Below are the notes I took the other night at the Slow Coast potluck. I organized them into two sections: 1) that of general comments and ideas, and 2) questions/concerns.
I think I was able to jot down the gist of what people were saying, but since I haven't studied economics, I was grappling a bit with some of the ideas as they were being discussed. I hope my interpretation of what was shared is at least close to what was actually meant...let us know if you have any questions if somethings not clear by adding to the comments.
And thanks again for the invite...I'm excited to have the opportunity to take part in the evolution of Slow Coast endeavors!
Sitting fireside daydreaming about some slow apple pie from Pie Ranch!
JIM COCHRAN welcomed us to Swanton Berry Farm.
J. NICHOLS introduced the Slow Coast idea.
-Gravitating towards the clarity of simplicity
-Unique opportunity to NOT market, but TO BE the ideology as a community
-Make it work for us as a community, then watch it ripple outward
-Reduce (as much as possible) the use of US dollars, using Slow Coast Cash as the main currency...and do so by using the least amount of bureaucracy...let it be a community-building commerce; have fun with it!
-Let the Slow Coast Cash be a conversation starter
-A foggy area of inquiry: an hour of service=how much squash, for example?
- One of the farmers said, "To start things off, perhaps we could try inviting a cross-section of the Slow Foods community (farmers, bakers, cheese and wine makers, etc.) to an event and have them bring goods to barter... somehow introducing the Slow Coast Cash into the equation." (HOW though, is the question!)
-PAUL GLOVER is the name of the man who organized the Ithaca Hour alternative currency. Debbie from Freewheelin' Farms said that he makes himself very available to people who are trying to start similar projects and that it could be worth reaching out to him.
-DAVE GARDNER: "Slow Coast currency as a slow step towards succession!"
-PHILLIPE LECONTE (the french man visiting UCSC) who has studied alternative currencies had this to say:
"It is important for alternative currencies to arise. They protect the local economy and defend the well-being of all neighbors. They can be difficult to start, but once they are going, have proven to be quite sustainable. There are 2 critical points that need serious examination within the community: 1) How will the people come to value their time in exchange for goods (what amount of time equals what goods or services) and 2) Are the people ready to be without "speculation", that is, are the producers willing to change the programming of all prior thought about how much food is worth in US dollars, and begin to view the value in a new way, without constantly interpreting the exchange through regular-currency-exchange-colored-glasses."
He also mentioned the question of taxes and that the possibility of alerting the government is important to consider.
Leconte recommended researching the Swiss alternative currency model (that of the WIR vs. the franc).
Finally, he stressed the importance of keeping the currency flowing vs. saving it/trying to have it appreciate... it will not work if people begin to horde it.
-The idea of creating a Slow Coast website in order to organize/network/list activities/trades etc. was mentioned and that it would be helpful to include not only food producers, but those who provide services such as mechanics, healers, artists, etc. so that the wider community can participate. [This blog is simply a placeholder for now]
-JIM COCHRAN: "This requires an open mindedness...it will be a fun challenge to twist my mind into these new ideas of participating in an alternative currency and to let go of all prior conditioning around money and business." He continued, by offering a 10% premium on Swanton Berry goods, using Slow Coast Cash, to get the ball rolling.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
-What about the "gold standard"? What could be the equivalent? Do we need an equivalent? [a Slow Coast organic pie = twenty Slow Coast Cash?]
-Where do we start? How is this established? How do we go about tying alternative values to goods/services? What is equitable when viewed outside the box?
-Would farmers be interested in trading goods for various services (i.e. tutoring for their children, car repair, acupuncture, etc.)?
-What about relying on a small, local bank to create a small scale reserve? Could all participants somehow be part of an account that would create new/different values on goods/services but would still provide/assign actual monetary value on them that felt fair?
-What about migrant workers? How can we get them involved and have their standard of living increased and their other needs met, as well (such as trading for healthcare/ car care/ etc.)?