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

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.

Regenerative Policy Frameworks

(in progress)

These policy examples have been developed to support healthy, just, thriving communities in connection with the lands and resources they live within. If you know of a policy that should be added to this list, please message us.

New Economy Coalition’s policy guide: Pathways to a People’s Economy. This work is the culmination of two years of research and collaboration with multiple networks, policy experts, community organizers, and stakeholders. The Toolkit contains 20 high-level policy demands, 70 detailed policy asks, and multiple organizing resources focused on four key new economy areas: worker ownership, community-controlled housing, financial justice, and climate justice. It is not meant to represent everything we need; but this is the first slice of policies that we’re offering to build a better world.

Sustainable Economies Law Center’s policy recommendations: Includes policies for seed sharing, worker cooperatives, cottage food businesses, shareable cities and more.

Climate Justice Alliance: A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy offers community groups, policy advocates, and policymakers a pathway to solutions that work for frontline communities and workers. These ideas have been collectively strategized by community organizations and leaders from across multiple frontline and grassroots networks and alliances.

(Ask Kinney if there is a link to his Native Jurisprudence collective, and a clear pathway for consultation so there is reciprocity and respect of the knowledge or IP.)

Movement for Black Lives’ Policy Demands: The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) formed in December of 2014, was created as a space for Black organizations across the country to debate and discuss the current political conditions, develop shared assessments of what political interventions were necessary in order to achieve key policy, cultural and political wins, convene organizational leadership in order to debate and co-create a shared movement-wide strategy. Under the fundamental idea that we can achieve more together than we can separately.

Shuumi Land Tax: Voluntary Indigenous Land Tax

Local food system policy: Long Beach Fresh

Regional food systems and healthy soil policy: Steven Keleti’s policy frameworks NEHSN

Regen ag policy in africa? SE asia?

Rights of nature jurisprudence: NZ, where else? Ask Mira Jackson

Participatory Budgeting at the city level: Vallejo, CA

Climate Restoration Circle has developed a policy approach to making the SF Bay Area a climate-restoring region by: 1) Restore the climate by creating and fostering collaboration between climate restoration companies, projects, and individuals. 2) Create demand for radical progress on climate restoration in our government’s policies through public outreach and local education. 3) Raise funding and capital for the most substantive and existing climate restoration companies, organizations and projects to accelerate their impactful activities on a massive scale.

Energy policy – ex solar incentivization

Future Economies

This wiki article is all about methods of creating economies that support greater health of people and planet, and more equitable distribution of wealth. This topic is massive, and this listing is a work in progress that will grow over time. Peruse the different sections to learn about people and organizations all over the world who are practicing this now. Find your local Bloom to get involved in future economies locally.

Organizations and Coalitions

  • New Economy Coalition is a U.S.-based coalition of 200+ organizations that work on small to large scales, building new systems or new economies that put people and planet first. NEC is driven by a belief that all our struggles—for racial, economic, and climate justice; for true democratic governance and community ownership; for prosperity rooted in interdependence with the earth’s natural systems—are deeply interconnected. Rising to the challenge of building a better world demands that we fundamentally transform our economic and political systems.

Policy Resources

Policy Toolkit from New Economy Coalition: www.Peopleseconomy.org

Platform Cooperatives

Platform cooperatives are businesses that use a website, mobile app, or protocol to sell goods or services. They rely on democratic decision-making and shared ownership of the platform by workers and users.

  • Tribe works – tech freelancers of color
  • Stocksy – stock photography website owned and governed by its artists in 70 countries around the world
  • Platform Cooperative Consortium – a hub that helps you start, grow, or convert to platform co-ops
  • Internet of Ownership directory of platform coop related efforts around the world as well as a library of resources
  • Start.coop – an accelerator for cooperatives
  • Savvy Cooperative – crowdsourced healthcare solutions – the first platform coop built around patient insights

DisCO – Distributed Cooperatives

A Distributed Cooperative Organization prioritizes mutual support, cooperativism and care work among people and is a practical framework for Open Cooperativism. These are locally grounded, transnationally networked cooperatives focused on social and environmental work. Bloom is a DisCO.

Learn more at DisCO.coop

Nonprofit and Cooperative News Organizations

Women and People of Color Startup Communities

  • Zebras Unite – a group of women and people of colour founders who are trying to build real community businesses that meet real needs, not unicorn startups.

Land Trusts

Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations designed to ensure community stewardship of land. Community land trusts can be used for many types of development (including commercial and retail), but are primarily used to ensure long-term housing affordability.

Coop Conversions

One approach to making equitable companies is to convert existing companies to be employee-owned.

  • Colorado is in the process of a state-level effort with the governor’s support to create a wave of employee ownership conversions in small and medium-size businesses.
  • New Economy Coalition listed above often supports coop conversions.

Multi-stakeholder Cooperatives

A multi-stakeholder cooperative is a coop that’s governed by two or more stakeholder groups. These groups can include workers, producers, consumers, owners, volunteers and community supporters. The brilliance of MSCs, also known as solidarity cooperatives, is that the various stakeholder groups throughout an enterprise have a shared vision that prioritizes equality, sustainability, and social justice.

Cross-sector finance is an area of enquiry Bloom is pursuing, as we are seeing that regenerative initiatives have a strong need for public-private partnerships as well as the inclusion of grassroots communities in a funded way. If you are interested in this topic please get in touch with Bloom, as we have not yet fully documented our findings, and we are participating in several coalitions of finance professionals working together to create templates, mechanisms, and funder pools to address this.

Smart organizations” are designed to significantly reduce overhead expenses for the kinds of cross-organizational collaborations we’re finding necessary among regenerative initiatives.

Governance Resources for Online Companies

Metagovernance Project is an interdisciplinary research group creating a set of portable tools for the governance of virtual worlds.

Circular Economy

Circular economy is an economy for the next 10,000 years. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. It builds economic, natural, and social capital. It’s based on three principles:

  1. Design out waste and pollution
  2. Keep products and materials in use
  3. Regenerate natural systems
  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation is focused on accelerating the transition to a circular economy. They work with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
  • Cradle-to-cradle
  • Circular clothing
  • Fix-It Cafes / Repair Cafes
  • SUPER.ngo – Single-Use Plastic Elimination or Reduction

Timebanks

Wikipedia article on timebanking

Kola Nut Collaborative – The Kola Nut Collaborative (KNC) is a mutual support network of people engaged in reciprocal exchange of services, skills, and goods through a timebank where the currency is an hour of time for everyone. The Kola Nut Collaborative is an initiative of Kola Community Solutions LLC, a social enterprise formed to develop and pilot innovative solutions to issues impacting Chicago communities employing Just Transition strategies to strengthen the citywide solidarity economy.

Community Currencies and Other Alternative Currencies

Community currencies are regional means of exchange that supplement the national currency system.

  • Grassroots Economics – helping economically marginalized communities create digital, convertible currencies to foster local growth (blockchain-based)
  • Credit Commons – a proposed accounting system to allow users of any local currency to exchange with any other.
  • OpenMoney

Cryptocurrency

  • Bitcoin – a decentralized electronic currency and payment system. Coindesk is a good news resource for all things bitcoin.
  • SEEDS – a digital currency and financial system that serves, rewards and finances the people and organisations committed to creating a healthier and more equitable planet.

Public Banks

A public bank is a bank, a financial institution, in which a state, municipality, or public actors are the owners. Increasingly, major international financial institutions are recognising the positive and catalytic role public banks can serve in the coming low carbon climate resilient transition. Further, international NGOs and critical scholars argue that public banks can play a significant role in financing a just and equitable energy transition.

Alternative Economic Development Frameworks

  • Civilization Emerging – Daniel Schmachtenberger’s blog on the future of civilization, the sensitivity and potential of our current situation, and how we might navigate the path ahead.
  • “Integral” metrics framework – www.metaintegral.com

Recommended Books

Organization Theory by Kevin Carson – U.S. history of management theory and lobbying that resulted in propping up inefficiently large corporations, and a the potential building blocks of a decentralized approach to production that would be less expensive and more equitable.

Bloom Community Calls on This Topic

April 20, 2020: On Economic Justice, Cooperatives, Platform Cooperatives, and Circular Economies. Featuring Shavaun Evans from New Economics Coalition, Nathan Schneider from Media Enterprise Design Lab (Colorado), and Manuel Maqueda from KUMU Labs.

Finance Innovation Relevant to the Regenerative Space

Finance Innovation Relevant to the Regenerative Space

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
  • Investibule – community based investing

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

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.

(I only became a business person because mushrooms made me do it.)

Other finance innovation tools:

  • https://twitter.com/patio11/status/1230142988845629440?s=19 – A way for accredited investors to do small angel investments and reduce the amount of paperwork and legal expense involved for the entrepreneur and investor
  • 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.

Blockchain:

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
  • Quantitative easing
  • 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.

With love,

Magenta
ECO, Bloom Network