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The New Economy – still mostly a concept, lots of people have a different vision for the kind of economic environment we are all moving into.  What was the vision for the Impact Economy Whistler, event held in October attended by CCEC Board Members, Tammy Lee Meyer and Marty Frost?  If there was a common word that could be applied to all the visions that were present, it would be “open” as in “open-source” technology - hardware and software; and “open value networks” as a way of organizing groups of people who choose to work together. 

The people who showed up all saw themselves of members of an emerging economy.  They were computer software and hardware engineers, community developers, co-op advocates.  And if there was a common word that could be applied to all the vision that was present, it would be “open”.  The computer people were all working on developing new generations of computer operating systems, applications, communication protocols and hardware, all open source.  Open Source is a concept applied to developments (computer hardware and software primarily at this point) that have no ownership applied to them.  A piece of open source software, for example, carries no license, no proprietary rights attached to it.  Anyone has a right to download a piece of open source software, modify it and put it back up on line for open sharing.  The same principles are being applied to hardware as well. 

Some of those present were also employing “open value networks” as their form of organization.  No incorporation, no legal “rights of a natural person” applied.  Simply a group of people who choose to work together, share projects, share any resulting revenue that may be produced, well, openly.  A couple of examples that people may wish to check out on line would be Sensorica, in Montreal (www.sensorica.co), or 99% Media, also in Montreal ( www.99media.org). Neither has a legal structure, they are networks of workers who get together on a project-by-project basis, and share facilities, tools and revenue. 

The other significant “group” of people were the community development folks, most of whom are involved with local, non-State currencies.  Among these was BC’s own Michael Linton, founder of the LETS system that some of us will remember from its 40 year or so history in and around the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  The Mutual Aid Network was represented as well, and profiled for us their highly successful time-banking system they have developed under a co-op umbrella in Madison Wisconsin.  Time-banking is in some ways another form of local currency, certainly a local trading system. (www.mutualaidnetwork.org)

In this video podcast, Michel Bauwens chats with Art Brock, Michael Linton, and Matthew Slater about money and new currencies: accounting systems, "open money", current-sees, exchange in the post-monetary economy, trust, and value exchanges.

Is this to be an aspect of the “New Economy”?  An escape from individual ownership – or any form of ownership at all – into an economic paradigm based on sharing?  If you have a need it will be there for you, if you have something to offer you have ways to offer it, and all free of state-based currency transactions?  To people like me, who has spent most of my life assisting people to work in more sharing – but certainly “legally” structured – forms of economic relationships, it raises all sorts of questions:  how scalable can these organizations be?  How are disputes – those that are now “settled” through the market – be settled?  how would “value” of goods and services be determined?  These are questions that need to be answered as we move forward.  For my part I am thankful that there are people out there who have the passion and nerve to just get out there and do it.  Test these models in the crucible of the capitalist economy in which we live, find the challenges and develop solutions. 

Marty Frost

For more information: 

http://www.impacteconomy.io  and other podcasts  https://soundcloud.com/impact-economy

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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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"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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"I love seeing much needed climate solutions in action but my excitement over something that should be common place reminded me of how rare it is to see solar panels on buildings in much of Canada", says Ben West, CCEC member and Co-founder of The Great Climate Race.

 

The original was published at http://www.straight.com/news/467211/ben-west-how-can-we-win-race-against-time-climate-solutions He writes: 

On my sisters Marissa's birthday earlier this week we decided to go try out some ice cream sandwiches at a place she had read about on a Toronto food blog. The brownie filled cookie treats were shockingly good but it was what I saw on the way to get those treats that stuck with me. En route, I saw solar panels on the roof of a building in downtown Toronto and I found myself feeling both excited and annoyed. In some ways solar panels are ubiquitous in our day to day lives on everything from road signs to calculators but still rooftop solar is pretty rare to come across in our country. I see some evidence of change  when I visit my family in Toronto. Recently there has been an influx of solar in Ontario as the result of the provincial government's feed-in-tariff (FIT) program that makes it easier to sell power on to the grid and therefore also easier to get financing on projects or even to have your roof leased by a solar power company. That's great but it's also just the tip of the iceberg. Germany actually gets far less sunshine than Canada yet they are the world leader in solar and we lag far behind. Canada could be a  renewable energy superpower. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility . We all have a role to play in the era of climate change. Right now, unfortunately, Canada is on the wrong side of history as we all struggle to face what the United Nations has called the single biggest threat facing humanity today.


For years it has been clear that with solar and other renewable energy technology we have the capacity globally to drastically reduce pollution caused by burning fossil fuels for energy. This is exactly what we need to do.

 

Meanwhile in Canada, time is wasted on  doing the exact opposite: focusing on new oil pipelines and other fossil fuel projects. Countless exhaustive climate reports demonstrate the dangers of a destabilized climate yet we are faced with the expansion of fossil fuel dependence. Every government on earth shares this understanding yet not nearly enough is being done. The Pentagon describes climate change in the clearest terms when it calls it a "threat multiplier". This means it takes social and political problems along with public safety concerns and makes them far worse. More extreme weather events and degraded ecological systems we rely on have big implications for everyone.  Food insecurity for the most vulnerable and skyrocketing food prices for wealthier countries is just one of the serious problems made worse by a destabilized climate.

The World Bank released a UN backed report recently that said global investments in renewable energy technology like solar power needs to at least triple in the short term. The technological wizards at MIT also put out a report recently that stated that "massive expansion of global solar generating capacity to multi-terawatt scale is very likely an essential component of a workable strategy to mitigate climate change risk.”

As a climate campaigner, I know all too well that all of this can feel a bit daunting. What can we do to make real change happen? One thing is clear.  There is a disconnect between the actual potential for renewable energy technology and the perceptions that the technology isn’t ready yet. So I am trying something new in an attempt to change that misconception. I co-founded The Great Climate Race, a run to crowdfund for local solar energy projects, as a way to give people a connection to viable climate change solutions in their own communities. By, raising funds for solar local projects and seeing them come to fruition in our communities we all can have first hand experience with what is possible and play a role in doing something to make meaningful change.

 

This week, we are launching our #PutSolarOnIt campaign where we ask you to imagine where these solar projects could be located. We will seek nominations for community organizations that could be the recipients of solar panels paid for by funds raised by race participants. For starters, we’re asking people to post pictures of themselves pointing at buildings in their neighbourhood that could have solar panels on them. We want you to think about all the lost opportunities for change for the better. Where do you think those solar panels should go?

 

Running in the Great Climate race is not only a great opportunity to burn off calories from ice cream sandwiches it’s a chance to dream big. Let’s make solar panels more than a rare treat, let’s make sure we make the most of the opportunities we have now. I want my sister and everyone else to have hope for a safe and beautiful world. Taking action on climate change is a race against time but we have everything we need to face the challenge and succeed right now.

 

Ben West, Co-Founder & CEO 

The Great Climate Race

 

 

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Non-profits incorporated under the BC Society Act need to be aware of the recent changes to that piece of legislation.  The New Society Act: What you need to know is a workshop offered by Non Profit Charities Legal Outreach; scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, 2015 from 9:15 AM to 12:30 PM (PDT).

To register click here

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Many good resources are available related to the Congestion/Transporation Referendum in Greater Vancouver.  The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives issued a good survey document in early March.  And the Columbia Institute has also published an excellent paper on the proposed transportation plan, good for jobs and good for public health.  

The Mayors Council attempts to speak directly to the greater public interest. Contrary voices are few (but vocal), and represent a small number of people.  Voting closes May 29th, contact Elections BC for details.  

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Michelle Fortin, CCEC Co-chair, has been nominated for a Women of Distinction Award through the YWCA of Metro Vancouver. And Michelle deserves the recognition. Michelle is a powerhouse ED at Watari Counseling and Support Services, in the inner city. There she displays vision, tact and compassion working with families, youth and others who need assistance. As well she participates in a several service sector coalitions and advisory boards. For the last 8 years she has been a director at CCEC, and has served as Co-chair for the last three years. Michelle is a natural leader, convener and negotiator.  Michelle distinguishes herself as an outstanding communicator and thinker everyday, CCEC is glad to see her get this nomination. 
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The roundtable cynic:

 

I often have a kneejerk reaction to the word dialogue. I’ve got a bone to pick with community. Too often, these words get bandied about in flimsy and placating ways. So it’s a little ironic that my role has been to facilitate over ten hours of “community conversations” in the past month, in the form of Roundtable discussions for CCEC credit union.

 

It’s not that I’m completed jaded. I’m sure when the Community Congress for Economic Change named itself back in 1976, “community” wasn’t yet the relatively empty buzzword that it is today. What I mean is just that CCEC, in spite of its name, can’t take “community” for granted.

 

The Roundtables, which wrapped up last week, have been a step in the right direction. After locking up at Watari last Monday, I joined Ross Gentleman, Steve Kisby and Tammy Lea Meyer—CCEC’s manager and two directors--at Pat’s Pub for celebratory beers (cider for me). Amid plentiful jests, in true CCEC fashion, we reflected on questions like, How do we build coalitions to improve banking access for low-income people? How do we create more racial diversity on our Board and among our membership? How does CCEC build more meaningful relationships with Indigenous people and organizations?

 

These questions have become more tangible thanks to feedback from Roundtable participants. In all, twenty-seven invitees attended the Roundtables. If you count Board members, that means more than thirty people have spent over ten hours dishing with us about economic justice, generating an archive of wisdom about this economic and cultural moment. That’s wealth, right there.

 

We didn’t just talk about money; we also waxed philosophical about trust, shame, time, and knowledge. Participants offered myriad concrete ideas for projects and collaborations, some of which are already being pursued by CCEC’s Board and management. What’s more, it was a refreshingly cross-generational dialogue, with nearly a third of the participants under thirty, an age group that’s typically underrepresented at CCEC.

 

In the words of director Jan Berman: I’ve watched a lot of organizations become kind of wishy washy.... As you get older, I think you get more disillusioned and less driven for change. I think CCEC fell into that as well, but now we’re really trying very hard to connect with new visions. And it comes from youth, I believe.” 

 

Next up: questioning the internet! 

 

Nat Marshik is a writer, sauerkraut maker, and visual artist currently working for CCEC as a community engagement organizer. Stay tuned for more blog posts over the coming weeks. You can find Nat’s blogs all in one place at: http://ccecroundtable.tumblr.com/

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Many CCEC members are supporting the the yes side.  The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has published an excellent primer on the Lower Mainland transportation Referendum.  The primer is a very complete discussion of the related policy issues: The use of direct votes on taxes.  The best ways to fund mass transit.  The need for responses to climate change. The narrow focus of the no campaign. The actual net burden of the tax, projected to be somewhat progressive. CRED BC has also offered a good view.  

CCEC supports constructive urban transit development. Many of our members rely on buses and Skytain service.  All of our members will benefit if emissions are reduced. We encourage all readers to get their ballots into Elections BC.  

 

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AS PROTESTS GO, it was a small one, but it saved lives—and now it’s inspiring art.

With 14 original compositions performed live by CCEC member Bill Sample, directed by CCEC member Jay Hamburger and featuring ex Raymur resident protestor mom and CCEC  member Carolyn Jerome.

The Raymur Mothers—They Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer at the Russian Hall from Wednesday (October 29) to November 9.

 Tickets online only $22/adult!  

Actors Danielle St. Pierre and Karita Sedun flank the people whose story they’ll resurrect: (left to right) daughter Liisa Atva and mothers Barbara Burnet, Joan Morelli, Carolyn Jerome, and Muggs Sigurgeirson.

Back in 1971, the trek from East Vancouver’s Raymur Place housing project to Seymour Elementary was a short but dangerous one, involving the unsupervised crossing of a busy inner-city rail line. From her living-room window, Raymur resident Caroline Jerome could see neighbourhood children, including her own daughter, dodging locomotives and tank cars as they made their way to class. “At 8:30, the trains would jiggle around, back up, start again, jiggle some more, and then they’d stop,” Jerome recalls, interviewed by phone from Galiano Island, where she now lives. “And I would have to witness the kids standing there waiting for the train to move—or some of them, being bolder, when they’d hear that buzzer go they would climb through the train sections to get to school.”

It was an accident waiting to happen, but it wasn’t going to happen on Jerome’s watch. After repeated phone calls and a letter-writing campaign failed to prompt a response from city hall or the two railroad companies using the tracks, she’d had enough. Along with a small group of other mothers, she decided that the only way to make their point was to shut down rail access to the Port of Vancouver. While working-class moms could be ignored, she reasoned, business is business.

“The first time we went out [to physically block the tracks], we linked arms to stop that train,” she says. “And what I remember when I think back on that first morning is the feel of the train o

n the ground as it came towards us. We had to stand our ground and stay there and hope this train was going to stop—and it did stop. We felt very empowered when we saw that we could actually do this.”

After three more blockades, the railroad companies won a court injunction to keep the mothers off the tracks, but they also adjusted their schedule to allow for safer school-day crossings, and in time a pedestrian overpass was built. Direct action had won the day.

The story of the mothers’ struggle for safety has recently been revived in both online and musical-theatre form. To see historic footage of Jerome and company, visit blackstrathcona.com/#militant-mothers. And now Theatre in the Raw is launching The Raymur Mothers—They Wouldn’t Take No for an Answer as part of the Downtown Eastside’s annual Heart of the City festival.

The new piece joins Bruce—The Musical, which celebrates the life of community activist Bruce Eriksen, and Yippies in Love, a politically charged flashback to the Age of Aquarius, in th

e activist theatre

 group’s “Untold Stories of Vancouver” series. Like those earlier pieces, The Raymur Mothers draws on the talents of director Jay Hamburger, composer Bill Sample, and playwright Bob Sarti, collaborators for more than a decade. Their chemistry is remarkable, although not always easy: in a separate telephone interview, Hamburger talks about having to shrink the show from its original three-hour running time—“Bob’s a stickler for detail,” he notes wryly—and describes how numbers like “Hell No” and “Direct Action” have been developed.

“What happens is Bob gives Bill an idea by saying, ‘

Well, look, why don’t we do this in the style of Bobby Darin, or the Beatles, or Frank Zappa,’ ” the director explains. “And then Bill takes that, with the lyrics, and is inspired to write a song. Bob turns out the lyrics, and sometimes they have to be modified in a very minor way, to fit the rhythm and the tone and the tempo of Bill’s music.”

(Unfortunately, Sarti suffered a stroke on September 27 and is recovering in hospital, so will miss the opening of a project he’s been dedicated to for the past several years.)

Hamburger adds that in the interest of theatricality, a relationship-oriented subplot runs parallel to the story of the protest. Jerome isn’t entirely sure about that development, although she recognizes that The Raymur Mothers has to be entertaining as well as educational. “It’s really generous of them to take the time to put this into the history of Strathcona,” she notes, before adding that she’s especially happy that the show’s message is clear.

“If something’s wrong,” she says, “you’ve just got to stand up.”

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