Kevin Parcell's Birdshot initiative
- Kevin, How are you?
I thought of you and came across your letter
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
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
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.
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.