How to put on a "Design your own Currency" Workshop[edit | edit source]

This page and its companion Community Currencies were compiled (originally) by Bruno Vernier as part of the Permaculture Diploma process to learn about 'permaculture of money'. Contact: bruno.vernier at

Learning Objectives[edit | edit source]

  • participants will totally get that the heart of community currency is 'community building' and 'relationship building'
  • participants will be able to identify, differentiate and determine the appropriate uses of a gift currency, a time currency, an unredeemable token currency, a redeemable proxy currency and a tax-collection currency
  • participants will feel enthousiastic about the growing field of community currencies while realizing it is still very experimental
  • participants with a design background (PDC?) will be able to design a currency as a component of wholistically solving a real problem they are familiar with

Prepare before the workshop[edit | edit source]

  • samples of all the various types of community currencies (and some proxy yang currencies)
  • prepare Yin and Yang attribute cards (ed note: insert content of the cards here or in a separate wiki page)
  • form a semi-circle so everyone can see the center of the circle
  • Ask participants to throw whatever currency they have on themselves into the middle of the circle (throw your own collection in)
    • only one example of each currency, otherwise it can take a long time to setup and cleanup
  • lay down the Yin and Yang attribute cards (might be better to do that while waiting for session to start as a stimulant)
  • quickly explain the spectrum and ask participants to help you justify where the various currencies fit on the spectrum (place them)

Table of Contents[edit | edit source]

  • The Permaculture of Money: observe the flow of currency, find ways to capture and retain it, aim for inputs=outputs, share surplus
    • explain that currency always goes in the opposite direction of goods and services
    • national currencies tend to pool around the 1%, creating treasure chests and stimulating long distance trading
    • successful CC tend to build community, stimulating local, ethical and ecologically-friendly trading
    • bilateral barter is only useful for the two parties involved; currencies involve the entire community
  • Ying Yang spectrum
    • Yang: tax collection, competition, debt-based, quick profit, fear-based, interest (musical chairs), scarcity-requiring, efficient, treasure-hoarding, idealistic, exponential-curve pattern, long-distance trading for 10,000 years
    • Yin: gift circles, cooperation, mutual-credit, long-term planning, trust-based, demuragge (negative interest rate), abundance, community-building, appropriate, realistic, sine-curve pattern, star trek (all imagined technologies are now real except moneyless economy)
  • archetypes: Da Vinci Tai Chi move altogether (make sure to reverse the moves when in front of the group):
    • warrior, engineer, nurturer, lover, and integrator: upshot: we need them all; we need yang and yin currencies
  • 4 stories: High Middle Ages, Ancient Egypt, Municipal Scrip 1933, Argentina, (and mention the 1000s experiments going on now)
  • Make Money exercise: Offers/Requests on postits; write out IOU cheque vouchers, circulate for a bit, debrief
  • Detailed explanations: Gift Circles, Timebank, Seedstock, National Currency, Left/Right Chiralkine Quantum Money
    • Gift Economies: jungle tribes, potlach, Burning Man, Seedy Saturdays, freecycle, opensource, scientific knowledge, mathematics, language, wikipedia, blood donations, homeless, monasteries/convents, nature, hundreds of sharing websites
    • TimeBank/LETS exercise: ask everyone to write down 3 offers; then ask them to write 3 requests (usually much harder to do); have them present to the group (point out how effortless the community-building feels like) ; ask them for homework to enter these into their nearest timebank website or equivalent
    • Seedstock (or other proxy currency): simulate how it works using participants as actors (businesses, Non-profits, government, supporters/volunteers, and matchmaker/catalog keeper)
  • 4 components of CC success (to avoid the 80% failure rate since 1983):
    • Constant Catalog Updates
    • Active Matchmaker,
    • Transparent Accounting (and appropriate medium: digital, paper vouchers, relationship to national currency)
    • Respect Gifts (do not monetize remaining gift economies, and allow natural transition of CC to gift economy)
  • Real live example of CC design using a participant's project

Stories[edit | edit source]

  • anecdotes about Bernard Lietaer the co-designer of the Euro, Michael Linton the local and global pioneer
  • the story of the High Middle Ages
  • the story of Ancient Egypt
  • the story of King Midas (everything he touches turns to Gold = monetization of the commons = gift economy)
  • the story of stamp scrip in USA and Austria
  • the story of Argentina 2002
  • the story of Brazil's municipal-based CC (govt study shows CC does not harm national currency; solves problems nat'l currency can't)
  • the story of LETS and Timebanking
  • the story of Seedstock and Transition Towns currencies
  • optionally: the story of chiralkine (quantum) money

Possible Extensions[edit | edit source]

  • If time and interest allow, discuss Yang Money Reform from the last 2 decades:
    • crowdfunding, microlending, deSoto's people capitalism, ethical mutual funds, fair trade, triple bottom line, etc
    • compare and contrast with community currencies and pure gift economies
  • invite participants to take an online course in Community Currencies

Feedback[edit | edit source]

  • always ask for feedback at the end: what worked, what can be improved in the presentation ? (take a good 5 minutes)
  • verify that everyone really got that the heart of yin money is 'community building' and 'relationship building'

references[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

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