“We’ve been stuck on the carousel of our money system for three hundred years. It’s time to get off”. This was the major theme of Bernard Lietaer‘s keynote speech at CCIA’s final conference, held in Brussels on 19th May, 2015. Surveying the evolution of that system throughout human history, he argued that its major purpose has always been to establish and perpetuate power. This reality has been painfully evident since the 2008 crash, with much of the world now “in the process of sacrificing democracy to the maintenance of the financial system”.
But this system, Lietaer argued, is now in crisis, as more people come to realise its true nature. Yet, despite all the talk of change, one thing is largely assumed to remain the same: the money we use. Community currencies are viable and necessary innovations, but must take advantage of the dominant system’s crisis by embracing new technology and, crucially, becoming recognised means of paying local taxes. This will erode the power of our dominant forms of money, as it is primarily through monopolising the payment of taxes that “inherently valueless” currency gains value. As Lietaer noted, the Bristol and Brixton Pounds have made some progress on this front.
Next up, Leander Bindewald of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) summaries the goals and outcomes of CCIA. One of the projects main aims has been to move away from a conception of money as a singular system which “tries to do everything” towards an understanding of a currency as “a unit system to facilitate collaboration within a community”. The question then becomes what kind of collaboration we want and how we can design a currency to stimulate it. In different ways, CCIA pilot currencies have all made significant progress in putting this into practice; the challenge now is to to move community currencies into the economic mainstream.
After a series of smaller workshops, Rob van Hilten (Qion) and Alice Martin (NEF) presented some of the major achievements of CCIA. Rob talked about Qoinware, a customisable software package allowing community currencies to set up online and electronic systems. Alice then presented CCIA’s new book, People Powered Money: designing, developing and delivering community currencies. Covering everything from currency design to project management, we hope that this will allow more communities to create their own currency projects in response to their specific economic, environmental and social needs.
In addition to People Powered Money, CCIA has recently published a range of material, including:
– an evaluation of the impact of CCIA pilots
– a report offering guidance to local authorities seeking to realise the benefits of community currencies
– legal and compliance documents for currencies opperating in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands
A full list of CCIA publications, all freely available to download, can be found here.
And this is the greeting video of EMP Molly Scott Cato who wrote a foreword for our book and wanted to be with us at the conference had the European Parliament not been in Strasbourg that week…:
Although CCIA is now almost over, we hope this material will help the community currency field evolve to become a normal part of economic life. Thanks to everyone who gave their help, support and expertise!