Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: OutofTransition ()
Date: July 10, 2010 07:15AM

This is all very interesting, but I am concerned about this business of Transition communities issuing their own currency. According to at least one person I talked to, who hadn't heard of Transition, but had heard about this trend of communities issuing their own money, how this works is that for each dollar (or equivalent national currency) you give them, you get five dollars of their money back. So apparently it isn't like you sell a bushel of zucchini and receive Transition money back, which you then circulate among other Transition members. No, apparently real money is involved in this swap.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have been burned before by money deals gone bad, and this one smells to high heaven to me. I wondered, in my brief time with the group, why the subject of dues never came up, when it has in almost every other organization I have been a part of. Now I think I know why. Your dues are the money you exchange for their money.

I can't ask the local group these questions because as far as they are concerned I have just gone away and that's that. But I would like to know: Where does the real money go? Who gets it? Where is it kept? Does it collect interest? If you decide to opt out of the Transition movement, do you get the money you put in back, with or without interest? And if not, why not? How much money is involved to start up? (I assume that you have to shell out more than a dollar to participate). What is the tax status of Transition Initiative? Is it a 501(3)(c) or other recognized charitable organization? And is issuing this kind of money even legal? Or is it treated like "stock"? If so, are prospective investors warned (as they are with 401(k) and other speculative investments) that this money is not covered under federal deposit insurance regulations (or the equivalent in other countries) and that they may lose some or part of their investment?

If I ever had any misgivings about getting out, this latest development (issuing local money) only confirms that I made the correct decision. I would not be surprised to hear about Transition being involved in a financial scandal somewhere down the line. There just seems to be too many unknowns, not much accountability, and when money is involved under those conditions, look out.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Maple ()
Date: July 10, 2010 10:27AM

Out of Transition, if you want to find out more about this, google, BerkShares. Here's a link to something I found:


Here's my understanding of the way it works: You spend 95 cents and get $1.00 in return. You can then spend that $1.00 at any local business. I don't see the downside of this, but then I dont have an indepth understanding of money systems. I don't think there's any way that this could be a pyramid scheme, for instance. It seems like the merchant would be losing out, since they are probably only getting 95 cents. But it seems to me like buying a coupon book and getting more in goods and services than you spent. The key is that you have to use the coupons for at least what you spent.

In my limited understanding, it seems to offer two benefits:

1. You will spend your money at local businesses, not big box stores and chains.

2. If the national currency (dollar in the U.S.) suddenly becomes subject to hyperinflation, a local money system will be in place and this could help the community and its members to survive. Of course, the local money system, if closely tied to the national one, would also suffer under hyperinflation.

I'm sure that there are ways to misuse such a system, but on the surface it seems ok. Perhaps someone with more understanding of finance would know more.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: OutofTransition ()
Date: July 10, 2010 09:04PM

Well, if it is like a coupon book then that is not so bad. But in that case, why not say, "coupons" instead of money?

In all the discussions I have ever heard on the subject, it is "currency" that is talked about, not "coupons." Now I don't know about anyone else, but to me, coupons and currency are two different things.

I am not saying this is a pyramid scheme. Far from it. But I think it is very interesting that I have never once heard of anyone misusing or embezzling money from "Superbook coupons" (although it may have happened, when it comes to money people are capable of doing some very strange things); but I have heard a lot about the shenanigans on Wall Street, Enron, etc. You are talking to someone who lost their entire pension in middle age and can no longer look forward to a comfortable and easy retirement due to a CEO's criminal behavior (for which he was never held accountable). That the company that I work for even survived (although under a different name) is a miracle.

So I have learned the hard way about finances. I am no Wall Street wizard, but I have learned to ask questions, and I have learned what questions to ask. And I suggest that anyone who does not know about finances get educated in a hurry. No, I could not have prevented my CEO's criminal behavior, but had I known what I know now, I could have taken steps to minimize the potential damage. Instead, I and the other employees/stockholders trusted the very people we should not have trusted when they said things were all right and to increase our investment in company stock. When it comes to my hard-earned money, I think I have the right to be jittery about things I don't know much about.

Another question, I keep hearing about "local businesses" being involved. Now I know some small business owners in my community and I highly doubt that if I came to them with a proposal that they accept my group's money in lieu of national money, that they would give me much of a hearing. Small business owners don't have much of a profit margin and they can't afford to get involved in risky schemes. So one of the questions I would be asking if I were say, the owner of an independent hardware store that is already facing stiff competition from chains and big box stores, is what happens if your currency goes bad? And how do I use your currency to pay my bills--gas, electric, loans, etc.? Frankly, I can't imagine too many merchants that aren't affiliated with Transition or other such groups saying yes to such an idea.

All I am saying is that before anyone puts any money down on these things, they'd better know what they are doing and what the risks are. It scares me to hear people admit that they don't know much about finances, yet still think these sorts of things are ok. Con artists LOVE people like that!!!

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: OutofTransition ()
Date: July 10, 2010 09:33PM

Also, I checked your link, and one of the things I noticed right away is when it mentioned local script being issued during the Depression, it was always in the context of "local bank," "local merchant", "local government" being the ones who issued the script. There is a world of difference between script issued by Smalltown Bank and script that is issued by a group that has just formed out of seemingly nowhere. Smalltown Bank has been around, it is known, it has a reputation, people are going to trust it. If you say Transition Initiative, how many people know who or what it is?

All of the places mentioned above have backing and authority If my local coffee shop issues tokens or other incentives to come in and buy their coffee, I know that they stand behind their offer. Ditto with the hardware store. But Unknown Group of Unknown Origin, who the hell are they? How do I know that they stand behind their money? How do I know that they won't vanish overnight or dissolve? I don't!

It does sound like a good idea on paper and I am sure it is being done with the best of intentions. However, I see a big drawback. At some point, money has to leave the community. Suppliers must be paid. If I am the owner of a hardware store, I have to pay for the things I order, and my suppliers are probably going to insist on being paid in recognized national currency. If all or most of what I have coming in is in local bucks, I am in big trouble. The first inkling we had when my company folded was that our suppliers refused to do business with us because our checks started bouncing. The banks were telling them that what was printed on the checks had no value, that there was nothing in the account to back them up. So that was what led to the company's demise and the exposure of the CEO's embezzlement.

I do not care if it is dollars, Euros, or Berkshire Shares, you have to have something to back it up. Money is basically an agreement among all parties that this piece of paper or metal has universal exchange value. When one party defaults on the deal, it becomes essentially worthless. And I can tell you from sad and painful personal experience that I am far less worried about our national currency going under than I am "local" currency.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 11, 2010 03:33AM

I joined a local exchange scheme some years ago as it seemed an interesting idea but although it was in a reasonably wealthy area with a lot of local support it was severely limited for the reasons that you mention above.

There was no buying of LETS units with more recognised currency (£ or $) which strikes me as a suspicious method of fund-raising, members would trade an hour of a skill that they had for an agreed number of LETS units which could then be spent elsewhere.

Primarily it was intended to keep value in the local community as an antidote to the big corporate trading chains that were making inroads into the local high street and pricing out the local shops. Its a slightly more sophisticated form of barter.


Most LETS schemes that started up in the UK in the late 80's early 90's have quietly foundered, mainly because we are all locked into an infrastructure that only recognises the national currency.
You could be as rich as Croesus in LETS but still unable to pay your utility bills. Once you start selling LETS units at a dollar price you are back into the profiteering system (regular banking but without regular money) that these units were supposed to provide an alternative to.

I still have some unspent LETS units somewhere, I doubt I'd find anyone to spend them with.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Maple ()
Date: August 01, 2010 07:41AM

Today I was at the Farmer's Market and one of the growers that participates in the Transition Towns events had a table. On it was a small stuffed figure and when I asked about it the grower said it was a garden gnome. (I figured it was, but wanted to make sure). I'm very grateful for this thread so that I know what to look for. I am not in favor of supporting cult-related ventures. It was clear to me that this was a Steiner-related venture, so I just moved on to the next table. I'd rather support those who are growing for the sake of growing and selling vegetables, not those who are part of a cult.

In thinking it over, I have no problems with the idea of a local currency, especially one as a back up system for trade if the national currency collapses. I do however, have problems with an organization that is closely intertwined with a cultic group promoting a local currency. It's not too hard to predict that the group that has put the local system in place will likely have some control over the local economy in a crash. All of the local transition town events now seem to be about creating a local currency.

The local currency idea doesn't make me nervous. A cultic group backing it does.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 01, 2010 08:32AM

'The local currency idea doesn't make me nervous. A cultic group backing it does.'

Me too. I still like the idea but one has to bear in mind that human nature being what it is there will always be those looking to profiteer from any good idea. George Orwell in his novel 'Animal Farm' did a good job of showing that.

I came across this interesting and amusing article from Richard Heinberg:


that takes a sane but lighthearted look at the subject. He seems to be promoting local sustainability but without directly connecting to Transition Towns. I am not well-read on peak oil and can't remember if he is anthro/Steiner connected, will have to reread the earlier thread posts.

One of the glaring problems that I found with the local currency system was that there was a plethora of reiki practitioners, massage therapists and other pleasantly indulgent but unnecessary services belonging to it but no plumbers, builders or proper tradesmen--who clearly were not keen to trade their hard graft for less than hard cash.

That did underline for me that this was very much a middle class distraction and not a real alternative to a collapsing financial system.
When the plumbers etc begin to join we might make some progress as I can survive without a reiki session but don't fancy drowning in overflowing sewage.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2010 08:38AM by Stoic.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 01, 2010 08:52AM

Some background on Heinberg, courtesy of Shakti, for full disclosure:


He seems to be a confirmed doomer and have some strange beliefs and dodgy connections but the article I cited is free of direct reference to those dodgy ideas he holds.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Maple ()
Date: August 01, 2010 09:56AM

I came across this interesting and amusing article from Richard Heinberg:


that takes a sane but lighthearted look at the subject. He seems to be promoting local sustainability but without directly connecting to Transition Towns. I am not well-read on peak oil and can't remember if he is anthro/Steiner connected, will have to reread the earlier thread posts.
The Postcarbon Institute does have a link to the Transition Network on their website.


It may be that the Transition Towns (Network) are the anthro/Steiner folks way of capitalizing on peak oil.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 28, 2010 07:27AM

In this URL some information and links are given to underlie that Permaculture is not the same thing as Bidoynamics and that if anyone wishes to read about Permaculture in and of itself they must take care to run computer searches in such a way as to exclude biodynamic, steiner and anthroposophy.

It has grown so very commonplace for permaculture to be discussed alongside biodynamics that a person brand new to gardening could easily make an assuption that the two are the same, when the matter is biodynamics originated from Rudolf Steiners peculiar gnostic religious belief system, from a series of lectures he gave in Germany/Austria in the early 20th century, while permaculture orginated with two Australian agriculturalists in the 1970s, both of whom used science, an approach Steiner would have considered materialist, Ahirimanic from the Anthroposophical stand point 'unscientific'.



11 December 2008 3:16PM

I have to agree with darkgirls, after spending two years on Bio-Dynamic agriculture training I got to see the dark side of the Steiner movement and how obsessed they are with training children to see the steiner point of view
at all costs. I have seen many examples of how the community behaves having stayed and worked at some of the top Steiner schools in the UK including the Village at Botton. I would not send any child to a Steiner school.

joeybell - thanks for your comment; the "dark side of steiner schools2 is so appropriate; and there is a great deal of effort to hide it.

Bio dynamic farming and camphill also hide their anthroposophical side too. Camphill are renound among NGO's and charities as being one of the most efficient fundraisers around- their drives at christmas to raise money are phenomenal. Do they EVER mention anthroposophy intheir leaflets with people with lkearning difficulties feeding lambs and making Steiner dolls? NO. Do they even mention anything spiritual, or about reincarnation- of course not.
The link I gave at the beginning- to, has a breakdown of anthroposophical charities and how wealthy they are. It's very surprising, when the schools make parents spend an inordinate ammount of time fundraising.

This is a good article about biodynamic wine growers- who are big business now. Note the paragraphs which in essence say there's no need to explain the full background- it would put people off.



The state is already funding Hereford sSeiner school- it got state funding this last sept as an academy. There's an article here in the guardian about it


The government report comissioned into looking at steiner education- called the Woods Report, seems to be overly biased towards anthroposophy and spiritual areas of education. It appears to have been written by a husband and wife team ( and one other) who agree with anthroposophical ideas, tho I may of course be wrong. Bearing this in mind, it is very easy to avoid much of what has been talked about here- and perpetuate the promotion of a creative child lead "freer" education, when so many here have said it is the opposite.
Anthroposophists are at great pains to say it isn't a religion- it is a science- a "spirit
ual science" because they believe spirit worlds, angels, nature spirits, astral and cosmic forces are REAL- therefore- SCIENTIFIC........ "

To repeat, one reason to be up front about Biodynamics is that it originates from one mans highly ideosyncratic and gnostic cosmology, one which many disagree with and which cannot be disproved using the null hypothesis, meaning whatever Steiner said, his stuff is unscientific. Real, mainsream, materialistic, Ahirmanic science uses the null hypothesis.

Two, biodynamic methos of gardening some preparations (such as the cow horn manure preparations BD 500 and BD501). Thus, persons who live a non harm or vegan life pattern could have grave moral objections and not want to participate if they were told, up front and in full what biodynamics entails.

Again, if one wants to read about permaculture via Google searches and get a clear and un muddled understanding of its principles, run the search to exclude biodynamics, steiner and anthroposophy.

Mollison never claimed to have a scheme of cosmological salvation or to be an infalliable authority. Thus unlike Steiner, he is a teacher, and not in anyway a guru or magus.

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