Roundtable Discussion: Regional Digital Currencies

By way of background, you can view and listen to our previous discussion here: Alt Currency

BerkShares is a regional currency in Western Mass. It is going digital early 2022.

Yesterday (1/11/22), Merrick Finn, Chris Adams and I went on a field trip to the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in Great Barrington, MA. E.F. Schumacher was a German statistician from the UK who published a series of economic essays in his seminal book “Small is Beautiful”, which was a counterpoint to globalization and import/export economies and is considered by many to have helped inspire the locally grown, sustainable economics, and Fair Trade movements.

We met with Rachel Moriarity the coordinator of BerkShares and Fennie Wang the founder of HumanityCash – they are together piloting the digital rollout of BerkShares next month. Here is a good article in The Berkshire Eagle that encapsulates their progress and plan: What’s in your (online) wallet? On their 15th Anniversary BerkShares Will Go Digital

Rachel Moriarity and Fennie Wang

Interestingly, Schumacher became a Christian in 1971. Here is an excerpt of where his economic journey crossed with his spiritual journey (from Wikipedia)

As a young man, Schumacher was a dedicated atheist, but his later rejection of materialist, capitalist, agnostic modernity was paralleled by a growing fascination with religion. He developed an interest in Buddhism, but beginning in the late-1950s, Catholicism heavily influenced his thinking. He noted the similarities between his own economic views and the teaching of papal encyclicals on socio-economic issues, from Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” to Pope John XXIII’s Mater et magistra, as well as with the distributism supported by the Catholic thinkers G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Vincent McNabb. Philosophically, he absorbed much of Thomism, which provided an objective system in contrast to what he saw as the self-centered subjectivism and relativism of modern philosophy and society. He also was greatly interested in the tradition of Christian mysticism and read deeply such writers as St. Teresa of Avila and Thomas Merton. These were all interests that he shared with his friend, the Catholic writer Christopher Derrick. In 1971, he converted to Catholicism.

We compare and contrast to the Storehouse Vision of local currencies, and take a look at some of the pros and cons of the BerkShare digital dollars implementation.