Apr 16 2013

Positive Thinking, Positive Money

On Friday I gave a talk at one of my favourite venues, The ASHA Centre in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

ASHA is a meeting space that crosses political, religious and community divides - a place of great beauty and inspiration, where all faiths and cultures are honoured.

ASHA is a meeting space that crosses political, religious and community divides – a place of great beauty and inspiration, where all faiths and cultures are honoured.

Not only is it a fantastic setting, and it does look as good as the picture in fact it looks better as you can’t see the 5 acres of biodynamic gardens as well, I always have an inspirational experience.  I challenge anyone to visit ASHA and not come away feeling more positive about the world.

I’ve spoken there regularly now over the last couple of years, talking to young people from around the EU about Sustainable Development. This is part of a course that ASHA runs, funded by the EU and British Council, and I angle my sessions towards the interests of those involved.  This time, the group of over 20 students had stacks of experience of social enterprise and trying to bring about change in their own communities, so we focussed on the role of politics.

I obviously believe passionately that our right to vote is important and should not be squandered.  We talked about how politics works and the influences that come to bear on decision making, as I think it is important to realise that your voice can be heard, no matter how small you think it is.

As I said before, I love going to ASHA because I always come away inspired or educated about something new.  This time was no exception.  We had a good discussion at the end about debt and the role of the banks in creating money and it made me realise how little I knew.  I’ve recently read Gillian Tett’s excellent book ‘Fool’s Gold’ about the formation of the credit derivatives market and thought I had a pretty good basic understanding about how this worked.  But I was told about a campaign that I hadn’t heard of before called Positive Money.  I’ve been on their website and watched a couple of videos and realise that there seems to be quite a big hole in my knowledge.  Their premise is that:

“A major cause of many of our current social, economic and environmental problems lies in the way that we allow money to be created.”

And then they go on to say that they try to make the world of money and banking less confusing.  Judging by the website and the first couple of videos I’ve watched, they seem to be doing a good job.  So thank you to the students at ASHA for opening my eyes to this one.  I’ll be going through the Positive Money campaign to find out more about the imaginary money that the banks apparently make.  Banking 101 next I think!

If anyone is interested in the current debt crisis then I would recommend checking out Positive Money, and also Gillian’s book if you are little more geeky about the detail behind some of these issues.  And then if you think we’ll learn from our mistakes, probably the best book to read it the fantastic JK Galbraith’s ‘The Great Crash’.  Don’t be surprised to find some of it familiar.  I think this is why campaigns that try to change the way we do things, rather than just tape up the cracks, are so important.

 

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