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Monday, March 27, 2017

How to run a financial permaculture session

Posted by steve on August 12, 2010

This is a method for using the cafe method with financial permaculture. It can be used to plan a start up sustainable community or to develop a more resilient local business.

It has one major element: The object worksheet

For the first use, start by asking participants, in an open space setting, to identify which objects they think would be included in their sustainable community. Each object then gets one large paper with the worksheet printed on it, and participants group up to work on the object of their choice.

(examples of objects: housing, boiler rooms, community farms, ponds, greenhouses, shops)

For each object, they need to identify its function and output. Then they need to estimate inputs and outputs as well as costs. One way to do this is to ask yourself

1. What is the lowest it could be?

2. What is the highest it could be?

This gives you an estimating range. The next question

3. Is it most likely to be in the lower, middle or higher end of my range?

Provides the answer to where to estimate costs. This of course works better as group discussion.

They then need to think about where income and capital can come from, how to reward output and where to find capital.

Before all of this is given over to a group to collate to create a summary budget, groups need to put together each sheet so input and output match. One “waste” might be another’s input!

The final posting of all sheets might give you something like this:

Finally, with all the sheets up and connected you need to regroup to go through the permaculture questions for the whole system:

• Can you use more renewable energy in the steps?

• What waste is produced. Can one object’s waste be another’s raw materials?

• Where nature can do the job, can we let it?

•  Can we make solutions smaller and slower?

•  Can we produce a wider variety of solutions/products for resilience

•   How can we ensure the network of objects survives scenarios we expect like financial stress, higher energy prices, impact of new technology?

The next step is to suggest projects to realise the opportunities identified in the first part of this session.

In order to ensure continuity you will need to ensure that you as facilitator do not get the job of following up. So for each suggested project you will ask for one organisation/individual to act as project owner and ask workshops delegates to sign up to participate in each project.

This voting with the feet will most likely result in some projects continuing and others just fading away.

The next step could be to present the opportunities at the Green Expo. See my post about that.

Differences between this and traditional financial approaches

There are some subtle differences, just as the permaculture way of producing vegetables and plain old gardening have commonalities and differences.

1) One of the aims of FP is to retain money as long as possible in the local community (See all written on “slow money“)
2) The aim of financial permaculture is to obtain a yield of “money’s worth” rather than money itself
3) The idea of interest does not fit FP in fact, one of the aims of financial permaculture is to find alternative sources of capital to bank loans.
4) FP seeks to get nature to do as much of the work as possible. Traditional financial approaches do not encompass this, in fact they try to get fossil fuels to do as much of the work as possible.
5) FP puts a value on waste and pollution. Traditional finance sees the cost of getting rid of them. That gasoline was early on conceived as a fuel in automobiles was something Rockefeller was interested in as gasoline was a messy by-product of his cooking and lighting oil business.
6) FP is more about asset based investment, valuing labour and nature whereas most traditional accounting models treat these as commodities
7) FP looks at an ecology of functions. This would be more like looking at how a supply chain worked rather than focussing on a specific business.
8) Financial permaculture (permanent culture) seeks to create infrastructure that will produce a standard of living over time with minimum impact on nature. Again similar to business modelling but within another context.

Are we nearing the end of the Oil Age? In your lifetime?

Posted by steve on June 10, 2010

The moment we started tapping the vast reservoirs of oil that the Earth is endowed with, we started coming closer to the end of the oil age. I am sure the question was raised: how many generations away would the end be?

We who are alive today in the early 2000s can also ask ourselves “how many more generations can enjoy the benefits of oil?”

Will our children or our grandchildren witness scarcity of oil and the inevitable spiralling prices that come from demand exceeding supply? When the oil age started, how long did they think it could last?

The answers to these questions are a lot simpler than one could imagine if you take a wide view. Way back in the 1950s, scientists working for Shell published academic papers on world fossil fuel use, time frames and consequences. In fact, one of their predictions – that US production would peak in 1970 – came true that exact year.

So the end has been in sight since the 50’s. In fact, oil discoveries peaked in 1963. Since them less and less oil has been discovered. So much analysis says the end of the oil age, the end of business plans relying on cheap, abundant supplies of this fossil fuel is about…… this generation…. YOUR lifetime.

Why are we carrying on as if our modus operandi can be applied indefinately? Maybe planning for an equitable, eco-system preserving end would be more sensible?

I’d like to hear you views. If you are unsure of how or if the whole oil story is unravelling before our eyes do take a look at a brief history of the oil age, my article published on SOCYBERTY

-renewable resources

Work isn’t working

Posted by steve on April 23, 2010

Sometimes, when circumstances change, the situation calls for you to question the unquestionable. We are over six billion on the planet, one billion are starving and oil production has peaked. The financial system looks to be on the verge of collapse without increasing fossil fuel to keep it growing.

We need to create a positive vision for the future. And we need to take a hard look at that which has worked well for us up to now, but might be our undoing if we carry on too long.
We don’t question – or we rarely question – our attitude to work. Work is something we SHOULD do, it creates a public good and it is even in our religious beliefs that work is good for us. Well, we have come to the point where it needs to be re-evaluated. Let us face it: we, all of us, need to be contributing to a move to a sustainable future. And we need to stop contributing to a counter-sustainable future. However, we have to pay the rent. For the majority of us then, because we are told what to do by our employers (or customers)  – and because following instructions and wishes is often counter-sustainable – we get put between a rock and a hard place. Continue to cement counter-sustainability into the community or try to work for sustainable development and not get paid?
I intend to set out on a mission to find a vision of WORK 2.0 and to put it on this blog. It will be a vision of what work needs to be if we are to hand over a more sustainable future to coming generations. I will also explore what is wrong with WORK 1.O, just in case any of you are feeling a little too smug that business as usual is worth clinging to.
The first in the series is already published. You are welcome to contact me with your ideas, and please vote on the poll on the right hand side of this blog!

Work 2.0 Meeting the needs of the sustainable future

Posted by steve on April 19, 2010

Working together, groups of people can present a formidable force – so you had better be clear that you are headed in the right direction before you set off. As a manager organizing work you need to make strategic decisions about the capabilities of the organization. One of them is the level of resilience against external challenges verses operational efficiency. All networks, be they of living organs and cells, of living things, computers or other machines, can be described in terms of how resilient they are, and how effective they are. These two qualities are opposites of extremes by their nature.

Simply put, resilience describes an organization’s rebound capability, that is to say to what extent and with how much effort an organization can “bounce back” after a “knock” from the external environment. The better the ability to absorb various “knocks” the better the organization gets back to its intended state.

Plants show an amazing rebound capability. You can neglect to water them for a while, cut leaves off, etc and they are still capable of carrying on living. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »