GiveAndTake for our endeavors, including Mornflake's
- I'm designing an economic system for our lab's internal work and also
our interaction with other networks. I'm reading through John Roger's
draft (February, 2008) "Flying to the Future", The Community Currency
John Rogers leads Cyfranogi http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cyfranogi/ for
community currency, alternate economy, participatory society and also
I will think-out-loud. I appreciate your thoughts and everybody's as
well, especially those who might participate.
John, thank you for suggesting http://www.community-exchange.org I've
submitted my registration there for Minciu Sodas as a math tutor, open
source software developer and online community organizer. But I do want
an economic solution custom made for our lab's work, which I think about
John, you offer the practical question, "What is the purpose of any
currency?" Your manual elaborates:
Who wants to set up a CC?
Why do we want to start a CC?
What do we want to achieve with a CC?
Where do we want the CC to operate?
When and for how long do we want it to be operational?
How should we design it?
And you give the metaphor of passengers flying on a plane:
Who wants to fly?
Why do they want to fly?
What do they want to achieve by flying?
What's the weather like?
Where do they want to fly?
When do they want to fly?
How should they fly?
Here's my understanding of what I want for Minciu Sodas participants and
others we engage:
* Encourage our gift economy rather than erode it. Our gift economy is
quite strong, tens of thousands of dollars per year, including the gifts
of paid work, loans and donations.
* Focus on supporting each other's endeavors (what people want to
achieve) rather than property (what people are free to do with as they
like). See our list at: http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Endeavors
* Encourage people to look beyond their own endeavors and resources, and
consider helping each other to advance all of our endeavors.
* Develop a culture where exchange is a practical way to embolden us to
invest ourselves in each other's endeavors and that investment is valued
more than any particular exchange.
* Foster a preference for co-investment, or at least, identify and
support those who are willing to do work they normally wouldn't do with
the understanding that the overall system will further their endeavors.
* Make explicit the possible and actual exchanges so that all can
appreciate how we might benefit by doing work we normally wouldn't do.
* Leverage cash inputs by catalyzing with them as many non-cash
exchanges as possible and by applying them in ways that strengthen our
culture and infrastructure.
* Foster an understanding that participants may and should profit in a
variety of ways, including part-time work-for-pay for making a living,
deliverables for businesses which profit from them, and work for me (or
other organizers) that might typically equal the work-for-pay that we
provide for teams.
* Encourage Minciu Sodas workers to develop and advance their personal
endeavors, to foster their own self-direction and to ever leverage that
in work they do for Minciu Sodas.
* Identify those who are willing to commit to work and help them by
actively brokering such commitments.
(I invite our views, What do we want, as passengers and pilots?)
A good example of that culture at work is my collaboration this year
with our long term online assistant Sasha Mrkailo, his wife Zdenka
Mrkailo, and artist Ana Ilic, who all live in Sombor, Serbia. Sasha has
played a key role in My Food Story http://www.myfoodstory.com
(collecting 1,200+ stories for $1 each), our Global Utopias video
bridges, our Pyramid of Peace http://www.pyramidofpeace.com and other
projects. But I care that he develop his own activities by which he
might be an example and a leader in our culture. If he only does
"piece-work", then I should invest myself in other workers who are
potential leaders. I took a bus from Bosnia to Serbia to visit Sasha
and Zdenka for the New Year's holiday. We realized that it would be
good for them and for me to encourage Zdenka to develop her life's
work. She makes her own clothes and is interested in fashion design.
At their favorite cafe, I engaged the owner who introduced us to Ana
Ilic, an artist and fashion designer. I suggested that they develop
"Public Domain Fashion" and they took to the idea. On the basis of this
endeavor, I was able to invite Zdenka and Ana to London for the COMMUNIA
meeting. This life-changing trip broadened their horizons and gave
momentum to their businesses. I ended up contributing from my own
pocket about 2,000 USD for our London meeting (Samwel Kongere, Rachel
Kungu, Zenonas Anusauskas, Irena Buinickaite also came). Fortunately
for me, we got to meet twice with Leon Benjamin
http://www.winningbysharing.net for whom we're now working to engage UK
online communities on behalf of Mornflake cereal
http://www.mornflake.com and their online video contest
http://www.mornflakecompetition.com I also benefited greatly when Tomas
Cepaitis and Vygantas Vejas invited me to do an art show at the UMI
gallery in the Uzhupis Republic, which expanded my understanding of my
own life. I made seven paintings of Ana based on photos and videos that
Zdenka and Sasha made, as well as Jovita Valaityte who did a fashion
shoot with them in London, for free. Thank you also to those who hosted
us in London, and many others who helped, all for free. These last
weeks, Sasha has done a lot of great work for Mornflake and Scotland
Cleantech at lower rates than others, making up for obstacles others
faced, and I have given him more work than others. This is all our gift
economy at work.
I want to encourage this dynamic by making explicit how we can help each
other, not just in the narrow sense of a tit-for-tat exchange, but
focusing more on the bigger picture. For example, Peter Burgess
has written more than 100 letters to our groups. I've created wiki
pages that note his leadership in endeavors:
and there can be more (and these pages can be edited), and also his
support of endeavors:
which can also be edited.
WendiLosheBernadette is asking for money or paid work that she and
Actwid Kongadzem might do from Cameroon. And we have other requests
from Kenya, where I have money ready and the projects could be as small
as we like, even 5 USD.
I want a system where it's clear to us who is ready to work together in
what ways. Would Peter provide 10 USD or 100 USD to work with somebody
in Africa to test out his ideas? Or if somebody else provided that
money, would he mentor and manage our worker in Africa? Might he also
be willing to work on other endeavors, for example, as a researcher for
Cleantech Scotland? Would he like paid work? An affirmative answer to
ANY of these makes him relevant for the Minciu Sodas economy. A negative
answer to ALL of these means, for our economy, that he's a fan but not a
team player. I want to know who are our team players so that we can
play our game! If we all play in our modest ways, and we are willing to
play in response to each other, then a lot of opportunities open up.
If we can have such a system, then I can fuel it with money. Currently,
I can provide 500 GBP for our work for Mornflake and 200 USD for our
work for Stuart Oliver's Cleantech Scotland. I don't want to give this
out as paid work, but rather I want to support a "game" or "plane" for
all of our endeavors.
In my work for Leon Benjamin and Mornflake cereal, my plan is to reach
out to the most responsive UK online communities and offer them 50 GBP
worth of credit in this system for their endeavors. We would include
their endeavors and those of their participants. They can ask Sasha
Mrkailo, Thomas Chepaitis, Fred Kayiwa, Dennis Kimambo and others to do
online chores for them, including researching, translating, outreach,
editing wikis. They can ask others who might do software development.
They can give donations for endeavors in Africa. In each case, I want
the credits to link endeavors to endeavors.
I will try the following simple system. At our wiki, for individuals I
will add fields "MightGive=" and "MightTake=" which might include
PaidWork but also various skills. And for endeavors I will add a field
"GiveAndTake=" where we can document how an endeavor has shared or
exchanged resources with other endeavors. I think this is a good first
step to making explicit how we might work together. Which endeavors are
most vital? most central? Which individuals are key to linking our
Using our wiki this way has the advantage that it doesn't require
registration (which is difficult for me to support, but also doesn't
reflect the fact that many of our participants have irregular online
participation and need others who can act on their behalf). It also
lets us look back and document all of the help that we've given each
other, in general, for each endeavor, without having to think in terms
of exchanges and values. I hope that the result is that the matchmaking
possibilities in my own mind become explicit and inspire and merge with
all of ours. Then we can make sure that we're acknowledging those who
are helping and support their endeavors and share resources with them.
See the lists that I've started:
And here's a sample entry which illustrates our gift economy and why we
shouldn't try too hard to force it into an exchange system, but we
should be creative in encouraging give-and-take:
GiveAndTake for the endeavor PavasrioDarbai, (EndeavorSummary: Organize
an art exhibit at UMI in the UzhupisRepublic to present and embolden
AndriusKulikauskas as an artist and painter.)
"ThomasChepaitis and VygantasVejas encouraged and invited
AndriusKulikauskas to do an art show at the UMI gallery in
UzhupisRepublic. Andrius paid only 100 LTL per week for three weeks for
electricity etc. for the gallery space. Andrius also provided Vygantas
with 200 LTL of work for help consulting and putting up the exhibit.
Andrius's parents and artist friends JonasKulikauskas, AlgirdasZokaitis
and AlbinasMarkevicius provided key encouragement. Andrius first showed
posters made from drawings that he made of his math students in Bosnia
as they took his exams. ZdenkaMrkailo and SashaMrkailo then provided
photos and video of AnaIlic who modeled as a problem-solving muse for
Andrius's paintings. Andrius sent Zdenka and Ana 100 euros. Andrius
worked on-site and engaged the youth, provided art supplies for
visitors, and signed up about 50 for ThomasChepaitis's working group
Zmoniskai and KennedyOwino's NafsiAfrikaSaana. Uzhupis artists embraced
and encouraged Andrius. Andrius provided ice cream at the two openings
instead of the traditional alcohol. KazysAlmenas The band IKuna played
for free at the second opening. Andrius had earlier given them a drawing
of the band. Andrius's father EdmundasKulikauskas loved them and got
their phone number for events he might organize. Anuk from Belgium
helped him carry his largest work around the city of Vilnius for a four
hours photo shoot. The city of Vilnius gave him a permit. Ruta's young
daughter posed for eight oil pastel drawings and her four-year-old son,
Andrius's god son, drew a key picture that inspired Andrius's paintings.
Ruta agreed to take Andrius's works for permanent display at a gallery
she will open at her ecocottage in the village of Marcinkonys. A young
man hanging out helped Andrius carry the largest work onto the train.
Andrius gave him 20 LTL instead of 3 LTL. The train conductor allowed
Andrius to transport the work and didn't charge him extra. Andrius spent
about 2000 USD on the exhibit and donated the remaining art supplies to
Vygantas and Ruta. Andrius provided paid work for ThomasChepaitis on the
Mornflake project. Andrius's client LeonBenjamin for Mornflake
encouraged Andrius "I love your art work".
I also want to support our online leaders, especially those are
thinking-out-loud, pursuing investigations and their working groups. I
want to provide them (Franz Nahrada, Janet Feldman, Edward Cherlin,
Pamela McLean...) with online assistants (like Thomas Chepaitis, Fred
Kayiwa, Dennis Kimambo) whom I would pay modest stipends to. That would
pour fuel on our fires!
I appreciate our thoughts and also I encourage us to write, what might
we give and take, and what endeavors do we want to pursue and how might
we help other people's endeavors?
This is very relevant for our Mornflake outreach. I'm trying to show UK
online communities that we can provide them with resources, as described
above, if they simply are happy that, in our lab's communications at
their sites, we may acknowledge Mornflake's support just as we point to
our own efforts and endeavors. My point is that, if we consciously
appreciate Mornflake's support that we help each other, then it's better
for Mornflake to support us then to promote itself. That's a radical
shift in the use of marketing resources that could work for many clients
and fuel endless amounts of outreach and online infrastructure.
Tomorrow, I plan to start engaging UK communities. How might we
synergize with them?
P.S. In the future, we might try to link John Rogers's design approach
(which I like) with John Caswell's business problem-solving approach
(which I also like).
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