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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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