As I have previously stated, one of the life conclusions Ed and I arrived upon in Oregon is that we need to operate as locally as possible. To that end we have sought out several local movements. We found a local rancher who grazes their cattle about 70 miles away. The beef is really good, but a tad on the fatty side. However, she also sells raw bones for dogs and a special high-fat ground beef that we cook up for Jackie. He loves it. Speaking of Jackie, he is getting used to living in the city. There are several dog parks we take him to, where he invariably gets rolled around by other dogs, but he loves that too. Ed is getting Jackie involved in dog competitions, Earthdog, which simulates hunting and agility. In October we will be going up to northern AZ for his first trial.
The first organization we contacted here is called Local First AZ, they are a non-profit that started in Phoenix to promote local business. It goes something like this: for every dollar spent at a national retailer 13 cents stays in the community, however for every dollar spent at a local business 48 cents stays in the community. For every two jobs a national company creates, three local business jobs are lost. Keep it in the community. Ed and I went to a mixer they had to introduce ourselves. It was really for business owners, and since we are not… but we have started using their website which has a directory of local businesses.
Then we heard from a friend about a local currency movement. Monetary structures have lately piqued our interest. Let’s briefly delve into the philosophical realm. What is money? Money is a standardized means of exchange whose value is based upon something. It used to be, a long long long time ago, that the value of currency was based on the production of food and goods. The US federal note that we use is based upon the word of our government. It used to be, a long long long time ago, that money was created every season with the various potatoes, grains, fruit, meats and cheeses that got to the marketplace. Now money is LOANED into existence by the Federal Reserve, which by the way is a private company, so that the second it touches a hand it has to be paid back WITH INTEREST. That fact, and in order for society to maintain it, depends on a continually expanding economy. And since the earth and the resources upon are a finite entity, an ever-expanding economy is impossible. My own humble opinion is that the human race is reaching critical mass. Money used to devalue over time, as the various potatoes, grains, fruit, meats and cheeses rotted over time if they were not used. This encouraged re-investment into the community. Now money increases over time (via interest), indeed it takes money to make money, or as my uncle always says “the money that money makes, makes more money.” This encourages hoarding, by those who can afford to hoard, and slowly the bulk of the wealth is in the hands of a few (international bankers) and the majority of the population are grinding it out in the wheels of the machine, getting more and more of their production value taken away. (Most of this information, though I have it from several sources, is found in the book LIFE, INC. by Douglass Rushkoff.) The laws laid in place hundreds of years ago and have been altered for the benefit of those in power (think large corporations and multi-millionares) to remain there.
What to do with all this information? One solution is to create a local currency, one that is not loaned into existence, but one that is based on the value of the labor of the members of the community. Which in theory would never inflate or deflate since the value of that labor never changes. All you have to do is get everyone to agree that this new currency has value and to accept it as a means of exchange. So Ed and I have been going to the group meetings helping to aid the cause. I have never really thrown myself into a community group of this nature. The few times I was involved in a collaborative effort was mainly in the context of school projects. So I am new to this forum, and I realize that even though we all have the same goal in mind, we see different ways of getting there. There are personalities and egos involved and the occasional irresponsibility of the volunteers. Usually the meetings are at the end of the day when we are tired and hungry, but we are trying. I’m excited to see where this goes, and being part of this movement. Some group members believe we should just launch the program (right now in the form of a on-line ledger account system, hopefully one day to incorporate magnetic strip card technology and maybe paper script) and start operating within it and figure it out as we go. My only worry would be if the program launches without figuring out some logistics it might fall flat in early stages. But here we go.
Ed is also volunteering at the local community radio station and the public access television station. It’s good here and I think things will just continue to get better.