Project updates

Funding in an era of de-growth

posted Aug 13, 2012, 7:55 AM by J Poy   [ updated Aug 13, 2012, 8:55 AM ]

As we publicize the Aug 15 session, "Funding in an era of de-growth," people have been sending in links and resources. A list, in no particular order ...
for social enterprises that are organized as nonprofits:
  • Open Money / The Community Way - a scrip-like program to fund social enterprises that are set up as nonprofits 
  • 3 pillars: private/public/internal - p103,133 of The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook, by Rupert Scofield
general skills
  • exercise:  what money means to you - ch 1 of  The Ask by Laura Fredricks
  • 20 cultivation techniques  ch 1 of  The Ask by Laura Fredricks

other things to think about ...


The basic concept of debt is that you're borrowing a bit from the future to consume now.  In a growing economy, leveraging and debt ideas work great: you're taking a bit from future better times to use now in leaner times.  

But in a shrinking economy, this basic presumption is turned upside down.  Debt in a shrinking economy means taking from a leaner future, to consume now in times of relative plenty.  Debt in down times puts you (and your business) in the hole faster-than-fast.

Thus financing in an age of de-growth is all about the search for debt-free ways to gain start-up cash.

More about this concept at 
and at


The concept of "economic contraction" acknowledges that the economy is shrinking -- driven by issues such as resource limitations, peak oil, biocapacity, and the collapse of the credit system.  An international thread is appearing which focuses on "de-growth" -- the idea that we would not simply allow the economy to collapse helter-skelter, but instead plan the way down. 

Quoting wikipedia:  "Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, 'degrowthists' aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community."

"Business in Transition" discussion series begins in April

posted Mar 25, 2012, 2:03 PM by J Poy

How can we care for each other, care for the earth, and share resources fairly, all while earning our own basic livelihoods?  The business world doesn’t necessarily have to mean a choice between Doing Good and Doing Well.  ‘Social enterprise’ is a way of addressing both at the same time.

In this 6-part discussion series, you'll meet other people who are curious about the idea of social enterprise, people who are operating/starting a "green" business, people who are exploring how business and economics might change in a changing world, and people who are interested in alternative economics in general.

The series is designed so that people who wish to start a social enterprise will gain a solid background in business considerations and the issues of the future in order to get their enterprise off the ground.

6 Sessions include:
  1.     "Doing good AND Doing Well" - balancing impact and profit - what's your mission?
  2.     "What is a Resilient Business" - what businesses will thrive and survive in a time of peak oil + climate change + economic contraction?
  3.     "For-profit, non-profit, cooperative, or ...?" - what types of business structure are best suited for resilience in an uncertain future?
  4.     "Lean enterprise" - hold a frugal mindset, not a poverty mindset
  5.     "Funding in an era of de-growth" - alternative and unique ways to find funding for your social enterprise
  6.     "Success: Sweat equity vs. Blood equity" - success and quality of life in a new era
Bonus workshops include:
  •     "A Business Plan for the new era" - not just for your banker, you need to commit a plan to paper
  •     "Marketing vs. Publicity" - how to get it for next-to-free
  •     "People skills" - team building, boards, and committees -- democratic management for a new era

Download flyer here

A Competitive Cooperative

posted Dec 6, 2011, 8:00 AM by J Poy

Co op books

posted Dec 5, 2011, 9:52 AM by J Poy   [ updated Dec 6, 2011, 7:59 AM ]

Here is a list of co-op books ...
  • The Democratic Firm, David Ellerman
  • From Mondragon to America: Experiments in Community Economic Development, Greg McLeod
  • Governing the Firm, Gregory Dow
  • The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation, Matt Ridley 
  • Economic Justice and Democracy: From Competition to Cooperation, Robin Hahnel 

Also: 50 Crucial points of NV struggle, which is a primer for how and why to build an organization. How/Why to think strategically.  (view through GoogleDocs)

-- from Tye

Notes from November meeting

posted Dec 4, 2011, 8:43 AM by J Poy

Transition Enterprise Discussion Circle 11.30.11

Present: Joanne, Devon, Tye, David, Isaac

I. Preliminary Notes
II. Place to Start
III. Macro Vision
IV. Education & Capacity-building
V. Creative Change-Making
VI. Avoid Regulation
VII. Final Notes

(Font Key: Groups are in bold italics, Titles are underlined) most notes by Isaac, bullet inserts by Joanne

I. Preliminary notes (not including first 38 minutes of meeting)

  • (much of the first 38 minutes was spent dealing with a power outage, scavenging candles and lighter.  This was a true "powerdown" session!)
  • other topics that must have been in those 38 minutes: 
*discussion: Mondragon gathering in Richmond, CA
*Awakening the Dreamer
*idea: Business catalog
*Business directory requiring few volunteer hours to compile.  Automated input, informational network.  Interactive and web-based.
  • this was an idea posed in an earlier Transition Enterprise meeting: to create a directory of local businesses in LA with how they were striving for Transition Enterprise criteria.  Would be different than say, Greenopia, because the characteristics we (Transition movement, Transition Enterprise efforts) acknowledge are essential are so vastly different than any directory previously created for LA.
  • the discussion at this meeting was how we might accomplish this with low numbers of volunteer hours - for instance by supplying a self-input form.  
  • Team would need to clarify criteria.
*idea: form an LA Regional Timebank
*TB USA move credits between time banks.
*National Cooperative Business Association 

II. Place to start

*School: Somewhere to teach values (ex. co-op).  At Mondragon, they were initially trained to build/repair washing machines.  Capacity-builidng.
  • discussion point in this section of our meeting was that Mondragon began with a school, but is that really the place for us to start?  Do we have to begin there or could/should we dive in anywhere in their model?
*Built to Last (ex. Disney, 3M, visionar corporations who innovate and survive). 
*Goals, ends
*Ex. Book-keeper co-op
*Arizmendi Cheese Co-op.  Management system in place. 
*Rainbow Foods, Berkeley Bowl, Collective of Co-ops.  
*Co-op needs 3 to form. 
  • at this point we shifted to the fact that Mondragon model has a bank as a key piece within it.  Maybe the place for us to start is with that bank-type institution.  Maybe it's an LA regional time bank.  Maybe it's a credit union. 
  • Credit union options discussed included changing an existing one (i.e. getting elected to the board and guiding their investments over to more-resilient, more-local investments) or creating a new one.
*North Dakota State Bank
*Savings Accounts in Mondragon. 
*Permaculture Credit Union, NM: Sustainability focus, finance people with sustainability initiatives, Cal Earth.
  • who can become a member?  " includes people who agree with the ethics of permaculture, have completed a recognized permaculture design course, or are a member of an affiliated Permaculture Institute." per their FAQ's
*Thin Cats, history of community development co-ops: What it's like, problems, low-income, membership base, requirement of equity v. assets.  Credit unions focused on justice, community development, local business, housing.  NM Albuquerque Permaculture Credit Union.  Define membership (ex. 3,000 to fill out survey).  Credit union for co-ops: Housing, workers, not member co-op such as Co-opportunity (Santa Monica), REI.  Education team. Make own law. 
*Kinetka: SM Consumers Co-op merger with Hughes Aircraft Employee Credit Union.  Brought a sense of local business (ex. ATM at farmers market).

III. Macro Vision

  • Devon highlighted the need for a broader vision.  Tye emphasized that vision underpinned the entire structure.  What is unique about the Mondragon model, part of what makes it such a powerful solution, is its comprehensive nature.  It isn't just a random collection of entities, not just random actions.  Rather, it is strategic.  It has a solid vision behind the entire broad structure of entities.  Suggestions for LA broader vision:
*Collective vision: Common Values for bank or referral network (ex. peak oil/climate change/energy vigilance, social justice). 
*Re-conomy, UK.  Addresses deep business issues within Transition model.  
*Timebanks connect with what's around the neighborhood.  Consulting practices (ex. consult w/conventional businesses, supply change, localization issues. 
*Mondragon: 1) affinity network, 2) threat of unemployment and fascism in a depressed area resulting from civil war, 3) moral and popular community facilitated by priest. 
  • other proposals for the macro vision:
    • needs based network of businesses:  what the community needs
    • self-realization:  nobody gets off this ladder of self-realization, build on an enlightened self-interest (rather than exploited self-interest).  self-interest but community interest too.


IV. Education & Capacity-Building

*Reading club: ex. co-op theory book reading.  Ellerman (co-op theorist) looks at Marx, Capitlaist strucures, and looks at selling time for wage as unethical, immoral.  Do wages fulfill people's dreams?  Are wages slavery?  Eisenstein said our current system is morally flawed.
  • conversation quickly jumped to:  if Mondragon began with a school, perhaps we need to begin there too.  "Transition University" idea has been flown before, including in UK.  Perhaps our LA version develops out of a book club, small circles reading in-depth books on certain topics.  Meet a certain number of times, select books off a certain list, grassroots discussion.
  • unifying vision for a Transition University included: reading books, in-person discussion, hands on learning/experiential, practical for the community, deal with the needs of the community
*What else: Self-interst, Self-realization, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, not exploitation, not profit motive only.  
*Needs-based system: Potential businesses, community gardens food production.  
*Philosophical groundwork: Brian Swim, The Secret, What the Bleep Do We Know.
*Google Plus book cub class.  Units for 'university.'  Set dates to get together for discussion, potluck requirement, project to build as exam, prize (ex. free raised bed, choice of community project).  Provides framework for spontaneous education, float to one's various networks. 
*Service LA (corporate).
*Start where you are. 
*People projects: host open space.  
*Holmgren's Permaculture Flower (philosophical).  Class on permaculture.  Permaculture Guild? 
  • Permaculture flower was brought up in the idea that if we were to develop some sort of a Transition University and offer a certificate program, the coursework would need to touch all of the petals of the PC flower.  (Holmgren's diagram is inserted)
*About the Land, already exists.  
*Permaculture design certificate.  Provide thorough networking in the community. 
*Quail Springs Learning Oasis & Permaculture Farm, Maricopa, CA
*Potential partners for a co-op. 
*Employability of graduates.  
*Radical home school. 
*Montessori, John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Blake Bowles, Grace Llewellyn.  (spellings corrected)

V. Creative Change-making (TLA Youtube Channel)

*Life With Ed (Begley)
*Recognize popular culture, creatively mock commercials with narrative.  Compile it.  With a message.  Acting troupes.  
*ex. Banksy street art with links, bumper stickers (ex. caution banksters fleeing), "how is the war economy working for you?", flash mobs, BofA logo (f-u), monopoly guy (1%), midnight ridazz ride themes, break dancing.
  • "Infomercials"
*Play and improv. 
*Threats: there are forces at work that seek to exploit and exhaust natural resources.  
*Land trusts (ex. Marin, CA farmland bought to prevent suburbanizaiton, ex. LA Parkland Land Trust on urban fabric, Wildlands Land Trust).
  • Marin agricultural land trust (MALT)
  • Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust ... "mission is to grow healthier, safer and stronger communities by creating small, accessible urban parks and gardens that help remedy the critical lack of green and recreational spaces in greater Los Angeles’ underserved neighborhoods, and to ensure participation and collaboration among low-income residents throughout the process of envisioning, building and managing the parks and gardens we create."
*Capitalism v. democracy.
*Open mic: reskilling university (ex. solar cooker, self-watering pots, etc.).

VI. Avoid Regulation

*Center of Non-violent Action Studies (CANVAS) prevents govt repression/regulation.  Came out of Otpor.  Win-win dilemmas.  Avoid attention by coming in 'under radar,' ex. Time Banks).
  • example used was homeschoolers:  rather than be flagrant about it -- ie allowing homeschooling teens to hang out at the mall midday, the first place truant officers would look -- be wise about it.  Even though you might be on solid legal footing, wise to avoid the confrontation in the first place.  Much easier to get work done on the business at hand.
*Charter school.  Parents run and become admins and hire teachers.  May qualify for state money.
  • this came up when we discussed some of the things Occupy had been talking about doing post-dispersion.  One had been "occupy the schools" and this has already in essence been done with the charter school movement several years ago.  Parents "took back the schools" in great numbers.  In the ensuing years, much bad press was made of the few examples where there had been less-than-honest charter administrators.  The charter school movement got heavily regulated, particularly to qualify for state money. (do we hear 1% at work here to reclaim authority?)
*Occupied foreclosed homes in the South, reoccupied by community.  Youtube. 
*Ganse (author). 
*Bringing Down a Dictator, Serbia, Otpor.  

VII. Final Notes

*In Praise of Mother Earth, foundation of Indian philosophy.  Devon proposed a publishing partnership between Marymount Press and Transition LA.  
*Paul Engler (OLA).  Built to Last (visionary co.'s), From Good to Great (applicable to NPO's, community orgs, how to develop innovation, decentralized to centralized).  United under a vision.  Scientific, reinvented selves, stayed fresh.  

Public Narrative

posted Dec 1, 2011, 10:40 AM by J Poy

One of the resources discussed in our Nov meeting was Public Narrative.  This is telling your personal story in such a way as to get a point across.  The idea has been spread by Marshall Ganz.

Mondragon in L.A. Times

posted Nov 27, 2011, 6:17 PM by J Poy

There is an article about co-ops in the L.A. Times.  It mentions the Mondragon model, and various communities around the U.S. that are experimenting with versions of it. 

"Economic Resilience" now online

posted Nov 7, 2011, 7:56 AM by J Poy

The full text of Joanne's "Economic Resilience" booklet can now be read free online at

Notes from the Sept meeting

posted Sep 16, 2011, 6:31 AM by J Poy   [ updated Sep 16, 2011, 7:42 AM ]

We started off by discussing Charles Eisenstein's book signing events next week.  Many of the TLA members will be attending one of the three LA area events. 

We also talked at length about gift circles, including this how-to article.   We might try starting one at a local church.  In last night's circle we discussed how, with a church situation where people (a) already kinda-knew each other, and (b) a facility which people already associate with giving, a gift circle might be easier to start. 

We talked extensively about time banking and the ebb that the Westchester LETS and the Mar Vista time bank experienced.  The Whittier and San Fernando time banks either (a) haven't yet hit that point on their timeline, or (b) have a better situation because the local Transition group runs events through time banking.  

We mentioned a phenomenon often observed in time banking of people not even bothering to record transactions, how the relationship can shift over into more of a gift situation.  One person stated [I have no notes on precise phrase used] that time banking would never be a business model.

We discussed the problems inherent in gift circles -- someone giving too much and feeling taken advantage of, etc.  Also the ideas of "sliding scale" payments and how people try to get by on-the-cheap.  We mentioned how these human-dynamics issues were really part of ALL human exchanges and interdependencies, but that in many ways the conventional money system with its built-in disconnection has allowed us to ignore these uncomfortable issues.  That shifting to ANY of the more "alternative" models we have been discussing means facing these human-dynamics issues again.

We found ourselves repeatedly drawn back to the Mondragon framework (or what we know of it - the Drucker book summary and what was said in the Aug meeting). 

When we talked about the LION investing model and it seemed to offer some of the features the Mondragon bank does.  The LION model gained a lot of attention, even a discussion of how we might set up such a thing.  Some of the ideas proposed (gift circles, time banks) are things that will need to be be very local.  Other ideas (LION) would work fine over the broader LA area.  Or perhaps beginning over the broader LA area, and eventually becoming more localized as more people joined in.  There was a lot of interest on taking action to begin this.

We also mentioned a Westchester acupuncture business we had stumbled upon which touted "social enterprise" in its materials.  On the 9/12/11 call, Rob Hopkins had mentioned that not all social enterprise = transition enterprise, but acupuncture seems to fit.  After the meeting, someone who couldn't attend pointed out there is a local chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance that meets in LA.

Also mentioned in the session: 
  • Legal agreements group or knowledge base, as sharing law (ref: Janelle Orsi) begins to develop.  We have a volunteer to maintain such a thing for L.A.
  • Reskilling open mike event posted on Transition US

In October we hope to hear about the Bay Area co-op conference, more ideas about LION, news of how the Westchester church took to gift circles, and more.

Next Transition Enterprise discussion - Sept 15

posted Sep 12, 2011, 10:05 AM by J Poy   [ updated Sep 12, 2011, 10:34 AM ]

Would you like to join a gathering of people who are discussing these ideas?

The Transition Enterprise group's next gathering is Thurs Sept 15
classroom at Holy Nativity Church, 6700 W. 83rd, Westchester/LA 90045 (look for signs for which specific room)

The conversation will be more productive and valuable if you have done some background reading, have experience, or have invested contemplation time.  We encourage you to browse the pages and links on this site.

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