Rebuilding a Regenerative Economy & Society

It wasn’t until I moved to the Philippines over 6 years ago that I was hit in the face with the reality of “normal” living standards in the “developing world”… One big realisation for me was that growing up with a fridge in your house is not a “normal” thing… most people buy what they need from each day from the local market, and air-con is a rarity (practically non-existent except in big shopping centres). A fridge produces about 116kg of carbon dioxide per year. We in the developed world have been running those things for a fair while… and have created quite a climate crisis (just to give some perspective in terms of energy use)… Now imagine a scale of four times that (we make up less than 17% of the global population)- who previously had very low energy use, and on average still use only 20% or less of an average “Western” household, becoming energy users like “us”… conceptualise how BIG that is and you will get a Real perspective on what’s going on with energy use… Energy demands are skyrocketing…. as the “developing world” becomes more “developed” and adopts the consumer-western lifestyle.

In the west we have moved far away from low-power consumption living and developing countries are following that pattern generally. Even though we talk about the possibility of living in a less resource-consumptive way through building with more natural materials and using passive solar design to lessen the need for air-con, and of living near or buying our food from regenerative farmers and supporting CSA cooperatives (Community Supported Agriculture – which means local farmers benefit better financially than if they sell their produce to big chains) and reducing food miles…. We are even attempting to design communities where food-growing is part of the system/wholistic plan. The question is, Can this model of sustainable resource use and community/ environmental benefit ” take off” /be maintained where it already exists or partially still exists and could it “catch on” in developing countries “before it’s too late”…….. ? In terms of the environmental effects of current energy-demanding lifestyles worldwide, increased food miles and need to create artificial environments to store food and ourselves in? And, stave-off the movement towards urbanisation while preventing the loss of traditional skills such as food-growing.

And in terms of bamboo becoming a sustainable mass-produced material for the masses, I still wonder whether people in developing countries will be able to afford to use it “in time” to ward off an environmental crisis such as we are already up against (though haven’t seen the full effects yet (rising sea levels, more extreme weather)… as, it is my observation that wages in developing countries are so low that brick and tile will remain more attractive due to cost and I am skeptical as to whether business interests in the bamboo industry would create initiatives to subsidise the cost of fabricated bamboo building products at a price in-line with what people in developing countries can afford (I’m imagining again 70% of the world population fall into this ‘catagory’ of wage-earner…

Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor Imagery

WHO decides the world currency conversion rates? Or What? Who determined “developing” countries to be “poor” – even on account of the incredible wealth and resources which WERE and still ARE being stripped from them? It’s one-way giving and endless taking model put in place by the now-privileged countries who’s currency value is set higher than everyone else’s – ensuring that world domination continues further than you ever probably thought about or considered…

Perhaps it’s quite convenient Not to think about it.

Who or What decides what one currency is valued at compared with another?

“I care not who governs a country as long as I control its currency” …Ring any bells?

I wonder if ol’ mate Rothschild actually “made up” the whole “modern monetary system” and could see where all this would go… : To “derivatives” (made-up money made from interest paid on money that doesn’t actually exist) to “options” trading: Betting on trends – on funds/debt going up, down or into default even… And now to crypto: Still, people trying to make a buck without having to do any real work … keeping wealth in the hands of the “savvy”.

WHY are entire populations DEPENDENT on this “agreed” (determined by Who?) outside source of MONEY/Wealth…?? One has to wonder: What and Who gives “Them” the right to say what a particular population’s time and labour is worth… ? And as to what monetary exchange/value people will be given for their national currency.?….

Case in point: When you change $100 in Australian currency, you have equal to $1000 (ten times as much) in local Indonesian currency value… When you drink a “tall” beer while on holiday here in Bali ($4 for an Aussie), you’re drinking the dinner budget for an entire family. One beer can buy 1kg rice, half kilo chicken and at least 3 veg (which “back home” would cost around $30-40 if I’m not wrong. Comparatively, a “local” salary is around $10-15 a day (in Australian Currency as opposed to maybe $100/150 a day… as is the norm in Australia). No wonder Aussies love bali!!! What if we started asking a fair price for a beer here?

Why is it that “our” currency is worth ten times more?

When I was younger, I queried my Dad as to why other countries’ money seemed worth a lot less than ours and he said “its because they printed too much money ‘before’.” I wonder if he was correct – as America and Australia are printing money like its going out of style (since 2018) and yet their currencies haven’t devalued against other countries which “haven’t “ (as far as I’m aware)…??? It seems very …unfair. Why is that?

Maybe we never really think about our unfair privilege … or for how long a local person would have to save for – to have even a few days’ ‘holiday’ in a western country… (practically impossible). In Bali there is a term “kembali” used to denote the reciprocative action of giving… “Makasi kembali” means: Thanks coming back again, or “You’re welcome…” Would we in our own culture accept that giving someone $10 for $100 of work is acceptable? Oh, we can argue that it IS $100 VALUE in the local culture -however… we only had to do $10 work to earn that $100… So, it would it take more than 10-25 years, or possibly more than a lifetime, for someone in a “developing country” to save up for a mildly equivalent holiday in a “developed country”.

Further case in point: If I make a washing machine and you make something of similar value, we could trade fairly… However, with current exchange rates we are trading washing machines for matchbox toys… because of the unfair “value” currencies are set at.

Why is it that people have to sell their goods SO CHEAP to westerners? Why are antique shops here in bali filled with the stones used by farmers in remote islands to mark their farming areas and other artifacts of cultural heritage? Why can’t a person from “the tribes” walk into a bank and get a loan to start a business? Why must they live in a cement and tile house to be eligible to borrow money? There is huge disadvantage at the outset if you are born in a Post-Colonised/Unindustrialised country that we in the West are totally ignorant of.

Meanwhile, in our own countries… All the industries we’ve ‘lost’ due to trying to save a few bucks… Taking away the jobs which produce income and enable us to buy locally-made products… Leading us in a downward spiral… (In Australia, making us a stupid country that can’t even make a dress or a motorbike part… let alone a suitcase or a piece of furniture). We have lost the art of craftsmanship… the art of loving and being “lost” in one’s work (to some degree) and much more so for the younger generations. It’s Great seeing this current wave of Instagram videos demanding people pay the real work-product value to the human being creating these niche/hand-made products…but what about also fairly paying those people working in offshore factories making that product… are they DIFFERENT to “us”?

Exchange and trade presently is not reciprocal exchange at all… We are effectively living in a distortion which disproportionally advantages the “rich”… (and yes, if you grew up with a fridge in your house – YOU ARE one of the RICH people of this world). Its been going on for decades… and we are blind to our “unfair” privilege.

How can we bring about a new paradigm for the creation of currency (whether its a crypto or real coin) which enables a productive society and equitable wealth distribution…? I mean, money is (or should be) kinda like the oil or lube within the machine; enabling the parts to work/function and interact effectively. This [should be] the goal and reflection of the FUNCTION of money… as a vehicle for Economy – not to create scarcity or unfair advantage (as has occurred and is still perpetuating since the world currency system effectively cancelled localised former-trade and set international exchange rates)… After all, you can’t eat money right….? And graves dont have pockets.

All these “things” that we buy which have become part of our ‘lifestyle’. .. made more ‘cheaply’ by someone somewhere unknown to us with probably not-great working conditions… on land stolen by Colonists and reappropriated to a manufactured upper-class, (like in India for example where the British government assigned huge and areas to certain families effectively creating feudal land ownership…. And a huge wealth divide [copy and paste to the rest of the world]). I mean most, if not all of the countries which are now “Poor”/ “third-world” / “Developing” were NOT at all poor – PRIOR to Colonialism.

Prior to English invasion, India was a rich and highly productive country – only since Colonial take-over has such massive inequality and extreme poverty arisen, (and it’s core industries of wealth-production destroyed by the British… ) Similarly, with other places such as here in the “Spice Islands” of Indonesia (where the Colonials grabbed and stole as much treasures and resources as they possibly could)- and as is still ongoing in African countries where the natural resources are appropriated/owned/controlled by former Colonial powers; France especially… (blame the French).

Control of said-country – already achieved through Colonialism; (even though many countries claim to be “independent”) their resources are now conveniently owned by a rich/elite… while the newly “independent” governments are coerced into into borrowing huge amounts of their newly low-valued currency (from the Colonizers) to become “modernized”… A debt which can rarely if ever be repaid … a kind of “re-slavery” … entrenching disadvantage… all a set-up for the rich to get richer: An act of deceit happening before humanity’s very eyes…

Do you believe the rhetoric that “Africa is a poor country”….?

We have Grown Up in the illusion of the White-Savior mentality: A big fat dinosaur suit in which we can’t SEE the “other side” of History or the Reality of life for those affected. (“As our heads were bowed to Jesus, they took away our lands”). WHY are people in Post-Colonised Nations STUCK waiting for a pitiful amount of “money” which a government allows into “currency”? And how the hell DOES this ascend or descend in value compared to another country’s and determine the value of what is “traded”? My blood for your socks…

Actually money itself essentially is meaningless. It is just a symbol of debt for what you promise to reciprocate/reimburse to someone in return for what they have done for/given to you… It is a system for keeping record of transactions of work/energy … But it’s been used to deceive people and cheat them out of their labour-power, wealth and heritage, and fooled them into working for wankers.

It’s strange to think…, that either there is no more silver left in the Earth’s crust, or no more slaves to mine it… Cyanide leeching from Gold Mines; people being worked to death in Diamond Mines… Why does it seem that industries which formerly produced “wealth” or “value” are bloodthirsty, murderous and/or majorly socially, culturally and environmentally destructive? Are we not evolved enough to Recognize the destruction caused – and repay the debt or AT THE VERY LEAST redistribute/rebalance the wealth thereby derived more fairly?

Its time to use our human creativity and imagination to reimagine currency as something which can benefit everyone fairly, not just the ‘rich’. . .

We need Everyone to be productive and thriving for the greater benefit to be derived overall by Everyone. … And if people can be happy and less stressed … enjoying the life they choose… contributing by making what they want to make… Then,… wouldn’t society be an awesome and fun place to live!? Imagine what could be created!!! (unless you benefit from sales of anti-depressant drugs and medication to treat the physical symptoms of stress, depression and loneliness ).

So how Could money be better “created”.? If we all brought things to the market place that we trade with each other… As when we produce value creatively, whether it be food, education or physical products or services, it is our Right and function as people to create and be productive with our actions…. And equitably compensated.

Who ARE the Real wealth producers? Who CREATES value?

Who makes Something from ‘Nothing’?

If there were no monetary currency system, how would we trade?

What would be Most valuable to us?

Personally, I believe that farmers and craftspeople are the real producers of wealth at the fundamental level. Once… everyone farmed or made something and people traded on the basis of REAL VALUE in the marketplace… Before Communism took over in China, farmers were the wealthiest people in society. It takes years to create a productive healthy soil (from nothing) and we all know that if we lose our soil productivity, then we’re fuc#ed… I believe we need to have localized trade currencies so that people can become motivated and rewarded to create produce that’s useful to human life… Things that we have the power to make and trade with our own hands… That is our birthright, right.?

We live in a crucial time… when we could restore humanity’s benefit or let it become slave to being dependent on this financial system controlled and reaped by ?… (WHO was that again?) Further, at a societal level, we can have so much impact: Being from a “developed” country, where our currency is worth 10x more, And in terms of what we can use our unfair advantage towards: Contributing to the Whole – by enabling sustainable food production systems and building places/villages which reduce our overall dependence on the western monopolistic currency system… And improving the quality of peoples’ lives… utilizing our privilege to assist in transferring technologies like solar water pumps. We can relearn the arts and trades which our western culture has forgotten/outsourced – which are part of ALL our heritages; our oversight of which has made us dangerously dependent consumers…

We all have a choice in what we put our money towards (and in who subsequently benefits); We can come together and create places where we can live simpler and more fulfilling lives through responsibly and proactively contributing to projects. Perhaps through connecting at a community level and developing local programs with local families and communities, paying fairer salaries and distributing profits more equally through a co-operative approach and by creating initiatives which enable cultural exchange and learning while preserving skills and knowledge central/intrinsic to (the highly diverse) Indonesian unique/hand-made lifestyles and heritage – maintaining and developing cultural traditions which have sustained people’s lives and livelihoods.

There is a swathe of cultural knowledge and skills/practices that are at risk of being lost with the current younger generation of Indonesians – who are aiming towards higher salaries of the hospitality industry and IT, while the skills and knowledge which come at a premium and are now being “sold” back to us (in western culture) at boutique prices. (You can get paid more working in Wendy’s in Taiwan than maintaining the generational skills of woodwork, stone-carving, making traditional foods and medicine or producing hand-woven textiles/homewares… which brings me back to my original premise).

I am now more aware of the global ‘caste system’ we are living in. In OECD/western countries… we grow up blind to the reality of world powers which dictate people’s currency value for trade and hence the living standards of the people living in those countries… and I wonder why it’s seen as acceptable to pay local people less than $10/day??? I imagine one day in the future, people will look back aghast at the injustices in the way the economic system was manipulated and engineered to favour the few …

I still can’t understand why countries like Africa and Indonesia are poor. I mean all their wealth is being raped and given/taken rather to “rich”/privileged countries… We’re taught to think of countries like Africa as “poor”… but it’s the western financial system that MADE them poor…! I wish more people would stop to think about it. And realise how sheerly we stand above others with living standards just taken for granted as “normal”… thanks to those countries being overthrown by force years ago… God Save the Queen… or not. Is it time to rethink monarchy, world power structures, and about Who has the right to dictate what your national currency is worth anyway?

Post-Colonised countries or “the global south” are owed a large debt in all fairness… We all know what happened though history books only tell the side of the “Colonisers” and play down the mass genocide and cultural devastation brought about – and though this seems to have been going on for cycles and generations throughout human history… those of us born into “privileged” cultures/societies i.e. those with the economic “upper-hand” to DO something to enable ACCESS to technology that can make life greener, “easier”, more convenient and less-polluting (which exists but may not be judged as having high economic returns so probably wont be backed by governments/investors) should probably step up and step forward right now and enable people born into Post-Colonised cultures/societies whose currencies are worth around a tenth of ours, and for whom it is nearly impossible to access capital (without owning a brick and tile house) – to make attractive/sustainable livelihoods – by being Custodians of their traditional lands… and not be forced into the past and current trend of selling off their land/s and migrating to cities in search of a ” better life “…

At present there is incredible disadvantage and disincentive to maintain a lifestyle close to nature that's non or less-polluting than what would be produced living in an urban environment where more plastic is needed and fossil fuels consumed. 

I disagree wholeheartedly that urbanisation is the Only way forward for the world population as a whole…. A worldview that “intelligent” people in developed countries hold. I offer that, as it’s been our privilege since Colonisation and since the literal rape of other cultures’ way/s of survival and economies/trading systems – and not saying everything was perfect before Colonisers/the colonial system arrived/conquered but… It’s about time we as westerners acknowledge the privileged position we continue to have/hold and utilise the power/capacity of financial resources in the current and future financial systems to ensure that the HUGEST segment of the world population- who continue to live on less than $10 a day in most cases… Are able to afford to live sustainably without being in debt and creating perpetual wealth for the World Bank through and /or other “financial” aka wealth-accumulators (which current Aid is – just a way to create debt and loan-repayments from “poor” countries in perpetuity). “They”, whoever “they” are… the current/influencers of society are driving us into an industrialized human farm environment

It seems like current sustainability goals, by default of the system they are born out of, continue to look down on the “poor” and try to make them into cogs that will advance the overall economic machine of capitalistic reality – and though Earthlaws and some economic assessments are starting to account for the less-tangiable benefits (ecosystem and societal health) which don’t directly produce or relate to “dollars and cents” but which do actually make “sense” to the future of humanity and society as a living system(!) – I don’t see that it’s possible for those interests to see past their own interests and greed: Transformation needs to take place at a fundamental level for world wealth to be channeled to where it’s actually needed and can make the greatest impact… And it doesn’t take “millions” at a level of funding “aid”/“developmental” programs but just to enable individual communities to access a few thousand dollars to buy infrastructure and access technology which can transform farming systems, access to water, and enable these communities to thrive. 

I’m over ivory castles and working in government: I admire the people that can do it and have the nouse to talk the talk but I am a practical person who’s born to do the work and GO OUT THERE – I beleive we just gotta get out there and START doing it – and bureaucracy will catch up in its own sweet time if it can… and I trust Divine Timing and that now we actaully ARE in the new age and geebies creebies – we better be ready for some awesome synthesises and magnetic magical collaborations spanning all spectrums on this rainbow bridge we are creating to the future… I’ve always been able to see a bit ahead of trends as they’ve come and gone and this now feels like the biggest thing that I was born to do and help birth in this life/lifetime… Now is the time! Time to BE the change!!

It can be overwhelming right now at this time when we look at the world situation… but one thing we can ask ourselves is “How can i help?” – to be that bridge towards helping create a brighter future than the one we are being “warned about” or “scared” about… Community is key to our future together as one humanity… It is time to acknowledge and live from the fact that we owe more to the future generations of our planet, than we do to present governments and businesses. We don’t have to accept a ride on a slide to oblivion and now we are even more crucially responsible for stepping off the “unhealthy” and distorted direction humanity has taken due to the corruption of natural law to which we are tied at all levels through our very existence and reconnecting to/with mother earth… to find meaning at the crux of our humanity and Through Community – reconnect with others and ourselves through the physical world and becoming part of this great healing that is collectively transforming our Earth, our planet… through awareness and coming together and just Being in Peace together. 

I could go into some examples of where i have experienced these transformations in my life… being here in Bali with my daughter (who is intellectually disabled and where I have built a house for her (from bamboo – with the intention of learning about this material and how it can be applied in building “earthship” structures/dwellings)… with whom it was very difficult to live with in Australia and for whom I hold a vision of living in Inclusive Community with (ok truth is – i need my own sanity – but I’m just drawn to this concept of where we can live and be part of daily community activities which enhance our lives and become the thread with which our lives are woven around and together in fun and just the antics of day-to-day living…

It’s not rocket science… but eating healthy food, gardening together, being in a group to support kids with special needs and sharing our talents in art and music – sounds to me much better than eating from a feed-lot supermarket and being isolated in a suburban dog box listening to my daughter 24/7 stimming on her iPad and my brain going nuts. . . They say: Necessity it the mother of invention. Not that Community is a New thing, golly gosh, We’ve just been conditioned to live these “separate lives” where we are more easily “controlled” and led as consumers to power an economy based on endless consumerism and making profit exploitative with no end in sight (it’s like an addiction)… Our economic system forces us away from living the natural way, (Astungkara) close to nature, taking only what is needed and sharing with others.

Having lived alongside local people in Bali and in the Philippines in terms of seeing everything from what a house is built out of, to what people sleep on, how/where fuel for cooking is sourced, to how they boil water in the morning to make coffee, to where they poop and shower and get water… and then trying to comprehend that at 70% or more of the world population… radically changed my view of life and of my position on Earth. I see we have much to relearn about family and community from Asean cultures… and I believe that economy and society can and will evolve to create something amazing (even more amazing) that is going to bring about global change and transformation.

First time i went to the jungle in the Philippines i watched the local Tribespeople collect honey from the wild bees which they do annually and is pretty much their only source of income unfortunately. It is very hard for people to survive in modern economic conditions where traditional barter has been phased out…. It’s impossible to get a bank loan unless you live in a house with brick structure and tile roof. So if you’re poor – you stay poor. Most people work in a form of entrapment where they start to borrow from their salary at the start of the working month and by the end of the month have usually borrowed more than the total of that month’s salary so are for ever repaying loans to the boss/es.

Local salaries/wage rates are around $7-10/day – a westerner pays more to stay in a backpackers than what many people earn in a day… which is why i figured – why not set up accommodations on their land so that they may earn income while people sleep 😉 It seems very unfair that these and many people have no way of accessing “money” unless it comes from these foreign banks and all self determination is lost due to this dependence or belief in a financial system which attaches artificial value to things that are usable by the owners of this “money”… And they don’t get paid anything anywhere near equal to what the real value of their work actually is… and local and natural resources are often exploited as a result. People fumble for things to “sell” to get money so they can buy rice and send their kids to school – so they may become “smarter” and get more of this stuff called “money” while losing their traditions and cultural knowledge and slowly becoming more “dependent” and closer towards being a capitalist cog. More and more people sell their land and move to cities. However, parts of Philippines are zoned by the Government as tribal areas so they can’t be sold.

So, Why bamboo?

Most people in countries of South East Asia like the Philippines have endemic skills in living and working with bamboo… and maybe some tweaking and further development of these skills and some initial financial support and renewed fairness in our economic system would enable people to make livelihoods with bamboo… (Instead of becoming factory workers and taking on the lifestyle of the global north which we can already see has not worked well at all for the planet’s overall health). People could enrich their existing tribal/indigenous environments and build livelihoods… and not necessarily livelihoods which just serve the ‘tourist’ or western market, but which revitalise their own local economies and cultural trading systems (most all of which were stopped/destroyed when Colonial powers moved in, took control of and distorted their monetary system).

Our health and our wealth does not boil down to a single scientific function or financial derivative of resource extraction/exploitation. In the New Economy, our and the Environments’ health is the determining factor of real wealth… Corporations that pollute lose value/wealth because they have a detrimental effect on a system’s health in any given snapshot of time – and the cost of recovering and restoring the environments which are being affected detrimentally are immediately set down against any “positive” acquisition derived by company operations. We’ll get there soon… and I’ll continue to believe that this is already the case or in case = as this would be justice and sane economic sense.

When the economic systems reflect that value is held in protecting forest lands and not polluting… when companies are held accountable and assessed immediately on their positive and negative environmental health impact to weigh their present economic position… then it will be recognised that Indigenous People are the Wealthiest people and should be treated in such as way as they hold knowledge and tools in their culture that keep the environmental bio-functions in sync and harmonizing within layers and layers of syntropy…

Bamboo building:: This video is the unedited version which I’m making available for free so anyone with the motivation can watch each process that is demonstrated here. I’ll be doing a voice-over explanation giving more detail/description of the process through our Online Course.

Right now we’re raising funds to buy a solar-powered well for SOFAFRICA (spreading organic farming in Africa) a sister group in Kenya led by Simon Murungi – Organic farming trainer. We need to Raise $1500 (US) to purchase a well for his direct community and I will grow this campaign to raise awareness and encourage other people and businesses to donate/contribute towards helping Kenya and other African regions to be able to survive and become more independently able to grow food during this period of climatic and economic instability. More info on next blog page.

If you want to join our upcoming Online Course, donate the funds towards purchasing the solar-powered well. You can send the funds straight to Simon and send me the transfer receipt. I will provide the account to send to via wise. Also for the in-person courses, I will donate as much of the fees to SOFAFRICA as possible above covering my costs. Payment can be by the same method also. You can support also through our Donations page. Just click the “Ask Something” button on bottom left of screen to get in touch.

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