Feasta newsletter January 22 2014

Dear Feasta Members and Newslist Subscribers

A belated Happy New Year to you all! We hope you enjoy the latest Feasta newsletter, below, which has news of a number of upcoming events, our fundraising efforts, news of 3 new members and a summary of the most recent activity on our well-stocked website.

Table of Contents

  1. Invitation to Feasta Members’ Weekend, February 22nd and 23rd, 2014, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary
  2. Fundraising and Charity Governance in Difficult Times
  3. Greetings from new Feasta members in Romania and the Netherlands!
    1. Adela and Dan Fofiu-Sanpetreanu: Our hope for a community across Europe
    2. Erik Van Oosten – recent Feasta intern from the Netherlands

  4. Upcoming Feasta and Feasta-associated Events
    1. Basic Income: a presentation followed by discussion
    2. Permaculture One Day Taster Course
    3. Two lectures and a day-long seminar in Slovakia and the Czech Republic
    4. The Human Systems Ecology of Systemic Collapse; Tools for an Age of Risk & Transformation
  5. Non-Feasta Event of Interest: Public Banking Seminar
  6. Job Opportunity
  7. What’s New on the Website
    1. Press Releases/Letters to the Editor
    2. Commentary
    3. Submissions
    4. Articles and Discussion Papers
    5. Tribute to Margrit Kennedy


Invitation to Feasta Members’ Weekend, February 22nd and 23rd, 2014, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

Connected peopleHaving a widely-dispersed membership in Feasta we embrace all forms of communication, from Skype meetings to the website to Facebook, but sometimes nothing beats face-to-face contact for networking and ideas-sharing. With this in mind we’re planning the Members’ Weekend for February 22nd and 23rd and hope to see you here!

Starting on the Saturday morning with breakfast and finishing on the Sunday around 4pm, the weekend will provide lots of opportunity to meet other members and to share your own work and thinking. If you have a particular topic you would like to see in the programme please let us know in advance if possible. Cloughjordan members will offer a tour and lead a discussion on the eco-village as it provides a lot of opportunity to discuss many issues close to Feasta’s heart. One outcome we would really like to see from the weekend is the inspiration to write papers, animate discussions and, especially, the drive to organize a range of Feasta events throughout the coming year.

Accommodation will be in Django’s Hostel in the Eco-village and will be available Friday and Saturday nights. We will work out costs nearer the time but it will be kept to a minimum. Last time it was under €100 for 2 nights’ accommodation and all meals. If you come for a shorter time or don’t require accommodation (or are willing to share a dorm-room in the hostel) it will obviously be cheaper. We do, however, need a critical mass of people staying at the hostel in order to book it out.

Transport isn’t included in the weekend but Cloughjordan can be reached by train from Dublin or Limerick. (Book online at least 3 days in advance for the best value in tickets). If driving we’d encourage you to to car share.

Email info@feasta.org with any queries or to book a place. Please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to attend, and by Feb 10th at the latest.


Fundraising and Charity Governance in Difficult Times

ICTR logoAs we’ve outlined in previous newsletters we have been working hard on fundraising as we have a projected shortfall of about €20,000 for this coming year. Some of you have responded with very generous donations, large and small. For these we are extremely grateful. Progress toward our goal is still slow and without a further sizable increase in income we will cease to be able to maintain our current structures and staffing from August of this year. Convinced as we are of the importance of our work we continue with our efforts in good spirits. We are in the process of making a crowd-funding video for the indiegogo.com site which we hope to launch next month. Once we do this we’ll be asking you, our members and supporters, to help spread the campaign far and wide!

In difficult times fundraising has been made even more difficult as recent revelations around the bad practices of one particular charity have caused a drop in donations to charities across the board. Feasta has signed up to the new, nationally recognised, ICTR Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising and displays details of this signup on our website (https://www.feasta.org/about/statement-of-guiding-principles-of-fundraising/).


Greetings from new Feasta members in Romania and the Netherlands!

i. Adela and Dan Fofiu-Sanpetreanu: Our hope for a community across Europe

Casa Permanente logoIn the age of individualism, competition and personal merit, we have grown into nourishing challenging needs, such as community, togetherness, empathy and self-determination.

We are a couple from Cluj, Romania. This is in the province of Transylvania, a historical multicultural region that, at times, still seems in our eyes to be a haven where peace on earth still exists.

By mid-September last year, we embarked on a 9 weeks journey, traveling across Europe by train, to reach Ireland. By that time, we left in Cluj our recently closed business – an urban bed & breakfast – to function as the Permanent Culture Club. We define this club as our house, our private space, open to radical creativity based on downshifting, community spirit and permaculture. And so began our journey across space and time towards a strong paradigm shift.

We have been most fortunate to spend a few consistent and significant days in Cloughjordan. Although brand new on these premises, we have then experienced a strong feeling of belonging to a community. A feeling that we have intensely missed, year after year, back home in Romania. There are countless reasons for social atomization and community dissolution in Romania – from the rampant urbanization and industrialization of the country during the communist golden era, to the competitive values of success, high social-economic status and profit during the period of what has been called, more or less inspired, the transition to the glorious capitalism after the 1989 breakdown.

The political, social and economical challenges that describe the Romanian context to its core are too complex to address in this short letter to you, friends, but what is important to mention about them is that they have become so overtly negative and destructive, so dangerous to our near future and so offending to our most common-sensical values, that anti-systemic activism was our first re-action. Two years of environmental activism – to defend a 1800 years old multicultural village 80 km away from our home from becoming the largest open cast cyanide mining project in Europe – have both hardened and softened us. They hardened us in our resilience and criticism towards the unreasonable and irrational run for profit. And they softened us in our apocalyptic fears and worries of a disaster threatening to happen during our lifetime. We have begun to see the light, that small chance for our lives to look differently. We have discovered downshifting, we have started to appreci
ate what we had to a new value, we have started to read and learn, to educate ourselves about degrowth, resilience, sustainable economics, community building.

This is how, step by step, we have migrated from a world of reactionary activism to a world of creative reconstruction of the world, in small pieces, with dear new friends and kind people that prefer a home made jam to a cheap jar that counts thousands of food miles.

Today, we are happy to belong to a de-territorialized network of downshifters, permaculturists, creators of resilient communities, forgers of some sort of utopia that needs the system to crash and burn before it becomes better, more horizontal, less hierarchical, more human, less institutional.

We might not have a strong, self-sustainable community in our immediate space, but we do have a network of bottom-up initiatives that transcends space and geography, time and culture, and moves into a new dimension of belonging and re-designing the world.

Our Permanent Culture Club might be small, but it is a powerful pebble in the pond of our utopia. Our eu-topia – that good space. Our doors are wholeheartedly open to you, whenever you plan to reach Eastern Europe.

Find us at: permanentacasa.wordpress.com, permanentacasa on Facebook and permanentacasa@gmail.com

ii. Erik Van Oosten – recent Feasta intern from the Netherlands

photo of ErikDuring my stay as an intern at Feasta I had to change my viewpoint on a lot of topics drastically because of the remarkable and fascinating Feasta publications: Finding out how money is created did change my view on banking, and so did the impossibility of sustainable growth. Peak oil? I never realized its far reaching effects on a complex society. Richard Douthwaite’s books were a joy to read and provided a deeper understanding of money and the need for community involvement. David Korowicz’s publications made me realize the inevitability of collapse if no drastic measures are applied in the near future. The sheer importance of these lessons made me wonder why I never encountered any Feasta work (my university library for example, has no publications, yet) but then it hit me: Feasta is,
and has been, way ahead of its time. Richard talked about the financial crisis in the end of the nineties, Fleeing Vesuvius deals with the consequences of collapse. Feasta looks at the bigger picture and the longer timespan which explains the visionary content. It doesn’t fit in one box or covers “hot” media topics.

After reading all this amazing work by these amazing people I feel proud to be a member of the future-oriented and multi-faceted Feasta!


Upcoming Feasta and Feasta-associated Events

i. Basic Income: a presentation followed by discussion, by Basic Income Ireland, this Thursday Jan 23rd, 7.30pm

Basic Income Ireland logoVenue: Pembroke Hotel, Patrick St, Kilkenny.

BII’s last public presentation and discussion was in Nov 2013 at Celbridge, Co Kildare and was lively and informative. If you live in the Kilkenny area, please come along, give your views and learn more about this increasingly hot topic. Read more on the Basic Income Ireland website, www.basicincomeireland.com, where you can also download a leaflet about basic income. Follow BII on Facebook and Twitter too.

ii. Permaculture One Day Taster Course, this coming Saturday, Jan 25th

Pear treeVenue: The Central Hotel Dublin

A one day introductory workshop hosted by Bruce Darrell of Feasta and Davie Philip of Cultivate, both based at Cloughjordan Ecovillage. Learn how we can live more sustainably, grow food intensively and strengthen the resilience of our communities using Permaculture Design.

For more details: http://cultivate.ie/permaculture/1223-permaculture-taster-3

iii. Two lectures and a day-long seminar in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, by David Korowicz

Complexity, Systemic Risk, and the Perils of Risk Management, Mon 27th, January 3-5pm

Venue: The Faculty for Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia

Complexity, Systemic Risk, and the Perils of Risk Management, Tues 28th January, 10-12am (with The Slovak Association of the Club of Rome and The Society for Sustainable Living.)

Venue: The Slovak Academy of Sciences, Stefanikova str. 3, Bratislava, Slovakia

A day-long seminar, Wed 29th January, 10.30-4.30.

Venue: Vzdělávací centrum Otevřená zahrada – konferenční sál, Údolní 33, Brno, Czech Republic.

This seminar will focus on tying issues (financial, energy, food, human ecology, systems stress, collapse) together with a view to helping us be positive but realistic about our emerging future. Details here: (in Czech; the seminar is in English with live translation) http://www.sedmagenerace.cz/text/detail/seminar-s-davidem-korowiczem

Contact openspace@thinktank.cz with any queries.

iv. The Human Systems Ecology of Systemic Collapse; Tools for an Age of Risk & Transformation. A one-day course by David Korowicz, Friday Feb 21st, 9.30-5.30

Venue: The Village, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

(The course will dovetail, in terms of timing and location, with the Feasta Members’ Weekend.)

Crack in cementThe globalised economy has entered a period of increasing systemic risk and forward looking uncertainty. Financial (credit expansion and deflation) and environmental system constraints (peak oil, food, climate impacts) are being manifested through a complex high-speed interdependent system upon whose stability society’s most basic welfare depends. Drawing on ideas from ecology and complex networks we will look at global systems evolution, stability, instability and collapse. Participants will gain experience in applying systems theory to the most significant issues of our time in an integrated and actionable manner. Risk and risk management of sustained system stress, catastrophic shocks, and irreversible processes is discussed. We ask if attempts to manage such large-scale risk is a
mirage- that we are effectively locked into processes that are increasing risk and vulnerability, and where efforts to make major structural changes risk initiating the very types of irreversible crises we are attempting to avoid.

Between lectures participants will apply what they have learned to work together on short problem analysis sessions that explore pertinent issues (in monetary theory, food shocks, critical infrastructure resilience, human behavior under stress) from a complex systems perspective.

The course is being given by David Korowicz who is an internationally regarded systems thinker whose work on the systemic implications of peak oil; global systemic shocks (financial system- supply-chain cross contagion; pandemics); complexity and collapse dynamics is highly regarded. He has worked with governments, critical institutions, and civil society on large-scale systemic risk and risk management. He consults through David Korowicz Human Systems Consulting, and has been on the Feasta Executive for many years.

Cost (which will include a basic lunch): Full Supporter €150/Feasta Member €50. Some concessions will be available. (Please contact info@feasta.org with any queries, for details of how to pay or to request a concession.)


Non-Feasta Event of Interest

Public Banking Seminar, Feb 27th, 2pm

Venue: The Green Isle Hotel, Dublin

Money in a sockThe Public Banking Forum of Ireland is hosting this seminar on public banking with guest speakers, Christopher Simpson of CIVITAS (a UK think-tank), and Dr Thomas Keidel of the German Sparkassen bank.

The purpose of the seminar is to share with interested people the true values of public banking. Germany, more than any other country in Europe, has lots of public banks, and as much as 64% of all banking there is of the public type, rather that private. Dr Keidel is very well placed and fully experienced to share vital knowledge with us. Ireland’s banking system is almost totally private. The PBFI believes that this must change. Apart from the fact that our Pillar Banks are no longer fit for purpose, our credit unions are scheduled to be halved in number, making them bigger and already less accessible to ordinary people. The PBFI is suggesting that there is another way forward, a way, through public banking, which can deliver enormous efficiencies to this economy and to the Irish people. Credit Unions could play a big role in this development of public banking.

Public banking is common across the world with about 40% of all banking in public hands. Countries like Ecuador, Brazil, India, China, Japan, Costa Rica, North Dakota, and indeed Germany, have all had great economic successes through public banking.

There are several models of public banking to study and observe. You are invited to share in the knowledge, and in the development of a comprehensive public banking service for Ireland.

The PBFI is made up of volunteers, and strictly so. In order to fund the event, they are asking for contributions of €20 from non members – group fees can be negotiated. Tickets will be issued as receipts for all payments.

RSVP by text to 087 2545548 or by email publicbankingineirinn@yahoo.ie


Job Opportunity

The Irish Environmental Network is seeking a full-time Communications and Development Officer.

Details at: http://ien.ie/files/2014/01/Communications-and-Development-Officer-Job-Advertisement-January-2014.pdf


What’s New on the Website

As usual there’s much new of interest on the Feasta site, in addition to many valuable archived materials, some of which we plan to feature in the coming months. In the next few days we’ll be publishing some reactions to the Tyndal climate change conference by a number of members who attended, along with the posters they submitted. (You can see videos of the talks from the conference at http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/radical-emission-reduction-conference-tyndall-centre-event-confronting-challenge-climate-change.)

i. Press Releases/Letters to the Editor

Way Wrong road markingFeasta’s publicity group issued a press release in October on the Irish budget for 2013, which we described as another lost opportunity. The debate surrounding the Irish budget was characterized by a false choice between ‘austerity’ or ‘growth’. We all know that in fact neither option is viable. Instead, what is needed is a radical re-structuring of our economy to ensure that we live within ecological limits in a just manner.

Another press release focused on the much-discussed exit of the financial troika from Ireland on December 16th, which we consider to be a piece of theatre obscuring our real challenges. Ireland’s sovereignty was not restored by the troika’s exit; rather, the country’s allegiance was simply transferred back to the international bond markets. We believe that the Irish economy’s profound vulnerability can only be addressed via a commons-based financial system and energy independence.

Several members of Feasta’s climate group were signatories to a letter to the Guardian on December 10 which called for legal action in response to coastal flooding such as occurred recently in parts of the UK. Feasta’s Sink or Sue and the recently formed Climate Litigation Network (climatelegal@hotmail.co.uk) are working together with the aim of helping vulnerable coastal communities in Western Europe to plan such actions.

ii. Commentary

Slot machineGraham Barnes critiques the media’s handling of the supposed ‘governance crisis’ faced by some credit unions in Ireland and the UK. He asks why bank management experience is suddenly being considered so vital to the credit union movement, at the exact time when many people with decades of management experience in the more mainstream banks have just had their ‘incompetence and carefree disconnectedness’ exposed.

iii. Submissions

FrackingBrian Davey is currently concentrating his efforts on the anti-fracking campaign. He writes that “the number and complexity of the issues, as well as the number of people involved (particularly whole communities ) is developing incredibly quickly and I happen to think that it is THE defining political – economic issue which will probably have to be fought for the next few years.” In November he made a submission to the Nottinghamshire County Council which provides a run-through of evidence from around the world to make the case against fracking. Obviously the information should be equally useful to anti-fracking campaigns elsewhere.

Yesterday Brian discovered that breweries in Germany and the US have taken sides against fracking because of clean water concerns. This raises important opportunities to win communities and businesses to the need for organising across water catchment areas – a step towards communities being concerned about their water systems and towards ecologically rational regionalisation based on water catchment areas/watersheds. More about this on the Feasta website soon.

iv. Articles and Discussion Papers

Wampum moneyIn “Designer Currencies and the Preferenced Domain”, Graham Barnes borrows from computer terminology in order to expand his case for the development of these specialised currencies. He writes that a designer currency can enhance local identity and spread awareness of local supply, but it can also go beyond that, helping to identify important gaps in local supply and forming an integral part of proactive local economic development.

Graham also contributed an article entitled “Over-Financialisation – the Casino Metaphor”. The metaphor may be a handy pejorative tag but can it give us any real insights? Graham answers this question by painting a vivid picture of the casino economy in all its absurdity.

FootbridgeIn his paper “Hope in the Face of Disaster – Creating a sustainable, viable, future path for civilisation” John Sharry explores the many crises that civilisation and humanity will face over the coming decades some of which are already starting to have an impact. The paper proposes a central cause to these crises and particularly explores the widespread psychological inertia in the face of these vast problems. Some potential constructive choices that individuals, communities and nations could yet make are outlined.

v. Tribute to Margrit Kennedy

Photo of Margrit KennedyFinally, we learned to our deep regret that Margrit Kennedy passed away on December 28th 2013. Margrit was a leading light in developing alternative approaches to money and currencies and an outspoken critic of the current global economic system. You can read a “>tribute to her on the Feasta site.

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.