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Kevin Parcell's Birdshot initiative

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  • ms@auste.elnet.lt
    Kevin, How are you? I thought of you and came across your letter http://groups.yahoo.com/group/emergencylocalcurrency/message/43 where you write more about the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 14, 2006
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      Kevin, How are you?

      I thought of you and came across your letter
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/emergencylocalcurrency/message/43
      where you write more about the International Disaster Reduction Conference
      where you presented your Birdshot initiative for emergency local currency. I
      share your letter here at Cyfranogi http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cyfranogi/

      Elsewhere in our lab, regarding pandemic flu, I've been thinking that for our
      current work http://www.myfoodstory.com we might have a team with Pamela
      McLean and/or Janet Feldman and colleagues in Africa on the connection
      between poultry, "learning from each other", and interfaces that are suitable
      for people working with very different bandwidth.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/ Perhaps we can find a
      way to connect?

      Greetings from Jerusalem.
      Andrius Kulikauskas, ms@..., http://www.ms.lt
      -------------------------------------------------

      As planned, I attended the International Disaster Reduction Conference
      in Davos, Switzerland, from August 27 through September 1,
      representing the Birdshot initiative. The expenses were paid by me
      personally, although I still have some hope of recovering these from
      charitable funders.

      The Conference provided an excellent means of networking with
      individuals and organizations involved in the international
      disaster-relief community, and I'm very happy to report that it was
      received with enthusiasm. During the coming weeks and months I'll be
      following-up on the contacts I initiated there. For example, the
      Birdshot initiative is now a part of the Global Disaster Information
      Network (GDIN), one of the Conference sponsors, because of our
      involvement in the event and my contact with GDIN's director, and I
      expect similar results with other major international organizations.

      There was nothing else presented at the conference regarding local
      currency systems, and apparently this was an introduction to the power
      of this approach for that community. Interestingly, there was also
      very little else presented there addressing the threat of pandemic,
      certainly because the 20th Century model of disaster-relief (dig-out,
      rebuild) is nearly powerless against it. However, the international
      community is evolving an understanding that a metasystems approach,
      which provides redundancy in accessing essential resources, is
      promising, and so the local-currency solution, which provides
      redundancy of the marketplace itself, is likely to be well received
      over the coming years.

      Below is a copy of some comments I posted recently at a Minciu Sodas
      website (Cyfranogi), in reply to a request from its director, Andrius
      Kulikauskas. I'll expand this update after I have a decision from the
      Gate's Foundation about the Letter of Inquiry submitted July 27. As
      you'll see if you compare my comments above and below, my
      understanding of how to approach advancing this work internationally
      is evolving as I continue to process my experience in Switzerland,
      and, similarly, I expect Gates' response to impact my thinking
      significantly.

      Today is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the US.
      Five years ago, the world seemed to be beginning to truly understand
      that terrorism cannot be defeated through force of arms, but crises
      often bring a step backward. The H5N1 pandemic may be an exception to
      that rule because it will certainly advance the implementation of
      local currency systems and so perhaps help to bring the world a step
      closer to an end to hunger. If Birdshot serves as a link between the
      crisis community and the community currency movement, then perhaps it
      will yet be a part of that solution.

      Kevin


      Posted to Cyfranogi Sept 7:

      I took the Birdshot initiative (www.birdshot. cc) that
      began at Cyfranogi to the UN sponsored International
      Disaster Reduction Conference in Switzerland last
      week, where I offered it as a poster presentation and
      took advantage of many good opportunities to connect
      with people working in alternative economics and
      addressing the problem of hunger (my main interest).
      My overall impression is that the international
      disaster-response community (UN, Red Cross, etc) is
      deeply interested in evolving a proactive strategy.
      The 20th century global model has been to dig-out,
      rebuild infrastructure, and bring in big business, and
      that has only perpetuated the poverty-disaster cycle
      because it leaves the "improved area" one calamity
      away from again being a long-term client of relief.
      But that model is still very attractive - with its
      huge relief packages bringing power and wealth to
      major players - and so has been hard to move passed.
      The new direction offered so far (through the 2005
      Kyobi conference, for example) has been to stress
      education, especially an ideal of teaching people how
      to prepare for and respond to disaster. IMHO this
      proceeds from the simple fact that the conversation is
      dominated by academics, but it doesn't offer much real
      hope. As one attendee from a major university said to
      me, "You can't eat knowledge." Well, you can't eat
      money either, but the same woman immediately
      appreciated the power and promise of the local
      currency model, as did the majority of those with whom
      I spoke. I don't need to tell you the arguments.

      The UN just finished a decade of effort to advance
      microenterprise development, and so the attendees were
      educated about the ability to change people's lives
      with a few dollars. Studies show that local currency
      systems are a more effective tool than micro-credit
      for raising populations out of poverty, and STROhalm
      foundation, which is sponsoring the Birdshot
      initiative, has successful pilot projects combining
      micro-credit and local currency, so most folks found
      the argument compelling.

      Of course, I could reach relatively few of those
      attending, but it was a good start and because of
      Birdshot's inclusion in that conference the door is
      open to nurture that seed. Moreover, even as the 20th
      Century disaster model has been ineffective in
      reducing poverty, so it is also ineffective against
      the threat of pandemic, and so not only is the
      disaster-response community able to comprehend
      alternative economic models but it is also anxious to
      hear strategies to address the bird flu threat. The
      other bird flu strategy presented at the conference
      suggested a metasystem approach to accomplish more
      resilient infrastructure. Only Birdshot addressed the
      question, "What if infrastructure fails?" Still, on
      the whole, the UN and other organizations are going to
      be more receptive to local currency as a tool against
      chronic poverty rather than as a tool against acute
      crises, and this is just a matter of
      compartmentalization, with disaster continuing to be
      dominated by the concept of response, while the
      problem of poverty is now open to proactive
      strategies. The meeting point is that endemic poverty
      is now understood as the fundamental problem because
      it is the poor who are disproportionately effected.
      Thus, local currency systems could quickly become a
      leading proactive disaster and poverty strategy,
      finding a place along side micro-credit.

      I hope that the leading voices in the community
      currency movement will look for opportunities to make
      inroads with these international organizations.
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