If you are doing a big “ask” – asking for land, investments, memberships, volunteer time, a well-written prospectus can help inform people about your plans and get them on your side. One way to start planning to write the prospectus is to ask some basic question about who will read it. Who, what, why, when where and how? Continue reading “Prospectus – Planning to write”
We like to remind people that although they think they want money, they actually want what money can buy. If they could get it without money they would. In fact, back in the 1700s while Adam Smith was dreaming up modern economics, people were fairly self sufficient: they made their own clothes, and shoes, grew their own food and kept cows for dairy products. Indeed, much of what people needed was not available to buy. Part of Smith’s vision was to get people into factories to help drive transformation to a more “modern” society. Continue reading “Services (block 2)”
Commoning in practice: using unitisation
This article talks more in depth about how to use the unitisation approach to form the basis of a shared business plan. Continue reading “Unitisation: Services (block 2)”
Work, defined in physics, is the effort applied to change the state of an object. If the state of the objet is unchanged, no work has been done.
Work done= Force X Distance.
We use the same word to describe performing a paid job. This can get confusing when considering community finance because things are moved – the states of things are changed (like raw food is made into a meal) but not called work because they are not associated with a paid job.
Conventional business approaches which see the chain
raw materials >product or service> waste
value different activities for the production of the service that the product or service offers differently – some activities are unpaid and some are highly paid. For example: some activities in the chain from field to plate are valued quite low as a percentage of final consumer pricing, a farmer gets a very small percentage for example. Other activities are not paid at all: for example, a consumer is expected to fetch food from the store and in modern stores they do the check-out procedure themselves. Cooking is also unpaid.
Financial permaculture sees work as all activities that taken together provide the services the community requires. So being a volunteer on the entertainment committee has the same value as digging ditches and planting seeds. We will use the term “work” to mean activity in a paid employment, and activity to mean what you as an individual do in the context of your community.
Conventional economic thinking sees work creation as essential to provide economic growth. If this work is bad for health it is something that the market should correct, but all things that are negative for environment or health are counted as services sold and therefore make up economic growth so there is an incentive to retain “negative” activities as they help bolster GNP which is seen as generally a “good” thing.
Permaculture finances sees activity optimisation as essential to providing the services the community values whilst exerting responsible stewardship on the natural resources both health of humans and eco-systems in general. This is about reducing the amount of work (in physics terms) to provide the services of the commons.
It also values the job nature does. The permaculture approach gets nature to do as much of the work as possible.
Indeed, letting nature do as much of the work as possible is a cornerstone of permaculture.
Conventional business thinking puts a low value on physical labour and a high one on intellectual work. At the same time, physical labour, in suitable amounts and carried out properly, is good for you. In fact, being outdoors doing physical labour with others is pleasurable and healthy.
To add to the block “activities” brainstorm a list of things that need to happen to provide the services identified.
Just create a list from which you will be able to add to or take from and which you can check against the other blocks.
Do not worry at this stage if you have no idea of who will carry out these activities or where the equipment will come from. It is good to just list what needs to be done as later on you can work out what:
- Needs special intellectual skills
- Is best done by many at a time
- Is best done by small groups
- Gives good exercise
- Needs careful supervision as it involves danger, etc
If there are natural groupings of these tasks, explore that, and explore if these groups map against any work groups or other organizational sub-divisions you might be considering.
The next thing is to work out the number of people needed for each activity and the annual number of hours need.
As a rule of thumb count on a working year being about 1800 hours and a volunteer year maximum 400 hours.
Save these figures as you will be entering them into the object worksheets later on.
That is probably enough on activities for now but remember to park all questions and issues.
You can use the canvas approach to survey commons initiatives, create overviews and draw comparisons to gain more knowledge of how the commons can work. The Table below shows a first draft of the kind of data and information that can be collected for each of the blocks. Do suggest more using the comments section below. Continue reading “Commons Survey”
Identifying who is in the community needs careful thought. Firstly, a community can consist of several overlapping circles of people. Some circles may be more inclined to participate in ownership than others. It can be helpful to visualise these circles as people standing in a circle; they all have a context they share, probably shared values but most importantly a shared intention.
People are discussing Alternatives to business as usual in all corners of the world. And there are examples of initiatives that have been operating on successfully many years. More and more are questioning whether they should be customers at all, looking to explore the possibilities of being part of communities that both own the means of production and produce and consume what they need. After all, the only company that really has your interests in focus is the one you own part of. The commons finance canvas tool helps communities develop their ideas and structure them to provide a basis to be able to answer key questions like” how much do we need to invest”,” How much work is involved”,” Can we do what we want within budget”,“who can do what”, “How can we best organise ourselves?”. The canvas offers you a structured way to explore your ideas and arrive at a point where you can produce a written prospectus and business plan and come to agreement with everyone in the community.
The starting point is a vision of what it will look like when it is finished and working the way you want it to. You can use an existing project or start with a dream. Continue reading “Main Assets: Land and structures (Block 1)”
When you have worked through the activities needed to produce the service your commons members will be enjoying, it is time to start some quantifying work, and here the Objects Template can be useful. You can download the template as a word file or create your own excel document. For smart budgeting purposes, you can have one excel sheet per Object group. If you do this on paper use sticky notes because there will probably be quite a bit of rearranging. Continue reading “Updating the Objects Template”
As you go through the canvas it is good to review your progress and test your ideas.
After each block.
- Use the check-list we provide for each block of the canvas.
- Park anything you are unsure of on a separate questions sheet or whiteboard.
After the first round.
When you have completed all eleven panes you might want to use Elinor Oströms principles to check your design. Check that what you have come up with aligns to her principles.
8 Principles for Managing a Commons
1. Define clear group boundaries.
2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.
3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.
4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.
5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.
6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.
7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.
8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.
When we start to work with the infrastructure block we should have already identified the main assets that the commons shares and the main services that commons members will benefit from.
Note: this is a first working draft. Do use the comments below with any suggestions for improvement or if anything is unclear
LIST INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDED
The next step is to identify the infrastructure (buildings, equipment, software, tools etc.) needed to provide these services. Quantity and not quality is OK at this stage, so brainstorm and create a rough list of what you think will be needed. Don’t worry either about whether you should purchase the equipment or if someone else should use it. Continue reading “Infrastructure”