Some new futures for money - imagined by artists, activists, localists + hackers
A couple of weeks ago we blogged about Positive Money - a organisation working to tranform and democratise the money and banking system so that it works for society and not against it.
Here follows two stories of brave creatives coming together to challenge conventional ideas of money and business, using unconventional methods to create a better alternative.
What if we could create art and use it as our own currency to pay for goods and services? This idea may seem utopian but artmoney is already a thing and it has been since 1997. The global, alternative currency made of original art was founded by the Danish artist Lars Kraemmer. Kraemmer pays his dentist, lawyer and accountant with his art and he used artmoney to pay off his student loans from attending art school in Vancouver.
Here's how it works:
Artists make their own money. Companies accept artmoney as payment. Collectors buy artmoney as inexpensive, original art. Welcome to a world of imagination and real human relations through creativity!
The basic idea of artmoney is, that artists produce a hand-made currency at a fixed value that can be spent at regular shops.
The concept of exchanging art for goods and services is as old as humankind and the value of art is recognized by all people. Artmoney simply introduces a system that unites format and value to make exchange easy, fun and beautiful.
Artmoney holds the format 12x18 cm and the value of Danish Kroner 200. This applies to all artists at all social and professional levels from all countries. When it comes to artmoney, all people are worth the same.
In the UK there are currently eleven artists producing artmoney and three places - a bar & kitchen in Bury St Edmunds, a pub in Birmingham and a entertainment/lifestyle brand based in Southhampton - accepting artmoney as full or partial payment. Learn more about how can join and why you should here. Rolf Bjerre, a local candidate in the recent municipal election in Denmark, used artmoney to fund his campaign. He explains how in the video below:
ROBIN HOOD 2.0
The Robin Hood Cooperative is an activist investment fund, a cooperative that bends the financialization of our economy for the benefit of those who are not in the financial elite. The group has recently embarked on the second part of this ongoing mission - titled Robin Hood 2.0.
The story so far:
The world's resources are very unethically distributed. 63 people own as much as the poorest 50%. Encouraged by deregulation banks have moved from serving society to serving mainly themselves. In their rush to profit from other people's debt, they went and crashed the economy. And tax-payers picked up the bill. Some people get depressed about this, others get angry. But Aksiel Virtanen has a different approach.
He is a Finnish economics professor who spent years looking at the graphs, immersed in the theories. He concluded that greed in an obsolete social construct and that art, games and general mischief is the best way to challenge it... and build something better. So he gathered a team of people - a philosopher, an artist, a hacker, a gamers designer - and together they set out to democratise the financial system. Their first tactic was: if you can't beat them, join them. Or at least find a way to use their tool to everyone's advantage. Inspired by rich people using shell companies to avoid paying tax, they decided to use a co-op to avoid the rule that poor people can't invest in hedge funds. The Robin Hood Co-op was born.
They began harvesting the knowledge of the best traders on the stock market. They made money and gave some of it back to their members and some of it to projects that strengthen the commons, such as a radio station opposing a gold mine in a Greek forest. The paradox is that the money may come from shares in that very company. That's when they started running into trouble. Akseli was fired from his job at university. Their own userbase also became suspicious. Some thought it was a scam, other that it was unethical. But some people say making enemies on both sides means you're doing something right. And Akseli thrives on this kind of controversy. He sees it as much as an art project as a tool for social change. A provocation designed to make us re-think our relationship with money. So he left Finland, moved to San Francisco with his family, took up surfing and started working on the next part of his cunning plan.
Using the novelty of the hedge fund as fuel they are now building Robin Hood 2.0. It is less of a provocative parasite and more of a genuine alternative to the current banking system. But the mischievous attitude remains. With the help of the blockchain, the distributed technology underlying bitcoin, it provides cheap, fun and flexible peer-peer financial tools to help people create and collaborate... without the banks. They are testing it with people who are already exploring new modes of working - from youtube stars and musicians via environmental campaigns to Occupy off-shoots to Greek solidarity groups. And collaborating with acclaimed artists, such as IC-98 and Goldin+Senneby to create even more subversive financial instruments and stunts to ignite the public conversation.
Their story will take us for a wild ride through the growing global movement challenging business as usual, as seen through the personal trials and triumphs of the team. Inspired by Akseli's mischievous attitude we will use the visual language and musical cues of classical capers to tell the story of our lovable rouge and his ragtag bunch of misfits. The film aims to demystify finance in order to empower. It only went so wrong because few understood what was going on. And to encourage people to be less fearful and more playful.
Watch a teaser for the film below and find out how to get involved here.