Social Currencies – Bloom Network Regenerative Economic Protocol

Summary & Context

This wiki article documents and aggregates the progress that several local Bloom chapters are making to develop social currencies, for the purpose of incentivizing regenerative actions.

Bloom Network is a distributed global network that is governed by its local chapters and members in a peer-to-peer way. Over the coming year we are formalizing our cooperative economic relationships, and coding them into a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization), sometimes called a “programmable organization.”

The design considerations documented below will help us incentivize people to participate in regenerative actions. Our goal with these efforts is to provide greater visibility and accessibility to the general public to participate in and support regenerative economies.

Why is this necessary? Many of today’s most critical activities are not economically rewarded. While efforts such as mainstream economic development, social impact investing, the Sustainable Development Goals, UBI, and more are trying their best to address these gaps, Bloom Network believes that direct action self-organized by citizens in their neighborhoods and bioregions is also necessary to quickly resolve today’s challenges. To build power together, we are creating peer-to-peer economic relationships at the same time as we build bridges with holders of institutional capital.

Below you will find a summary of social currency experiments and design considerations that are being developed in local Bloom chapters around the world. You will also find links to other networks that we consider to be experts in this field.

Bloom Rio de Janeiro 

(social currency in use with 1,000 people)

Cambiatus is a network in South and Central America focused on empowering cooperatives to use social currencies and technologies like blockchain to organize and achieve their common social and environmental goals. Their FAQ is an excellent knowledge base that helps people find how best to make a successful social currency.

Muda is a Brazilian network with the purpose of experimenting other economies based on happiness and abundance. The word MUDA in Portuguese means “to change” when used as a verb “mudar”, but it also means “seedling”.  Read more in this article by Luiz Hadad.

Here are some highlights of what Muda and Cambiatus incentivize with their social currencies:

  • regenerative or conscious actions
  • plant a tree
  • read a book
  • meditate for 20 minutes
  • create offers in the network
  • provide support to street artists and other projects 
  • for contributing to crowdfunding projects, people get refunded in mudas
  • Black entrepreneurs
  • incentivize people to buy Black – people who buy from Black-owned businesses receive mudas, and the entrepreneurs receive them as well
  • learn from muda/cambiatus resources, get rewarded in mudas
  • organic food baskets from regenerative agriculture 
  • artists
  • CSAA – community sustained agriculture… and arts!
  • day of volunteer work
  • help an elder person
  • walk somewhere instead of drive
  • people can use muda to purchase classes such as guitar, stretching, or tarot reading

One cannot exchange muda for real money, however Cambiatus is integrating fiat payments into their system so people can pay in either muda or fiat currency (such as the Brazilian real).

How Muda has gained successful community adoption

  • high touch not high tech
  • creativity and trusting our community
  • peer validators
  • a sense of ownership
  • explaining bugs, how to do things, and how to get in contact with someone who can help
  • community support emerged spontaneously – peer-to-peer support on how to use the platform, answering questions etc
  • peer-empowering change is a key in people’s minds
    • this is ours, design it in a way that suits us
    • sense of belonging

Bloom Hudson Valley, New York

(social currency in early stage of design)

True North is an ecovillage that is demonstrating a model for regenerative community to thrive, and acting as a hub for regional regenerative agricultural development. They’re interested in creating a circular economy within the space and the larger Hudson Valley. They want to support people moving through the space to plug in with local projects.

  • targets or metrics for value creation
  • carbon sequestration
  • coherence of heartbeats of residents – things that improve that
  • insights on universal understanding of value as we plug multiple locations into this framework of understanding to regenerate Earth
  • quantify the value of adding to the regenerative process
    • garden, composting
  • at their ecovillage
    • cleaning
    • cooking
    • making tinctures
    • looking after each other
    • working in a cohesive way
  • Why incentivize
    • collective decision-making on resource distribution
    • effective shared responsibility of what’s being produced in the space and taken care of in the space
    • visibility/transparency on who doing what, who needs what, and who has what that they want to offer
    • more easily share money, skills, or time in effective, nourishing ways
  • How incentivize
    • receive a coupon to use in a local store in town
    • in progress

True North is an example of a local Bloom who would like to connect with the international Bloom Network to collaborate on larger scale projects.

Bloom Diamante, Costa Rica

They are a network of farms in the Diamante region of Costa Rica, a mix of ex-pats and Ticos. They are also connected with Giveth which builds new digital philanthropy tools. Giveth made an informal way to acknowledge contributions, called PraiseBot. It works with Telegram and outputs to a spreadsheet for now.

Why they’re working on a local social currency:

  • bridging digital tools that help more transparently and accountably track the exchanges of the people working together locally and with other places
  • to support greater health and equity in our lands, communities, and ourselves, in a connected way
  • to share what they’ve developed locally in an open-source way
  • track contributions effectively
  • have value established for the contributions
  • balance that with fiat funding coming in, to distribute it and have shared agreements about who gets what for what they give
  • for governance: make sure to include all voices when deciding where to place collective energy
  • to effectively track impact and establish value to those contributions

Bloom Network (International)

People who contribute labor to Bloom Network can receive FLO (Flowers) for their contributions.

  • Forms to log a contribution or propose a scope of work.
  • Taskboard of what you can help with. (This will get upgraded with a list of regenerative actions you can do in your home, neighborhood or workplace.)
  • To simplify how the global Bloom Network exchanges value, and to retain local autonomy, we are looking into using four tokens to represent value circulating in each layer of Bloom Network: local, working groups, international network, and… art with its own currency layer. Each token would be based on a current that occurs in nature, to remind us all to root our financial exchanges in harmony with natural world.
  • Brendan Maher of MIT Media Lab has recommended that Bloom Network craft a protocol for different local currencies to interconnect, to support regenerative development.
  • Bloom is designing a “Regenerative Actions Ticker” for our homepage, to make visible the inspiring actions that people are doing all around the world. This could be integrated with the token design, as the validation forms could feed into this ticker. The goal is just to have a transparent dashboard of real-time activity in the network, to counteract gloomy and demotivating media narratives. This dashboard will also have clear lines of sight to where to get involved locally or learn the skills to do the action being displayed.

Partner Organizations with Bloom Network Who are Experts in The Field of Social Currency Design

Grassroots Economics – Through Community Inclusion Currencies people have a way to exchange goods and services and incubate projects and businesses, without relying on scarce national currency and volatile markets.

Token Engineering Commons – realigning incentives around public goods

MetaGame – a peer incubation community similar to Bloom but anchored in web3, digital development projects. MetaGame and Token Engineering Commons use a tool called SourceCred that tracks contributions on GitHub, Discord, and Discourse forum activity, to be rewarded in the digital tokens. MetaGame is also building a web3 profiles system that has the potential to reduce the issue among social good networks where people have to create six different profiles to interact with the different communities they’re part of.

Other movements related to social currencies include: timebanking, complementary currencies, and LETS systems.

Distributed Manufacturing // Bioregional Production

This wiki article is the anchor for Bloom’s ongoing topic of Distributed Manufacturing and Bioregional Production, or more simply, Localized Production. Every six months we host a webcall on this topic featuring movement leaders, and we document the projects and practices that are shared during it. We might eventually break this out into specific wikis on each topic, as there is so much happening within each of them. Enjoy these absolutely inspiring projects and practices. We encourage you to find the ones happening in your region or start one, and you’re always welcome to start a local Bloom chapter to help bring people together around localized production where you live.

Reports and transcripts from calls so far: August 17 2020, with guests Kevin Carson, Josephine Watson, and Lorenzo Kristov.

 

Regional Agriculture

These are simply a handful of organizations we’ve come across. There are surely similar groups all over the world. In Africa there are regenerative agriculture and permaculture farming networks that teach families and neighborhoods to do smallholder ag and rainwater catchment instead of monocropping. In South America and North America, there are networks supporting Indigenous communities to acquire seeds that their ancestors would have traditionally grown for food sovereignty. There is also a whole field called “landscape restoration”, where people create integrated crop businesses to bring back forest or degraded lands, in collaboration with NGO’s and corporate sponsors.

Organizations

3D Printing & Micro Manufacturing

      Networks of makers use 3D printing to localize production of common manufactured goods. There are people connected with Bloom who are making apps to connect these kinds of products to help people transition to localized economies in affordable ways that build relationships among neighbors and across a region.

FYI it’s possible to 3D print with hemp plastic, technically biodegradable if you have access to a commercial composting facility that gets hot enough to break it down.

 

  • Open Source Ecology – open source industrial machines
  • Open Source Medical Supplies
  • OpenStructures is a framework to allow interoperability between different projects. It’s like a common design language so that people can easily federate different local manufacturing projects. 
  • MakerNet – helping Makers and Makerspaces thrive and evolve into an interconnected ecosystem of skills, tools, resources, and ideas
  • Lulzbot – 3D printer using open source software and hardware

 

[forthcoming blog post] Vision for converting malls to local maker oases – community use centers with food, healing and arts cooperatives, and shared toolsheds.

Electricity

 

Organizations

  • Democratising Energy with Lorenzo Kristov, electrical engineer who works with city and state agencies, power companies, and citizens to transfer ownership of power to neighborhood and civilians.
  • Our Power Campaign – one of the things this campaign does is push against the installation of new fossil fuel plants in low income communities of color, and install community-owned solar plants instead.
  • Geli – decentralized energy storage solutions

Cooperatives

Cooperatives are a form of business that encourages community ownership over resources and self-sovereignty with labor relationships. They’re an excellent way to support localized production, and they can federate together to reduce risk and pool purchasing power, etc. Usually in a cooperative, each worker has a vote in the direction of the company. It tends to make healthier and more effective relationships between managers and employees, reducing inefficiencies and improving culture as well as equitable financial dynamics. Cooperatives are also more resilient to collapse. If a business is going under, one option is to convert it to a worker owned cooperative instead.

Organizations

  • Cooperation Jackson – commons space local economy with micro manufacturing, community land trusts, etc.
  • Mondragon – federation of worker cooperatives based in the Basque region of Spain, and internationally

Recycling

Precious Plastic – neighbourhood scale plastic recycling – transform plastic into useable objects

Bloom Governance 2020

# Bloom Network

Created using https://communityrule.info/ 

## Basics

What is the basic structure of the community?

Bloom is (functionally) a member cooperative with working groups, local chapters, and a Wisdom Council.

What is the community’s mission?

Our mission is to connect and support regenerative culture makers.

What core values does the community hold?

Community values include peer-to-peer leadership, autonomy, regenerative cultures, restorative justice, and mutual support.

What is the legal status of the community’s assets and creations?

Bloom is currently a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is fiscally sponsored by PlanetWork (they have a tax exemption which allows us to accept tax-exempt donations). We have plans to formalize a hybrid entity.

## Participants

How does someone become a participant?

People and organizations participate when they attending a local or online event, contribute to an action, and/or become a member. People or organizations become a member by paying a monthly fee. For individuals, this is $10 or more, or $5 low-income. For organizations, this is $20 or more, or $10 low-income. Membership perks are listed at https://bloomnetwork.org/become-a-member 

How are participants suspended or removed?

The process of suspending or removing participants is in progress through members collaboratively writing the Vibrant Heart of Bloom, our code of conduct: Currently, when a participant is creating significant disruption that negatively affects the well-being of other participants or reduces the effectiveness of the community’s mission together, the Community Team has autonomy to suspend or remove the participant.

What special roles can participants hold, and how are roles assigned?

Roles: Members can participate in working groups, propose to be a working group lead, lead an action, form a leadership team for a local Bloom chapter, or volunteer locally or internationally to support the health and effectiveness of the Bloom cooperative and its participants. Members can also request webinars on specific topics for peer education and collaboration, via the request form on the members portal.

Are there limits on the terms or powers of participant roles?

Leadership roles are typically assigned slowly, as trust and experience is built in community. Local Bloom leadership teams have a yearly review evaluating their ongoing status. Term limits and specific power definitions/limitations are not yet defined.

Local Bloom leads sign a use of name contract granting permission to use the brand and outlining the expectations of mutual support between the local Bloom and Bloom Network. The Community Team receives inquiries and reviews applications for this role. 

To approve the assignment of a new working group lead, 3 of 4 of the following positions must agree to it: the Community and Admin Team leads, along with any two members of Bloom’s current legal board.

“Teams” generally do Bloom Network operational work. “Working groups” are more like people coming together to share best practices around certain topics, or develop protocols that will be utilized by the broader movements contributing to regenerative cultures.

Bloom Network’s Wisdom Council is the decision making body that votes on any decision that significantly affects the whole network, such as a change to our legal entity status. The Wisdom Council will include a set of local organizers who have been with Bloom for at least five years, and will include two newer organizers and two advisory members, or something roughly like that. Currently, the Wisdom Council is a fuzzily defined set of elder organizers that the working groups consult with as needed and as available, and is not a formally operating leadership body. 

## Policy

What basic rights does this Rule guarantee?

Bloom Network’s policy creation process is currently being designed by everyone actively participating in Bloom Network, with research and inspiring examples aggregated here:
Bloom Governance Whitepaper Draft

## Process

How does the community manage access to administrative accounts and other tools?

Administration/tools account access: Currently, the Admin Team lead and the Community Team lead have access to all administrative accounts. If another working team member needs to access a tool, either of these team leads sends them the login via encrypted message. Local chapter leads have access to shared design assets and customizable flyer templates, etc.

How does the community manage funds and economic flows?

Funds management, at current stage of underfunding:

  1. Currently Bloom receives approx. $250/mo in donations. This covers our required technology subscriptions and fiscal sponsor fees. Revenue over this amount, but under $2,000, is held for process 5 below.
  2. Funds that are raised for a specific project, under $5,000, are required to go toward that project’s budget.
  3. For funds raised as larger amounts, 10% is required to go toward paying down debt owed to contractors from 2018-2019.
  4. Contributions over $10,000 require the negotiating team to consult the partner engagement policy and communicate any red flags to the Community Team and Wisdom Council.
  5. Payments/expenses are evaluated according to an ongoing transparent process of “taking stack” of which contractor and/or expense has priority. Currently we are small enough that this is an open negotiation with the 2018-2019 contractor team still owed, with the current working group leads, and at least two members of the organization’s legal board. 

This is Bloom’s current research and plan for how to manage funds and economic flows as a community in the future. Intentions include member dividends, member-driven participatory development/budgeting, and more.

Where does the community deliberate about policies and governance?

Currently anchored in the google doc linked above, with ongoing video conversations within and adjacent to Bloom, and through our platform design process anchored at https://bloomnetwork.org/the-decentralized-web-for-regenerative-projects/ 

How are grievances among participants addressed?

Participants experiencing conflict consult the Vibrant Heart of Bloom (code of conduct) for tips on addressing challenges directly. If participants need or prefer third party assistance, please contact a member of the Community team to arrange a facilitated discussion. Deeper guidance and methodologies are listed in the Vibrant Heart of Bloom.

##Evolution

Where are policies and records kept?

In Bloom Network’s Google Drive in the nonprofit reporting folder and governance folder. Policies that regularly need to be accessed by the community are visibly linked to in the navigation tab on our website. Suggestions for transparently giving members or the public access to policies and records are welcome.

How can this Rule be modified?

Members may request to modify this ruleset by contacting the Community Team at community@bloomnetwork.org. Bloom Network’s legal process with our nonprofit is adjusted by amendment to the bylaws by the board of directors.



Created by [Magenta Ceiba based on a decade of group process internationally] (www.bloomnetwork.org)


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[Creative Commons BY-SA](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)

Network Partners

Bloom intermittently hosts public calls with partner networks, to better develop relationships and connections across networks working on goals that overlap with regenerative cultures. Here’s where you’ll find where to connect with the projects and people in these networks.

Burners (June 2020 Call)

Burning Man’s 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap. Burning Man Project is beginning an open-source approach to become carbon negative, sustainably manage waste, and be ecologically regenerative by 2030. To get involved and stay informed, go here.

Burners Without Borders is a grassroots, socially innovative, community leadership program whose goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities to solve problems. Visit their website to see lists of projects, and opportunities to get involved. Their Facebook group is where the community does volunteer coordination.

BWB COVID-19 response projects

Videos About Regenerative Agriculture

Here are a few primer videos on what regenerative agriculture is, how it restores access to good livelihoods, pulls carbon into the soil out of the atmosphere, and its implications for cultural revival and reduced conflict.

Landscape restoration in Saudia Arabia, a project from Regenerative Resources.

Decentralized Web

This wiki article lists practices and tools related to different decentralized web technologies. If you are brand new to this topic, you’ll likely find it helpful to read this blog post about it, from an introductory video call held May 2020.

This list is not an exhaustive map of the space, but features definitions and specific projects that Bloom’s crew has identified to be synergistic with regenerative culture development.

What is the Decentralized Web?

The decentralized web involves a number of different protocols, technologies, and development ecosystems that have the potential to “lock the web open” (for commons production, freedom from monopoly and censorship, etc). You can choose to block content you don’t want to engage with, control your data, and external companies are less likely to determine what you see through surveillance capitalism or state propaganda. Ultimately, the Dweb provides incredible creative possibilities for peer-to-peer economic interactions and regional production networks. Europe uses the phrase Next Generation Internet, which overlaps with the decentralized web. It is also sometimes referred to as Web3.

Money and tokens

  • Bitcoin – a decentralized electronic currency and payment system. Coindesk is a good news resource for all things bitcoin
  • Grassroots Economics is working in Kenya, South Africa, and Congo – communities are designing their own community currencies, represented as tokens on their POA blockchain (Proof of Impact). It’s helping everyone see the exchanges happening and understand better how to support each other.
  • SEEDS – a digital currency and financial system that serves, rewards and finances the people and organizations committed to creating a healthier and more equitable planet.
  • LitCoin by Cosmos Cooperative – to give you a sense of how creative token design can get!

Identity

Identity is an important part of the decentralized web. As Christopher Allen describes, “governments and companies are sharing an unprecedented amount of information, cross-correlating everything from user viewing habits to purchases, to where people are located during the day, to where they sleep at night and with whom they associate.”

With self-sovereign identity (SSI), you no longer have to give up control of personal information to dozens of databases each time you want to access new goods and services. Instead of “log on with Facebook or Google or email”, you log on from your own portal to the web, from your own data store that you control.

These are a few projects working on self-sovereign identity. As far as we know, a few are stable enough to use but probably not for large-scale adoption just yet.

  • JLINC is designed to work with web2.0 services.
  • BrightID – Ethereum-based (it’s reputation feature is something to be cautious about though, like Black Mirror’s “Nosedive” episode)
  • OneName on the Blockstack blockchain

Privacy

Privacy is one of the reasons decentralized web tools exist. Below you’ll find a section on “power asymmetry” which describes a few reasons why a company like Facebook having a huge amount of data about you is concerning. Censorship and cultural persecution are a couple other reasons why digital privacy is important in the 21st century.

Document storage tools:

Privacy tools for cryptocurrency:

  • Samourai wallet – a cryptocurrency wallet that protects privacy
  • ZCash – a privacy-protecting digital currency

Collaboration

Decentralized Project Management:

Open Co-op organizes conferences and runs projects to help create decentralized collaboration at scale.

Social Networks:

  • Socialroots.io – a lightweight way to connect multiple networks, with individual project representatives sharing insights across them
  • Scuttlebutt – a decentralized protocol for community development

Governance

Practices

  • Liquid democracy – a higher fidelity form of representational democracy, enabled by blockchain. In liquid democracy, a person can choose someone to represent their vote on an issue, and another person to represent their vote on another issue, and change those representatives at any given time, including reclaim their own direct vote on that issue.
  • DAO’s / smart organizations / programmable organizations – a blockchain-native organization that has the capacity to decentralize power. Decisions and resource allocation can happen among customizable sets of people, peer-to-peer, without having to funnel decisions and money up a hierarchy of people who extract value.

Projects

  • Aragon – a platform for making decentralized organizations + a digital jurisdiction for resolving contract disputes. On Ethereum.
  • MetaGov – a set of portable tools for the governance of virtual worlds, designed so that users of platforms can self-organize governance
  • Democracy Earth – liquid democracy platform. It’s been used in the state of Colorado.

Financing Decentralized Projects

  • Open Collective is a platform where communities can collect and disburse money transparently, to sustain and grow their projects. It itself is not decentralized but it is a good tool for distributed or open source projects.
  • Giveth is a collaborative philanthropy Dapp (decentralized application) built on Ethereum that supports transparent community funding. Funds are released once the work is complete and verified.
  • Bounties – a way to list a piece of work that needs doing in an organization, for any freelancer or contributor to complete. Bounties Network and CoMakery are two examples of software built to do this.

Art

SuperRare – art marketplace to collect and trade unique single-edition digital artworks

Bloom is looking into decentralized tools designed to support artists and content creators. More projects will be posted here as we come across them.

Agriculture-Specific Applications

These two applications are connecting carbon credit markets with regenerative agriculture and land management practitioners. Regen Network also serves Indigenous communities for the purpose of protection from deforestation.

Women of Color in Blockchain

Development Ecosystems and Blockchains

There are many different nooks across the decentralized web, and communities of developers who are building on a specific blockchain, or protocol, etc. Here are a few development ecosystems that we know have regenerative culture-specific projects going on in them:

Theory / Why Decentralize

Power Asymmetry

Power asymmetry is when individuals and groups have differential ability to take action or cause action to be taken. It is relevant to the decentralized web, because monopolization and centralized control of data on the internet has resulted in companies with hugely disproportionate power, who are at the cutting edge of machine intelligence development. These companies are not rooted in humanitarian values nor ethical business models. This has resulted in the election of presidents who increase racism and genocide, as well as information chaos on a social level due to filter bubbles, and much more. Decentralized web tools protect against power asymmetry.

  • Facebook is malware AI, uninstall. Shoshana Zuboff offers a good analysis of it. Please let us know if you come across great analyses of why Facebook is a parasitic platform. In a nutshell, the business model of this platform is to use users to sell advertising. Your interactions on the website are sculpted by machine intelligence to increase amount of time spent on the website. This is counterproductive to taking action in your real communities to reverse climate change. And it’s counterproductive to your economic sovereignty. Lastly, the lack of transparency or ability of a user to control how their own data is used, means that Facebook has tremendous knowledge of your political, social, sexual, and economic behavior, that it uses to manipulate you and others you interact with. There is no way to fix this, and you should leave the platform.

References:
“Discriminating Systems: Gender, Race, and Power in AI.” 2019. AI Now Institute.
“A study of the implications of advanced digital technologies (including AI systems) for the concept of responsibility within a human rights framework.” 2019. Council of Europe.
“Weapons of the weak: Russia and AI-driven asymmetric warfare.” 2018. Brookings.