CES: A different way to exchange value

CES stands for Community Exchange System. There are many substitute trading systems around the world, known as Community Exchange Systems, Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), Mutual Credit trading systems, Trade Exchanges or Time Banks. Most of the info we're discussing today comes from a South African organisation that provides a web-based service to help people organise a CES in their communities. This does not represent an endorsement of this information or system, we're using the information as a jumping-off point for a discussion of how we can exchange value in an economic system.

Questions to start the discussion:
How does money work?
How does an economy work, at basic?
Does money 'exist'?
What is 'barter' and why is it of limited value?
Which came first: currency, barter, or credit?

The Money Gap
There is a 'money gap' between the skills/offers/talents/gifts of sellers on the one hand and the wants/needs/requirements of buyers on the other. Money is supposed to bridge that gap, as a medium of exchange. But what about when you don't have enough money to exchange for what you need, because the skills you can offer don't buy enough money in the markets available to you? How do you get what you need?

The 'Existence' of Money
The main problem with conventional money is that it 'exists', or at least we are encouraged by the commercial banks to believe that it exists so that they can 'lend' it to us at a price! As such it has to be created, distributed and the amount of it restricted and controlled. As money comes into existence when commercial banks grant loans, every unit in existence is based on a unit of debt. This determines the quantity of money, which has nothing to do with the amount of money people require to live decent lives. Such money is also based on speculation, because it is loaned into existence on the premise that it will be paid back in the future with interest.

「思‧英語討論會」will begin on 2014/9/19

The RO Studio is happy to announce that our regular Friday「思‧英語討論會」discussions are starting once again on September 19.

The discussions will take place regularly on Fridays, and each discussion will be listed in advance on the sidebar to the left. However, please check the calendar to the left to confirm that the discussion will take place.

To register for the discussion, please contact Angela at zmezmi@gmail.com.


Hi all! The RO Studio is on hiatus for the summer.

Check back in August for our fall schedule of workshops and discussions!


Meg Jay: Why 30 Is Not The New 20
"The best time to work on Alex's marriage is before she has one."
--Meg Jay's supervisor

"To achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time. "
--Leonard Bernstein

Identity capital: something that adds value to who you are
"Identity capital begets identity capital. So now is the time for that cross-country job, that internship, that startup you want to try. I'm … discounting exploration that's not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That's procrastination. … Explore work and make it count."

Do as I say, not as I do!

What are your guiding principles in life?
What are the things you value most?

Teaching a Person or Child to Care
Surveys reveal that in the United States, parents from European, Asian, Hispanic and African ethnic groups all place far greater importance on caring than achievement. These patterns hold around the world: When people in 50 countries were asked to report their guiding principles in life, the value that mattered most was not achievement, but caring.
--Raising a Moral Child NYT 4/11/2014

Is it important to teach people to care?

How do you teach people to care? How do you teach children to care?

When a child does something right what do you say?

The Dispossessed Workshops

Come join the five Dispossessed Workshops at the RO Studio!

The discussions will happen on the following dates, all Tuesdays at 8pm. Address and Map

May 6 Freedom, Responsiblility, Initiative
May 13 Owning or Using
May 20 Possession: Luxury, Scarcity, Consumerism
May 27 How Boundaries Work
June 3 The Structure of Power

Links take you to the discussion wiki, where you can see the discussion guide for each workshop and also transcripts from the Becoming workshops held in April.

The Dis-Possessed Legislature

The Occupied Legislature situation has been resolved for now, in that some of the people currently in power have accepted the students' demands. They were accepted with a lot of wiggle room in what was promised, so it remains to be seen what is actually done. Yet the acceptance allows the students to 'succeed' and then peacably disband, and allows the halls of power to get back to their normal business, or to get back to work at least.

There are now a lot of questions to be answered.

One of the students' demands was for a Citizen's Constitutional Assembly. KRW asks,
"Is [the future we work for] one where the people of Taiwan are no longer mediated subordinates, with regard to domestic and overseas affairs, but its immediate determinants?"

Before we discuss this question, let us discuss the concept of Negative Freedom and Positive Freedom.

Negative freedom is easier to describe. You can call it 'freedom from'.  It means you are free from restrictions, obstacles, or constraining commitments/responsiblity.  You're 'freed up' to do whatever you want, there is a lack of limitations.

Positive freedom is a little trickier.  You can call it 'freedom to'.  It has a strong relationship with taking initiative, or having the right conditions.   That is to say, you're free to do something through the availability of resources, through being given social support, through possessing collaborators.   Positive freedom is often realised through commitments to other people, or through taking on responsibility.

Saying 'positive' and 'negative' implies that one is more desirable than the other, but actually the terms are about presence and absence, not good and bad.

Partial transcript for Democratic Oversight discussion

Let's talk about this one: Convene a citizens' constitutional assembly.

How do we invite the participation of 23 million people to a discussion process?
The referendum process is all about the decision and not about dialogue and discussion, the thinking-through process leading up to the decision. It's an incomplete process, because the real participation is in the thinking it through part, not making the decision at the end.

What are the conditions for effective dialogue between parties?
-you would need pre-agreement about what is an is not available
the questions under discussion are handed out first, and anonymously answered, to prevent opinions being influenced by louder people, or prevent people worrying about offending people, for people who feel unsafe in the process

-there's four-step process:
1. Before the discussion, think about the strengths, or what you like about the other person, so you feel more positive about them, or less emotional
2. Talk about own misbehaviour, maybe wrong tone etc., what i might have done to hurt you, what i appreciate about you. And this helps bring people into harmony
3. Talk about what help is needed from other party, or how you've been hurt, and this is why i don't appreciate what you've done, what you can do to fix it
4. During this time, advice is not allowed, you must practice deep listening.
a neutral party must be present in this process
then the next party also says this, and the original party practices deep listening.
i’ve done this process, and it brings useful results, people don't get offended and also offensive. It doesn't just be about what the other party should be responsible for, it also is about what i should be responsible for.
Tekna Han is the teacher for this method, he works with the palestinians and israelis.
it takes more than one discussion of course, but you have deeper understanding of the hurt of everybody, and people understand why they feel hurt, and people can begin to feel like brothers.