Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome to my World: My world I


How would my local area look like if the financial institution I have in mind would take place?? Relationships with the local community. 

First of all: Yes, the bank would have a direct and tangible effect on my local area. If the community is unsatisfied, if there is unemployment, any type of social or environmental injustice, the bank has a role to play in that situation. Equally, if I live in a community that projects social cohesion, that is vibrant and resilient, my bank would have contributed to that too. Each branch is a projection of the community and its success or failure depend on the actions of the locals. To ensure that, the bank has two main products to offer. One is its banking platform, which is designed as a tool for local action. This means that there are no top-down decisions or hierarchical processes. The platform is a tool that allows its users to have direct and transparent impact in their communities. The second product is an educational program where future bank users can gather inspirational information to make of their places and lives, the places and lives they have always dreamed of. The program is designed so that no one tells you what to learn, but where options are offered for you to choose to learn what you want from them and bring to your local community and the world, that which you are good at and passionate about.  

Todays post is mostly about the banking platform. Here is the story:

I live in a suburb that is highly inhabited by Africans, there are two major business streets, a few of the big banks have branches here, and in general it feels very alive. I do not have much contact with my general neighbors, and barely know those who live in my own building. Now, here it comes this guy who tells me that met someone from across the street at the restaurant the other day, who wants to open a branch of a new social bank in our suburb. The bank promotes localization, social justice, spiritually fulfillment and environmentally sustainable actions. They argue that if the community as a whole can substitute the imports, then more money should be able to circulate amongst us, and we should be able to generate more employment. They stand up for economics of abundance rather than of scarcity. So an economic renewal plan we'll be created by us, the people who live here. It would be an opportunity to creatively and efficiently substitute our imports with local produce and sustainable products and services. 

He says that there will be a lot of things that we'll find to be absent in our local economy, so there may be a lot of projects to, for example and among many others, re-skill the community. Particularly in topics like [peer to peer] energy and food production, housing and transport. So I asked about funding for all these projects. You know? where from would these people get the money to pay their rents and food and resources they need while they use their time to re-skill us or while we take the time to learn?? The answer was: The bank would lend interest-free money to these projects using our savings. So, really, the community will fund these projects. 

The bank has an online platform where all the projects are visible to the public, all users can access the project profile, ask questions and make comments. Projects leaders answer any queries from other users of the bank. They should provide enough information as to how their project is environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling. They also need to say how much money their project requires and a plan to repay this amount. Users vote if and how much money they'll put towards a project. 

Once this project has succeeded at replacing what used to be an import to the local economy, the community should be able to accept a local currency to get access to this good or service. In that way, the borrower pays back the amount borrowed to the users that committed their savings and they can then, use their savings for another project available to the community. Lenders can see value added to their money when they start experiencing the benefits of these newly created local products, therefore, users will not be given interest in cash in return for their money. Official currency devaluation may be balanced with local currency strengthening the local economy. 

It was the first time I heard about a local currency. My friend however, was not well informed about it either. We agreed on inviting this guy to my place to have some tea and chat about it. It was inspiring!! He talked about many types of local currency systems. They can be designed for different purposes and to meet different needs. Generally, the main difference is that users, that is you, or me, create the money! We actually issue it. Their banking software allows us to do that. So the bank does not put the numbers in your account when you ask for a money, I do!! or someone else does!! (assuming we want to put some money towards your project in either official or local currency). The local currency system I felt in love with was Mutual Credit Systems. You don't need your account to be positive in order to spend your credits, but you need to ensure that you have something that the community values enough to get from you, so that someone would credit your account in the future. In other words, you don't need to have money to trade!. You need to be able to produce. You have to be equally a producer and a consumer. Now import substitution and economic renewal kind of makes more sense to me! 

What sort of local currency we'll put in place and the design process is up to us and our local conditions. Although the bank is a strong advocate of Mutual Credit Systems, their banking platform supports all designs, even if they are designed to use no currency at all. That feature would allow us to trade with other communities in our cities and around the world. Equally would the banks cards. 

I was a bit concerned about particular groups of people, like the elders, who are seen by our culture as the ones who imply costs to the community and are not seeing as producers. How would they be benefited by this approach?? The answer was that all these issues have to be put on the table by the community and the answers will also come from it. A determined community cannot leave its elders behind, otherwise that would not be socially just. Projects will come out to tackle this issue, local currencies can be designed for this particular population, or the community can decide that they do not have to produce. A project to change and re educate the community's perspective towards the elders is also very viable, in order to bring their knowledge and wisdom back to live, and to change out to date perceptions.

Something that really got my attention is that, according to this guy, the aim of the bank is to strengthen our social structure. He says that behind everything we buy, there are people behind it who connect to others in order to bring about the good or service they offer. So they are after social cohesion and community trust rather than mere consumption/consumerism. A lot of the current products you see around in your supermarkets would just be non-sense for your community. Think of those products that evolve into large amounts of diabetic or obese people. They could be labeled as socially unjust. They are not supplied by your community, you are not aware of the social processes involved in them, neither do you know about the environmental and health issues related to them. You can't ensure that your money is providing fair wages, or promoting research to reduce the use of emulsifiers or some other additives you add to your body when you consume them. You cannot know that the people behind these products actually care about you. The idea of this bank is that it fosters the creation of goods and services that put in evidence how people care about each other. 

Essential to this process is the redefinition of words like 'money', 'value' and 'profits'. Money has not value by itself, it is not money per se what matters, but the message it carries. A message about the overall health of the community. Value is added through fostering social cohesion and sense of place, interest, fulfillment and community. Profits make sense only in the context of having the capacity to support the projects of the community. Profits, as accumulation of money, do not make sense anymore. Money is a catalyst for processes, not a barrier, and an evidence of the abundance and aliveness of our community. 

When most of the imports have been substituted and there is a vibrant local economy, it should be expected to have more local currency circulating than official currency. That implies that the users' savings in official currency will be available for users to support other initiatives in other areas or even countries, to foster the same process of localization, resilience and community building. New projects in my own area can now be supported with local currency in the same way that they were once supported by official currency. This is what the bank calls 'redistribution of money that has already been created through the mainstream banking system'. When your official money supports projects in developing countries with this same mechanism, you can sense a brighter future for the alleviation of poverty and creation of abundance. The bank promotes decentralization, it is an institution that promotes currency diversity as a strategy for community building, social cohesion, resiliency, holistic sustainability and spiritual fulfillment. Every branch of the bank would be connected to a global 'server' and users from anywhere in the world can see who is doing what where.

Your project does not need to be completely defined, you can just enter your idea and the community, through comments and future engagement, which is up to you how much you allow them to contribute to your thoughts, would build the idea with you until it becomes a project. After that, people vote to admit the project and commit credit to it. Lenders would own the percentage of your business/project that they committed with credits, so in a way, they play a key role in the practical success or failure of the project, it is in their interest that you succeed. There is no theoretical failure. Users should not reject any ideas on the basis that it is prone to failure, since the community needs to try and learn from what worked or didn't work in practice. That is why, we are allowed to make comments and co-create the projects in order to minimize risks when credits are committed. Thus, if a project does not work, the loss would be assume by all contributors, not only the ones who brought the idea forward.

The bank reproduces and makes presence around the world through, let's say, franchises that pay a periodical subscription to the global branch to ensure up to date products. If you hear about this bank, no matter where you are, you should be able to open a branch in your area. This is done through our educational component which is a membership based online program that would widen your knowledge and give you all the tools to start your own branch.

Have a look at this video and imagine this dashboard working in a very similar way but with action projects. 


Your questions and comments will contribute to build the vision of the world we can create through this project. 


1) I have been having conversations and also reading quite a bit, which has helped me to evolve some thoughts. So far, I am not sure if the products that I am talking about will actually be the bank's products or if this is the start of the consolidation of the New Economics for Humanity as a (global??) organization/institution and they will be its products. 

2) I haven't figured out how and when, either the bank or the NEH as an organization would be in the position to accept credits (as in, a complementary currency) for their products, which suggests to go through the design of complementary currency system for the institution itself.

3) The development of the banking platform is the key task of this post and it may involve connecting this project with key partners. I think of the educational component, which I'll post about next, as the product that will generate funding for this and following developments. 

4) Remember, if you want access to the project's 'office' in BetterMeans, send me an email to and I'll send you an invitation. You can also join a our skype group. Add me: tatiana.maya.valois

Welcome to my World: Introduction

Welcome to my world, to my brainstorming sessions and my thoughts. These series are and attempt to give some structure to my ideas and to open to the public my thoughts about 'how' we can create the financial institutions of the future. I have been apprehensive to specifically address the 'how' for many reasons. The main one is, I don't want the community to think that I'm posing my ideas as 'the right ideas'. I don't want to give a formula or equation for the solutions I can think of. At the same time, followers have been asking for that 'how' and I feel like I am trying to avoid giving them an answer. With this conflict in my mind, I decided to give it a go. On the one hand, I am not sure if I am ready to write the entire idea but I need to start putting it together, so when you read, always remind yourself that you are more than welcome to disagree, give feedback, accept or reject all or part of the ideas proposed; that this is in no way a final document and almost everything is subject to change and I am more than happy if you influence those changes, in fact, you're encouraged to foster changes about this project. And on the other, I hope that this serves as inspiration, guidance or some sort of learning or analytic tool and resource to those who are starting to search and discover their own role as co-creators of this world.

So let me talk to you about my core believe. To me it is evident that an increasing number of people are becoming aware of the flaws of the current economic system. But more than that, people are not trusting those who manage their money, some of us do not believe in the banking system anymore. I do not know what they do with my money or where they invest it. I know now that they, knowingly or not, foster a world and a system of destruction. I do not blame them for doing this, I actually thank them for there was no other way for me to know that a better option is possible, if not because they have shown me how it shouldn't work. 

Thus, and after many years of personal conflict with the general accepted notions of economic growth, sustainability, consumption, climate change and so on, I came up with the idea that I need a bank or some sort of financial institution that actually projects who I am, an institution that I believe in, that is transparent, that makes sense...the current banking system just doesn't fit in my brain, neither my brain nor my heart understand it. It's been about 3 years of me completely rejecting the idea of rendering my, let's say, moral and professional values to the mainstream environmental job market, I absolutely refuse to accept a position where I need to invest 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for most of a year, in creating one-thousand-pages-reports about how not to trash the planet in one go but little by little and get paid for it. This rejection has its consequences: It can be said that I have no professional experience whatsoever. However, it has also given me opportunities that would have not appeared otherwise: It's been 3 years since I started to investigate about complementary currencies and I have now the opportunity to create the business I can be passionately invested with no regrets or moral/professional frustrations. At the moment, I can't see myself using my time in any other kind of permanent job. The course of this project is what ignites my brain, what lights my heart. It is some times overwhelming, but that is part of the process, it helps me to learn how to overcome the barriers that I put on my own path. 

So, that is the very brief personal background behind the project. I need a bank that I can trust and that helps me to build the world I want to see. The following series of posts will be about what I've been doing and what I think can be done to get there.

This graph should give you a brief idea of how things seem to be putting themselves in order. 

For the next 4 Mondays, you will be able to check a new post. Today, I'll start with what I've been asked for: My ideas of 'how' this institution may work, which corresponds to step 1 in the graph.

Always remember, if you want to make part of the project, send me an email to and I'll send you an invitation to our 'office' in BetterMeans. You can also be part of the conversation by leaving your comments or share links with us and other relevant thoughts and info in our facebook page. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clarifications and Process

I feel the need to write about the process I've been through with the Financial Institution of the Future Project. From the last post about the Possible Futures Film Contest, I got a couple of interesting emails mainly suggesting that the initiative was vague. It seems like people feel all this is all around the place and there is no concise actions or structure to follow. This is because there isn't. However, that doesn't mean that there is nothing to do, nor that there has not been any progress. So I thought it would be good thing to give you an idea of what has been happening and what I am building.

First of all, this project started with the idea that I want to create the financial institutions I believe in so that we can stop complaining about the ones we have. With that in mind I sent an open invitation  to join the project in the BetterMeans platform. I also wrote a post about the very basic ideas I have in mind. One of the things I want from a bank is that I should be able to make decisions, therefore, I need to allow democratic participation, not once the institution is up and running, but from its very beginning, from the conception of the ideas. So one thing to clarify here is that this project is not a call for help but and invitation to participate. 

Yes, it is true that since I am not an economist or related to this area, nor a software developer, I have no experience with what is necessary to create it, so at some point I need this input. But this was not intended to say "I have a great idea, you should all help'. And consequently, an open invitation implies that you take responsibility for whatever you want to. If you do not participate at all, or you join us in BetterMeans but do not generate ideas or join workstreams, that only means that you are not participating...until you do, until you find something and recognize a spot where you feel your ideas can contribute. Not that it is your fault if things go wrong. That is what BetterMeans also attempts to achieve according to my own interpretation: There are no culprits for failure, there are only those who participate at the level they want and can. That is part of self-organized communities.

"Failure does not exist unless I am captive of what the world has to say about me."  - Me

Additionally, I was worried because I was struggling trying to keep permanent communication with my team so that I could engage with them and get to know more about each other. But I am wondering now if I really need to worry about pushing them to participate, or if they will come back once they see that I care about them and I deeply care about this project coming to fruition. So far, with those who have participated and let me know, we decided to run a group in Skype just in case. You are more than welcome to join us there too.

So, the first stage was to generate the business model for this financial institution. But the more I was thinking about it, reading and making notes, the more I thought I had to go backwards to get it 'right' from the beginning. I have my own ideas of what I want this institution to do and how, but this is not just about me and I wanted to offer the space for people who believe they too can say what they want from a bank. So I thought that before generating the business model, I needed to create a presentation with those who have already joined BetterMeans, where we would use this presentation to say why we think this is a good idea, what we are offering and where you can join us. Ideally, this presentation would be created for us, and anyone would use it anywhere in the world. 

And then I went backwards again, I need to tell people very simply that there are options and alternatives to banking business-as-usual and that, if they want, they can participate in creating these institutions. Then, I got an email from Pachamama Alliance anouncing the film contest. A team mate from BetterMeans had previously offered his experience making videos so I thought that would be a good opportunity. 

Now, so far I haven't said how I am going to do what I am planning to do. Well, so far I do not have all the answers and as I posted once, I believe that when people say and ask "Yes, but how??", what they are really asking is "can you do it...I mean seriously??", and I reply with a book title: The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters. I know that I'll do what I love. I would like to ask you, my readers, that without going too deep, tell me what questions you would like the video and a presentation to answer if you were completely new to this topic, other than 'how'?? or even if you are no so new and rather very experienced. I also have against the question 'how', that it seems to me that people want a formula, the solution that would solve all their problems and by doing so, they avoid responsibility because 'it was their idea'. I would love people to have some sense of belonging, but I can't push that. So the 'how' will come...when we work it out. 'How?' is a good question but I don't think it should be the first one to ask. Maybe I should include this in the script of the video: "The answer to how is within you: Just ask yourself, why do you do what you do in life? (animation of a 'normal' family week) and, more importantly, what are you willing to do to bring about the world you want to see?. Let's build the answer to 'how?' together."

Up to now, I know that after getting the video and presentation ready, I will work on creating the new definitions of money, profits and value. As well as determine what they are for and what they do for the society we are building. I believe this is essential before I start generating the business model because those definitions will be the platform on which the financial institution will build all what it needs. I strongly believe that as long as we 'fail' to give money a personal and completely different meaning to the one we have today, any financial institution will only replace the faulty pieces of a structure that doesn't work rather than changing the structure.

I am already using Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences for the presentation and I reached a point where I realized that I had to go backwards a bit and thought about the video for the film contest. I would love to read more about the draft script for this video. Then, I'll proceed to generate these definitions I was talking about, and finally will hopefully use Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers for what  I thought it was going to be the first stage...but wasn't. This project will keep progressing, if you want to see what  is happening, if you want to lurk around, or if you want to actively participate you are invited and more than welcome to do so. With your input, your help and your participation, we can do this a lot quicker than what it'll take me to do all by myself.

Below you'll be able to read 'The answer to How is Yes: Acting on what Matters". It is a challenging reading I think, but it strongly resonates with my perspective and it also gives you a different perspective on what questions to ask before throwing the big 'How?'. The introduction may be enough for some. It is only 13 pages long. To have a bit more information about what is going on in my brain, I would suggest to read pages 8 and 9. From the list that you'll find there, my strongest desire supports items 8, 7, 5 and 3 in that order. It is not about order of importance, it is just what my logic tells me to be a good order. 

Last but not least, thanks for your comments, feedback, appeals, are already part of this and I am immensely grateful to all of you and the world for giving me this opportunity.

Throw me an email or leave me a comment anytime you want ;-)

Tatiana Maya

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Possible Futures


I know you are not new nor blind to these scenes, nor deaf to these news even when you seem to be, or publicly say so. (Scenes of social injustice, environmental degradation). I know in everything you do, you think you are doing the right thing and it is not your purpose to hurt others, but things do not seem to be working the way we were expecting them to work. (scenes of social injustice, environmental degradation).

This is not about what we are doing wrong. This is about what we can do right, this is the time to make it work and avoid the mistakes of the past, which thanks to us, we already know what the mistakes are.

What if I tell you that most of our current social, environmental and spiritual gaps are deeply related to how we relate to money, finance and our current economic theories?(consumption related scenes) And what if I offer you an option to structurally change and re-create these theories?? Are you ready to change??


We like change as long as it happens under our control. If it is external change and our influence over the consequences is limited, if not null, we seem to panic. In Al Gore's movie, An Inconvinient Truth, he speaks of the migration of monarch butterflies and how it has been affected by climate change. We didn't tell the butterflies to change their migration patterns, they adapted to the circumstances in order to widen their chances of survival. If conditions of our surroundings change and we don't adapt, our chances of survival decrease. Paradoxically, we appear to believe that the world needs to be static, and every time that significant changes happen around us, we jump to control the situation and replace what we believe to be the faulty piece of our world. (animation of platforms). By doing this, we have been weakening our structures even more.

For many years now, several events and circumstances around the world are telling us that replacing the faulty piece not only does not prevent the event from happening again, but it makes the structure even more vulnerable to collapse. It is not about changing a piece in the structure to keep what does not work and avoid adaptation to external change, it is about adapting to the circumstances by changing the structure if that is what the situation requires.


Our current structures are complex, deteriorated and increasingly weak. At the core of these structures there is the platform that sustains them. But the complexity and vulnerability of what we have now, has placed the platform out of our sight. We no longer recognize all the social interactions that must have taken place for the goods and services to be provided in our society. In what we buy, we only seem to acknowledge the the thing, the object, not the human relationships anymore and even less the ecological relationships with other living entities of the earth. [Human] social relationships are the platform that sustain the structures. 

Designing new financial, economic and monetary structures that promote social cohesion and cooperation, will set up the environment to transcend to a sufficient, resource based, non monetary economy. It requires exceptional efforts to completely change the most basic definitions of our current systems. Not only it is possible, it is necessary. But can we do it?? can we undo the nods? 

We created what we have, we can create the next generation of finance too. We have an extraordinary opportunity to create the future right now. A future that redefines the meanings of money, profits and value based on trust, reputation, community building and public engagement. To re create economic systems that mimic nature. That is, that are diverse enough to be resilient but also efficient enough to avoid stagnation. 

Can you imagine being able to use local currencies that support your local economy and your relationships with family, neighbors, customers and suppliers, and also a global currency that connects efforts and strengthen business and live across the planet? 

We'd like to explain the call with an example from the book 'Butterfly': 

"The caterpillars new cells are called 'imaginal cell.' They resonate at a different frequency. They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells that his immune system thinks they are enemies...and gobbles them up--Chomp! Gulp! But these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them! Pretty soon, the caterpillar's immune system cannot destroy them fast enough. More and more of the imaginal cells survive. And then an amazing thing happens! The little tiny lonely imaginal cells start to clump together, into friendly little groups. They all resonate together at the same frequency, passing information from one to another. Then, after awhile, another amazing thing happens! The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together!.., A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cell, all resonating at the same frequency, all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis.
A wave of Good News travels throughout the system-- Lurches and heaves...but not yet a butterfly. 
Then at some point, the entire long string of imaginal cells suddenly realizes all together that it is Something Different from the caterpillar. Something New! Something Wonderfull!....and in that realization is the shout of the birth of the butterfly! 
Since the butterfly now "knows" that it is a butterfly, the little tiny imaginal cells no longer have to do all those things individual cells must do. Now they are part of a mult-celled organism-- A FAMILY who can share the work. 
Each new butterfly cell can take on a different job.----There is something for everyone to do. And everyone is important. And each cell begins to do just that very thing it is most drawn to do. And every other cell encourages it to do just that."

We are calling cells to resonate together!

The New Economics for Humanity would like to collaboratively create a financial institution which principal aims are to support recirculation and redistribution of official currency that has already being created through the banking system, by providing investment options in and capital to innovative, progressive, systemic, holistic, environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling entrepreneurial ventures, and develop mutual credit clearing systems that would work in parallel to official currencies to stabilize the current economic environment and bring forth the transition of regions to sound and vibrant localization.

Let's get together and redefine our concepts, challenge our assumptions and generate a  progressive business model for the financial institutions of the future.

If you are interested in being part of this process, please send us an email to, and we will send you an invitation to join our organization's platform. We have no hierarchy and rely on the power of nature's self-organizing mechanisms to do this, which are amazingly contextualized in our online working platform.


The previous text is what I thought as a first draft of the script to participate in the 'Possible Futures Film Contest' that will start in March. I would love to have inputs about the script and ideas of animation and imagery. Ray Barnes, who is a contributor on the NEH workstream in BetterMeans, kindly offered to put things together in the video. It would be awesome to see your comments and inputs on this stage of the project!!