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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.