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Is bitcoin the future of money, privacy and payments, the end of greedy banks and the fall of government fiat currencies; or is it an elaborate scam, the currency of cyber villains, and a threat to sovereign states?  

Drew of BitNational, a CCEC Member, says: “We all cherish money deeply, but most don’t truly understand what it is or from where its value is derived. Researching bitcoin and cryptocurrencies enables you to understand a lot more about how fractional reserve banking and quantitative easing only benefit the extremely wealthy, while constantly devaluing every dollar you earn. Bitcoin is honest and transparent at the lowest level.”   

Could bitcoin prevent a future global currency crisis like the ongoing Greek example? Earlier this year, there was a freeze imposed on fund transfers out of Greece and a daily limit placed on how many Euros that Greeks could withdraw from their own bank accounts. If all Greeks used bitcoin, their funds could not be frozen or rationed. We know that Fort Knox doesn’t have enough gold to support the paper currency in circulation, and lots of people are unaware that gold has not been tied to fiat currency since 1971. Is bitcoin, a currency created by the people for the people, the answer?

Bitcoin is not an easy concept to grasp, but at the moment, it’s the only currency without borders. There are many people who are now buying bitcoin in an attempt to learn more about digital currencies that are, for the most part, completely misunderstood.  According to Drew, of the DDP & BitNational, “People are infatuated with saving money, but they don’t really know what it is. The ‘money’ in bitcoin is stored fully in your control, on your cellular phone, in paper (cold storage) wallets, and now many hardware wallets are also coming into the market. There are however still risks in this fledgling industry, if you don’t know what you are doing. For example, the ‘address’ you use to transfer bitcoin must be correct or your funds could be sent to a different person and not returned. Bitcoin is a push system, rather than a pull system like credit cards and traditional banking. You are in full control of your money, if you want to be.” 

So, how are businesses using bitcoins? CCEC Member, the Decentralized Dance Party (link to blog) is selling “Peace Bonds”, exclusively using decentralized currencies, such as bitcoin, to complete The Global Party Pandemic AKA The Grand Unification Tour. The DDP’s recent European Tour was 100% financed by crowdfunding (see blog article on CrowdGIFT) using bitcoin.

So, how does it work? It is said that the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin could be a game-changer in the world of finance. It is virtually unhackable. The blockchain is the systematic ledger that keeps track of all bitcoin transactions. It can never be erased and is constantly growing as more transactions are added in chronological order. Because blockchain technology appears to remove the need for the middlemen of finance — banks, governments, notaries and even paper currency — it is thought that its system of decentralized consensus could be applied elsewhere. "Think about digital signatures, digital contracts, digital keys [to physical locks, or to online lockers], digital ownership of physical assets such as cars and houses, digital stocks and bonds and digital money," noted venture capitalist and bitcoin booster Marc Andreessen in a 2014 op-ed for The New York Times. He continues, "All these are exchanged through a distributed network of trust that does not require or rely upon a central intermediary, like a bank or broker."

Drew wants CCEC Members and their peers to be open to change. He says, “We all know that something is wrong with the current system and that we need to do something. Bitcoin is honest money… We all need to take more control of our finances and put in the effort to understand money. People don’t realize the power that they hold, and they need to understand that they can truly vote with their money.”

BitNational currently has 13 Bitcoin ATMs in Canada, 6 in Waves Coffee Houses in Vancouver and due to consistent transaction growth, will be expanding aggressively in the coming months.

For more information visit bitnational.com, bitcoin.org OR coinmarketcap.org

CCEC will be featuring more articles on decentralized currencies and bitcoin. Be sure to leave your comments on our Blog.

Contact Drew: drew@bitnational.com

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The Ministry of Finance is now reviewing credit union legislation, a process that will proceed over the next year.  Every ten years there is a review and consequently an opportunity to think critically about how financial services are regulated.  In BC, the two principal statutes are the Financial Institutions Act and the Credit Union Incorporation Act.

The last decade has seen some big changes in technology and also in the way international banks are regulated. Technology has changed the way credit unions do business (new service channels online, and mobile), process transactions (paperless payments), and communicate generally.  In addition, technology has introduced a host of new non-traditional service providers; virtual banks, online lenders, private payment services, digital currencies, and more. The failure of some large banks has prompted scrutiny of large scale financial engineering arrangements and of the role of regulators.

CCEC has made a submission to the Ministry in September that attempts to ensure the potential for communities to continue to organize and provide themselves with financial services; using the co-operative model. CCEC is vocal in asserting that the credit union model, at the local level, is to be facilitated and not burdened with regulation. CCEC substantially endorses a consistent legal framework for all credit unions with transparency and accountability among the government authorities.    

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The Decentralized Dance Party (DDP) was founded on the belief that partying has the power to save the world because it is inclusive, and that anyone can dance or carry a boombox.  They feel they will win a Nobel Prize for Partying twice in a row and that the Occupy Movement didn’t achieve its mission because it really didn’t have one.  And, yes, these are CCEC members.  

The decentralized community is a revolutionary initiative that applies the principles of open-source software to longstanding social issues.  The intention is to unite those who are suffering with those who can help, enabling individuals who were previously isolated to devise creative, long-term solutions to their problems.
 
The Decentralized Community was first conceived by Gary Lachance in November 2008.  Then he started the  Decentralized Dance Party and The #BYPASS Movement.  The Open-Source/Decentralization revolution has given rise to technologies like Crowdfunding, P2P Lending, and 3D Printing.
 
But, will these tools create decentralized communities and autonomous societies?  To learn more, read Grand Decentralization Theory or Privacy Is The Enemy, a Grand Decentralization Theory that examine the fundamental nature of the decentralization revolution and propose how these movements can potentially give rise to a completely free and open society.
 
Not withstanding the naysayers, and with irreverence and technology, the AKA team of Tom  and Gary have financed  The Global Party Pandemic, using Crowdfunding and Bitcoins.  Just now, they raised EURO 10,000 in less than one month and a private donor paid their airfare to bring 6+ Parties to Europe!  They started the movement because they believe, “Partying is the most misunderestimated artistic medium in existence.”
 
They’ve thrown 60 insane Parties across North America and the participants with up to 20,000 people at each party.  Their objective is 
celebrating  life, enjoying music, and connecting with complete strangers on a deep and fundamental level- not getting drunk and being idiots.  They are partying by elevating consciousness, not destroying it.  More than a Party, the DDP is an interesting social experiment; showing that you can unite thousands of people of all ages, cultures and social groups to peacefully celebrate our common humanity.

 
That is why the DDP is also known as “The Party Revolution”. It is a unique force that has the power to overcome negative conditioning and unify and inspire the people of the world in ways never before imagined.

  
Follow the DPP in Europe!  https://www.facebook.com/theddp They come back to Vancouver in October.

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Vigilance or evil prevails.

Don't take what we have for granted.  We must be vigilant in defense of our democratic rights and our freedoms.  With the Federal election coming this October 19th we urge all to get out and vote. For specific insights you may want to check out LEAD NOW.

CCEC is rooted in community development and democratic ideals. We believe that ordinary people, collectively, can ensure themselves a better future.  We also know that our democracy is bigger than periodic elections, it is built upon traditions and has many components.  When you vote, understand that there are efforts underway to undermine our democracy and your vote is one way to counter them.

Elections represent the people's voice.  Recently riding maps were redrawn to add new seats, yet still the average population in a riding in BC is @150% the size of one in Atlantic Canada, making our votes less important. Voter eligibility rules were also changed, with new demands for identification; likely making it harder for first nations and immigrants to vote. Is the game rigged?  And should proportional representation be used in parliamentary elections?

Parliament is where the people's representatives approve legislation and hold the government to account. Increasingly, members of parliament are told what to do by the prime minister, rather than the other way around.  Should we not expect more from our MPs?   

Cabinet is the inner circle of MPs that direct government. Over the last twenty years the role of these ministers has been eroded and greater control has been centralized in the prime minister's office ("PMO"). 

The Senate is the second house of law making, where reasonable people are to give proposed laws one last good look.  Now it has been turned into a partisan den that simply does the bidding of the PMO.  

The civil service provides expert administrative resources, scientists, and diplomats that serve the broader public interest with consistency over the long term. Yet the recent past has seen these people characterized as the enemy (of the esteemed leader) and severely cut back, at least in part resulting new risks to the public in rail safety, food safety, environmental protection, and elsewhere.

The courts are the arbiter of disputes and the means to seeking criminal justice, as directed by the Constitution and the law.  The Supreme Court and lower courts have been under unprecedented attacks because they insist that the Constitution be respected.  The emerging single-mindedness of the PMO seems to find this offensive, and it should not.

The media are the means by which the electorate learn about our government actions and may hold government accountable.  The lack of transparency of our government, the insistence on careful messaging, and the failure to respect freedom of information requests has left mainstream and alternative news sources unable to play their role.  The CBC is severely cut back.  Government advertising purchases distort the editorial perspective of private operators and gloss over the failures of government programs. 

Civil society is the way people organize to pursue larger public goals in social, arts and environmental realms.  Non-governmental organizations are fundamental to modern societies.  Yet our government has labelled advocates as 'terrorists' and pursued exceptional efforts to revoke charitable status from many groups.  

International trade agreements effectively out-source law making to international tribunals, usually denying democratically elected governments the power to withdraw from or re-open agreements for extended periods of time.  These pacts are among the most insidious tactic used to limit the power of popular movements and to restrict debate.

The subversion of our democratic institutions and traditions is real. When you vote, choose to support those who will enhance our democratic system of governance. VOTE!

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Is it time to create a co-operative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Vancouver?  With the Level 4 drought, water-wise gardening ideas sprouting and more lawns growing food, let’s meet CCEC member, Randi-Lee Taylor, owner of Simply Barefoot Garden Service, the old school hand-tooled cargo trike riding gardening artisan.  See blog for more information on biochar.

Randi-Lee doesn’t call herself a landscaper, even though she does that, and says, “My heart and practice is akin to community gardeners, xeriscaping (landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation). and permaculture with an emphasis on esthetics.”  Riding ‘the Big Luna’, her affectionately named cargo trike, and using old-school hand tools, she brings these practices into her clients’ gardens.  As an artisan, she converts passive lawn space into active gardens – imagine a potager garden with lovely pathways, accents of roses, lavender, topiary and a perhaps an espalier.  Last year, one of her gardens, The Mirror Garden, was chosen for the East Van Garden Tour


Why I’m a member of CCEC:

“CCEC does what it does because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much.  It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values.  When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC.”


The name, Simply Barefoot comes from paintings by Sarkis Katchadourian illustrating the Rubiyat of Omar Khannam with women walking barefoot through lovely gardens sharing food and wine in Paradise.  She says,”At the end the day, a garden is worth a stroll and best had barefoot.  Those are the kinds of gardens I want to create and maintain.”

So, what is biochar and why does it make sense?  With the Stage 4 drought and the impact on her business, Randi-Lee has been researching the biochar industry and the feasibility of a local installation.   She says that when she creates her gardens, for the most part, it includes removing huge sections of lawn.  The City doesn’t allow sod in the green waste so the disposal goes into the landfill or to private sites,  with the potential to transfer invasive species like chafer beetle and fire ants.  She has taken sod and, over time, worked it into a growing patches in back yards.  However, this doesn’t work for a front yard.  It can be as expensive to dispose of sod properly as it is to install the garden – fees anywhere from $300 to $800.  She says, “When the goal of gardening is sustainability, it is a hard pitch to argue that a $1500 dollar veggie garden is a money saver – that’s a lot of lettuce for some folks.”   And, when you consider the City is encouraging, through its’ Greenest City Action Plan for our community to be growing more food and turning lawns into food, we need to come up with a cost-effective options and ways to make this easy for our neighbouhoods.

In her research on how garden businesses in the Northwest are altering their services due to the heat, she has found that some States offer lawn removal rebates (up to $ 5000) to homeowners. She feels that while this is great for garden services, local businesses and for water retention, she finds it to be hit and miss on the esthetics.  She says, “Water-wise gardening should never be understood as anything less than beautiful.  Plants and materials that work with the climate are low maintenance and gorgeous. “

Now that half the city is brown straw, she says that we all need to consider how much we invest in lawns and we need a plan for removing and replacing lawns.  This does not mean no green as clover is a wonderful drought resistant alternative and bees love it.  A closer look at what the Americans are doing gives a glimpse in to some truly innovative practices, including biochar.  Biochar is a super heated, water removed soil enhancer that locks and returns carbon back to earth-reversing carbon emissions using grass and other fiber waste.  It also has the added benefit of enhancing water retention by over 40% and increasing crop yields.  Randi-Lee’s dream is to secure support to create a cooperative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Van.  She says that, “Done right a working business model could demonstrate that an innovative twist to old school tried and true works.  There is plenty enough wrong in the world not to take a chance to make a small piece of it right.”

So, how did Randi-Lee become an advocate for biochar? 

After working for over 20 years contract to contract in the community development field facing what she felt were fewer opportunities, she returned to her family gardening roots.   She says, “I grew up in a gardening family-both food and ornamental.  Summer was about growing your own-apples, cherries, a veggie patch, berry picking.  I worked with senior master gardeners who taught me the key to successful gardening is found in the basic tools that have existed for millennia.”  She learned how to use the three essential pruning tools: snips, clips and a back saw.  But with all good gardens, it begins with the soil.

She then completed the 4 month intensive Self Employment Program at Douglas College.   Randi-Lee says that at the placement interview, the counselor reviewed her idea – an old school hand tooled cargo trike ridden gardening service– looked at Randi-Lee’s calloused hands and having seen photos of the gardens, the counselor saw in the photos the work of her own father, himself a master gardener.  So Randi-Lee was admitted to the program.  With the help of Embers Ventures downtown, Tegan Verheul to help on her website and social media, and CCEC’s Business Loans Officer, Simply Barefoot Gardening Services is now in its’ fourth year of operation.  

Randi-Lee Taylor, Simply Barefoot Garden Services,www.simplybarefoot.ca, simplybarefootgs@gmail.com  or visit at www.facebook.com/SimplyBarefootGardenServices

Why I’m a member of CCEC:

My mother was a life long banker,the first woman bank manager in western Canada. Up until the last few years she was proud of her service, helping first time homeowners. She couldn’t agree with many of the changes taking place with the big banks so she left.  It wasn’t longer after that she died and I was left without a mom, bank or banker.  In stepped a friend who is a member of CCEC, showing up one day with the declaration that enough was enough, if I wasn’t going to a bank, I best go with her to meet the folks at CCEC “Trust me Randi, it’s not a bank. These folks aren’t just like us, they ARE us.” So, a CCEC Member Service Rep. signed me up.  My friend was right.

Being a member of CCEC is akin to joining the cast of a Norman Lear show from 70s; regular decent folks trying to get by in an increasingly changing world. If you ever have to stand in line (a rarity in my experience), you will be standing with poets, playwrights, filmmakers, roofers, temporary workers, gardeners, artists and a collection of folks who go about being decent human beings and trying to be decent to others.  I’d say that’s a membership privilege.  Plus when you walk in the staff know you by name and if they don’t yet, they soon will.  How cool is that?

For me personally and professionally, I would have given up on my dreams a long time ago if my money was in the hands of another institution.  There’s always been someone at CCEC to give advice, support and encouragement, if not a loan or two.  None of this is because they have to, it is because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much”.

It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values. When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC. 

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Sustainable biochar is a powerfully simple tool to fight global warming.  This 2,000 year-old soil enhancement practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and discourage deforestation.  Sustainable biochar is one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable.     www.biochar-international.org/

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The prevalent economic development practice is ineffective, unaffordable and in need of a makeover.  In his book, The Local Economy Solution, Michael Shuman suggests an alternative where cities nurture a new generation of enterprises that help local businesses launch and grow.  These “pollinator businesses,” create jobs and the conditions for economic growth, and are doing so in self-financing ways.

Two years ago, CCEC partnered with like-minded organizations to present a conversation with Michael Shuman speaking to his book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense – How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street”See the blog   So, what's new? 

In his new book, he says, “A growing number of small, private businesses are facilitating local planning and placemaking, nurturing local entrepreneurs, helping local consumers buy local and local investors finance local business."  These functions are performed by “pollinators”.  They are locally-grounded, and succeed by building local support in pursuit of the shared goal of revitalizing the local economy.

Shuman feels that the traditional “economic development” model of chasing after large companies with huge taxpayer subsidy deals is the wrong way to revitalize a crippled or stagnant local economy.  He says, “economic development today is creating almost no new jobs.” 

There is another far more promising path.


At CCEC, your investments and funds give us the capacity to provide business loans to your neighbours who are creating “pollinator businesses”.  Refer friends and co-workers to CCEC.  Think of us when you are buying a home, renovating, going back to school or (fill in the blanks)!


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Distraction, apathy and disengagement are rotting the foundation of western democratic traditions.  While it is tempting to repeat well known aphorisms about what a great place Canada may be, there is an underside of inequality, poverty, plunder and amorality that is both present and ominous.  For many, the challenge of these political 'realities' provides purpose and for many others this emerging global corporate empire is overwhelming.  

But the temptation to watch sports and reality TV, to binge in online games or HBO offerings, and to turn hotel chefs into celebrities is actually part of a a larger social pattern,  The Four Horsemen is a feature length documentary film that lays out a cogent and constructive overview of just what is going on; how certain ideas have become mainstream and blinded us, and how democratic institutions have been subverted.  The film, from the Renegade Economist  (Ross Ashcroft), features several notable thinkers and writers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Herman Daly, Noam Chomsky, and John Perkins.  

Notably, it outlines the need for local institutions and projects to counter this global 'financialization' project. It also emphasizes the need to participate, apathy serves the interests of the rich and privileged.   

 

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"There is room for everyone in movement towards social justice. We need everyone on board." says Tasha Henderson, Alumna of the 7 month leadership program for youth committed to social and environmental justice who want to make social change their life’s work, "Next Up". 

“People in positions of power need to start listening to what the community values and give them space to be heard.” 

Tasha spent much of her ‘20’s working on the front-lines with vulnerable populations such as at-risk and Indigenous youth.   It was while participating in the Canadian Roots Exchange program she met an alumna who recommended she enroll in NextUp. After living outside of BC, when she was accepted at UBC to do her Masters in Indigenous Community Planning, she applied to the program as an opportunity to reconnect with the activist scene in Vancouver and to step back professionally to see her work through a larger scope.
 
At first, Tasha didn’t see herself as an activist.  However, she learned there are many forms and roles of activism.  Being part of a larger community working together to make change was a very empowering lesson. 
 
When she met her fellow co-horts, she said, “Wow, they got my name wrong.  I don’t belong here.  The caliber of youth was mind boggling”. She continues, “I felt that I really hadn’t done that much.”  She soon realized that everyone felt a certain level of intimidation by each other.  These feelings were soon overcome as they recognized that the work in social and economic justice is so broad there is room for everyone.  The co-horts ranged from a first-year Engineering student to a PhD cancer researcher to a woman working internationally on climate justice. Learning from each other and the invited guests was a humbling experience. She learned to not be afraid to ask the wrong questions or to accidentally say the wrong thing.  What is more important is to show up and get involved; others will help you learn the rest.
 
For Tasha, the program helped her to see the bridges between movements and issues.  She says, “Too often in our work, we work in silos and operate with a tunnel-vision. There is always an urgency in our work with a sense we are competing for resources, space and money. And working with non-profits often means constant roadblocks and setbacks. It was uplifting and inspiring to be reminded that there is a community at work and we all have our role to play in it."
 
Tasha is finishing her Masters and taking the rest of the summer off to spend time with her 10 month old son.  She Co-Chairs the Board for Check Your Head , a youth-driven organization that educates and activates young people to take action for social, economic and environmental justice.  She is excited to see what new opportunities might come of her new NextUp network and the confidence she gained through the program this Fall.
 
I f you are or know of anyone between 18-31 who is on a continuum of their activist career who is looking for direction, exploring options, and wanting to be part of a broader community, visit www.nextup.ca for more information or email Tasha.  

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David Asher has been a member of CCEC since 2007 which is also the time he has been sharing his knowledge on the culture of cheese. David takes a political stance against Big Dairy and criticizes both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices.  He encourages us to source good raw milk, promotes the use of ethical animal rennet, protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures, and explores how GMO technology is creeping into our cheese. 

Why I belong to CCEC:  I joined to keep my money in my community, and  to divest from the corporate investments that underpin the conventional banking system.  Its such a comfortable place for me to bank, and I cherish the rare opportunity to visit when I come to Vancouver from the Gulf Islands.   And it’s so respectable too; what other banks send out emails with the statement.

David just published his book, The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, and is currently on a North American tour to network, share his knowledge and to educate us on how to "take back our cheese".  So, what does that mean?

Over 10 years ago, while studying at UBC and volunteering at UBC farm, David decided to become a farmer.  He visited a co-operative farm in the Fraser Valley where he had his first taste of a homemade cheese, made by the farm manager with her raw goats milk. He says that tasting the amazing cheeses aged in her own cave provided the spark for him to try cheesemaking at home.  However, as his milk bills started going through the roof, he decided it was time to leave the city and find a cow.

It was at Varalaya farm on Mayne Island (with his farming mentor Ron Pither, founding member of CCEC) that he did his first organic farming apprenticeship, and had his first taste of raw milk.  He got his own goats and kept them in community  as everything is better in community.  He says that the fresh raw milk made all the difference to the natural cheeses, which just don't work right with overprocessed and pasteurized milk. 

The realization that raw milk was most suited to cheesemaking gave him a sense that maybe raw milk is better for us than your average store bought milk. and restrictions on its sale take away consumers rights to choose the most healthy and nourishing foods they could eat.  

Asher's Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking is a traveling cheese school that offers workshops in partnership with food-sovereignty-minded organizations and communities.  He feels that these groups are reconnecting people to the food, the farmers and the land that sustain them.  They bring folks together round the dining table, and educate and empower consumers to make more sustainable food choices, and The Black Sheep School's educational offerings fit right in with their directives.  Together, they are helping to build a stronger and more just food system.  

David is an advocate for consumer access to good raw milk.  He feels that better access to raw milk will help improve our cheesemaking culture. He says, "We just don't make cheese as part of our culture here in North America, and this is in large part due to systemic fear of raw milk, and limits on its access."  Raw milk makes a more simple cheesemaking, and a more delicious cheese, and as we learn to work with it safely, people will realize that making home-made dairy products is entirely possible.  

David is on a North American cheese tour promoting his book with the help of his publishers, Chelsea Green.  He is very excited to share his cheesemaking message with the world, and when he returns wants to set up his Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking on the Gulf Islands.

For more information and to buy his book, click here for the Chelsea Green publishers or visit Amazon.

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