24 November 2010

Reinventing Wealth

Posted by Admin under: Accounting; Economy; Energy; Evolution; Future; Inspiration; Leadership; Organization; People; Permaculture; Resiliency .

Having addressed the issue, however imperfectly, of choosing what to measure and how to measure it, the next step seems to be creating a new economy alongside the old, that can eventually encompass, contain, and transcend it with a framework of sustainability.

This is the topic we have set for our discussion on December 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. at our home in Basking Ridge, to be followed by our annual “Potluck for the Planet,” from 4 to 8 p.m. Check out the invitation here:

and download the flier here: 2010HolidayPotluck (PDF).

If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to rs[email protected]. The event is not limited to members, but you will be invited to sign up.

More than just discussing it, however, we’re interested in creating a few experiments with alternatives to the conventional economy. Consider the example of local currencies. (There’s a good Wikipedia article that discusses many of the better-known ones, and a partial list here. New Jersey is notably absent from the list, though we do know some barter systems operate here.) Local currencies, some of which are convertible to regular dollar values, and some of which reflect hours or other ways of measuring work or work product, are designed to store and exchange value within a geographical community, and to increase the retention of wealth in the local area.

What we’re talking about here is not necessarily a “local” currency, but a new calculus of exchangeable value. Can we create such a thing? Yes, we can. There are already examples of so-called complementary (community) currencies, which can be nonlocal. There is no reason we cannot invent another, and there’s nothing illegal about them, as long as the purpose is not the evasion of taxes (which is a subject we also need to deal with).

About twenty years ago, I was also involved in creating another financial system called “a credit exchange,” or Credex. (This system, which we pioneered in Ottawa in 1989-90, is unrelated to any of the current entities using this name today, which appear to be credit counseling and/or collection agencies). The idea of the credit exchange was just that, for businesses (and potentially even individuals) to exchange credit, which is really their ability to extend payment terms to clients. Under the model we developed, Company A would agree to sell, say, $10,000 worth of goods or services to Company B, and Company B would have up to ninety days rather than the usual thirty days to pay. In addition, upon the sale Company A would receive an immediate credit of $10,000 that it could spend with Companies C, D, E, etc., thereby using the value it had earned to increase trade. Our service managed and tracked these transactions, and acted as a clearinghouse for the quarterly settlements. Since all companies in the network agreed to grant credit to the network itself, extensive value could be leveraged without requiring additional cash or borrowing. This is a service that could be even more easily provided today, and that (unlike our earlier version, which was pre-Internet) could perhaps grow virally if set up online.

But these are just examples, and mostly examples of tracking systems. The purpose of our little experiment is to see if we can actually generate wealth for each other by “creating it out of thin air” (and some creativity and hard work as well). Here’s the mission, as we’ve conceived of it for the volunteer team: Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It.

In addition, Frank Wennin and I are carrying on a continuing conversation about models, frameworks, games, and structures that would serve to provide “right livelihoods” for everyone we know. What we’re learning from this is something that will appear in subsequent posts. In the meantime I welcome your input and look forward to inventing this new conversation with you on December 18.

2 Comments so far...

The Sustainable Leadership Forum » The New Economics of Value Says:

24 November 2010 at 9:30 am.

[…] leads us to next month’s topic, Reinventing Wealth, a discussion we plan to combine with our annual holiday potluck at our home in Basking Ridge on […]

The Sustainable Leadership Forum » Dec 18 Party & Discussion Says:

25 November 2010 at 10:31 pm.

[…] are invited: Sustainable Leadership Forum Challenge & Strategy Session: “Reinventing Wealth“ Annual “Potluck for the Planet” 8 Revere Drive, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920 […]

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Past Events

Correction: We'll be hosting this year's holiday potluck — "Bringing Solar Power Home for the Holidays" — on Saturday, December 15, from 4 to 9 p.m. Click here for more details. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Sustainable Neighborhood & Community Conversations (III).
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods and Communities II.
Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods & Communities.
Saturday, June 16, 2012: SLF Potluck June 16: Sustainable Living Communities.
The Sustainable Haiti Conference took place April 23-25, 2012 in Miami.
"Inside Job" Movie Party. Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 PM, Liberty Ridge, The Hills, Bernards Twp, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
2nd 'Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference', January 26, 2012, Karibe Convention Center, Petion Ville, Haiti
Dec 11 SLF Potluck: "Bringing Sustainability Home for the Holidays" Basking Ridge, NJ. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4 p.m. Open House Party & Potluck, Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m., Basking Ridge, NJ.
RSVP to [email protected]
Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m. EcoCenter Update. At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.
Saturday, April 16, 1-4 p.m. "Haiti & Us: The Leading Edge of Sustainable Development." At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. A copy of the update presentation has been posted here.
Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m. "Creating the Morristown EcoCenter." Held at 55 Bank Street, Morristown, the site of the proposed EcoCenter.
Saturday, February 19, 1-4 p.m. Monthly meeting, ""A Profound Transformation in Consciousness," Morris County Library, Whippany, NJ. Click here for details.
Saturday, January 15, 1-4 p.m. Putting Idealism into Practice: Tour of Half Moon House. Click here for details.
Saturday, December 18, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "Reinventing Wealth," followed by our annual "Potluck for the Planet" from 4 to 8. Click here for details.
Saturday, November 20, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "How Do We Measure Sustainable Value?". Click here for details.
Saturday, October 16, 1-4 p.m. Challenge and Strategy Session: "Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey".
Download the slide presentation here, and the discussion paper here.

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Leadership Quotes

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
(Thomas A. Edison—thanks to Regan Caton)

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (G.B. Shaw)

"There is the true joy of life: to be used by a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before being thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that life will not devote itself to making you happy." (G.B. Shaw)

"Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed." (Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya - thanks to Christine Comaford, Rules for Renegades)