Like dropping a pebble into a pool, the actions you take every day to make the world a healthy place ripple out into your communities. Bloom’s logo is an illustration of the interconnectedness of our relationships with one another and our surroundings.
It’s also a wi-fi symbol on its side, signifying peer-to-peer relationships for sharing wisdom and resources together.
We don’t have an app yet, but eventually there will be a touchable Tracer icon, beckoning you to press the Bloom button to play a real-life story and watch it come to life around you. Everything about Bloom’s “brand” presence is designed to connect you with communities in real life who are making our towns and the planet more wonderful, nurturing places to be.
Stay tuned to read about our process of designing the logo!
In a space of a few months the entire world is experiencing something strangely uniting, grinding life as we know it to a halt, and locking us into small (physical) bubbles.
Fortunately the Bloom Bubble is alive and people dialed in from 6 different countries this week to share their experiences and their hopes for the future, with our first Covid Catch-up.
Costa Rica, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, USA and Brazil were represented and our experiences of lockdown are the same but different. In the nuances, there is a shared hope that this experience could be a turning point for humans and the way we dwell on the planet in the future.
One participant reflected that her usually disparate social streams were also all suddenly talking about the same thing. From their different perspectives of the world, they too all want to use this opportunity to create a better world.
With a reminder that “none of the problems we had before this have gone away” and questioning “do we really want to go back to the system that was?” there was a general optimism about the work and opportunity we have before us.
“This is a moment, we should all just take it,” said journalist Susan Florries.
People shared the projects they are inspired to keep working on, such as an EU based Collaboratory, with rapid learning, rapid sense-making tools and protocol to make sense of the patterns. Giveth, a block-chain invention that supports social impact projects, and an alternative community currency in Brazil that will be able to leverage this time of economic upheaval.
The chat was valuable for all involved, and definitely looking forward to the next one.
WRITING INVITATION for all Bloom Followers Write 400 words to capture the visions and best pathways that you personally can see for the future. We want to capture people’s visions in this time. These visions will be posted on a special Visions page shared via Bloom Network. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stockholm, Sweden. Not as strict as most EU countries. Tertiary education closed, other schools are open. Public gathering is set at 50 people. Tourist area shops closed, but desperate restaurants selling food cheaply. Things still open in other parts of Stockholm. Good stimulus packages offered. Government politicians are working together across partisanship, agreeing swiftly.
Zurich, Switzerland. Schools and shops closed, very quiet, not stressy lockdown.
Eden Rose, Costa Rica. Been in 14 day self-quarantine, the local area has a lockdown curfew. Many businesses are closed.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Voluntary lockdown, stores closed, people trying to stay home. Some people not respecting. Power cuts sometimes, schools closed. Politics are mixed. Might have more lockdown. 2nd week that schools and are closed.
Whangarei, New Zealand. Whole country has been in full lockdown for 6 of 28 days, essential services open only. Lockdown came just at the right time, not too much community transmission yet. Huge concern over the closure of fruit & vegetable shops and farmers markets, which have been closed, with 30% of the country’s produce locked out of the ‘essential services’ and huge potential food wastage.
Santa Barbara, California. Lockdown experience very strange, more reason for gratitude, living in a nice area. Realise how much we take for granted, connected with the encroachment into the forests. Everything can have an impact
Columbia, Missori. Mandatory city lockdown for a week. Many people believe it’s a hoax, though haven’t left the house for weeks. Down to 50% of personal workload at work, large scale businesses are closing down and so do their software service providers. All humans in various stages of dealing with what is to come.
Manchester, New Hampshire. Still a fair bit of road traffic, though not as much as normal, all restaurants and bars are closed. Doctors are not taking patients in person at the moment.
Musical Inspiration, Bob Dylan’s new song – Murder Most Foul
All calls take place the first Monday of each month @12pm Pacific time
Purpose of this educational series: 1) Increase the accessibility of P2P systems beyond early technical adopters to those working on the community frontlines. 2) Build relationships between software development communities and regenerative leaders on the ground.
There are four thematic groups throughout these interactive calls:
Media and art
Currency and Finance
Session one, June 1 Decentralized web protocols – designed for privacy, distributed power and control of resources, and better connectivity in the developing world. Featuring Scuttlebutt, Blockstack, IPFS, Swarm.
Session two, July 6 Training: How to use cryptocurrency for the first time – bitcoin and ethereum, introduction to wallets Samourai and Coinpayments.net, introduction to Metamask
Session three, August 3 How digital platforms enable decentralized governance
Session five, October 5 Training: How to use DAI stablecoin to store cryptocurrency at a stable exchange rate. Cryptocurrency value fluctuates wildly at this stage in its adoption. In order to issue payouts for projects without the risk of losing value, teams can use stablecoins that are pegged to the value of the US dollar.
Session six, November 2 Publishing and media distribution on the decentralized web
Session seven, December 7 Art and the blockchain: tools for artists to be compensated for digital sharing of their works
Session eight, January 11 (2nd Monday) Training: How to use Kraken to withdraw cryptocurrency to state currency in your bank account. Not every country has access to Kraken, however most countries do have a cryptocurrency exchange that is trustworthy.
Session nine, February 1 Sovereign Identity Tools for data privacy – imagine if your social profile data was anchored primarily in your own account and not owned by a company like Facebook or Google. There are implications for a more economically equitable internet, protection from algorithmic manipulation of behavior (such as what you purchase and what you believe), and more. We’ll take a peek at the farthest along identity tools to date: Blockstack, U-Port, Jolocom, 3Box, and JLINC.
Session 10, March 1 Token Engineering – what is it, when not to use it, how communities can use it now – cutting through the noise
Session 11, April 5 Cooperatives on the Blockchain. How smart organizations enable federated coops, easy and cheaper international exchange, and the sophisticated governance methods people need to collaborate with equitable power dynamics.
Session 12, May 3 Introduction to deFi – What is decentralized finance, what tools exist to do it, and what are good use cases for it?
Session 13, June 7 Regen Network – a regenerative agriculture application of blockchain designed to incentivize carbon drawdown and ecosystem restoration
In New Zealand, in the small town of Whangarei (“Farn-ga-ray”) fabric rescuers are taking on the waste headed for landfill from second-hand stores.
The local Salvation Army Op-shop* receives roughly 3 wool bales of donated clothing a day. Even with a good crew of volunteers it’s impossible for them to process and sell everything, so the staff are selective with what will go to the shop floor.
Any item that needs to be ironed, washed or mended generally does not make the grade and is assigned to landfill. This means that good quality fabric is being dumped because it is too time consuming to work with. This store alone currently sends a skip to the landfill every few days – most of it textiles. This one store spends tens of thousands a year in dumping fees!
Intercept to the rescue! ‘Intercept’ volunteers literally intercept the skips heading to landfill and rescues fabric and clothing that is good quality, but needs attention.
With a small band of sorters, and seamstresses these items are reworked into spectacular garments or made into ‘t-shirt yarn’ for XL-crochet which will be sold within the Salvation Army store. Other clothing with life still in them are gifted out into the community, .
Cooperation between the store and Intercept is going well. The store has given a work room within the building and space and shelving on the dock for rescues and sorting to happen.
“Anything that I can do to help reduce our spending on landfill is good for everyone,” says store manager, Nick Garforth.
“We want your fingers!” says Jenny Hill, at the first official Intercept meeting. 17 volunteers are there. Jenny is a founder of Intercept and is referring to the ability of knowing quality fabric by touch. This is a skill I personally have, passed on through the mothers of my maternal line (my great-great-grandmother worked the cotton mills in the Manchester area at the end of the 18th Century). Until now, I didn’t appreciate this knowledge is not common. I’m proud to be a sorter for Intercept!
Watch: video sharing work of Intercept
In the weekend I joined a fellow Intercepter at the local “Children’s Day”. We set up a stall to give intercepted clothes away. We took 18 banana boxes and by pack up time, three hours later, all but one were empty. All of these clothes would have gone to landfill, but instead have been recirculated in the community.
We definitely encourage you to think about starting something similar in your town, to slow fast fashion and become more regenerative in our clothing choices. Also, it’s really smart to check in with charity shops what they accept (generally clothing that can go straight on to a hanger to sell), as sending them items which contribute to landfill costs is doing the opposite of helping people.
Focusing on climate-related disaster mitigation and adaptation, our Feb 2020 Community Call featured Kyle Leach from Sierra Streams Institute (old mining shafts clean-ups and watershed restoration) and Sister Pat Bergen from Sisters of St. Joseph’s with the amazing Mirabeau Water Garden Project in New Orleans.
KYLE LEACH – Sierra Streams Institute
Kyle talked through how Sierra Streams works with abandoned mines with a risk-based clean up plan, that aims to neutralise and nourish the soil back to health. The worst waste is usually dug up and placed in hazardous waste landfills. The rest of the contamination is minimised by ‘activating and consolidating’, followed by being buried onsite. Stabilising and restoring the mine tailings is important so that poisoned sediment eroding into waterways is minimised. Sierra Streams then restore the surface area, to make it erosion-proof, and revegetate it.
Through this work Kyle has been expanding to restoring whole watersheds, where all climate disaster mitigation factors are considered (wildfires, landslides, floods). The low bio-matter status of the mining land means that restoring the soil health is essential to improving wildlife habitats. Bio-solids, a by-product of wastewater treatment plants, are added which increase carbon uptake, improves soil stability and reduces the bioavailability of the metals. Sierra Streams have also started to use ‘biochar’, a by-product of wood-powered plants. Biochar is a higher carbon sink and binds metals like mercury into the matrix of the biochar. The soil is inoculated with soil microbes to increase the biological activity, and the soil is hydro-seeded to stabilise it initially.
If you live in the California area, Sierra Streams welcomes volunteers. It is a nonprofit that uses Citizen/Community-based science approaches. There are volunteer days, like clean-ups, invasive plant removal and plantings. They highly value their volunteer team and keep people informed with what their data is contributing to, so they know the work they are doing is making a real difference. To find out more: https://sierrastreamsinstitute.org
SISTER PAT BERGEN – Mirabeau Water Garden Project
Our second guest was Sister Pat Bergen on our Bloom Community Call, and she talked about the Sisters of St. Joseph’s amazing project in New Orleans. Sister Pat is part of a sisterhood of nuns in the USA who had a convent in New Orleans which was badly damaged in the floods after Hurricane Katrina. They needed to decide what to do with the land. They didn’t want to build houses on the 25 acre piece of land because in the next big flood people would lose their houses… so they held the land, and prayed for years. What could the land do that would serve the New Orleans community in the same way the Sisters had served for so many years?
An architect named David Wagner eventually approached them, with an idea. To turn the land into a giant wetland, a ‘Water Garden’ he called it, which would play a major role in stopping the surrounding area from flooding. This was an answer to prayer!
How it works…
The New Orleans levies are only designed to take 2 inches of rain an hour. Any more than that overwhelms the system, the levies fail, and the city gets flooded. So the intention of the Mirabeau Water Garden design is to take the local flood waters into the garden and slow the water down, so the flood waters don’t overwhelm the city system. The water is filtered and released back into the city system when it can handle it.
The Water Garden will keep a surrounding 3780 acres from flooding completely. It will ‘minimise’ the flooding for 6000 acres from flooding, and 9000 acres will experience a ‘diminishment’ of flooding.
This project has not broken ground yet (tenders are out for construction now), but already it has won a Federal government competition for Water Resiliency in Urban Areas. In 2016 Sister Pat was able to present a check of $143 million to the City of New Orleans, and $93 million to the State of Louisiana, for works in those areas. The $10 million needed to create the Mirabeau Water Garden (without the education centre) is additionally allocated from a grant by FEMA.
A good discussion followed, with amazing offers of help being matched. Kyle will work with Nick from EVO on grants to do watershed restoration on their property. Christopher from Burners Without Borders offered to connect Sister Pat with the BWB volunteer base in New Orleans. Bloom offered to use our networks to help share the designs and story of the Mirabeau Water Garden, as it is now known that if NYC and Houston had these water gardens, much less damage would have been endured from hurricane events. These designs could be built in cities across the world if the message is spread far and wide.
The call ended with Sister Pat answering our key question…
If you want to geek out and see the full details of the call –
cover image – grow by iconix user from the Noun Project
After ten years of volunteer research and development across the world in local grassroots community networks, Bloom Network is looking for start up capital for the first time, to set up a distributed cooperative. This will look basically like a media company that is rooted in localized actions and leadership.
Through the process of talking with finance professionals and adjacent network leaders, I’ve come across tools to share more widely. Many of the people I’m talking with do not know each other yet, yet are all asking similar questions and have symbiotic solutions. I’m thinking on how best to connect you with each other! In the meantime, here are some findings: What problems have we found that require finance innovation?
Regenerative enterprises – whether they are for-profit, nonprofit, or grassroots non-monetized community projects – have some common challenges and unique ways of working that require novel financial structures. For example, these projects work best in collaboration, at a level that is more comprehensive than a normal transactional B2B relationship.
Staff sharing is one thing that will help this (administrative tools that support that are listed below). There is also clearly a “network weaver” role that is entirely being done by unpaid labor right now around the world, with thousands of people acting as bridges between different communities and networks to help people access the tools and resources they need, and to strengthen solidarity across movements who are working toward aligned goals. We’re also finding a need for novel IP agreements, international cooperative structures, and startup or capacity mentorship that is specific to regenerative development and regenerative entrepreneurs. They often are not the kind of people who would go get a traditional MBA, and even social impact entrepreneurship communities and accelerators are not quite the right fit for these projects. Finally, connecting regenerative projects that are operating primarily in a grassroots environment, with the major financial players who want to contribute to climate change solutions, is a cultural, communications, and structural barrier we’re working to address, in collaboration with leaders from the UN and large corporations.
Here are some of the movements, tools and processes we’ve encountered that can support regenerative enterprises. Some are working now, and some are at an early stage of development and ready for experimental use:
Slow Money is an investment community of practice, building local food systems as a lever to address climate change, health, and community. Here are a couple of tools investors from Slow Money have built, to support local community investing:
Credibles – open a pre-paid tab with a local business to give them up front capital
Slow Money also practices a type of revenue sharing where the investor receives a 2-3x return and no equity. Ownership remains in the community, not in the hands of those with outsized financial power. Repayment is based on a percentage of revenue, so repayments grow along with the business’s growth.
DisCO – distributed cooperative organizations. Their manifesto is long but an engaging read! DisCO tracks labor contributions not just on paid contracts, but also on “care work” for the collective members’ well-being, and on pro-bono work they agree they should do. Collective members are then paid for all those kinds of labor from the paid contracts.
I’m convinced that distributed cooperatives are going to be a key underlying financial and legal infrastructure for the regenerative movement. They will allow us to pool services, federate member dues, and tap into large-scale funding sources such as government grants without each tiny project having to do a boatload of administrative overhead.
Analysis, Research & Reporting
Decolonizing Wealth – a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance
On the topic of philanthropy, Global Green Grants Fund has a good approach to distributing funds in a decentralized way where decision making is in the hands of the communities. To get there, they have processes for building trust between the funders, program managers, and communities.
The need for living systems-oriented business models:
One thing we’ve found at Bloom Network is that regenerative projects are often necessarily more complex than a single service or product, and they often require more complex financial models. These projects are designed to address systemic dysfunction and care for the commons in ways that colonization and the evolution of the entire legal and finance structure of the U.S. and dominant world economy are designed to erode away. Leaders of these projects often have not gone through the industrialized education system, and they often do not have network connections to people or institutions who have capital. Communicators who can bridge that gap are needed in this space. Regenerosity by Buckminster Fuller Institute and Lush Cosmetics is at the forefront of this bridge.
Here is an example of a simple product business done in a way that supports local decentralized production and regenerative systems education:
Todd Anderson is a software developer and maker who has invented a new surf fin shape that gives surfers higher lift in the water (I don’t know enough about surfing to explain what effect that has or what kinds of surf it’s good for, but it’s exciting to people). He has also made his design into a file that can be 3D printed. He would like to share this file and teach “third world” surfing communities to use 3D printers, so that they can receive an income stream from people purchasing the fins they print, and so they can use the 3D printer to generate income streams from printing other products (localized manufacturing).
In order to make this economically viable for him, he would need to invent or find an IP solution where his digital design’s usage can be trackable, so that every time it’s printed and sold, he can receive a small portion of the sale price. I believe a solution to this exists already on Ethereum but I’ve just started asking around to find what teams are working on it. Todd wants to do his project through Bloom Network because he sees it as an opportunity to a) have more distribution reach than he would on his own, and b) facilitate communities to not only learn about 3D printing, but also about food sovereignty practices they can do, or any of the stuff you’d find on Bloom’s wiki.
On-site crowdfunding: One of the things we’ve been eyeing as we bring in financial capacity for Bloom Network to hire our current volunteer team, is tools that support crowdfunding and crowdequity raising directly on our website. So that members logged into Bloom Network can easily surf projects, find ones in their passion area or local community, and financially support. I’d love to see the internet shift toward having these tools as plug-ins rather than having to go to a site like Kickstarter, so that people can stay in a values-aligned webspace. With the decentralized web, I believe it’s possible to have peer-to-peer tools for this, where projects do not pay a 3-9% platform fee plus payment processing fees. Imagine: you visit Bloom Network’s website and see the “regenerative actions ticker” display a company in France who has converted an underground parking garage into a mushroom farm, and you have the option to support them with crowdequity investing so they can make more mushroom farms as car ownership declines with the uptick in remote work and the advent of self-driving shuttles. You make money, the world has more mushrooms, there are less steps and friction for you to do this.
Landscape regeneration teams are developing ways to work with bonds for funding large-scale regenerative projects.
A team at CrowdDoing is working on forest fire prevention derivatives to build financial incentives for risk reduction, in collaboration with insurance companies. Here are details on what they’re putting together.
Regenerative events ticketing model: Transparent costs and a pay-what-you-can structure. Our friends at Terran Collective in the Bay Area, California produced an event last year at the Mushroom Farm, a regenerative farm and events center, where they modeled a successful pay what you can event. They listed a recommended contribution amount, a minimum, and gave people links to their accounting spreadsheets. They came up short as the event started, but at the end told everyone that and requested more contributions from people who could. They met costs and beyond, and further allowed all attendees to allocate profits to a set of causes participants proposed that were in alignment with building regenerativity in the Bay Area. Terran Collective has a core group that practices pooled income so members have their needs met – they go deep with that, you can read more about it here.
Aragon is a company that sponsored Bloom’s Governance Hackathon at Pollination 2019 (our regenerative futures conference). They have some incredible and futuristic tools. Aragon is the world’s first digital jurisdiction. Groups can start digital organizations in literally two minutes, and when disputes arise (like a contract dispute such as work not delivered), they can be settled through an online peer juror system. There is lots of software building going on in the space of digital organizations, to achieve more egalitarian financial participation, fast and cheap exchange across international borders, and highly sophisticated governance. RadicalxChange and DGov Foundation are two more good project hubs.
Aragon has a decentralized project management suite, for organizations to collaborate on projects across their different entities/teams. This will make the backend administrative process of regenerative business networks and cooperatives easier, among those that are ok with their finances moving through digital currencies. (Bloom Network will be hosting a year-long educational series on decentralized web and finance tools starting in June 2019.)
Aragon’s fundraising app (members of a community can propose a project, and people can contribute funds to a pool that issues a monthly payout to the working team on that project. People can withdraw their funds if the team is not delivering or has gone astray values-wise, etc.
That fundraising app uses something called a bonding curve which lots of blockchain people are excited about. Here’s an article that explains bonding curves. (Readability note: I am two years into lazily starting to learn about blockchain technologies and I only now read this as language that doesn’t just sound like it’s from another planet.) Thibauld Favre’s Continuous Organizations model also use bonding curves.
Aragon’s also developing liquid democracy and futarchy tools – much needed advances to the 17th century technology we’re using to run today’s global governments (facepalm). If you want to nerd on this, read up on what Taiwan is doing with digital democracy tools.
Bounties are another tool that helps distributed communities get work done together
Alternative Ways of Accounting for Labor and Value Contributed
8 Forms of Capital, – I have a hunch that when we set up Bloom’s cooperative, it will be native to the blockchain on Aragon, and use some kind of digital token to track and reward contributions, payable in a more exchangeable cryptocurrency as money comes in to the network. We’ve been asking ourselves how we might allow people to buy into the cooperative with other forms of capital than financial. In addition to the 8 forms of capital we would add creative, and one other which we don’t yet have a name for! This seems bonkers complicated to me right now but I think there’s a there there. For now we’ll just gift memberships to people and orgs that really couldn’t even afford $5/mo so that we can keep the decision making and leadership power dynamics balanced.
Commons Stack is making a token engineering components library to align healthy incentives around using and developing public goods:
Financial Interventions Suggested by the Global Regeneration CoLab
Policy to require insurance companies to put X% of insurance premiums into regenerative risk reduction actions
Proper cost accounting of human and environmental costs that are externalized in extractive economy
Economies built on interconnection with watersheds
Regional regeneration bond market creation
Low to no interest loans
Measure success in regional gross regenerative product
ROI incorporating regeneration
Policy to shift government spend toward regenerative projects
Contributions to this article are welcome! Also, if you have a question about finance structure, or services or features you would find helpful to support your work, please reach out. Contact me here.