Friday, 19 October 2018

Miki Kashtan: "Financial Co-Responsibility"

In this second part of her blog series, Miki Kashtan continues to explore how we can share resources in ways that encourage connection and are based on needs.  She describes practical ways to implement "financial co-responsibility". 
In the last few years, I’ve been experimenting with one particular process that approximates the gift economy on a small scale: an alternative to how money usually functions now in workshops or other public events. Here’s what I said about this process in a recent blog post:

“Financial Co-responsibility” [was] created by Dominic Barter as part of his pioneering efforts to support system building within communities…I consider [it] a quantum leap in creating a collective capacity for challenging the hidden assumptions that surround money and resources more generally and approximating ever better the matching of resources to needs. This process involves two interconnected circle dynamics, one in which resources are pooled and another in which they are distributed.

What we are familiar with is “charging” money for workshops or other public events, which is then distributed among the event producers and those who train or facilitate based on the familiar logic of exchange: a % of gross or net income; a fixed rate per hour worked; or some permutation of the above.

Instead of charging, I invite people to give the lower of two amounts: what they can based on their resources, and what they are willing based on their connection with the sustainability needs of the event team. And those are estimated by each member of the team based, primarily, on the impact on their sustainability of having participated in the event.

Instead of distributing whatever money is generated within the logic of exchange, based either on “value” or “merit,” I have been experimenting, more and more, with the second dynamic in the Financial Co-Responsibility process, which Dominic calls the “Money Pile.”

I’ve found this part of the process quite demanding of courage, truth, and love, the trio that is the foundation of nonviolence as I understand it. It invites honesty, vulnerability, and care. I’ve seen astounding results happen which have taken whole groups outside the logic of exchange, if only briefly. Here’s the general explanation of how it works, taken from the same blog post

The basic format of the money pile is that all those who are requesting to receive money collected at an event gather together and dynamically decide how to divide the money. Initially, the entire amount is in the center. Then individuals either “push” money towards someone else or “pull” money towards themselves, either from the pile at the center (which is what gives this form its name), or from what is already in front of someone. The money pile ends when no new movements are made…

… each person pulling or pushing provides the reasons for their choice, for everyone towitness. Each naming of reasons influences everyone. Mutual influencing, one of the core aspects of community and of interdependence, becomes an explicitly integral part of the process.

My colleagues and I continue to experiment with asking for and distributing money in this way, learning from our experiences and from conversations with Dominic and others about their experience and ours, putting this learning into practice, and iteratively integrating this process – developed in particular contexts in Brazil over the last 15 years - with the contexts in which we use it, while acknowledging and seeking to nurture the context from which it came. One thing that has come from these conversations is an understanding of the importance of including, when we use this process, a flow of resources back to the place where the work originated. I intend to make this part of our future experiments, and encourage others who try it to do so as well.

Go here for Part 1 and the other blogs from The Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2018. 

Please leave your comments below, and please share this with your networks.  Thanks.  

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