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cc college - proceedings

What follows in this section is just a brief summary of much material presented and discussed over 24 hours of intensive instruction and interaction, so it's not an easy read. Consider it rather a quick tour of the cc world - mainly as a guide for further thinking and an opening to the expanded materials on our web-sites - this, www.openmoney.org, and others - http://community.openmoney.org / http://wildfire.communitycurrency.net.

We began with the basics of conventional and community money systems - that all we really need to know about money, we already know and we always did. We know what it does, what it is and where it's from.


For conventional money, the three key characteristics are -

  • what it does - it goes anywhere in the world
  • what it is - it's scarce,
  • and where it's from - it comes from somewhere else.


Those factors alone result in serious problems in the economy - both the personal and the public economy - problems all about where money is, and is not, when it's needed.

We talked about how this causes problems - poverty, unemployment, environmental damage, etc etc.

We discussed the changes possible from fixing just those three factors, from having community money that -

  • moves around within the community,
  • is there when it's needed,
  • and comes from us.


We showed how virtual money is just information and knows it. It's not real stuff - just changing scores in a network - sometimes up, in "credit", sometimes down, in "commitment". Simply numbers moving, adding and subtracting.


This network money is only information, and only workable within a limited network. A "mutual credit" system is only stable within various limits - bigger is NOT better. However, a mutual credit system sets its own dynamics - the design lets the system more or less run itself - it generally doesn't help to poke around in the works.


We introduced the multiple cc system model, showing how a group of users can form many different networks, for different purposes. Open money is multiple by definition - if there aren't easy means to create systems whenever wanted, it's not open money.


We discussed the range of cc systems possible (anything) and likely (many possibilites) and unlikely (even more numerous). Utility is the key factor. While any system is possible, not all are worth having. Those that users find work well will be those most used, others less so, and some not at all. Some of the more likely types were reviewed - the sorts of agreements possible for such associations, types of units of measure, varieties of terms of membership.

We got a game going. The LETSplay game - the main theme of the previous edition of Kohkoku - is a powerful tool to explain how mutual credit cc systems work. We made a few plays to get started.

Finally, we outlined the possibilities for college development - in the short, medium and long term - and explained how people can participate.

All this was covered in 4 hours on Friday afternoon. This first day's work raised many questions, and everyone was asked to come next morning with at least three.

By next morning there were many questions on a wide range of issues - local government, city/rural, large industry, scale and limits of systems and how to handle "bad" people.

A few were answered - the quick and simple (yes, taxes must be paid) - but most were left for later, as questions often change and get better as people learn more.

The LETSplay game was continued - two or three plays at a time every few hours - with each player's progress marked with a pin in a chart on the wall.

Next we drew the map of the community economy - why conventional money comes and goes from the region, and where it goes and how and when. Then we showed how community money circulates - round and round, not in and out - and projected the macro-economic effects of cc.


We then moved from the theory to the practice with an explanation of operations - what a ccsp (community currencies service provider) actually does. It keeps records of transactions reported by its clients, the account holders. The job is just catching data, keeping records and providing account statements.

It works best to use simple and accessible systems, particularly the internet programs currently in development and the cc smart cards. ccsp can start with LETSplay and limited systems only for trading between their own clients and later "open" to support systems trading across many other registries.

This is organised by the cc domain name system, which works for virtual money addresses much as internet domain names work for email addresses and web sites.

That's the model for cc systems. Now, in the real world ....


For a cc system to be effective it should support trading between as many sectors of the economy as possible. We discussed how the particular needs of the non-profits - the most financially deprived sector - could be supported with cc systems.We introduced the "community way" model at this point, as a means of stimulating the start-up of systems while raising money for non profits and generating substantial business participation.

Professor Makoto Nishibe, visiting the college for a few hours, told the meeting that his recent report to the Hokkaido government recommended using a community way model to begin cc development.

For homework, everyone was asked to think of 5 npo, 10 businesses, and 20 people who might like this.


In the morning we drew a list of possible non profits, and businesses from all sectors of the economy, and talked about how they would use community way.

LETSplay was completed and analysed - core issues of benefit, ecological impact, stability and risk, extracted from the play. Then we played again, straight through, in about 40 minutes, to get more feel for the "short" game, and found the same results as before - limited money creates competition, and open money supports collaboration.

Then we turned to consider the relationships and responsibilities needed to coordinate cc programs in Japan.

The cc college of Japan allows cc service providers to host and serve domains (registries for account holders) operating in accordance with the college protocol, which ensures financial support for regional cc development programs. The Japan open money project (jomp) is made up of regional ccp and includes the cc college.

We projected estimates of the scale of the enterprise - cc in Japan. The first thing to recognise is that, in time, almost every business will use "cc" and most will have many accounts. Why ever would they not? As soon as cc systems are seen to be working, there's no question any more. cc works like "real" money, except that when spent it comes back, and there's no interest. And it saves using "real" money. Why would any business cut itself off from such a market?

By the time cc trading reaches 10% of gdp, we estimate the development program will be generating about 1% of that in donations to the non profit sector, and about 0.1% to fund the cc development programs (ccp) that make it all happen. In each region of the country, this may in 5 years amount to around Y10,000 for npo, and Y1,000 for development programs, per person in that region. For all of Japan, that's maybe 1 trillion /cc for non profits and 100 billion /cc for development.

We told people they didn't have to believe these projections at this point. But that they did have to consider the possibility that in just a few years as many as 5,000 people in Japan might be working in cc development. It is a critical factor in system development that there is no way to monopolise open money - money for the commons - so there's little opportunity for big profits and thus less reason for competition.

We stressed the need to track contributions, organise compensation for cc program workers and assure collaboration by using the LETShare process or something similar.

This led to discussion of what's involved in running a ccsp, in serving a domain in the virtual money network, and then to considering the qualifications for holding a domain, and criteria for enabling sub-domains.

Finally, on Monday morning we completed the presentation of materials with a general review of the questions asked two days earlier. Some had been answered since then, others were answered now, and some led to more questions. For the FAQs, please go to the web.

On Monday afternoon we focused on what happens next - specifically on where it can go and how it can get there. The college will be composed of people active and informed in cc practice and development, and so the college only happens as such people come together with such intention. We talked about the possibilities.

An internet mailing list has been started - jomp@egroups.co.jp - to provide a space for further conversation about cc systems and cc college in Japan.

We closed our weekend with a focus on the importance of being earnest, on the particular need for effective channels for translation and communication. The college continues.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible." - T. E. Lawrence