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The 2015 Roger Inman Memorial Award recipient has had a busy year.  The organization is a grassroots anti-colonial migrant justice group with leadership from members of migrant and/or racialized backgrounds. 

Brian Peaslee, organizer says of the Award, "The generous funding  we received was used to help cover legal fees for migrants facing deportation from Canada."

He adds that in addition to direct support for migrants, over the past year they also helped to organize a benefit concert that raised over $15,000  for a healing lodge at the Unist’ot’en Camp who are fighting  for indigenous sovereignty against pipelines in in Northern BC.  They produced an extensive report, web site and video series on the effects of changes to migration policy in Canada and took a lead role in the Refugees Welcome and Transportation Not Deportation campaigns in Vancouver. 

The Annual Community March Against Racism came back to the Drive for its eighth year in March and was a great opportunity to gather together and raise our voices against injustice.   Support the work of No One is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories.

Click here to learn more and to become a financial sustainer.  Recipient of the Roger Inman Memorial Award in 2015.  Nominations are being accepted for the 2016 Award. Click here for more information on the Inman Award and for the nomination criteria.

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What better way to connect with neighbourhours than supporting start-up enterprises?  Vancouver SOUP differs from online crowdfunding in that it is in person.  People come together, share an evening of food and fun, while supporting projects happening in their community.  The audience, who are the ‘investors’, hear four project pitches and the ‘winner’ leaves with the door proceeds.  This is building community and CCEC is proud to partner with Groundswell as a sponsor on their new project.

To volunteer, make SOUP, donate bread email vancouversoup@gmail.com

Vancouver SOUP is based on the successful Detroit SOUP.   The organizers see this project as a unique opportunity for Vancouverites to connect with each other in an easy, fun, delicious way.  Vancouver is known as an unfriendly city where people feel disconnected from their neighbours and their community.  The Vancouver SOUP Team feel that the problem that part of the problem can be solved by getting together with people over meaningful conversation or projects like weeding a shared garden, serving on a committee, or even deciding which community-building project to support.  Vancouver SOUP can be that project.  Kerrie says, “I have lived in many apartment buildings where people barely make eye contact crossing paths in the hallway.  Conversations are mere pleasantries.”  By attending a Vancouver SOUP event, people are launched into meaningful conversation about projects that could affect their lives.  They are all in it together .

The first Vancouver SOUP held in September was sold out with over 70 people who donated almost $800.00.  Kerrie O’Donnell, Project Di

rector says, “While online crowdfunding might raise more money, it doesn’t bring the community and investors together.  We, you and I, are the investors.”

The winner at the first event was Magpie’s Nest Community Art Space with their Community Art Nights where they offer free space and materials for the public to come together over art.  The audience of ‘investors’ also heard pitches about launching a Zero Waste Club, starting community dialog events centered around the ‘Talking Chairs’, and harm reduction for nightlife and music festival communities

At the second Vancouver SOUP, held on November 19th, 55 people donated $550 and voted The Binners’ Project the winner.  The Binners’ Project creates jobs for people collecting redeemable containers and reduces waste being sent to landfills.  At the event, Director Anna Godefroy explained that the money will go toward a new initiative called the Binners’ Box - where a dedicated box will be set up in laneways of buildings and housing complexes, allowing residents or businesses to place recyclable products with a deposit in the Binner Box, for a local binner to pick up.  Keep an eye out for the testing phase of this project in the Downtown East Side soon!

Vancouver SOUP is a crowdfunding event, where the ‘crowd’ is the audience who contribute at the door.  Vancouver SOUP is different from online crowdfunding is that it is in person.  Kerries says, “We envision Vancouver as a friendly city where people feel connected to their neighbours. We see a community where people support each other in finding solutions and neighbours help each other and participate in projects that better their community.  Vancouver SOUP is a place where Vancouverites can come together and leave feeling more connected to their community and perhaps they even leave with new friends.” 

Vancouver SOUP is currently held in the Downtown East Side at Groundswell Café as a ‘city-wide SOUP’.  The organizers see the SOUP appeal growing and aim to draw projects and ‘investors’ from all over the city as a larger crowd will raise more money for the winning project.  At the same time, they recognize that each neighbourhood has its own character, and they are open to helping other neighbourhoods setup their own SOUP events.

Kerries says, “Each Vancouver SOUP event is a little different, mostly because the people pitching their ideas aiming to win the crowd’s money are different.  There are new ideas to make our fine city a better place each at each event.”

Thank you Vancouver, for showing us SOUP love!

For more information, to get involved or to host a Vancouver SOUP event contact:

Kerrie O'Donnell, Project Director, Vancouver SOUP

 

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A CCEC member goes beyond the Forbes top 15 Fintech startups to watch for this year.  CrowdGIFT is a values based crowdfunding platform with a philosophy of unconditional generosity.  Their clients tend to be groups with a mandate for social responsibility or political justice.    So, who uses CrowdGIFT?  Turns out our CCEC members do! 

Ben West (TankerFreeBC, the Great Climate Race) worked with CrowdGIFT to sell his book on Fossil Fuel and more recently to fundraise for the Great Climate Race .  Last month we featured The Decentralized Dance Party ,  who also uses this platform.  Why this platform and not the others?  And why enter a market that seeds to be crowded?

Scott Nelson, a Director for CrowdGIFT says, “We are living in interesting times as we are in a world where there is dissatisfaction with the current crowdfunding platforms and a general dissatisfaction with our mainstream banks.”  The better known crowdfunding models are exclusive, use Paypal or other ‘invasion oriented’ payment methods, and the campaigner is penalized with higher service fees or non-payment if you don’t reach your target.

A key differentiator with CrowdGIFT is their use of digital currencies.  Scott says, “People have the right to economic privacy.”  As our foundation is unconditional generosity this includes anonymity and privacy for the gifter.  He believes in digital currencies for two main reasons:  they operate on the principles of decentralization, where no one is a controlling agency as is the case with our current paper money; and privacy.  Read more about digital currencies in the blog (insert link).  Scott has been a strong advocate for digital currencies since 2010 which is aligned in his following of Austrian Economics.  The quote from Julian Assange (Wikileaks) rings true for him,

 “Transparency for the powerful, privacy for the weak.”

Scott sees crowdfunding as an expanding market as more fundraising will go this way.  CrowdGIFT is about showcasing generosity. 

There are five key reasons to choose CrowdGIFT:

1.       We never hold your funds. All contributions flow straight through to you, almost instantly.

2.       You keep all funds you receive, whether you meet your funding goal or not.

3.       Our "offline direct payment" option allows your supporters to give via cash, wire transfer, money order or any other method you can figure out. This offers greater privacy and eliminates PayPal and credit card processing fees.

4.       You can easily accept modern digital currencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin, as well as Dogecoin.

5.       With crowdgift.ca, you choose how much to gift back for our service: anywhere from 0% to 20%.

So, what’s next for Scott?  While currently he is playing in the field of converging technologies:  web, mobile and alternate currencies, he sees the next wave as machine learning and its’ application to personal growth and development. 

For more information visit https://crowdgift.ca/
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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 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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Ben West, CCEC member,  has been an outspoken environmental campaign organizer and social commentator for over a decade.  His newest project is The Great Climate Race, a crowdfunding run for local solar energy projects.  Climate change is the biggest risk we all face.  It has been described by the Pentagon as a “threat multiplier” leading to greater global instability.  We have no choice but to make a transition towards renewable energy and smarter land use and transportation.  The only question is will we do it in time.  It will be very difficult to deal with the large scale changes needed without dealing with underlying issues of inequality.  

“I see this as a way to give people something meaningful to do to address climate change.” 

For over almost 15 years, Ben West has been working as an activist and organizer.  His focus has been on climate change and other  environmental issues but he has also dedicated himself to making the links with social issues and doing First Nations rights related solidarity work.

 

Why am I a member of CCEC?

I feel strongly that local autonomy and community involvement are critical to
solving the social and environmental problems that we face.
The concentration of wealth and power in the big banks is a huge problem.
CCEC embodies my values and puts them into practice.
I love knowing that the money I put in the bank is being invested
in responsible ways that helps my fellow community members.

 

As the Executive Director for TankerFreeBC, he has spent the last 5 years working to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan oil pipelines and associated oil tankers.  He says, “It can be frustrating spending so much time trying to stop bad ideas from becoming a reality.”  He realizes that if he is successful at his job basically nothing happens.  He continues, “A nightmare doesn't become real but still the status quo is not sustainable and so much more needs to be done. “ 

While Ben has always talked about energy alternatives and climate solutions, he has wanted to do more.  Last year, while running in the East Side 10k, he realized that his new hobby was actually a doorway into a new opportunity to organize people around the solutions he was eager to focus on.

He tells the story that was the genesis of The Great Climate Race: I was part way up a hill close to the start of the race and saw a group of people with placard ahead of me. I felt guilty. What were they protesting? Was this race supporting a company doing harm in the world? Was the event negatively affecting the community? As I got closer I realized that these protesters were actually a cheer squad. I had spent so many years surrounded by signs that said STOP this or STOP that I had a time imagining people holding signs that simply said GO! I was so energized by their support and the event itself that I entered a bunch more races and was repeatedly blown away by the generosity and determination of this community.

‚Äč

The inaugural Great Climate Race will be on November 8th at Stanley Park in Vancouver to raise awareness about climate change and funds for local community solar projects.  They will donate the solar panels to non-profit community groups.  His objective is to see that everyone involved experiences a hands on connection with energy alternatives to help spread awareness that the solutions exist today.  Also, he says, “It’s a great way to connect our health as individuals with the health of the planet.”

 

 

For more information and to get involved, contact Ben West.

Ben@TheGreatClimateRace.com

twitter @BenWest or @ClimateRace

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A workshop at Living the New Economy

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20 10 am -12:00 pm 

Performance Works Theatre on Granville Island, Vancouver

With Suresh Fernando and Michelle Colussi (Canadian Centre for Community Renewal), Ross Gentleman (CCEC Credit Union) and Kevin Harding (BC Cooperatives Association)

How will we finance building a new economy focused on social and environmental justice?  What are the key features of the new economy and the finance tools that are needed to support it? 

This session will share examples of community based finance models and engage participants in a discussion of how we might scale up their use in the Lower Mainland, and across the province.  Examples will include co-operatives, co-op and community investment funds, community bonds, micro credit, crowdfunding and impact investing.

Click here for tickets and more information. 

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BC may provide locals with a new way to fund novel social initiatives. An article in the online mag SOCIAL identifies BC as unique in North America insofar as securities legislation requirements.  While further research is likely needed, the evolution of crowd sourcing as a base for social innovation almost certainly will generate some great projects. 

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