Sustainable Montreal

The Credit Commons

Money_RollIf cash becomes scarce and the wheels of commerce come to a grinding halt again, the idea of  “mutual credit clearing” will be critical. In the meantime, banning interest charged on money is a worthy goal which would instantly make the economy more sustainable.

Source: Reality Sandwich

We need to learn to play a different game. We need to organize an entirely new structure of money, banking, and finance, one that is interest-free, decentralized, and controlled, not by banks or central governments, but by businesses and individuals that associate and organize themselves into cashless trading networks. This is a way to reclaim “the credit commons” from monopoly control and create healthy community economies.

This approach is no pie-in-the-sky pipe dream, it is proven and well established. Known as mutual credit clearing, it is a process that is used by scores of commercial “barter” companies around the world to provide cashless trading for their business members. In this process, the things you sell pay for the things you buy without using money as an intermediate exchange medium. It’s as simple as that. According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA), a major trade association for the industry, “IRTA Member companies using the “Modern Trade and Barter” process, made it possible for over 400,000 companies World Wide to utilize their excess business capacities and underperforming assets, to earn an estimated $12 billion dollars in previously lost and wasted revenues.

Perhaps the best example of a credit clearing exchange that has been successful over a long period of time is the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative. Founded in Switzerland as a self-help organization in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression, WIR provided a means for its business members to trade with one another despite the shortage of official money in circulation. Over three quarters of a century, in good time and bad, WIR has continued to thrive. Its more than 60,000 members throughout Switzerland trade about $2 billion worth of goods and services annually.

Yes, it is possible to transcend the dysfunctional money and banking system and to take back our power from bankers and politicians who use it to abuse and exploit us. We do it, not by petitioning politicians who are already bought and paid for by an ever more powerful elite group, but by using the power that is already ours to use the resources we have to support each other’s productivity and to give credit where credit is due.

Sprouting Workshop

Learn how to sprout at this workshop given by the NDG Food depot. Sprouting is a surprisingly easy way to grow your own fresh veggies in the dead of winter. They are only sprouts (baby veggies), but they contain many of the vital nutrients and energies our bodies need for healthy functions.

Source: Montreal Permaculture Guild

**Monday the 24st of January at 5pm* @ the NDG Food depot,  2121 avenue d’Oxford, Montreal.

Come to learn how to make sprouting in jar or in soil, and keep greens in your plate during the winter! A soup will be prepared and served following the workshop.

Washable Cloth Diapers

ScreenHunter_02-Jan.-18-12.54For those 1st time parents, or to veteran parents looking to take care of babies in a more sustainable way, buying and using cotton, cloth diapers is probably the #1 way to reduce your weekly land fill (garbage) bag.

Disposable diapers take an estimated 500 years to decompose. Additionally, it takes up huge amounts of resources including wood pulp and plastic during their manufacturing.

As a parent who used old-fashioned disposable diapers, I can attest to the enormous waste that occurs from using these things. It takes more work, but If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would choose cloth diapers.

Source: Sandra’s Schlog

Bummis has been the go to place for Montreal Moms who wanted to learn how to use cotton diapers and their made-in-Montreal diaper covers. Bummis has moved this month to a nice new home – with more walk in traffic possible.

In their store they have always cheerfully given demonstrations of how to diaper and care for diapers. Starter kits, beginning at $175, are really popular, and would include 2 doz. organic cotton prefold diapers, 6 covers, Biosoft liners, fleece liners, Dimpleskins Naturals Bum Bum Balm and a wet bag. They manufacture diaper covers and swim diapers (and have 2nds too).

You can expect to find products made of recycled plastic, locally made skincare products and an array of baby carriers from the Ergo Baby to Sakura bloom, as well as the Arms Reach co-sleeper bed and Bummis breastfeeding pillows, Bravado bras and pads, Lilla P origami tops and Medela breastfeeding products.

Improved Commuter Rail Service To The West Island

ScreenHunter_01-Jan.-12-11.00Looking at the affluent West Island demographics, it is strikingly similar to Philadelphia’s western suburbs in the “main line”. Those suburbs west of Philadelphia were called the “main line” because of the excellent commuter rail service that was created in the 1950′s. There is no practical reason why the West island couldn’t have such a service. Of course, the reason why there isn’t and why the freeways are jammed every day, is political.

Source: The Suburban wants to improve commuter rail service to the West Island and Vaudreuil-Soulanges

Like Laval and the South Shore, we need regular, reliable service with trains every half hour running from 6:00 AM to midnight. For this, commuter trains must have a dedicated commuter line and stop sharing the rails with freight traffic.

Montreal is opposed, but the decision is not in the bag. They put a priority on funding the airport shuttle, a prestige project of $600 millions that won’t serve a single commuter and will compete with the STM new 747 airport express bus.

As for the government, they believe the West Island have no political alternatives and take the West Island vote for granted no matter how hard our local MNA’s try. We have to show stronger political resolve and demand to be heard.

Movie Screening – ZEITGEIST: Moving Forward

The first Zeitgeist film (2007) was excellent. I am looking forward to seeing this new one, particularly now that the filmmaker has picked up the torch of sustainability.


Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical “life ground” attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a “Resource-Based Economy.”

Ecocity World Summit 2011

If the major issues surrounding sustainable urban development are an everyday concern for you, don’t miss the Ecocity World Summit 2011, in Montréal, August 22-26 @ the Palais des Congres.

This major international conference will address a number of themes at the heart of ecocities: climate change, ecomobility, governance, the economy, built environment, etc.


The Ecocity World Summit is the opportunity to present research projects and achievements which will help governments, researchers and industry professionals meet the challenges which they face in the quest for a healthier and more sustainable world.

The Dark Side Of Green Energy

This is a cautionary tale from Iceland for anyone in the Eastern townships considering opening up their land to natural gas “fracking”. Although I am sure many Quebecers have similar tales to tell about Hydro power.


How much unspoiled nature should we preserve and what do we sacrifice for clean, renewable energy? Dreamland gradually turns into a disturbing picture of corporate power taking over small communities.

Dreamland is a film about a nation standing at cross-roads. Leading up to the country’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest mega project in the history of Iceland, to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide Alcoa cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords of Iceland. Today Iceland is left holding a huge dept and an uncertain future.

In Dreamland a nation with abundance of choices gradually becomes caught up in a plan to turn its wilderness and beautiful nature into a massive system of hydro-electric and geothermal power plants with dams and reservoirs. Clean energy brings in polluting industry and international corporations. It’s the dark side of green energy.

Secrecy, Wikileaks And The Death Of The Free Internet

The Wikileaks controversy has stirred up old debates about openness, government, corporate secrets and society’s right to information about its institutions. Few writers have acknowledged that the current, free Internet is the foundation, the sina qua non, of the debate.

Remarkably, the Internet has survived for 40 years because it is sustainable. It is open. It is honest (at least at the network level). And costs are shared, more or less, equally.

Without this sustainable foundation, Wikileaks and the surrounding debate would not exist. Ironically, it may be the Wikileaks controversy that destroys the open, free Internet.

Already, many law makers in Washington D.C. and Ottawa are calling for stricter network controls on the Internet in order to maintain national “security” secrets, to prevent the formation of other web sites like Wikileaks and so that “terrorists” don’t get us.

In countries like Russia and China, web sites are routinely blocked from the Internet and communicating to the rest of the world. Now, England is urging ISP’s to ban any web site that may be “pornographic” in the name of keeping children safe.

daniel_EllsbergAs Americans have known for 200 years, free speech is messy and sometimes dirty and even offensive. But that is the ironic principle behind free speech: once you start restricting some speech because it is offensive, eventually all of it gets censored, free thought is aborted and people cease to be free. Our free-flow of information on the Internet didn’t happen by accident or without the effort of thousands of early pioneers who shared a vision of open, free communications between free peoples.

That vision of free speech online is under threat by the Wikileaks scandal. At its heart, the Wikileaks scandal looks like a replay of the Pentagon papers released by journalist Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 that shamed the U.S. government and showed that the Johnson administration deliberately and repeatedly lied to Congress about the war in Vietnam. The response then was the same as today: shut down the source of the information leakage (rather than admit fault and take responsibility). The U.S. government sued the New York Times and won an injunction preventing the paper from publishing for 15 days in 1971.

This was the first successful attempt by the federal government to restrain the publication of a major newspaper since the Civil war. Luckily, the Supreme Court overturned this case and the Times resumed publishing the Pentagon papers.

This time around, however, the Supreme Court may not hold jurisdiction over Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, because he is not an American and his web site is hosted in Europe.

If free people don’t stand up and defend the right of whistle blowers to spread facts about the unlawful and dishonest actions of government and corporations, then we don’t have much to stand on. The continued existence of a free Internet and free people depends upon it.

Source: The Atlantic

It is possible for tiny actions to occasionally have huge consequences on the Internet – like the creation of a Facebook or a Wikileaks by tiny teams – because many thousands of people over decades set up the underlying structure of that seeming magic trick.

It seems to cost nothing to send an email, so we spend billions of dollars on spam. The existing Internet design is centered on creating the illusion of no-cost effort. But there is no such thing. It’s an illusion born of the idylls of youth, and leads to a distorted perception of the nature of responsibility. When there seems to be no cost, the idea of moderation doesn’t seem sensible.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

Holographic Power Structures

The existing power structure on Earth is like a pyramid. All information and secrets are kept by few at the top of the pyramid who then distribute the information downward through the pyramid.

Pyramid_scheme-300x192Economically, this is known as the “trickle-down” system of the rich giving jobs to the poor. In governments, the military and corporations, we have chief executives who make decisions which trickle down the organizational chain of command. When you want to defeat an organization in battle, it is said that you need to “cut off the head” and then the body will die.

All these are examples of the current pyramidal power structure that is the matrix lattice which controls our lives. It forces us to pay rent for shelter, spend money for food and water, and have a job that often leaves our souls wanting more.

Pyramid schemeAnother disadvantage of pyramid systems is that they are inherently unsustainable. Take for example the “pyramid schemes” seen in chain-mail, multi-level marketing (MLM) and Ponzi schemes (Bernie Madoff). Sooner or later, they all collapse leaving most participants wondering how they could be so foolish. Historically, I think we’re in a similar point where we are waking up and realizing that our society is one big pyramid scheme that is collapsing upon us.

We need a  new model, a new system of organizing ourselves that leads to sustainable prosperity.
Holographic Power Structures

Holographic power structures refer to systems of organization that distribute power equally across all members. This is not done for ideological or idealistic reasons, but for the practical reason that it is more sustainable and stable.

The Holographic power structure is a new paradigm where vital information is not controlled by a few at the top of the pyramid. Information is distributed equally amongst members, like a holographic image where every pixel contains all the information for the entire picture.

It is also like the open-source software movement where the entire code base is shared openly to everyone. Nothing is secret, no one is an executive controlling the movement.

The Open source movement is also inspiring new ideas about money which is one of the primary mechanisms of the pyramidal power structure. By reforming the way money works from a pyramidal to a holographic paradigm, we may be on the way towards vast, meaningful, sustainable changes in our lives.

Source: BetterMeans and the Open Enterprise model

The Open Enterprise is a new organizational design. Unlike organizations using traditional management structures, Open Enterprises replace the command and control hierarchy with a meritocracy based on collaboration and open participation.

Organizations that adopt this new organizational structure can make decisions faster and respond quicker to their markets. They look more like living dynamic networks, and less like pyramids. People working in these organizations will have (and feel) more ownership. They’re more engaged in their work, and have the freedom to work on what they want, when they want to. Most importantly this model enables people to once again bring their full humanity – values, beliefs and passions – to the workplace, removing disconnect between organizational and personal values.

See also: Global Guerrillas

Basically, what this metacurrency project is about (at least my intent) is to find a way to rapidly build successful open source ventures (and over time: build an open source economy).  These open source ventures:

generate incomes for the participants ($$, yen, Gold, Euros, food, etc.), automate the allocation of rewards based on contribution, and don’t require a corporate hierarchy/bureaucracy to  manage them (which ultimately dooms every corporation to stagnation/death/inefficiency).

The short term objective of the project is to build a social network enabled Internet venture, using metacurrencies, that proves the concept.