UPDATE for SELF RELIANT COMMUNITY MEMBERS
from Wayne Cooke: 847-4614 – January 11, 2011
- Notes from SRC meeting of January 5th.
- Meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) about LOCAL CURRENCY.
- February 2nd meeting again at 70th Ave. Station, 6:30pm
- Community Garden work party, 11am next Saturday, 15th.
- Trip to Cedar Creek Grist Mill postponed until about March.
- Make your own laundry soap (class at Midland SRC.)
- 1. NOTES:
Being self reliant isn’t quite the same as living sustainably, said Stephen Pruitt, one of the two speakers at the January 5th, meeting of Self Reliant Community in Graham.
Steve, whose family started the Pioneer Farm Museum, related some Ohop history to the 40 people in attendance to illustrate his point. The original Ohop Valley pioneers (all self reliant folks) worked hard to drain the valley and turn it into productive farmland. But bending nature to their benefit only worked for awhile. Today, the valley is slowly returning to the wetland it was before.
But across the road from the Pioneer Farm Museum, another museum is being built by Mr. McCloud of the Nisqually Tribe. It will show and teach how the Nisqually people long ago gathered their food sustainably with the times and places for hunting, fishing, and gathering dictated by the natural rhythms of nature, woven into their culture.
On a broader scale, Steve spoke of the growth management act that prevents businesses unrelated to agriculture, housing, or timber from situating in rural Pierce County. He said there are some businesses that are needed and would be beneficial. Logs, for example, now have to be transported long miles into town because sawmills are not allowed in the rural area.
While agriculture is reserved for rural county areas, the only commercially viable farmland is in the valleys, mainly the Puyallup Valley. The rest has a few farms, but the soil is poor. Steve drew an audible gasp from the audience when he reported a recent study showing that the farmland in Pierce County, if used only to feed its residents, could only feed 10% of them. And there are doubts about the SUSTAINABILITY of the current food production of the Big Five agricultural corporations, beset by weather, the economy, and higher petroleum prices. Maybe planting potatoes in our lawns isn’t such a bad idea.
The second hour of the meeting was given over to Francis Ayley, who brought his wife, Lia, and daughter, Rhiannon, down from Bellingham with him. Toby and Irene enjoyed hosting them for the night. The mission of Francis was to suggest that our current money system, the Federal Reserve currency has built-in problems and that a local currency could be a sustainable addition to our personal and community security.
To illustrate his first point, he spoke of when he was a boy in Scotland and saw people very hungry who couldn’t get food. He felt sad about it and told his grandpa how he wished the crops hadn’t failed. They didn’t, his grandpa replied to him. There was really plenty of food, but the economy was in a depression and there was no money to buy the food.
This made no sense to young Francis, and he determined to study this economics thing until he could understand it. It took many years, and in the process he read “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith and discovered that it didn’t quite say what had been attributed to it by free enterprise economists.
He learned banking system history and how personal greed had, for hundreds of years, turned banks into money-makers for the already rich and powerful.
(I will add my own suggestion that you go to the computer, visit www.richardheinberg.organd go to his Museletter #215 for April, 2010, which is where you will find his “Economic History in Ten Minutes“. You will then be able to understand much better what Francis meant.)
Francis decided to try introducing a new idea to one local community at a time. That idea was to start their own local currency, which is perfectly legal for local use in addition to the national currency. Over the last 20 years, he has introduced and successfully managed two community money systems. In the process, he has learned a great deal about the operation of such a system.
But why spend effort on another kind of money? Francis explained that a local system returns money to its original function, as a medium of exchange. There can be no interest charged. The value is determined by the daily decisions of the participants. A person can borrow money, but it is not called a loan. Instead, it is called a “commitment to repay”. The money remains local. No one else makes money from your money.
The Fourth Corner Exchange in Bellingham uses Life Dollars and Francis passed around some samples, which looked artistic and well designed. The members of the Exchange ($25 membership fee pays for maintenance) use Life Dollars in situations where they work better than national currency. But if the national currency fails, as it did in Scotland when Francis was a boy, and as predicted by many experts here, it might be important to have a back-up currency already in place and being used.
- That concept will be discussed at a meeting this Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 6:30 again, in the same 70th Ave. Fire Station. This was scheduled because a number of people were interested in learning more about local currency and signed a paper with that request.
We want to thank Francis and Lia, who also spoke at times to support and clarify what Francis was saying. We will keep in touch with them.
- The February meeting will be on Feb. 2nd, Wednesday, 6:30pm, in the same 70th Ave. Fire Station as last time.
- Work Party at Community Garden, located at the Rainier View Montessori Academy, 9716 224th, this Saturday, the 15th. We start at 11am and work for an hour or so, or even 20 minutes if you are short on time. Most work is cutting back blackberry vines. Wear gloves. No sandals allowed! Tools supplied, but maybe you like using your own cutters.
- TRIP TO CEDAR CREEK GRIST MILL POSTPONED a couple months, to perhaps March.
- It’s easy and cheaper to make your own laundry soap, so come to a SOAP MAKING CLASS put on by the Midland Self Reliant Community. The class will be held in the Midland Community Center.
For more info go to their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=177580422280421&index=1
Please e-mail E’ireen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Wayne at 847-4614 for time. There is a small fee for auditing, and for materials to take home.