Here continue my musings on the Transition Open Space festival I attended in July…
Alternative currency as a means to surface the shadow of money
For four days we experimented with an alternative currency, named the ‘Trudo’ – after St Trudo, a 7th century saint of the area – as a sort of bridge between the money economy and the gift economy. The intention behind the introduction of this ingredient into the mix was to ‘help the community flourish’ by encouraging many more exchanges, of more different types, among those present than there might otherwise be.
The experiment was introduced at the start of the mid-week section of the festival, after an initial two days of introduction to the place, the land, the community and the concept of ‘transition’. It stirred up all sorts of interesting reactions and turbulence, which was most revealing about many aspects of our individual and collective shadow around money.
Because the community ‘container’ was already in place, these disturbing elements could be illuminated and worked with further. The experiment was introduced as a game – participation was optional – and it was interesting to see how quickly many people forgot that and felt it as an imposition. Power was projected onto the ‘organisers’ who had invented the rules and the ‘bank’ that issued the currency to the participants.
It was also interesting to see that the children took to the system really well and had no compunctions about being creative with the currency and asking some really challenging questions – like “how come you can use this toy money to buy ‘real’ things like ice creams and pancakes? Won’t Johannes (at the café) lose out?” Some of the adults refused to engage with the experiment at all. Erwin, who was constantly giving away Trudos in exchange for work in the permaculture garden, ended up with more of them than he knew what to do with…
Because this experiment with alternative currency was just that – an experiment – part of the transaction involved writing on the back of the Trudo note (i) the name of the person who first put the note into circulation, and (ii) the transaction for which it changed hands each time. At the end of the four-day experiment, all Trudos in circulation were returned to the ‘bank’, which is now in possession of the story of all the relationships fostered by this experiment.
It is hoped that the currency will continue to develop and function after the gathering.
May we liberate our lives from the slavery of money logic.
Learning to live together with the land
About half the group camped on the land and self-organised in a field kitchen, harvesting from the land and preparing food together. That turned out to be a whole learning process for those who took part – again the challenge of different meaning-making systems rubbing each other up the wrong way. Not everybody was happy with what happened, but that was also allowed to be there without losing energy on trying to fix it.
A lot of collective work was done – building firepits and clay ovens, planting seedlings, harvesting food, gathering seed, learning about herbs and edible food in the wild, making seitan. Taco and Erwin, who live at the Kasteel, are steeped in the practices of permaculture. It was thanks to their labour that there was so much abundance on the land, ready to be picked and eaten: plums, early apples, blackberries and raspberries, courgettes, beets, salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, eggs… these two men were constantly surrounded by children and adults, soaking up their knowledge and connecting back into nature for life-changing inspiration.
Engaging together with food – growing, gathering, harvesting, preparing, eating – grounds the spirit in the body and creates community. Community feeds the soul while much of our current consumer lifestyle starves it.
May we remember our love of the land.