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Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange says, “Cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, have turned upside down the way I think about the world.”  To understand Bitcoins and why they are popular, Yuri says that you need to look at things from a global perspective. 

Bitcoin came to be during the financial crisis of 2008 when, after losing their assets, people started questioning the existing monetary order.  The realization that all the money is controlled by a handful of moguls gave rise to a plethora of writers, bloggers and journalists who focused on exposing the unsustainable financial system we live in; and a group of programmers worked to create a new way to transmit value from one person to another.  Yuri says, “ Enter Bitcoin, a decentralized peer-to-peer value transmission protocol that doesn't depend on any central bank or government.”

Yuri learned about Bitcoins by reading the white paper published in 2012.  He started trading as a hobby and co-founded The Bitcoin Co-op, a non-profit organization whose main goal was to educate individuals and businesses about the benefits of using Bitcoin in their daily lives.  Today he runs Canada's first fee-free bitcoin exchange called Taurus.

Here is how it works:  if you want to exchange Canadian dollars for bitcoins, you place an order and wait for a match to occur.  You can also match your bid with an existing asking order for an instant trade.  He says that while bitcoin payments are automated and easy to set up, the main challenge is the ability to provide quick and reliable funding methods on the Canadian dollar side of the deal.  Thus, most customer requests have to do with money transfers, especially when it comes to fast payment processing and alternative options.

Bitcoin is still in its infancy and can be compared to the Internet as it was in 1994.  Yuri says that bitcoin transactions are not anonymous and there are complex issues, such as scalability and financial privacy, that need to be addressed.  While there are a growing number of financial institutions and venture capitalists interested in the advantages of the "blockchain technology" considered to be un-hackable, it doesn't always mean they are into Bitcoin itself.

He feels that financial institutions like CCEC can benefit from this new technology if used for transactions, record keeping, notarization services and smart self-executing financial contracts.  He says, “Imagine a credit union that is free of human error and whose cash flow is fully automated, transparent and incorruptible.”  As the industry develops new opportunities appear including remittance, instant global payments, point-of-sale systems and derivatives markets.  While admitting that another challenge may come from the financial regulators, his hope, however, is that no significant changes are made in the law and this segment of the market will remain truly free.

Why I belong to CCEC: “One of the most important moving parts in running a cryptocurrency exchange is solid banking relationship.  CCEC is one of the few financial institutions that recognize the potential of cryptocurrencies.  The credit union's board is open-minded  and forward-thinking.  CCEC is leading the Vancouver financial space when it comes to promoting and educating people about the peer-to-peer economy, decentralization and personal freedom.”  Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange

Contact Yuri at to yuri@taurusexchange.com or visit Taurus Exchange 

Read more about alternative currencies in a previous blog:  Digital Darwinism Bridges the Gap Between Community and Finance 

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Meet Andrea and Jeremy, long time members of CCEC who have opened a new business, The Village Dispensary, serving artisan coffee and teas* (not infused with cannabis) and a dispensary.  Vancouver has had operational dispensaries for almost 20 years with the support of the municipal government and local police force.  The City is a leader in this marketplace providing a framework for the rest of Canada to look to as the Federal Government has indicated its’ intent to move forward with legalization and regulation.  Andrea and Jeremy call themselves cannabis consultants.  Their dispensary promotes the value of the plant with products scientifically tested to deal effectively with chronic ailments such as cancer, MS and Parkinson’s Disease plus; plus a therapeutic stream to address sleep disorders, PMS, menopause, anxiety and other issues.

The Village Dispensary is a local business that sells products from ‘mom and pop shops’ including Apothecary Labs and Canna Life Botanicals.  Andrea asserts that this is about a plant that has been used medicinally for over 9000 years and has been studied clinically by Dr. Raphael Mechuolam starting in 1964 and he was the first scientist to isolate THC from the plant in 1965, then discovered the endocannabinoid system in the early 80's.  This is creating green jobs, growing our local economy, and feeding the local market.  Both Andrea and Jeremy are very entrepreneurial.  Andrea has owned Café du Soleil, Ragz n Rerunzz, earthbabies and was a partner in the baby carrier product, The Happy Sac; while Jeremy, a mechanical engineer, founded and operated a renewable energy contracting business called, exchangenergy inc.   Andrea says, “As peri-menopause began to show its face, I was able to address some of the symptoms with cannabis.”  She adds, “It is important that I am able to share that experience with other women and their partners.  That is one of the reasons The Village was conceived."  With this in mind, she also is involved with the local chapter of Women Grow Vancouver.  Her partner, Jeremy, a chronic sufferer of back pain that is relieved with cannabis products says, “I'm excited to bring top shelf medical cannabis that both connoisseurs and the canna-curious can experience.  BC hosts some of the most celebrated artisan growers and makers in the world and we want to see those growers thrive and grow.”  

It is hard to pick up the paper or watch the news without seeing an article about medical cannabis. There are an estimated 300 dispensaries in Canada – Vancouver has the most with 100 which is double the number of Starbucks locations – and there are 26 licensed producers sanctioned by the government to grow and supply marijuana only by mail to people with medical prescriptions.  In a recent Globe and Mail Article it is noted that provincial governments, health authorities and even the Supreme Court of Canada have affirmed that access is essentially a health issue.  CCEC has agreed and provides banking services to some of these businesses. 

The potential benefits are changing people’s views. They reference an article by the US National Cancer Institute stating that Cannabis kills cancer.   Both Andrea and Jeremy say, “The medical profession should embrace cannabis as an institutionalized treatment in hospitals.”  With all the research, the medical profession needs education on cannabis as a treatment regime.  At this time, owners of cannabis dispensaries, like Andrea and Jeremy, are self-taught attending many expert lectures, reading, joining professional support groups, watching many documentaries and, knowing their growers.  It is time we legitimized their business, formalized the training and education to de-stigmatize the weed, break down the barriers, myths and stereotypes.

* They sell CCEC member,  Cease Wyss's products Raven and Hummmingbird teas, salves and tinctures

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The loose, no rules, improv, learn by ear band…a sister project of the Carnival Band.
Free for kids from the neighbourhood.

The value of music education has eroded so dramatically that most schools are cutting music from their curriculum.  Even the after school music programs are considered too structured.   Enter The Greenhorn Community Music Project, started by Brenda Koch, a Carnival Band member and elementary school teacher.  She laughs when asked why she started the project saying, “Not everyone fits into the wild, crazy, eclectic, energetic vibe of the Carnival Band who have over 400 songs in their repertoire and always mix up the 10 songs they will play at a show.”  Armed with a ‘Dr. Suess style logo designed by local artist, Jeremy Glen, the Greenhorn Community Music Project thinks big and wants to see 100 kids in their workshops learning and growing through music. 

How can you help?

  • Donate instruments, music stands
  • Spread the word!  Like us and Share on Facebook 
  • Come to their first performance  Dec 21st 6pm with the Carnival Band at Granville Island Winter Solstice
  • Join the fun, contribute your musical talents and expertise.
  • Donate funds to support them and keep them going in year 2. Send a cheque payable to Transforming Education to 2511 Ave, Vancouver, BC  V5M 1H1

The Greenhorn project provides kids of all ages with musical leadership, mentorship and instruments to play.  There is someone at each workshop (aka practice) who will take the time to help newcomers understand and learn.  Also the workshops are from 3:30-5pm on Mondays so youngsters can participate.  Just like the Carnival Band, the Greenhorn aims to teach people to learn by ear like a professional musician, pay attention to what others are doing and to learn to improvise.  When you think about it, these are all life-time skills that help to build confidence and self-esteem – and fit in with the Carnival Band style if they want to join them.

It has taken five years to see the project launch with their first workshop in September, 2015.  Through word of mouth, 21 people showed up; and at one workshop, they had 8 newcomers.  One person heard of them through Facebook and all kids are from the Grandview Woodland area.  The kids range in age from 4 to over 60.  They have a roster of 25 or so people and average 12-15 at each workshop. 

They have funds to support the project for the school year till June, 2016.  They are proud to be the recipient of the East Feast 2015 award, funds from CLICK (contributing to lives of inner city kids), the Vancouver Foundation who provided a $10,000 feasibility grant and a private donor.  Most of the funds support the professional fees for Tim Sars, Musical Director.  They have two interns, Charlotte (16 years old) and Marlo (17 years old) who started with the Carnival Band when they were pre-teens.  They both provide mentorship; Marlo works on marketing, outreach, and fundraising; while Charlotte provides admin support and was responsible for initiating their partnership with the Transforming Education Society, which allows them to issue tax receipts.  It is with this partnership and Instruments of Change they broaden their connections with the community and build their network.

The Greenhorn Community Music Program making a difference in our community.  Support their project. 

 

 

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The 2015 Roger Inman Memorial Award recipient has had a busy year.  The organization is a grassroots anti-colonial migrant justice group with leadership from members of migrant and/or racialized backgrounds. 

Brian Peaslee, organizer says of the Award, "The generous funding  we received was used to help cover legal fees for migrants facing deportation from Canada."

He adds that in addition to direct support for migrants, over the past year they also helped to organize a benefit concert that raised over $15,000  for a healing lodge at the Unist’ot’en Camp who are fighting  for indigenous sovereignty against pipelines in in Northern BC.  They produced an extensive report, web site and video series on the effects of changes to migration policy in Canada and took a lead role in the Refugees Welcome and Transportation Not Deportation campaigns in Vancouver. 

The Annual Community March Against Racism came back to the Drive for its eighth year in March and was a great opportunity to gather together and raise our voices against injustice.   Support the work of No One is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories.

Click here to learn more and to become a financial sustainer.  Recipient of the Roger Inman Memorial Award in 2015.  Nominations are being accepted for the 2016 Award. Click here for more information on the Inman Award and for the nomination criteria.

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Medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada face a substantial hurdle doing business because the big banks have declined to provide services.  An excellent article in the Globe and Mail surveys the challenges, especially in light of the pending major changes to our federal laws.  

CCEC is highlighted in the article as an agent of change, because it has agreed to provide banking services. As noted in the Globe article, provincial governments, health authorities and even the Supreme Court of Canada have affirmed that access is essentially a health issue. CCEC has agreed.   

CCEC wants to build healthy and just communities, by empowering ordinary people. Political and social change is underway and there are roles for community groups and community-based financial institutions to play.  CCEC may be small, but we can have impact. 

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Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke at UBC last Friday and made the case that growing inequality in modern day America (and Canada) is a result of political choices we have made; the failed experiment of trickle down neo-conservative policies that have been advocated since the 70's. He boldly advanced the need for a new political agenda that will give ordinary people a bigger share of the pie. 

The presentation included graphs on income distribution, wealth distribution and other factors over the last 100 years, and the data clearly indicates the fact that the very rich have benefited handsomely since 1970, while others have barely held their own. He then provided comparisons between nation states to show that social equality was not so skewed elsewhere; in Scandinavia, western Europe, Japan and Canada the inequalities are modest compared to the USA. Approximately 20% aggregate 'income' in the USA goes to the top 1% of the population. 

He asserts that the rules of the game (video, Democracy Now), that is the legal and tax systems in the USA, the UK and New Zealand (and to some degree Canada), have been set to ensure the rich get richer. The analysis has been set out in two books by Siglitz over the last 6 years; The Price and Inequality and The Great Divide.  He argues that it is time for ordinary people to challenge the privileges given to the very wealthy. He referred attendees to the Roosevelt Institute for additional insights and proposals. He eloquently argued that the erosion of the 'equality of opportunity' will lead to potentially immense social and economic costs. And he held up a copy of his just published book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.

He closed his remarks with a pointed critique of the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), an international 'trade' agreement now being promoted in Canada and the USA. Stiglitz represented the deal as entrenching benefits for large corporations and international finance, and undermining democratic governments. He specifically noted that the TPP went well beyond 'trade' to impose limits on government regulation, government purchasing, and tax policies; and would have disputes settled by 'private' arbitration rather than in public courts. It can be noted that opponents to the TPP include the Council of Canadians, Open Media and Doctors Without Borders. 

 

 

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What better way to connect with neighbourhours than supporting start-up enterprises?  Vancouver SOUP differs from online crowdfunding in that it is in person.  People come together, share an evening of food and fun, while supporting projects happening in their community.  The audience, who are the ‘investors’, hear four project pitches and the ‘winner’ leaves with the door proceeds.  This is building community and CCEC is proud to partner with Groundswell as a sponsor on their new project.

To volunteer, make SOUP, donate bread email vancouversoup@gmail.com

Vancouver SOUP is based on the successful Detroit SOUP.   The organizers see this project as a unique opportunity for Vancouverites to connect with each other in an easy, fun, delicious way.  Vancouver is known as an unfriendly city where people feel disconnected from their neighbours and their community.  The Vancouver SOUP Team feel that the problem that part of the problem can be solved by getting together with people over meaningful conversation or projects like weeding a shared garden, serving on a committee, or even deciding which community-building project to support.  Vancouver SOUP can be that project.  Kerrie says, “I have lived in many apartment buildings where people barely make eye contact crossing paths in the hallway.  Conversations are mere pleasantries.”  By attending a Vancouver SOUP event, people are launched into meaningful conversation about projects that could affect their lives.  They are all in it together .

The first Vancouver SOUP held in September was sold out with over 70 people who donated almost $800.00.  Kerrie O’Donnell, Project Di

rector says, “While online crowdfunding might raise more money, it doesn’t bring the community and investors together.  We, you and I, are the investors.”

The winner at the first event was Magpie’s Nest Community Art Space with their Community Art Nights where they offer free space and materials for the public to come together over art.  The audience of ‘investors’ also heard pitches about launching a Zero Waste Club, starting community dialog events centered around the ‘Talking Chairs’, and harm reduction for nightlife and music festival communities

At the second Vancouver SOUP, held on November 19th, 55 people donated $550 and voted The Binners’ Project the winner.  The Binners’ Project creates jobs for people collecting redeemable containers and reduces waste being sent to landfills.  At the event, Director Anna Godefroy explained that the money will go toward a new initiative called the Binners’ Box - where a dedicated box will be set up in laneways of buildings and housing complexes, allowing residents or businesses to place recyclable products with a deposit in the Binner Box, for a local binner to pick up.  Keep an eye out for the testing phase of this project in the Downtown East Side soon!

Vancouver SOUP is a crowdfunding event, where the ‘crowd’ is the audience who contribute at the door.  Vancouver SOUP is different from online crowdfunding is that it is in person.  Kerries says, “We envision Vancouver as a friendly city where people feel connected to their neighbours. We see a community where people support each other in finding solutions and neighbours help each other and participate in projects that better their community.  Vancouver SOUP is a place where Vancouverites can come together and leave feeling more connected to their community and perhaps they even leave with new friends.” 

Vancouver SOUP is currently held in the Downtown East Side at Groundswell Café as a ‘city-wide SOUP’.  The organizers see the SOUP appeal growing and aim to draw projects and ‘investors’ from all over the city as a larger crowd will raise more money for the winning project.  At the same time, they recognize that each neighbourhood has its own character, and they are open to helping other neighbourhoods setup their own SOUP events.

Kerries says, “Each Vancouver SOUP event is a little different, mostly because the people pitching their ideas aiming to win the crowd’s money are different.  There are new ideas to make our fine city a better place each at each event.”

Thank you Vancouver, for showing us SOUP love!

For more information, to get involved or to host a Vancouver SOUP event contact:

Kerrie O'Donnell, Project Director, Vancouver SOUP

 

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The New Economy – still mostly a concept, lots of people have a different vision for the kind of economic environment we are all moving into.  What was the vision for the Impact Economy Whistler, event held in October attended by CCEC Board Members, Tammy Lee Meyer and Marty Frost?  If there was a common word that could be applied to all the visions that were present, it would be “open” as in “open-source” technology - hardware and software; and “open value networks” as a way of organizing groups of people who choose to work together. 

The people who showed up all saw themselves of members of an emerging economy.  They were computer software and hardware engineers, community developers, co-op advocates.  And if there was a common word that could be applied to all the vision that was present, it would be “open”.  The computer people were all working on developing new generations of computer operating systems, applications, communication protocols and hardware, all open source.  Open Source is a concept applied to developments (computer hardware and software primarily at this point) that have no ownership applied to them.  A piece of open source software, for example, carries no license, no proprietary rights attached to it.  Anyone has a right to download a piece of open source software, modify it and put it back up on line for open sharing.  The same principles are being applied to hardware as well. 

Some of those present were also employing “open value networks” as their form of organization.  No incorporation, no legal “rights of a natural person” applied.  Simply a group of people who choose to work together, share projects, share any resulting revenue that may be produced, well, openly.  A couple of examples that people may wish to check out on line would be Sensorica, in Montreal (www.sensorica.co), or 99% Media, also in Montreal ( www.99media.org). Neither has a legal structure, they are networks of workers who get together on a project-by-project basis, and share facilities, tools and revenue. 

The other significant “group” of people were the community development folks, most of whom are involved with local, non-State currencies.  Among these was BC’s own Michael Linton, founder of the LETS system that some of us will remember from its 40 year or so history in and around the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  The Mutual Aid Network was represented as well, and profiled for us their highly successful time-banking system they have developed under a co-op umbrella in Madison Wisconsin.  Time-banking is in some ways another form of local currency, certainly a local trading system. (www.mutualaidnetwork.org)

In this video podcast, Michel Bauwens chats with Art Brock, Michael Linton, and Matthew Slater about money and new currencies: accounting systems, "open money", current-sees, exchange in the post-monetary economy, trust, and value exchanges.

Is this to be an aspect of the “New Economy”?  An escape from individual ownership – or any form of ownership at all – into an economic paradigm based on sharing?  If you have a need it will be there for you, if you have something to offer you have ways to offer it, and all free of state-based currency transactions?  To people like me, who has spent most of my life assisting people to work in more sharing – but certainly “legally” structured – forms of economic relationships, it raises all sorts of questions:  how scalable can these organizations be?  How are disputes – those that are now “settled” through the market – be settled?  how would “value” of goods and services be determined?  These are questions that need to be answered as we move forward.  For my part I am thankful that there are people out there who have the passion and nerve to just get out there and do it.  Test these models in the crucible of the capitalist economy in which we live, find the challenges and develop solutions. 

Marty Frost

For more information: 

http://www.impacteconomy.io  and other podcasts  https://soundcloud.com/impact-economy

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Chef Laura
“Culinary alchemy is my specialty: the art of combining food and mood in a way that bonds people together and elevates a gathering into a celebration.” 
CCEC Member, Chef Laura,  believes that food should reflect the mood. “I really make an effort to think ahead about how each dish should be prepared to really titillate the senses and add meaning to an event. Food gives life, true, but food also influences mood.” 
Memorials, she says, can be just as special as the person was during their life.  Chef Laura creates a nurturing environment for a monumental life event.  Catering for memorials is one of the more rewarding areas of her business as, she says, “It is ceremonial and we don’t have a lot of celebratory events in our lives.”  She recently organized a memorial with over 200 people for a family that did not live in the area.  The family was grateful to Chef Laura as she elevated the celebration of life to a final send-off that was a memorable tribute.
Laura calls her style, ‘upscale (Italian) comfort food’.  As Vancouver has grown into a cosmopolitan city, she feels we have a lot of fusion offerings that reflects our cultural diversity.  The trend for local, fresh food is all good.  Having worked in a high end fishing resort as the Executive Chef, she loves the seafood options we have and is a proud member of the  Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program  and the Green Table Network.


Being a small business owner, wearing many hats can be challenging.  In the past few years, she’s noticed that social media, online reviews and testimonials are driving more of her business.  With this, she needs to have some technical skills to do things on her own and also the knowledge to ask the right questions of her technology partners.
For nearly 2 decades, Chef Laura has been pouring her passion for fashion, entertainment and the culinary arts into her life and career.  She’s worked as a chef in restaurants, on movie sets, and at high-end resorts; & toured with bands like Duran Duran and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  She says, “I’ve always been inspired by the impact food has on living, on loving, and on life.  I get really excited about turning simple events into celebratory experiences. There's never a place that isn't perfect for a sensory celebration that people will remember for years to come.

“Food is the bonding element of people ... I am simply the alchemist.”

http://cheflaura.ca/about/    (604) 916-5253

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A CCEC member goes beyond the Forbes top 15 Fintech startups to watch for this year.  CrowdGIFT is a values based crowdfunding platform with a philosophy of unconditional generosity.  Their clients tend to be groups with a mandate for social responsibility or political justice.    So, who uses CrowdGIFT?  Turns out our CCEC members do! 

Ben West (TankerFreeBC, the Great Climate Race) worked with CrowdGIFT to sell his book on Fossil Fuel and more recently to fundraise for the Great Climate Race .  Last month we featured The Decentralized Dance Party ,  who also uses this platform.  Why this platform and not the others?  And why enter a market that seeds to be crowded?

Scott Nelson, a Director for CrowdGIFT says, “We are living in interesting times as we are in a world where there is dissatisfaction with the current crowdfunding platforms and a general dissatisfaction with our mainstream banks.”  The better known crowdfunding models are exclusive, use Paypal or other ‘invasion oriented’ payment methods, and the campaigner is penalized with higher service fees or non-payment if you don’t reach your target.

A key differentiator with CrowdGIFT is their use of digital currencies.  Scott says, “People have the right to economic privacy.”  As our foundation is unconditional generosity this includes anonymity and privacy for the gifter.  He believes in digital currencies for two main reasons:  they operate on the principles of decentralization, where no one is a controlling agency as is the case with our current paper money; and privacy.  Read more about digital currencies in the blog (insert link).  Scott has been a strong advocate for digital currencies since 2010 which is aligned in his following of Austrian Economics.  The quote from Julian Assange (Wikileaks) rings true for him,

 “Transparency for the powerful, privacy for the weak.”

Scott sees crowdfunding as an expanding market as more fundraising will go this way.  CrowdGIFT is about showcasing generosity. 

There are five key reasons to choose CrowdGIFT:

1.       We never hold your funds. All contributions flow straight through to you, almost instantly.

2.       You keep all funds you receive, whether you meet your funding goal or not.

3.       Our "offline direct payment" option allows your supporters to give via cash, wire transfer, money order or any other method you can figure out. This offers greater privacy and eliminates PayPal and credit card processing fees.

4.       You can easily accept modern digital currencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin, as well as Dogecoin.

5.       With crowdgift.ca, you choose how much to gift back for our service: anywhere from 0% to 20%.

So, what’s next for Scott?  While currently he is playing in the field of converging technologies:  web, mobile and alternate currencies, he sees the next wave as machine learning and its’ application to personal growth and development. 

For more information visit https://crowdgift.ca/
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