Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Transition Team Cooperative Initial Plan

I have been working on a concept for quite some time. I finally have a concrete proposal to put forward. So far, this is what I have...

Step 1- Fundraising enough money to create the cooperative business structure. We will do this by making contacts with small business and soliciting donations. All finances will be kept completely transparent. If you would like to donate, please do so at either of these two links. or
Step 2- Recruit the subject matter experts, and when we reach enough funding, have an Open Space Technology meeting to formalize the arrangement, by consensus.
Step 3- Recruit the ground team. These individuals will approach community organizations, local businesses, and lo cal municipal officials about how we can help their community.
Step 4- Find depositors in these communities and form the local credit union with the following features. It will have a dual currency system; US dollars and a local currency based on a composite of locally-produced goods, preferably the products of the next step. It will also be a not for profit entity, and preferably a cooperative. The dealings of this institution will be completely transparent, and any excess funds at the end of the fiscal year will be given to other not for profit entities in the following way. Depositors will get to choose 5 organizations meeting the not for profit criteria, and whatever percentage of the current holdings of the CU they own will be distributed to those 5 entities. For example, if someone owns 1% of the current holdings, the 5 entities they choose will get.2% of the excess funds each, totaling 1%.
Step 5- Local business and municipal officials will be approached and will be offered the opportunity to participate in the local currency program. If they accept, any purchases using the local currency will be exempt from sales tax, or at least a significant discount. The purpose of this will be to provide an incentive for the use of the local currency.
Step 6- When the credit union is formed, we will find members of the local community that want a stake in the ownership of the vertical farm, based on the toolkit being developed at
The preferred format for this business will be a workers cooperative, but other structures may be allowed, dependent on what is decided in step 2. The construction of the vertical farm will also be accomplished using local resources and open source technology from the Global Village Construction Set being developed by Open Source Ecology, were possible. For more details about the GVCS, visit
Step 7- The goods produced by the vertical farms will be sold at farmer's markets and premium grocers in the 100 mile area surrounding the community first in order to reduce food miles. After that, it will be sold at 125, then 150, and so on miles out until all the products are sold.
Step 8- As the funds that were used for the loan for the vertical farm come back to the credit union, it will be added to a local microloan funding pool administered by the credit union, with the goal of increasing the funding the pool by 20% per year, adjusted for inflation. Local businesses in need of construction services will be given preference if they choose to use a builder that uses GVCS tools in the construction process.
Step 9- When the GVCS approaches completion, a loan will be made available for a local fabrication shop and a retail location for locally-made durable goods.
This is by no means formalized, but is a good starting point for the consensus that will occur at Step 2. Thanks for reading! Feedback is always welcome!
Here is the Facebook page to visit:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Perry's Joint

One of the first places that I visited on my endeavor to walk the Pacific Crest Trail in order to raise awareness for the need for an an organization to help small businesses compete and thrive in the world dominated by the corporatism cartel was Perry's Joint. Perry's Joint is a coffee shop in Atladena, California that has been in business for 8 years. Perry came from a family with a rich small business background; his parents were small business owners, and as he worked in his younger years, he saw the value of being in business for himself. Perry also knew that small business are the lifeblood of communities everywhere, and by starting a local business that keeps money in his local economy, he could improve the lives of his neighbors. So he set out to start his own business. However, starting a coffee shop was not easy. He has had to compete with businesses like Starbucks, huge tax burdens just to hire people, and the financial downturn of 2008 were serious problems that would put many other small business under. From dealing with these things, he has many insights to share.

Surviving economic downtowns is hard. When the Great Recession of 2008 occurred, the price of the things he needed for his business to function went up, while his sales went down; people just did not have the disposable income for his goods. This caused him to have to make choices he would rather not have had to make. He had to lay of workers, and could not do the normal things he needed to do to maintain his business. The worker's he had to lay off could not contribute to the local economy anymore, and so that affected other businesses. He himself could not afford to do the maintenance that his business required, and the local businesses that did those services felt the impact of that, too. This is the true price of financial collapses, and, as can be seen, it starts a viscous cycle.

Competition with larger entities like Starbuck's is hard. They have the benefit of economies of scale that small businesses do not have, and they have access to financial tools that small businesses do not have in order to weather economic downturns, although they too are affected. Additionally, with enormous advertising budgets, these entities get a huge portion of the market share.

So, for businesses like Perry's, just surviving is a challenge that requires an amazing amount of resiliency. So how does he do it, and what things would make it easier for him? Well, first he learned that he had to rely on other small businesses in his local economy. While I was speaking to him about what I was going to put in this entry, a mother and her daughter walked in carrying a cardboard box full of fruits and vegetables. They were bringing him his order of goods from the garden that is cultivated by the students at John Muir High School. He told me he wanted to support what they were doing, and by purchasing these goods from them, he could help them to continue what they were doing, and also make local salads and entrees for his customers. He also knows that his ability to interact with his local customer base through good service leads to repeat customers, and that tomorrow the money he spent on the produce might come back to him when the money that the local garden ends up in the hands of one of his customers. It was no surprise then when he said that he was very impressed as a child growing up in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco at their local currency system, a system he thinks would be a huge boon today. Also, because of these things, he has some insights into common sense solutions that will make the life of local business owners easier and allow them to pump more wealth into local economies for the benefit of all.

So, I then asked him what type of things he would like to see that would make being a small business owner easier, so that more people could become entrepreneurs like himself. After some though, he said he wished there were local support organizations that could provide support in areas like collective bargaining and advertising, helping the community understand the vital role that small businesses play in the well-being of their own lives, help lower the tax burdens like payroll taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Worker's Compensation, property tax, and other things that make it hard for small business to hire workers, and to help provide financial advice and ideas for expansions. He feels that these type of things would help small businesses replace large corporate entities that take money out of local economies and leave it poorer, and instead concentrate wealth in communities. These things, if practiced everywhere would reduce our nation's deficit, as goods and services would be produced at home, and that would lead to prosperity for many, many people that are afflicted with poverty under the current global business system.

It is stories like this that illustrate why we need the services of the organization I am striving to create. These are real people, with real lives and needs that are not being met by the current system. So, if you would like to change this, and would like to hear more stories from other local business owners that I meet on my walk along the Pacific Crest Trail, please contribute at

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Next 1000 Mile Journey

Every journey begins at the end of another, just as the mythological phoenix is reborn out of the ashes of the old. This is no different. Today, I am going to start something new. Today, I am going to start a new effort to help communities transform from an unsustainable path that benefits only a few, and leaves others destitute, without the means to have the life that they want and steals the source of life from future generations.

I will be walking the Pacific Crest Trail in order to raise awareness of this issue.
The PCT is a 2700 mile long trail from the US border in California to British Columbia. I will get tired, my feet and shoulders will burn as I carry all the equipment I need to survive this long trek. But this a labor of love, I want the next 7 generations to have the same benefits we have, and not have to concern themselves with how they, and countless other species, will survive a world changed by the darkness that is the greed and desire to dominate of the few that own the mortgage of our world's future. Pain is temporary, but our actions resonate in eternity.

I will be forming an elite team over the coming months to help create a plan and implement it in as many places as possible. This plan will be to create open-source, transparent, dual-currency (USD and a local currency based on a composite of local commodities), worker and depositor-owned community credit unions, vertical farms in distressed downtown buildings in small communities based on an open-source toolkit of greenhouse technologies to cultivate good, organic and ethically produced food for communities, and relocalize production, and provide work for those with disabilities. As the fine people at Open Source Ecology perfect more Global Village Construction Set technologies, we will use them for new economic development projects to demonstrate the true power of an open source enterprise economy, based on lifetime design and intelligent use of resource and innovation. We are the future, we need only demonstrate it. In fact, the vertical farms will feature and utilize some of the open-source technologies already created, the Lifetrak, dimensioning sawmill, compressed earth block press, soil pulverizer, Powercube, and others as they near completion.This team will not just be a think tank sitting in an ivory tower giving orders, it will be a consensus-based organization that will have boots on the ground helping build these communities and providing excellent customer service. It will be a not-for-profit worker's cooperative of consultants and developers that want to shift the world from a scarcity-based economy to one that benefits all of humanity. 

The initial funds will go to launching the Indiegogo campaign, with swag for donors, provide for my needs (which will be documented with transparency), equipment, and tools needed to make this a success. You, the donor, can choose which part of the campaign you wish to support, or just place it in the general fund. You can choose to give me a per mile walked donation (I am shooting for 40 miles a week). I will be visiting the communities that provide resupply points along the way, and will be interviewing and writing about local business owners, conservationists I meet, and other noteworthy people and endeavors to see what they want in an economy, and will be posting them here on this blog! Stay tuned!

After enough funds have been gathered, subject matter experts recruited, and intial gathering of information, we will have a meeting in California using Open Space Technology to develop the concrete plans about this. We will then go to small communites in progressive areas that want to revitalize their local economies to build consensus about plans for action there. We will maintain boots on the ground working with local people and business owners building frienships and good working relations with the communities that have turned to us for help, so that they can turn to us again in the future, and, perhaps, join us. A network of communities is a powerful thing, and we will demonstrate the ethic of thinking globally while acting locally by starting local offices where we have been doing projects.

So what does it take to do all this? I don't completely know yet, but it begins with you providing support to help me find out. Let's begin shall we? If you can donate, please do, and contact me at 972-533-8857 or visit the wepay provided below, until the Indiegogo campaign is set up. Thank you!