convulsion, a very common unexamined assumption came through: "people who don't have $20 to pay for membership, do not have any goods nor services to offer to the system". My mouth just fell wide open. Are we saying that if you don't have whatever the membership fee is, you don't have anything to offer to this community?? 

I repeatedly said, imply, try to say, that 'exclusion never works' and, that with this approach we were closing the group to those who can pay. Some where quite happy with the latter, and some even suggested in regards to the 35 people who haven't paid something like: do so ASAP before you start trading, or please go away. 

I find the whole idea quite shocking and completely opposite to what LETS AND the CES are all about. I dare to say that Tim Jenkin would feel quite sad to read this.  Let's not forget that LETS is, in many cases, an initiative to overcome the trading constraints imposed by official money. Yet, Brislets punches people on their faces right at the beginning; Don't come if you can't pay...

People were kind of implying that everyone and anyone has $20 in their life. It would be good to explore this
At some point I said again "what is going to happen if I have someone who wants to join but doesn't have the money". The answer was "Well, you pay for them!"...later on, I refined my question: "what if there is a group of refugees who definitely can pay $20" ...[because that means their food for the day?]... I can pay for one to join, but I can't pay for 50 people, as much as I would love to, I can't" Answer was "It's that simple, if people can't pay, then can't be part of this group"....The answer brought me tears, I had to leave the room...thanks God my son was there with me and I could find peace in him and his big smiles and funny noices. 

Initially I had tears from seeing the indifference, after the tears left, a very strong and deep sadness remained, not for those of whom we are excluding, but for those who can't stand the fact that someone else will get the chance to join for free when they themselves had to pay. If $20 sounds to small an amount that everyone can pay, why are they so attached to the fact that they have already paid it?? Seeing them with such a dependence is very sad. During the morning, I attended the Peace and Sustainability Festival. They let anyone and everyone have stalls for free, I was there promoting The New Economics for Humanity. A very big crowd of people was representing "Make Poverty History". I wonder if Brislets could've been brave enough to be there telling these people "tell the poor you work with, that LETS can be a very good thing for them to join...just make sure they have $20 if they want to join us". I wonder how many of you are actually saying that you don't want poor people in the system anyway.

In the big picture, this reveals to me, how insecure we feel around what can happen with our money. According to Brislets, $20 is a very small amount to pay, but too much money to lose once you're in. And we're worried about poverty in the world?? There was a very interesting idea: What if those who can't give official money, give 20 units to the admin account. was like "[pat pat] yeah yeah, sounds good....and now the important thing: What about the AUD$20???" There was no room whatsoever for new ideas. Instead of taking advantage of the situation to innovate and create a DIFFERENT solution, people felt it was too risky and they rather went back to old if they were working before. 

One of the main reasons for charging official money has something to do with Brislets being able to manage the group as an incorporated association. CAREFUL!!! THERE ARE SOME GRASSROOTS GROUPS AROUND BRISBANE who are looking at ways for association, please I don't want to see this happening again. If we want true transformation of the structures in society, we have to be inclusive. We can't just step on people who don't have the money, get them off the train and tell them "sorry, you missed this one". For many, there are no more trains!! People have more to show than just money. This is also a 'heads up' call for all other LETS and complementary currencies initiatives out there. 

I also added that more important than $20 per member, was the fact that the health of the system, according to the CES statistics, was pretty bad. I brought up the fact that just a couple of months ago, there were about 1000 accounts that were put "on hold". For many users of Brislets, it is not a secret that most of those members will not be back to resume activities with us. They have pretty much left, and all of them have either positive or negative balances. Many argued that this was not really an issue. I would like to advice them to read the CES Manual again, about why it is important to bring balances to zero before leaving the system. Someone even dared to ask, in a very disrespectful tone: "which group are you talking about?? That is happening in your group! not here!". Am I crazy and showed up at the wrong meeting?? 

It felt as if most people in that room were happy for Brislets to lose members if they don't agree with their financial policies. According to that, I don't see any danger in putting this information available for Brislets members. There is a difference between ownership and stewardship. I feel like I'm in a privately owned group were I only have to follow old rules, and where there is no place for me to take responsibility of the success nor failure of the system. I also heard: "In the real world you have to pay money". I have to say: Don't overlook the real world of those of don't have the money, their real world is a lot tougher than yours, and it is your real world who has built theirs so...stewardship is my call. (Book: Stewardship: choosing service over self-interest by Peter Block)

Yes, this is my very ego speaking here. However, I am very thankful to the situation. I am not being sarcastic. If not because all of what happened there, I would not have been able to reinforce to myself that there are many and much better ways to 'do business'. So thank you all for the pain I saw and still feel. It'll push me through and take me to the grandest version of the greatest vision I've ever held of myself. Someone told me "don't take it personally". I appreciate the words, I felt they were sincere. I don't take it personally. I am a global citizen. I take it globally and humanly. 

I'd like to paste something from a discussion that's going on in the yahoo group, something that maybe, many of you are not aware of:

there are 2 major problems with how money is structured:

1) that it is created as debt where only the principle gets created, which means that the monetary supply is at all times insufficient to pay the outstanding debt - causing the need for exponential growth which is environmentally unsustainable (& the inflationary pressures harm the poorest sectors the most)

2) money has a privileged position relative to labor & real world assets - for two reasons, first that money does not depreciate in the same way that other consumables do, and second that money is leveraged to create new 'wealth' via usury fees.  this is an argument put forward by Silvio Gesell (in his "Natural Economic Order" book ( which is hard to read - tho there's a nice article here:;col1

i feel we also have terrible issues with community trust - so, i'm concerned when i hear comments about how these systems work best in cohesive cooperative communities.  i'm drawn to the Mondragon cooperative model ( for a community owned credit union

so, what i favor for Baltimore is a demurrage model (like that would operate with some percentage of the holding fees assisting non-profits that are helping the community.  i've worked with a restorative justice program here in Baltimore (Community Conferencing Center) which is very effective at healing conflict, but does not make money to operate - i think many of the non-profits are important for healing our communities & should be funded as part of our social infrastructure

Tatiana Maya.