BerkShares Bash 2007

On Tuesday Yahoo.com headlined a Reuters News Service article about
BerkShares, creating a stream of media and internet discussion on local
currencies in general and BerkShares in particular. You can read and view
some of the international coverage at www.berkshares.org.

By July one million BerkShares will have been issued through local banks to
Berkshire residents wishing to show their support of regional businesses.
To celebrate, BerkShares Inc. is holding a Bash on July 15th featuring
award-winning author, Bill McKibben.

In his new book, "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable
Future," Bill McKibben writes that "there is a more hopeful version of the
future: a shift to economies that are more local in scale. Local economies
would demand fewer resources and cause less ecological disruption; they
would be better able to weather coming shocks; they would allow us to find a
better balance between the individual and the community, and hence find
extra satisfaction."

McKibben is an adept reporter who has traveled extensively looking for
hopeful examples of community-based models having a positive effect on the
health and well being of the residents and the surrounding environment.
What he has found are "renewed local [economies that exist] as a series of
points: a farmer's market here, a mercantile cooperative there, a radio
station over there." These are old ideas, but not a yearning for the past.
As McKibben writes, "what's nostalgic and sentimental is to insist that we
keep doing what we're doing now simply because it is familiar." A shift to
local economies is more than changing purchasing habits and helps more than
just the local community. Vibrant local economies engage us in relationships
with our neighbors and have the ability, when established, to "reduce the
atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide [and] shift the trajectory of
human satisfaction."

So how do we begin reforming relationships with neighbors and supporting
each other in the process of providing necessary goods? McKibben suggests
that "[i]f you really wanted to make a local economy soar, the most
important part might be to create a local currency." With a local scrip in
your pocket, choices are limited to those businesses with a commitment to
your community. Your dollars, or BerkShares in our case, will not be
directly funneled to a corporate headquarters. Instead it might go to
purchasing goods from a local vendor, paying the salary of a local employee,
or buying dinner for the shopkeeper. With a local currency your money is
assured of circulating through the community, adding value with each
transaction. McKibben gives us this quote from Brian Halweil, "...in West
Africa, for example, each $1 of new income for a farmer yields an average
income increase to other local workers in the local economy, ranging $1.96
in Niger to $2.88 in Burkina Faso. No equivalent local increases occur when
people spend money on imported foods."

Beyond the benefits of recirculating, a local currency changes the form of
transactions. Local currency draws people away from internet and mall
shopping and brings them back to Main Street. Shopping locally results in
numerous personal interactions. These small, informal connections transform
consumers into active parts of the economic system. They are responsible
for the larger workings of a local economy. McKibben, using farmer's
markets as an example of local economy, writes, "the market begins to build
a different reality, one that uses less oil and is therefore less vulnerable
to the end of cheap energy. But, more important, the new reality responds
to all the parts of who we are, including the parts that crave connection.
One tenth the energy; ten times the conversations--that's an equation worth
contemplating."

Every transaction we make in BerkShares celebrates a connection: between the
customer and the merchant, between the merchant and the supplier, between
the supplier and the producer. In the spirit of celebration BerkShares will
be throwing a bash to recognize the individuals, banks, organizations, and
businesses working to make BerkShares a success.

Bill McKibben is the keynote speaker for this event. Joining him will be
four area bands: Terry a la Berry & Friends, Quintessential, Cabuca Jazz,
and The BTUs. The time is Sunday, July 15, 2007, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., on
the front lawn of the Searles Castle, home of the John Dewey Academy, Main
Street, Great Barrington, Masssachusetts. Sponsored by Berkshire Grown, The
Orion Society, and WBCR 97.7 FM. For more information visit
http://www.berkshares.org.

Event title:
BerkShares Bash 2007
Start:
2007-07-15 13:00 (Calendar)
End:
2007-07-15 17:00
Location:

Location(s)

Main Street Searles Castle (John Dewey Academy)
Great Barrington, MA
United States
See map: Google Maps