#216  Let’s get rid of Money and start afresh! Dismantling the Super-Organism with Diana Finch

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If Money is commodified grief, and fiat currencies are imposed by implicit violence, how can we create forms of value exchange that are healing and regenerative and that form part of the solution?

It feels to me as if this year, the journey is going to be one of continual change and of challenge – that 2024 will be the year when it is impossible for anyone to pretend that the life we knew, the life we grew up believing would go on indefinitely – is going to continue. The old order is dying, but if we’re to absolute collapse on a global scale (because clearly it’s happening locally all over the world, usually pushed by the governments of people who are statistically most likely to be listening to this podcast) -but if we’re going to avert absolute breakdown everywhere, then we need to dismantle the super-organism of the markets. Markets, globalisation, the entire neo-liberal model of free trade that was neither free nor liberal, nor particularly new… these are the common thread that perpetuates the world we know. Yes, we have to change our political systems, our power generation, our food systems….. all of these are core, but it’s the markets and our concepts of value and money – the core of capitalism that keep the whole show on the road.

One way or another, they are going – either there’s a crash and nothing… or we succeed in managing a degrowth curve to a much simpler system that is not just less extractive, it’s regenerative – it repairs some of the desperate harm we’ve done in recent times.

So I want this podcast really to begin to look at how we could shape this downward slope – to play with ideas that could take use forward into something different – to begin to build narratives, stories, mythologies, collective heroic journeys of how we as a culture could affect the change that we need. Yes, the super-organism feels as if it has a life of its own, but it is composed of individuals and if we all change our behaviour, our expectations, our understanding of what’s good and what isn’t – then it will change.

I still believe this is possible and I’m definitely working towards this. As is our guest this week. Diana Finch has worked in senior leadership roles in a variety of socially and environmentally focused non-profit organisations since 2001. Through this work, she became convinced that our economic system is the root cause behind the environmental and social challenges the non-profit sector is trying to address. She started to become interested in the field of new economics, and was thrilled to join the Bristol Pound team as Managing Director in 2018. She continued to be a director until the organisation was wound up in 2023.

The experience helped her develop an understanding of the problems with our existing economic system, creating a determination to share what she has learned by writing a book called Value Beyond Money: an exploration of the Bristol Pound and the building blocks for an alternative economic system. The book is not out until September, but it I was privileged to read it early and was so struck by Diana’s capacity to lay out clearly the various different ways we have begun to see money and the alternative systems that people are trying – the Bristol Pound was an astonishing endeavour and the story of how it came about and why it ended are remarkable in and of itself. But it’s the ideas that come after – why did it not work and what could we do now – what could help us shift from exactly where we are, to where we need to be – these are the solid gold. 

In the meantime, enjoy the ideas of how we could be different – and then if you know of anyone who could fund this, please do let us know.

In Conversation

Manda: Hey people, Happy New Year and welcome to Accidental Gods. To the podcast where we believe that another world is still possible and that if we all work together, there is time to create a future that we would be proud to leave behind. I’m Manda Scott, your guide and fellow traveller on this journey into possibility. And while I do still think there is time to create a future we’d be proud to leave behind, it does feel to me as if this year the journey is going to be one of continual change and of greater challenge than we have already faced. I think 2024 is going to be the year when it will be impossible for anyone to pretend that the life we knew, the life we grew up believing would go on indefinitely, is actually still possible. The old order is dying, but if we’re to avoid absolute collapse on a global scale, and clearly it is happening locally all over the world, usually pushed by the governments of people who are statistically most likely to be listening to this podcast. So I’m not suggesting that collapse is not happening, but I think there is a difference between localised collapse and absolute total global collapse. And if we’re going to avert the latter, we need to dismantle the superorganism of the markets. Because it’s these markets, globalisation, the entire neoliberal model of free trade that was not free ever, nor liberal in any way, nor particularly new. This is the common thread that perpetuates the world as we know it.

Manda: Yes, we have to change our political systems, our ways of generating and distributing power, our food systems, all of these. But at the core, it’s the markets and how they operate. Our concepts of value and money, the ways we trade across the world, the entire concept that capital generates capital. This is what keeps the whole show on the road. And one way or another, this is going down. Either there is a total crash and we are not prepared for it, or we succeed in managing a de-growth curve to create a much simpler system that is not just less extractive, it’s too late to be slightly less damaging. We need the curve to move to something that is actually regenerative, that repairs the desperate harm that our species has managed to do over the last decade, centuries, millennia. So in 2024, I want this podcast really to begin to look at how we could shape this downward slope. To play with ideas that could take us forward into something different. To begin to build narratives and stories and mythologies and collective heroic journeys of how we as a culture affect the change that we need. Because yes, the superorganism feels as if it has a life of its own, but it is a system composed of individuals. And if we all change our behaviour, our expectations, our understanding of what’s good and right and beautiful and what isn’t, then it will change.

Manda: I still believe this is possible and I am definitely working towards it. As is, oddly enough, our guest this week. Diana Finch, has worked in senior leadership roles in a variety of socially and environmentally focussed non-profit organisations since 2001. And through this work she became convinced that our economic system is the root cause behind the environmental and social challenges that the non-profit sector and the whole of the world is trying to address. She became interested in the field of new economics, and then joined the Bristol Pound team as managing director back in 2018. And she continued in that role until the organisation wound up last year. The experience of all of this helped her to develop an understanding of the problems within our existing economic system. And she went on to write a book called Value Beyond Money, an exploration of the Bristol Pound and the building blocks for an alternative economic system. The book isn’t out until September, and she and I will have another conversation around about then. But I read it early, and I was so struck by Diana’s capacity to lay out clearly the various different ways that we have begun to see and use money. And the alternative systems that people are trying to create, often against tremendous odds and barriers erected by the existing system. The Bristol pound was an astonishing endeavour, and the story of how it came about and why it ended is remarkable in and of itself. 

Manda: But it’s the ideas that come after; why did it not work, and what could we do differently now? What could help us shift from exactly where we are to where we need to be? These are the solid gold. And we did talk quite a lot about the Bristol pound at the beginning. So the solid gold comes towards what I would normally consider to be the end of the podcast. And we went on, because it did feel like solid gold, so we might have to split this into two podcasts, I don’t know yet. If we do, it’ll come as a bonus, I hope. But I am hoping we can get it all into one.

Manda: So we’re about to kick off into that. But just before, I am recording this ahead of our first gathering of the year: Dreaming Your Year awake. And this will go out the week afterwards. So if you came, thank you. I hope it kicked off your year to a generative start. The gatherings were organising this year are the inner work, which I believe is absolutely essential to giving us the grounding and the connections to each other and the web of life, that will let us step out into the world in a way that’s healing for all of us. Next month, we have the first of our cutting edge series, and the plan with these was that you, the listeners, would have a chance to gather in a zoom room and talk to some of the people who have been guests on the podcast, who are absolutely at the cutting edge of the changes we need to make. The idea was that we could talk to them, ask them questions for the first hour, and then in the second hour, we would talk amongst ourselves about how we make this work real in our own lives. I thought this would be fun and useful, and so far we’ve had a lot of people sign up for the gatherings and almost none for the cutting edge. And that’s fine. If it’s not what you want, we will cancel and think of something else. So if you do want this, please sign up soon. Because if it gets towards the end of January and there’s no sign ups, we will just cut it. If there is something else that you would rather we do, something that’s worth two hours on a Sunday evening, then do let me know. And if you’re interested in the inner work, the gatherings on the podcast, go to, go to the gatherings page; there is an entire list.

Manda: Right, here we go, kicking off with how we actually make the change. Let’s explore the ways that we could dismantle the superorganism. So people of the podcast, please do welcome Diana Finch.

Manda: Diana, welcome to the Accidental Gods podcast and Happy New Year. This is our first one we’re actually recording in 2024. How are you and where are you in this new year?

Diana: Hi Manda, well, thank you so much for inviting me on to the podcast. I sort of couldn’t believe it. Anyway, yes, I’m in Bristol, I’m well and happy and I’m thinking 2024 has got to be better than 2023. So I’m, looking forward to the year ahead.

Manda: Well done. I’m very glad somebody is. I keep thinking that we’re going to look back on 2023 as the last year of even remotely normal time, but if you think 2024 is going to be better, then we can help to make it better. It certainly feels to me, as if 2024 is going to be the year of tipping points, and that one of the tipping points could be we get to the point where most people understand that there is a crisis, and that the only way through it is to get together. You’ve written a really interesting book, which is coming out later in the year, Value Beyond Money an Exploration of the Bristol Pound and the building blocks for an Alternative Economic System. One of your colleagues at the Bristol pound recognised four areas that needed radical change and they were economics, politics, food and power, essentially. Which seems to me a really good baseline. And of the four, the thing that glues our existing business as usual extractive culture together is money and economics, and you have been really totally embedded in how these could be different. So I’m glad you were surprised that I asked, because that’s very sweet. But actually, of all the people I’ve spoken to, you seem to know most and best, and to have thought most cleanly and clearly about how we could do money differently. So just very, very briefly, could you tell us how you came to be thinking about those kind of things? Because most people just spend money and try not to run out of it, and that’s as far as we get. But you thought more deeply, how and why did you get to this?

Diana: Well, I guess it started really when I was a child, and I remember thinking quite clearly that there was stuff I could see, like trees and plants and, you know, the cats or whatever, you know, real stuff that wasn’t manmade. Then there was a layer of man made stuff that I could see, like cars and roads and houses, and that was definitely man made but it was still somehow visible, but it was still difficult to imagine life without it. And then it felt like there was this sort of invisible layer on top of that again, which was basically all of our human systems, and that includes money in the economy. Although I don’t think I had the same understanding of it that I have now. But also education and healthcare and lots of other systems that we live our life through, that it’s really difficult now they’ve been invented to imagine how would we do without them. So I mean, I remember specifically thinking about healthcare, for example, and thinking, you know, 200 years ago, people just died because they didn’t have antibiotics. Like, what the hell was that like? I’m used to the idea of if I am ill, I go to a doctor and hopefully as long as long as things are working well, which they’re not terribly at the moment with a doctors strike going on and with chronic underfunding over many years.

Diana: But anyway, that’s another matter. I had this feeling that the human stuff was a sort of extra layer, that ideally we probably wouldn’t have, or that it somehow got in the way of our ability to mediate with or understand or connect to the really fundamental things. And I also had a feeling – I think you were mentioning this before we started to record – one of the early little bits in my book is where I describe how, in a science lesson we’ve been learning about combustion of fossil fuels. And I put up my hand and said, well, that must mean, given the amount of fossil fuels – this was back in 1978 and it was obviously already huge – I put up my hand and said, my goodness, we must be changing Earth’s atmosphere. Because she had gone through the whole equation of carbon dioxide and oxygen in and water and carbon dioxide out. That may be wrong now, but anyway, it was definitely carbon dioxide out. 

Manda: I think it is. You’re right.

Diana: And so I put up my hand and said ‘we should be worried about this, right?’ And the teacher was like, oh, don’t be silly. The world is huge. You have no idea. Human beings couldn’t possibly affect all of that. And of course, now we actually call this phase the Anthropocene because it is caused by human beings, and that’s understood by most people, you know, accepted by all but a few people now, this understanding.

Manda: And you had it when you were 12 and you were understanding the intangible systems, which is remarkable. So having got these understandings, can you give us a very edited highlights of what led you to working for the last five years for the Bristol Pound. You worked for it until it ended last year. What was your journey to that being the place where you thought that you could exert most leverage?

Diana: Hmm. Well, I guess I started off how most of us start off when we think, oh my goodness, global warming or habitat loss or whatever, you know, how can I minimise my impact? So I started to do things like, refill my bottles of washing up liquid at the local health food store and walk around town with my toddler on my shoulders and my baby in a sling instead of buying a car at that point. I did what I could to minimise my impact. And then actually, real life gets in the way sometimes and you can’t always do all those things that you want to do. You know, we can’t all be as perfect, we are living in this system. And actually at some point every day I found that I wasn’t really able to live in line with the values I wanted to live by. And I also started to think it’s not enough just to limit what I extract or take out or consume, I also need to think about what I’m putting into the system.

Diana: I had started off doing bookkeeping and was basically working as a finance manager in the commercial world, helping companies make money and get bigger. And I thought, this isn’t really what I want to be doing. It’s a skill I have, but it’s not actually on the right side. You know, it’s all part of the extractive economy and actually, I would like to be doing something more positive with my time. So I decided to work with charities, you know, there are finance jobs in charities. I thought at least then the purpose of the work that I’m supporting with my finance work, some of them were environmental charities, some of them were social welfare charities and that felt good for a while. I worked my way up, I was CEO a few times of local charities and then I started to think, it’s getting a bit repetitive, no matter how many people we help. 

Manda: You hadn’t gone upstream.

Diana: Exactly. I just felt like here I was pulling bodies out, as you say, of the river, and someone else is throwing them off a bridge upstream, and I needed to go up there. And so when the job at the Bristol Pound came along with some of those very early thoughts that I had been having about ‘Mm. I think this is about the economy’. And here’s a non-profit group trying to do something about the actual underlying economic system. I thought, okay, that is very interesting. And that’s the thing I would like to do. So that’s how I got there.

Manda: Brilliant. Thank you. Yes. And early in your book you say ‘and there I was in the world of spreadsheets and accounting and I was really comfortable’. And that does weird things to my head, because spreadsheets make me go into whiteout. I can’t stand it. So I’m very impressed that there are people who can do that well, and that you had identified that this was an area where you would be going upstream. And so for people listening who are not familiar with that metaphor, it’s a very old one in social science, that you can do the work where you see somebody floating past in the river and they’re obviously drowning, and you jump in to save them, and you just get them to shore, and then there’s somebody else floating past drowning. And you jump in to save them and you get all your friends and you’re all jumping in to save people. And at some point, one of you has to go upstream to find out why all these people are drowning. And that’s exactly what you find; there are people throwing them in the river, or they’re falling because someone’s destroyed the bridge, or whatever it is. You’ve got to do something more systemic than just trying to play whack a mole with the latest problem. And there’s very little that is more obviously systemic than money, as we were saying at the start. So the Bristol pound was a very ambitious, very interesting and for a while highly successful and recognised worldwide, attempt to create a local currency. Can you, before we really look at the specifics of Bristol, give us a bit of an idea of what local currencies are for and what alternative currencies in general are and how they work. Because you explain this in your book as succinctly and cleanly as anything I’ve ever read. So let’s go for it, because people can’t read your book quite yet.

Diana: There are so many different types of local or complementary alternative currency, and they’re often just talked about as if they’re one thing and they aren’t. So let’s start with what Bristol Pound was, which was a currency to help localise. And really this thinking came out of the transition movement thinking, which was really sparked, I think, by the fact that in around 2003, if you were looking at a pie chart of oil use, more of it was being used on transportation than on production for the first time. So there was a feeling that if we’re going to tackle fossil fuel use and try and bring it down to avert global warming and all the other negative impacts of fossil fuel use, let’s start off with trying to localise things as much as possible. If you can bring production and consumption closer together, then things don’t have to move around as much. And there are two ways of doing that, right. There’s a kind of top down way, which I think is very unlikely to happen, where the governments say, do you know what, we don’t really want exports and we don’t really want imports. What we really want is for farmers to understand the needs of their local conurbations and plan to meet the needs of local people. And we’re going to choose building construction methods that use local stone.

Manda: Basically what the world did for thousands of years until we’ve discovered ways of transporting stuff that was much cheaper. 

Diana: Exactly. And I think the reason that governments are very unlikely to do that is precisely because they see it as going backwards. It’s brilliant now we’ve got steel and glass and we can do this and we can make concrete and we can travel it all around. But actually it’s a very inefficient model in terms of the amount of resources that get wasted. Permaculture and other localisation approaches really say, let’s look with what we’ve actually got right here and let’s try and work with nature, minimise the inputs that we need into nature, minimise the outputs that we’re taking as well, and try and live very much more in harmony with our locality and with the land that is right here. And the two areas in which that can be the most useful are two of the things which are very fundamental to us as human beings, which is food and construction. And actually, if we could localise those two huge sectors first, they are the biggest in terms of movement of materials. Clothing is also way up there, but it’s harder, I think, to imagine how we do clothing without so much movement of stuff all around the world. It’s a slightly harder problem. I mean, all of these are hard problems, I don’t want to make it sound like any of them are…

Manda: They’re also essential. If we don’t address these problems, we’re going over the edge of the cliff. So now we’re up against biophysical realities where, whether governments like it or not, we have to address the issues that you’re talking about. So how does a local currency of some sort, because Totnes was the centre of the transition town movement and was also the originator of the Totnes currency, talk to us a little bit about how that worked and why it was useful in Localising.

Diana: So the idea of this is instead of expecting governments or someone to impose a load of stuff that forces businesses to operate differently, instead this is saying how can we encourage this from the bottom up? How can we change consumer demand so that they want to buy local things and then ensure that money can only be spent on local things? So that was basically the premise behind both the original Totnes pound, the Lewes pound which was also very early on, then there was Stroud and Brixton, and then Bristol pound came on board. It was launched in 2012, but all of them have that same idea of you’ll have business members and the only businesses that can be members are local businesses. And then local people buy the local money just as a 1 to 1 exchange. Usually some have some kind of incentive in there as well. So you get a bit more whatever pounds than sterling. That’s one of the ways it can operate. And then that can only be spent with the business members. Meanwhile you want those business members to change their supply chains so that they are also spending that money locally. And it makes it visible. And with the paper money, it makes it very visible in the shops, if that’s how you’re paying. And people go, ooh, ooh, that’s interesting, what are you paying with there?

Diana: But also we were the first to launch with a digital currency as well. It was very basic when it first came out, just text messages really. So you could go into a shop and send a little text message, which was sort of text 1,2,3,4 you know, the short name of the shop.

Manda: But then smartphones didn’t exist. So actually that was highly advanced technology for the time. We just forget.

Diana: Exactly. It was technology that had already been used by M-Pesa in Kenya.

Manda: Let’s take a step back before we go into that, because this is beginning to look really deeply at the Bristol pound. Because I think it’s quite interesting for people who don’t spend their lives thinking about this, this concept of localisation, and because it’s worked very well for instance, in Preston. As far as I understand in Preston they haven’t created a local currency, but they have created localisation. The way that I was taught it was if you consider the local economy as a leaky bucket, you look at the places where value, which is to say, money leaks out. So in our local area, one of the ways it leaks out a lot is that the county council pays somebody out of county to hire people who are also out of county to come and mow the verges. Which is, you know, first of all, we don’t want our verges mowed, thank you. Please leave them. And second, why are you why have you got this huge chain of middle people? And then people driving tractors very long distances to come and mow the verges, when there are people in the village who could do it just as easily. So by looking at the ways the bucket leaks and then looking to see is there a reasonably decent way of doing this locally? You can begin to ensure that local money is spent locally. And then can you discuss or describe for us the concept of the velocity of money? Because I think that’s really important and gets to the root of one of the functions of what money is there for. 

Diana: I just want to recap very slightly though before I go on to velocity. Remind me if I forget to go back to velocity. The leaky bucket concept is very relevant to here actually. So if I go and spend my money at Tesco’s, a little bit of money stays to pay the shop assistants wages, who just serve me and the landlord who owns that plot of land where that Tesco’s is built. 

Manda: But they might live in Saudi Arabia.

Diana: They might well do. And a little bit might happen to go on local supplies of cheese or vegetables or something. And the rest of the money just leaves the local economy instantly and goes off to global supply chains, the CEO’s paycheque and shareholders dividends the other side of the world. So the idea of the localisation thing is partly reducing carbon and reducing the transport and having more of a permaculture approach to being in connection with our land and using that. It also comes up in bioregions, that each bioregion is serving itself. So that’s one thing. But the other thing is stopping the money leaking out. And you said money equals value, which we’ll come back to because I disagree with that. But given that’s how most people and that’s how it’s talked about the whole time in our current society, money equals value and value equals money. So if we can trap that money in the local community, that’s a good thing. It means that just like the land is serving the people, the money is serving these people in this locality. 

Diana: We’ll come back to Preston, which is great. But often councils are thinking, well, we’ve got to create jobs. We’ve got to create jobs in Bristol. Let’s look like we want inward investment into Bristol so that we invite the big companies here and they’re going to employ lots of our people, and that’s giving people in our city jobs. And that’s a good thing, right? That’s making Bristol richer. No it’s not. It’s employing some people in Bristol, but actually the profits from all of their hard work are instantly leaving the city. And actually the only way to grow real wealth within a city is for it to be organically grown, for little local businesses to get a little bit bigger and for other little businesses to start off. And they’re all serving the local community and helping it to feed itself, source itself, maintain itself better. Instead of being reliant on chunks of money coming in, which then go away and suck even more money out than they originally brought. And this is how a lot of international aid works as well. We say, here’s a lot of money to go and do something in your developing country. But then we use the wrong kind of technology that means that actually we have to keep parachuting in the people to do all the hard work. And meanwhile, we own all the things. We employ some local people and give them them some peanut wages. But actually all of the all of the profits are being sucked back out into the rich countries. And then funnily enough, those countries carry on being in debt and unable to meet their own needs forever because we’ve made them dependent on us at their expense. So anyway, I didn’t really want to go into a diatribe about that.

Manda: No, but we were going to talk about the velocity of money. 

Diana: Velocity, I’m glad you took me back to velocity. And I think this is easily explained actually with  another sort of local currency which some of your listeners may have heard of. The idea of either LETS, a local exchange trading scheme, or Time Banking. And if we imagine one of those little very localised alternative currency schemes, the idea is that you get a group of people, each with different things to offer and different needs. So I might have an allotment and I might have far too many courgettes at a certain time of year, and then I kind of sell my courgettes within the LETS scheme and I get given some kind of tokens. In bath there’s a LETS scheme and they’re called Olivers. So I get my Bath Oliver’s and then I can spend them on a friend who is going to help me put up some shelves, and she’s going to bring around her tools and everything. And, you know, I’ll be her assistant for an hour while she puts up my shelves for me, because I’m rubbish at that.

Diana: And so the money can circulate. And then maybe she’s going to spend that money on with, with someone else who’s going to walk her dog for her because she was too busy to walk her dog, because she was putting up shelves for me. And so the money moves around. Now you can imagine three people and they’re each passing on ten LETS, ten LETS, ten LETS to do different things. By the time we’ve done that and three days have gone by and the money is all back in Manda’s account. Manda has started off with 10 LETS and Manda now has 10 LETS in her in her account still. So you could say nothing has happened, but actually what has happened is that you have managed to get someone to help put up your shelves and they have had their hair cut. The next person has received some courgettes and so on.

Manda: The money has gone round in a circle.

Diana: The money has gone round in a circle and it’s done 30 LETs worth of work over the course of three days, even though if you take a snapshot it’s like nothing happened. But, you know, these things have happened. The shelves have been put up, the the hair has been cut, the courgettes have been eaten and so on. So the velocity is really telling you how quickly the money is circulating and the quicker it circulates, the more work is being done by that money and the more value is being created. Not in terms of money being created, but in terms of the the effects of what that money has enabled in terms of transactions, work being done. 

Manda: And social impact.

Diana: Yes, exactly.

Manda: And people having a sense of value. I think the thing that also always seems to me quite important is if the person at the start had decided to stick the ten LETs in a bank, because it matters to save, and done nothing with them, that money has zero velocity and has done nothing useful at all. So the circulation of money is really important. I think on a larger scale, this is where people get very stuck when they want governments to be paying off debt. A government’s job is to increase the velocity of money and make sure there’s enough there to flow around. It all comes back to government, provided there’s no big leaks, which, you know, this government is creating enormous leaks. But in an ideal circumstance, there’s very little leakage. It all comes back to the government in the end. This idea that we can’t afford stuff is bizarre. Part of the function of government is to create the velocity, to create enough to prime the pump, so the velocity can happen. And then block the leaks. So yes. Thank you.

Diana: A last point on velocity. So one of the things that people might have heard about in relation to some alternative currencies is an idea called demurrage. The idea is it’s like a negative interest rate. So that, as you’re saying, if you put money in the bank and save it up for a rainy day, it’s not actually doing any work. We’re all told it’s a good idea to have some money in the bank for a rainy day, to add to resilience. But just storing loads and loads of money that you don’t need as a little resilience thing is not doing anyone any favours. And so the idea of demurrage is that you need to spend your money quickly because otherwise it will devalue.

Manda: Yeah, it’s negative inflation in a way isn’t it.

Diana: Exactly. It’s like spend it quick. So some currencies give you a bit more than you paid for originally, but then one of the downsides might be that those same currencies might well then make your money disappear quicker if you don’t spend it quickly. But each time it’s spent, it kind of regains its full value. There are also scrip currencies that were like this, where they would be on bits of paper, but they would get a stamp every week or something, and each stamp would reduce the value of the money. These ideas have been around for a long time and played with by different people in different parts of the world at different times.

Manda: And in a way inflation creates inbuilt demurrage to our currency. Because if I were to hold on to £100 that I had last year and inflation is running at 5%, it’s lost 5% of its value over the year, which I think is one reason why people who think capitalism is a good thing don’t like inflation, because it creates the desire to not hoard your capital.

Diana: Yes. I mean, I think how and why inflation exists, it hasn’t been invented to help velocity. Maybe we should leave that there because I will quickly be out of my depth if I try and go…

Manda: I think inflation is a fascinating thing, because the narratives of why inflation happens always strike me as as being entirely wrong. However, let’s not go there because this would get very technical, and other than you and me, nobody else would be interested. Whereas I think the idea that the money that we spend at the moment is not the only kind of money and is not necessarily the best kind of money, and why are the kinds of money might be better, is going to be crucial to how we get through the bottleneck we’re at at the moment. Because I would say fiat currencies are going to collapse. And given that they’re going to collapse and fiat currencies are the dollar largely, but sterling is still a fiat currency, Just. Liz Truss did her best to undo that, but she failed. If sterling or the dollar collapses, what are we going to do? And having ideas at least of what else could step into the breach is going to be really important. And the great thing about things like the Bristol pound is that really dedicated, very hard working people put a lot of thought into how it could work. And you were one of those. So let’s talk specifically about the Bristol pound, what it was and how it worked and why it worked and where. Let’s have a look at the road bumps on the way, because I think that’s really interesting, is what got in the way of it working as much as what helped it to work.

Diana: I think it’s worth starting off with the fact, in fact, not just an idea. It was a fact that originally it wasn’t just going to be the Bristol pound, a currency for localisation. There was also going to be a mutual credit scheme alongside it. A lot of currencies actually, that have been created at various points, especially in periods of recession or where there’s a liquidity shortage of money, of bank money if you like, or of fiat currency; people have developed mutual credit systems. One of the famous ones was the Virgle experiment in the 1930s in the midst of the depression. And it was so successful in the space of a few months, of getting bridges built and all sorts, you know, generally getting everything working in the middle of a depression, where nothing was working and no money was flowing, that the governments got very anxious about losing control of their monetary system and therefore shut it down. There are others which haven’t been shut down in the same way, more recently. In early 2000 Brazil, there were the Palmas, which was again a form of mutual credit, I would say, in that it was money creation that would get passed around. It’s arguable as to whether that’s really mutual credit, maybe that was just an injection of made up money. But one that definitely is mutual credit and that is still going today is Sardex. I was looking up the stats the other day, something like 40,000 businesses across Italy are now part of the Sardex system.

Manda: Right. And it started in Sardinia.

Diana: It started in Sardinia and again, it’s that same idea that I was talking about earlier on where if you’ve got ten LETS and you pay them to a friend and pay them to a friend, and they pay them to another and then it comes back to you. Well, the mutual credit is basically that same idea, but business to business, generally speaking. So, if you’ve got invoices and you can see a loop of businesses that are all connected, you can say, well actually, now that I can see this loop of he owes him this and he owes her that, and she owes those people this much, you can kind of go, okay, well we can knock off £200 for starters and just mark those as part paid and tell everyone how to do that. And there’s a guy called Thomas Fleischmann who has been really cutting edge in terms of developing systems where you get everyone to load up their invoice data, and then you run an algorithm that goes, okay, well, these all cancel off. Here are these loops. And then tell everyone, okay, these are the things you can mark as paid. And actually you’ve still got to pay these guys and these guys. And this this invoice is now discounted because it’s part paid. So everyone does their entries.

Manda: Can we unpick it a little bit? Because I understand it because I read it in your book. In the same way that we had one person wants her shelves put up and the next person wants her dog walked in, the third person wants their hair cut and the fourth person has courgettes, and the the money flows around in a circle. Can you just give us a kind of a businessy example so people can picture this?

Diana: I decided on an example in the book. I’ll see if I can remember it.  Let’s say I’m a farmer, right? And I’m selling some cheese that I make on the farm to a local shop. And meanwhile, that shop sells a bunch of their stuff to a restaurant, and then the restaurant creates some ready meals that actually come back to me at the farm, because I’ve got a kind of camping thing on the side. And I’m doing ready meals for campers. So the money is moving around in a circle and it’s coming back to me. I might not know that middle shop or that middle restaurant. You know, there might be some people in there I don’t know, the loop might be a lot bigger than I can see. And in fact, arguably, if I could see the loop, I wouldn’t need the currency. And this is what you often find at the end of LETS schemes and time banking schemes, when they’ve collapsed, there’s still a little group of community people who go, yeah, but we all know each other and we can just do this right. And so they carry on doing it without any bits of paper or anything being passed around or accounts.

Manda: Because they have a community.

Diana: Exactly. So money is almost only needed when it’s too big for you to actually see the whole loop. And the idea of mutual credit or of this thing, which is if you like one stage beyond mutual credit, which is let’s just have everybody’s sales invoice data and let’s get a computer to go this cancels this, this cancels this. See the loops in operation, and then just tell everyone, okay, the net effect on your accounts is zero. But now you’re not waiting for someone to pay your bills, and you’re not having to get a bank loan to pay the next person. So it can improve your cash flow, because you’re no longer waiting for invoices to be settled forever. And it can then speed up how quickly you can pay the next person and reduce your reliance on a bank overdraft or a loan.

Manda: And AI presumably makes this super fast. I mean, within the last six months, we could have increased the speed of those algorithms to the point where they’re basically happening in real time.

Diana: We could do. I mean, I think it might be, I’d have to check. It’s either Slovenian or the Slovakian government that has actually been trying to do this at a kind of government level, I think it’s Slovenia.

Manda: And the Americans haven’t shut them down yet? Because this feels a bit like Virgle, which was, I think in Austria, wasn’t it?

Diana: Yeah.

Manda: And it was shut down because the government was losing control of the way money was spent. And at the moment, still the world’s fiat currency is the dollar. And the Americans will start wars if they think they’re losing. There was quite a strong argument that they went for Libya because Gaddafi was just about to start selling oil in euros. Maybe Slovenia is so small that it’s just not on their radar yet.

Diana: Maybe, I don’t know. I mean, the people that would be most angry about it are the banks, right? They’re the ones that lose out when businesses self-organize with mutual credit, because the bank isn’t going to have to give loads of people overdrafts.

Manda: And charge them money. I think, you know, it’s always worth saying that banks invent money out of nothing and then sell it to us for free. They’re the only place in the world that gets to actually just make something out of thin air and then charge money for it. The fact that this is legal never ceases to amaze me.

Diana: It is incredible. And to give people an idea of that, because they might not know it, it’s reckoned that something like 97% of the money in the UK economy is basically bank created money out of thin air, and only about 3% is actual fiat currency.

Manda: The cash, the pounds and coins that we all value so much.

Diana: And that’s the reason that the Bank of England is keen to develop a digital currency, a central bank digital currency.

Manda: So they get 100% instead of 97%.

Diana: So instead of 3%. So they have control, instead of not having control. And especially when they can see other governments doing this and there’s a real fear that if Americans and Chinese get going much quicker on the central bank digital currencies than we do, then that becomes the main way that money is passing hands. And suddenly…

Manda: The Bank of England just ceases to exist.

Diana: Well, it has no control over our monetary system.

Manda: We’re now going very off piste, listeners. This is really interesting because I didn’t know this, but I think most people have heard  the idea that central bank digital currencies, Cbdc, is the latest bugbear for both left and right. That people on both ends of the political spectrum are saying, hang on to your cash, hang on to your pound notes and your coins, because at the point where there’s a digital currency, we’re in Handmaid’s Tale area. Somebody can just press a button and you have no money, because they decided you have none. And if you could trust the people at the top, that would be great. But we don’t and we can’t and it’s going to be a while before we can. And yet the Bank of England, as you’re saying, if they lose control of every part of the currency, if a version of Goldman Sachs is the only creator of money, not great for the Bank of England. But given that governments spend money into existence and banks lend money into existence, the government is always going to be spending central bank money into existence, surely? It won’t be spending America’s central bank money into existence.

Diana: Exactly. But at least it will have some control then over how much money it’s adding into the system. And it can decide. And I guess this is the interesting thing about how might it impact on taxes and things like that, because generally speaking, taxes can only be paid in the legal tender of that particular nation. So that’s the chief control mechanism for making sure it comes back to you. So that there would be something there. But I would say something else about the central bank digital currency thing, because I was invited, along with positive money, to go to the Bank of England, actually, and have a kind of a session on it.

Manda: You see, you talk to all the most interesting people!

Diana: And I actually think it could be a fantastic infrastructure. If we consider that what we need to do is decouple, and this might well be not obvious, so maybe we’ll have to go back to this. But if we’re trying to de grow and reduce our general footprint and make do with less, so that we’re not constantly buying more and more stuff. And that means actually less employment. Both the left and the right in the UK wants to grow the economy. We’re told that every day. Oh, we’re going to grow the economy by doing this. We’re going to grow the economy.

Manda: Which is why they’re all neoliberals. Yes.

Diana: And we don’t want to grow the economy.

Manda: Sane people don’t want to. Yes.

Diana: We can’t grow the economy without increasing our footprint, our damaging footprint.

Manda: Without extracting more. The only way to grow the economy at some level is to extract from a system that is not going to bear much more extraction. So biophysical limits on our capacity to extract.

Diana: Exactly. And therefore the growth is the thing we need to be trying to get our head around. And the question is, how do we degrow without hurting lots of people? And that is a very difficult problem. But one of the things has got to be, all the time we’re in a growth mentality, we’re thinking, right, we need more jobs because jobs is how we get money to people, then people can buy things.  Labour are saying we’ll create more jobs and people should be better paid. And conservatives are saying, we’re going to increase investment and make sure that people with lots of money can invest that in businesses and kick start the economy. But no matter which bit of the cycle you’re starting with, it’s the same cycle.

Manda: They’re both neoliberals. They’re both wanting to grow.

Diana: They’re both about growth. And so actually one of the key things is how do we not focus everything on creating jobs, if you like.

Manda: Particularly jobs that people hate doing, you know, this whole bullshit jobs sort of thing is, you were not born just to pay bills and die. But we live in a system where that’s what you’re for.

Diana: And the bullshit jobs are not just bullshit because they’re meaningless for people and cause us all to be unhappy, because we’re just commoditized labour. We’re waged slaves who are obliged to do this work in order to be able to do stuff in the market economy, like buy the food we need, buy the accommodation we need. You know, we’re forced into it because we’re in a market economy. So when I often think about how do I reduce my impact, the main answer is I need to earn less and I need to spend less. I need to do my own personal de-growth. And if we want to encourage everybody in the country to do that and to say, I’m only going to do work which I think has value rather than a bullshit job, well, then we need a universal basic income. So I think actually that if we could get the Cbdc set up correctly, they could be an amazing infrastructure where you could do universal basic incomes really easily without all the bureaucracy that goes on, you know, with so many different health and social.

Manda: So tell us how. Because degrowth is what we need to do. So how does a central bank digital currency help us have a universal basic income? Tell us, can you just explain the logistics of that?

Diana: Because if everybody, if every citizen, and these are big ifs, right. This is why I’m saying it’s down to the implementation.

Manda: But in an ideal world, let’s design the best.

Diana: In an ideal world, if this is implemented well, then it means that every citizen from as soon as they’re born has, much like they might have an NHS number, has a central bank digital currency account number, and it is then very easy to distribute money to all of those accounts. And you’re not going to miss anyone out because they all exist. Whereas all of the other current systems require knowing about you here and there and you if can prove this and the other about yourself, then maybe you can claim and you can fill in this and maybe we’ll give you some money and maybe we don’t. There’s been universal basic income experiments all over the place, but nothing truly…

Manda: They’ve always been localised.

Diana: They’ve been very, ‘we’ll give this sort of people in this locality, this amount of money’, and it’s never enough to actually mean you don’t need to get a job. And therefore the impacts have been very little. There’s a fantastic book,Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures by someone called Mark Fisher. And he does a really great thought experiment, which kind of shows how stagnant our culture has been, specifically since cutting things like unemployment wages and student grants and all the rest of it. He maintains that if you look up until the point where all of those benefits and free money, if you like, got cut to almost nothing, there was a lot of artistic creativity. People had time to do the stuff they wanted to do. Because now, even if you’re doing a degree, you’re going to have to have a part time or a full time job on the side just to cope. And as a result, there’s no time for creativity. You can’t take a sabbatical off work for a few years and focus on arts or crafts or something, do deep thought, because you’ve just got to keep working the whole time.

Manda: You’ve got to keep on the hamster wheel.

Diana: So he has this thought experiment where he says, if you imagine taking someone from the 1980s back to the 1940s, it would create huge culture shock. Like, what are these guys wearing? What is this stuff they call music, you know, what are these hairstyles? It would just be like the biggest culture shock. And similarly from the 1940s, you know, back 40 years before then to the 1900s, huge culture shock. If you took someone from the 2020s back to 1980, no one would even notice that this person was from the future. The clothes would look basically normal, the hairstyles would look normal, the music they’re listening to…

Manda: A bit freaked out by the technological differences, don’t you think?

Diana: The tech, yes. But tech is a different thing, isn’t it? I’m talking about the culture, the creativity, how we’re thinking, how we’re showing up in the world in terms the things that we’re creating; music, art, you know, how we look, like very little has really been developed new. It’s all become rather derivative.

Manda: And is he saying this is because we’re all in the hamster wheels and we haven’t got the space and the head time to do things differently?

Diana: Yes. Because, it wasn’t a universal basic income, but there was a cushion of social money that could give people time and space to be creative and do things. And actually, it’s through creativity that we generally make the biggest strides. And I also think to myself, perhaps it’s no surprise that in the 1970s, people realised the meta crisis was was happening. A lot of people getting very excited about that. We had the explosions of health food shops, buying your dried foods and taking your own bags. It was huge.

Manda: The good life was on television. It was a thing!

Diana: Exactly. Then it feels like people keep saying, oh, you know, it’s growing so much. This movement is growing so much. And I’m looking down the high street and going, no, if I’m lucky, in every neighbourhood, a zero waste type health food shop. But not in Kingswood actually where I live in Bristol..

Manda: Not where I live. There’s a Holland and Barrett, which is not what you would call…

Diana: Exactly. It’s like this has not happened. It’s still really niche. There are still very few people filling up their washing up liquid bottles, you know what I mean? It’s like it’s not taken off at all. And I think the people who are doing it and whose friends are all doing it, always think, yeah, now we got it. But we’ve been thinking that since the 1970s, and actually nothing has changed. And I think to myself is that partly because people have been forced onto the hamster wheel, there’s no space to think outside it. There’s no space to go I could just drop two days a week of my job, start mending my own clothes.

Manda: And do what makes my heart sing.

Diana: Yes, exactly. Cook more with lentils and slow food and stuff and mend things and not have to keep buying. If I really thought about it, how much better? Because it is better, right. 

Manda: It’s how we evolved to be. What we are born expecting is the capacity to to be creative and to connect with people, not to be thrown onto a hamster wheel. But the thing about the 70s was it wasn’t accidental, was it? The whole Hayek Chicago School neoliberal movement was because they looked at what was happening and didn’t like it. So I have a question. Sorry you were about to say something, but add into my question whatever you were about to say. UBI is great, it’s a really interesting idea. We had this conversation endlessly at college, so UBI, without rent controls in its broadest sense, is a very fast way of pumping public money into private hands. Because you can give everybody their central bank digital currency, you can have a thousand, whatever we like to call them; lovely coins. And by tomorrow your actual rent, the cost of your electricity, your water will have taken 999 of them away. And the people who will benefit are the people who are now on their third yacht.

Diana: I completely agree.

Manda: What else we could have is universal basic services, which would involve the government having whatever is the created money and flowing it into services that hopefully don’t have too many leaky buckets. Is the Bank of England interested in equity or are they interested in controlling the velocity of value?

Diana: The Bank of England frankly aren’t remotely interested in ideas like universal basic income at this point, I don’t think. That’s not at all in their thinking. And you’re right, universal basic income by itself is not a solution. It is just going to make everything worse. It would have to come in with a load of other stuff as well, and it would need to be done gradually, where we are gradually giving more money that way and gradually making sure that actually, you know, for example, tax rates, tax loopholes and stuff. So that stuff that is actually commercial needs a lot more control. And I think this is kind of maybe where I get to by the end of my book where I’m thinking… Okay, maybe let’s do this now, quickly.

Manda: Can we do it quickly? Because I think the where do we get to is actually quite detailed, I think. Let’s very briefly just go back into the Bristol pound, because it is still an interesting project, because I think the where can we get to and what can we do is actually huge. And we have not a huge amount of time left. So give us the Bristol pound briefly and then let’s have a look at what we can do.

Diana: Okay. So Bristol Pound, briefly, was on the one hand this local money going from local people to local businesses, local businesses on to other local businesses. Doing that, both retaining wealth in the local community and reducing the distance between production and consumption. That was one bit and the other bit, which never got off the ground, was going to be the money creation through mutual credit to enable that velocity and take away some of the power from the banks to control the velocity of that money. That bit never got off the ground. But the the localisation currency did. I think that there’s no point in going into the huge things of how complex it was and how all the nuts and bolts worked.

Manda: People can read the book because it is really exciting actually.

Diana: But what I would say is maybe it’s worth looking at why did it end? And why did it end? Basically, if it had been able to grow to about 100 times the size in terms of amount of money, the velocity going through the system and probably the number of users as well. If we had been at 100 times where we were, the little charges on transactions that were made for the digital money, much as in the normal world, merchants pay transaction charges each time you pay with your card or phone.

Manda: This is how visa and Mastercard make their billions. 

Diana: It could have been self-maintaining and viable as a currency in its own right, but we could never get up to that level of usage. Why couldn’t we? And that’s really a marketing problem. And here’s the problem: the way we marketed it was we said exactly what we were trying to do. Like, hey, we’re trying to localise the economy and basically be good people. And it’s a very sort of ideological thing that you have to get your head around and then agree with it and then believe it would work. And if you can do all of those three things, then fine, you’ll join the Bristol pound and maybe you’ll even use it occasionally. But all the time that you’re saying, come on, stop going to Tesco’s. Tesco’s really bad. You must do this other thing and you know, you’ve got to go to the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker and you’ve got to, you know, if that means it takes twice as long to shop, well, that’s a good thing to do because this is important. And if that means your shopping is going to cost twice as much money, because you’re buying an ancient grains organic sourdough bloomer instead of sliced white from Tesco’s.

Manda: And it’s much healthier for you and it’s not going to give you diabetes.

Diana: Yeah. So that’s the reason we couldn’t get up. We created a barrier. We said in effect, if you’re this woke and you get all of this new economy thinking, then you can join us. And otherwise, there’s nothing to see here. People would say, oh, so do I get a discount card? And I go, no, there’s no discount card because we’re trying to help little tiny businesses that can’t afford to give you discounts. So you do this because you want to make the world a better place, and you believe in it.

Manda: And the fact that your business might go bankrupt in the process is irrelevant to us, because we’re all good people.

Diana: The fact that you’re, you know, mother of four living in a council estate, trying really hard to just cope, you know, it’s like, okay, maybe you’ve got enough head space to worry a little bit about your environmental impact. You’ve got no head space to think about your economic impact. This is ridiculous, you know? 

Manda: And you don’t have the time and you don’t have the money. Yeah, this is our whole meta crisis focussed into one thing, isn’t it? This is this is why neoliberalism is pushing us over the edge. Because people don’t have the head space, and those of us who want things to change are going, you just do have to spend more money. The fact that local food is going to cost more is just very sad, but that’s the way the world is. And so what do we do, Dana?

Diana: So what we did was we we closed it down and we started to think, what could we do next? So the last bit of my book is kind of thinking about all the ideas of given that Bristol pound wasn’t working, what could we do next? And my starting point was, we mustn’t have that ideological barrier. We must make something which just makes sense to people in the current paradigm, without having to do any mental gymnastics and try and think very differently about everything and try and behave very differently. So we came up with the idea of a very different sort of money product, which would basically be a payment system where it was using newer technology. So it was much easier to make the maths work in terms of how this would be.

Manda: Are we talking blockchain or cards or?

Diana: Talking Electronic Money Institute regulations, which is a bit of a mouthful. Probably not worth going into that here, but it basically works a bit like PayPal used to in the old days. I mean, PayPal predates Electronic Money Institute regulations, but if you remember how it worked originally, when it was still very basic; you uploaded some money to PayPal, you could then pay other people with a PayPal account, and then if you had some spare money, you could download it into your account. All of those transactions that happened from a PayPal account to a PayPal account to a PayPal account, those didn’t touch the rest of the system. For PayPal it was very, very cheap to operate. Debit this person, credit this person. No third parties, no kind of Square and Google Pay and banks doing a load of transfers in the background that need to be paid for. No, they owned the whole thing and they encouraged everyone to have an account on their thing. So we were thinking same thing, right? We have everyone have an account on Bristol Pay. We were thinking actually it would be City Pay. We would have lots of implementations of it all over the place. And running the transactions is very cheap. We still could charge a transaction fee as PayPal do.

Manda: Which is why Peter Thiel owns half the South Island of New Zealand.

Diana: Exactly, exactly. So the business case works, right? So what we needed is why would you use this platform? And we decided it would be the only non-profit payment platform where any surpluses would be used to fund local voluntary sector services.

Manda: Local to your area, whatever your area is.

Diana: Local to your area, wherever your implementation is. So if we’re doing Bristol pay then it will be Bristol voluntary sector. It could even be hyperlocal, you know, it could be you’re in fishponds, Fishponds Youth club, you know, whatever. So that was the kind of idea. And we did some market testing. We said to businesses, if you could accept another method of payment with similar costs to your current method of payment, but it would be raising funds for the local voluntary sector, would you be up for that? And we got 100% yes. Even from big businesses. In fact, perhaps especially from bigger businesses, because they find it harder to give that local ‘We care about your locality message’. I mean, they sometimes have little green bits of plastic, but it’s not really very much. And then they give a £200 grant.

Manda: Basically siphoning all the value out of your location. And then we’re going to give you a very, very tiny fraction to the local dog and cat home.

Diana: Exactly, exactly that. So we asked people, would you use this? And they said, yes, of course, because I want my youth club to survive. And I’m well aware that they’re not getting grants anymore from the local council because the local council is just having to squish everything out.

Manda: Does this not end up being an argument for government not funding anything, though? Does this not just end up undercutting or giving the government an excuse to stop funding? Though they’re going to do that anyway, so…

Diana: There’s a difference between this is how we sell this, and we tell a story that people understand and get them to use this platform. Whether or not it’s a good thing, you know, should charities exist? 

Manda: Is a whole other discussion

Diana: A whole other discussion. Charities should not need to exist but anyway, let’s just…

Manda: But they do. This is the real world. And this would be, I mean, who wouldn’t want to use something that worked as well as PayPal but wasn’t actually helping Peter Thiel to buy his fifth giant yacht? Yes! 

Diana: Exactly. And so that that was the idea. We have our kind of localised PayPal type solution that generates money for the local voluntary sector. So the local council were very happy about this idea as well. 

Manda: Would they have taken rates in this?

Diana: No, it was more that they were interested in it because they could see that this potentially is a way to add money into the voluntary sector, which they’re not able to do. They’re constantly having to outsource things to charities at the moment because they just can’t do it all. So we thought, right, we’ve got something which talks to everybody within the current paradigm. Yes, we’re also raising some money for some local charities, which is a great thing. But actually it wasn’t the purpose of what we were trying to do. That was the way of making a business model that gets people on board. The purpose was to get people to understand value and their impact in a very different way. And the way we wanted to do that was to sort of have a game thing on the side, and the games would have tokens. The tokens wouldn’t buy you anything. The tokens would be like your Fitbit steps or your Duolingo Lingots or monopoly money, right? They don’t actually buy you anything, but they’re points in a game that make you feel good.

Manda: It’s gamification. Yeah. Dopamine hits. Basically they’re going to give you dopamine.

Diana: And so we started to think about what are all the things that we could do that we could count, that would be like, wow, we’re creating a different world. There were so many ideas. For example, one of the ones was a shorter shower challenge, where you sign up to the shorter shower challenge. Every day you say, did I manage to do my shower in three minutes or less? And every day that you did, you know, it’s like, oh, hooray! And maybe your profile picture is driven by the tokens you’ve got. So maybe if you’re saving water, you’ve got a lovely lake with ducks on it and things, and actually the lake dries up and stuff. If you’ve been using too much water in your shower, the ducks are looking unhappy kind of thing.

Manda: So it’s not just you gets to see it? Your neighbours and your friends and your community gets to see visually.

Diana: If you share it. I was quite big on data privacy.

Manda: We’re not shaming people.

Diana: No, definitely not. So it would be as much as with Duolingo, for example.

Manda: About which I know nothing.

Diana: Doesn’t matter. You basically can choose like, oh, let’s be friends, let’s be friends, and then you can see how each other is doing and high five each other and stuff. So more like that than like social media if you like. But the data would be held on a blockchain. And so at an anonymized level, we could create stats like: in Bristol, 3200 people have been doing the shorter shower challenge in the last month, and we think we’ve saved this many gallons of water and this much gas, heating it up to shower temperature. We could have other things,  I can’t go through them all. 

Manda: Go on, this is really exciting. So go!

Diana: So, rewilding a bit of your garden. I don’t know if you’ve looked around at gardens and, you know, they’re either like plastic lawns or they’re real lawns, but real lawns are barely better than plastic.

Manda: Or they sprayed glyphosate all over them.

Diana: Yes, exactly. Or they’re, you know, decking areas or paved over the cars parked on it. And we were thinking, for every square metre that you rewild, you get a token. And then we start to go, oh my God…

Manda: Extra points for hedgehog tunnels. And ponds…

Diana: Exactly. Because we need to change the norms, right? This is all about changing the norms and making people think, oh, that’s a cool thing. And we’re not saying you must do this. Instead it’s a fun thing where people get to be part of it and get to go, hey, look what we’re doing. One of the ideas was car free days, so each time we managed not to use our cars we get a point. But you’re feeling instead of, like, it makes no difference if I jump in the car to take the kids to school today. I’m running late and it’s bloody raining, you know, let’s just jump in the car. Nobody’s watching. Instead, it’s like, ah, I’d be letting down the team, you know, I want to post my tokens, I want to post my results and I want to be part of that positive movement, that collaborative effort. Where we’re a group of people who are trying not to use our cars and that’s a great thing. I thought about other things that could be really huge, like skills. You know, mending clothes.

Manda: Spinning, weaving, knitting.

Diana: Oh, another big one was, you know the Extinction Rebellion  do the de-escalation training. And I thought, oh my God, imagine if you could run de-escalation training and you get a token for doing that and you got it popular and you’ve got 20% of Bristol’s population having done de-escalation training. Can you imagine what that would do to police call outs and accidents and emergency and just the general feeling of how safe you feel in the pub, right? It would just be huge. It would be transformational. And so we were just thinking about all of these to try and make people understand or have a vision or feel that collaboration. And it would be the total opposite of how it is when people try and do it on Facebook or Twitter. Because on Twitter, if I put up my hand and say, hey, I’ve done de-escalation training and I’m trying to be like… whoa, you can imagine.

Manda: A troll army will come for your blood.

Diana: And equally, if I try and say I’m trying to be green, I’m having shorter showers and they all go, yeah, but I saw you eat a hamburger. I saw you get on an aeroplane. It’s like you have to get out of this.

Manda: It’s beyond toxic. 

Diana: So instead of having both apathy and a kind of negative shaming culture, what we need is positive reinforcement and collaboration and a feeling of I’m doing something.

Manda: So this is reminding me a lot of Hull Coin, which I tried to get hold of them to talk on the podcast, and it had dissolved before I ever got there. And for those listening, Hull Coin seemed to me a really interesting idea, where they were creating a local currency that was not linked to the fiat currency. It was valued at whatever the person giving it out said it was valued at, and it was going to be for social goods. Particularly if someone had, for instance, given up smoking and they’d gone along to the local clinic to help them give up smoking, and people said, okay, you’ve given up smoking for a day, you get a Hull coin. Or you helped in the local library for a morning, you get a Hull coin. But then you could spend it. For instance, one of the examples they gave was that football tickets cost whatever a football ticket costs. I have no idea. But five minutes after the game starts, they’re not worth anything at all. But we’ve got 30 spare seats here, so now we’re charging them out at a quarter of a Hull coin each, and you can come in. Or the swimming lanes are part empty at 11:00 on a Wednesday morning because nobody wants them. So 11:00 on Wednesday morning, quarter of a Hull coin, you can come along and swim. And because they were not fixed to the fiat currency, they, as I gather, the Tory government of the time, this was 2015, had agreed that they weren’t taxable. And so the potential seemed to me huge. And then it dissolved.

Diana: Well, Peter Kemp is the guy behind this and he’s not gone away. He’s been doing stuff in the Netherlands and then more recently he’s been doing it in Bradford and Bradford have got I think it’s called Citizen Coin and it’s not dissimilar.

Manda: Oh, I want them on the podcast.

Diana: You know, I chat with Peter and I have a lot of time for him. My experiment that I didn’t get off the ground but that I wanted to do, is different in one key way, really, I guess. Which is that his tokens are still basically trying to incentivise you to then use that within the mainstream economy. It could also be about businesses and providers using spare capacity or the cream cakes are going to go off,  I’ve got to throw them out at 5:00, if you’ve got hull coins, you can come along and have them. And the reason that it wasn’t a tax problem is because it’s basically a discount. The businesses couldn’t spend those hull coins on. They are burnt if you like, the moment that they are spent. So the business can’t spend them on, all they’ve done is given a discount.

Manda: So there is no velocity of hull coin. It’s a voucher.

Diana: Yeah, exactly. There’s no velocity because it’s not passing on. It is perhaps helping businesses from a marketing perspective to get more footfall. And so there were two reasons I didn’t want to do it. One, I didn’t want to be encouraging anything that was within the market economy. I wanted the market economy and the tokens to be completely separate, not to have this weird overlap in the middle. And the reason for that is the work that I had read by Dan Ariely and James Hayman. They’ve done experiments into the social economy and they set up an experiment which was very interesting. They had three cohorts of people, and each set of people had to do the same pointless task on a computer for, I don’t know, 15 minutes or 20 minutes or something. And one cohort got told, this is a really important experiment. Sadly, there’s no funding for it, we can’t give you anything for your time, but this is so important. Another cohort got told this is really important work and it’s been well funded actually. And we can fund you at the minimum wage for the time that you’re doing this. I’m afraid it’s only the minimum, but it’s a proper market rate for your hours and however long it was, wherever it was happening, that was $5. And the third cohort got told, it’s really important, we haven’t got really any money, but we’ll just give you $0.50. Just as a little nominal thank you for your time.

Diana: And then they looked at how hard they worked and the ones that were paid nothing and the ones that were paid a market rate worked basically equally hard. The ones that were paid $0.50 barely lifted a finger. And there’s something that clicks in to us as soon as we frame something in market terms. And we if think it’s not worth it, it’s not worth my time, then we don’t really bother. And I think this is the case with a lot of nudge economics, which haven’t worked. Some have worked a bit for a short amount of time, but many of the  nudge economics things that have been tried haven’t really worked long terme. And the reason is that you’re not really paying someone for the amount of time they’re having to put in to, I don’t know, sort out their recycling or put up with having a shittier car that you don’t like as much. Whatever it is, it’s like the quid pro quo doesn’t feel like it’s fair.

Manda: It isn’t a value, it isn’t a shared value.

Diana: So anyway, they repeated the experiment with nothing, a box of chocolates worth $5 and a Snickers bar. And when they repeated it this second time, they didn’t tell them how much those gifts were worth. They framed it for all three cohorts as this is really important, either we can give you nothing or we can give you this little thank you. Here’s a Snickers bar to say thank you for doing it or here’s a box of chocolates to say thank you for doing it. And they all worked the same hardness. The ones that had a Snickers bar worked just as hard as the others.

Manda: Because it didn’t have a unitary value on it. 

Diana: Yes. And then they did it a third time, and they told them how much the Snickers bar was worth, and told them how much the box of chocolates was worth. And as soon as they introduced that, kind of like, well, we’re giving you this and it’s worth $0.50. Immediately the market mentality was triggered. And so yeah, I didn’t want to risk associating these values about not using your car, rewilding your garden, having shorter showers.

Manda: Let’s not monetise them.

Diana: Yes, let’s not monetise it. Let’s not make the reason you’re doing it because then I can get a discount down at my favourite coffee shop.

Manda: Yes. You’re right. That makes so much sense. Okay, I have one other fundamental question, which is we all know that BP did not produce the personal carbon footprint calculator for any good reasons. They did it to get people who cared to obsess about their personal footprint. When the huge majority of our impact on the planet is collective. It’s what you said right at the beginning. It’s the systemic stuff. It’s the amount of extraction that goes into a health industry or goes into material extraction of any sort. Each of us could cut our own personal footprints to zero, and unless there is systemic change, actually it won’t make any difference. But what I’m thinking is that using this system gets people thinking differently. It’s aim or its impact is not so much the ‘I didn’t use the car to work’ or ‘I rewilded my lawn, good though rewilding your lawn is. It’s that I began to see that there was a way to take seriously the issues that I know need to be taken seriously, and I saw collectively my entire street rewild, and I realised we could do this together. Is that a fair assessment?

Diana: Yeah. I mean, in my wildest dreams, that was at least part of it. There was another bit of it. Because as well as this being a game, if you like, and the tokens being points, and by the way, those points could devalue over time so they would gradually erode.

Manda: Demurrage of points. Right?

Diana: Yeah. Exactly. Because maybe having 100 thanks tokens. Oh and there’s voting tokens. We didn’t go into that. But anyway.

Manda: Quadratic voting.

Diana: That kind of thing. Yes.

Manda: And consensus voting. Yes.

Diana: Spread voting maybe not quadratic, but anyway similar ideas. So there were all these ideas in there. And this is why the book is called Value Beyond Money and why I called you out earlier on.

Manda: Yes. For linking value and money. Yes.

Diana: Because actually money is part of that made up thing that I was talking about right at the beginning. It’s not real.

Manda: It’s an idea.

Diana: Money does not have real value. There’s that lovely quote, that when we’ve fished the last fish and cut down the last tree, you know, then we will discover that we can’t eat money. So money actually isn’t a value. One of the problems with money is it’s been designed to enable exchange. And I think a lot of people think exchange and trade is fine, we just need different money to do it. I see the problem as deeper than that. I think the problem is the market. So I’m really pleased that a lot of people are doing some work on how do we make this big, dreadful, globalised market system a bit less bad, by having a slightly different sort of money and trying to reduce the negative impacts. That’s all great, but actually I’m more interested in the whole idea of market and money, and that being the basic governance system for planet Earth, is problematic. And we need a different governance system. And my big influences here have been, I guess, twofold. One has been Art Brock, who has developed ideas around current-see and the way he writes that is current hyphen see. Seeing currents, seeing flows of value. And so he’s saying, you know, there are lots of things that we could think of as values. And it would be great to be able to see where they’re being created, what they’re enabling, the work, if you like, that is being done and where value is being destroyed, actually. And and to make that visible and accountable in some way. You know, give people accountability, responsibility for these kinds of current-sees. We were thinking that our tokens would be on a blockchain, but actually, Art Brock has set up his own kind of thing with a load of other people called Holochain, which is interestingly different. Don’t ask me to explain it technically, because I can’t possibly, but a similar sort of trustless distributed ledger, if you like, for specifically for thinking about interactions and current-sees and how we could make this stuff visible.

Manda: I so need to talk to this guy. But we’re talking to you and you’ve talked to him. So keep going.

Diana: Well, yeah. But he will say it better than me. So yes, maybe I paved the way for you to speak to Art Brock, which would be great. And I started to think about things like apparently there is software that if you look at images of the Earth from space, pixel by pixel, there are algorithms that can go, well, this is virgin forest and this is, you know, farmland. This is plantation forest, this is built environment.

Manda: Large land model. Yeah. There’s a guy in Portugal doing it. 

Diana: And I’m imagining if you got that and you mapped it to land ownership boundaries, national boundaries, and then you would go, well, virgin forest is worth ten points or tokens and you could say, you could do year on year, and this could be a kind of UN level if you like, you know, like global accounts for the UK is destroying the value of their land at a rate of X percent per year. It starts to make these things to become aware of where the value is and where it’s being destroyed, because we’re not really aware of that at the moment. It certainly has no impact. You should be matching your environmental land score and your social, you know, how many people are dying below the age of whatever. Or how many people have diabetes. We could start to have a load of different social health, social cohesion, all kinds of different currencies. And another key area where I think we need current-sees in the art rock sense is for manufactured items. At the moment, our current system, what makes it worth money, have value is its creation and initial sale. And then it’s just nothing. Which is why we don’t care about it. Why the circular economy stuff really struggles to get going, because it has no value. Whereas actually the value is it’s ongoing life.

Manda: If it has been designed to have value, if it isn’t an item of clothing that’s been designed to fall apart.

Diana: It’s designed to do something. It’s like the velocity of the money thing. It’s got to be doing something. Did you know this stat about the average power drill?

Manda: Used for 18 minutes in its entire life.

Diana: I heard four minutes and then it’s in a landfill because we use it, we put up one set of shelves and then we put it in the attic, and then we either forget it’s there.

Manda: And then we buy another one!

Diana: We buy another one, because now there’s one with hammer action and it’s cord free. Or maybe we get it out and because it’s not been used, it’s just seized up and so we have to chuck it out, you know. But whatever the reason, whereas actually it should be being used and it’s probably only got 18 minutes of life in it, that may be another stat that most drills can only work for 18 minutes.

Manda: I think it isn’t, because Stroud and the places that have their tool library, they do really well because exactly that, a hundred people could use this for 18 minutes at a time and it would be absolutely fine. 

Diana: And they’re doing repairs as well as part of that. My daughter works in one here in Kingswood. And so circular economy. So yeah, manufactured items need a current-see. So there’s all these current-sees. And this is the Art Brock idea of how do we really track value, not money, track real value.

Manda: And how does this break the market?

Diana: Real values are not fungible. So I can state the value of my house in US dollars or in eggs if I wanted to, because there is a fungible thing through which I can say, well, an egg is worth roughly this much. But I cannot state a value of x years of peace for this much good soil. Or this much carbon dioxide being taken out of the atmosphere with this much social cohesion or with children under five not not suffering early mortality over there. They’re not fungible. The idea that value is fungible is completely wrong and yet we have based our entire system on a market mentality that says there’s one thing of value. It’s called money. It’s completely fungible. And the way we pass it around is through market transactions. And so this is the other problem with a market. There’s always a mark-up, right? Otherwise it doesn’t work.

Manda: It’s not a market. Someone has to make a profit and therefore somebody else has to make a loss, which is usually the planet.

Diana: And we give money out to people through wages. And then we extract it back. And the general process for money is to go from the poorest people to the richest people and we’ve seen that happening. It’s so obvious that that is how money works. And governments keep saying, oh yes, it’ll trickle down, blah, blah, blah. It’s just not true. It’s a complete lie. It’s a complete lie.

Manda: And I think most people are seeing the lie now, except the real ideologues. Yes. If we break the market in the way that you’re suggesting, by accepting that actual value is not fungible. The people who are currently doing very well out of the market, because this is what Nate Hagens calls the superorganism, it is what powers the planet. It is what keeps everybody else moving. Can you see a way to the soft landing? To taking the market apart in a way these people are not going to then end up with 16 yachts and all of the stuff that they have, but they’re still going to do quite well, but in a way that doesn’t cause global war.

Diana: It’s very tricky. And I would be lying if I said, oh yes, I know how it could work, I really don’t. However, what I can at least do is say, we’ve got a rubbish system. What we need to be doing is designing the system that we can move over to, and let’s try and develop that. And what does that look like? And I guess that’s really where I’m trying to focus. And I’m thinking the world is one thing that we all have to share. It is a commons. It is THE global commons and working from  Ostrom’s principles, we therefore need to govern it as a commons. If we really believe the earth is a commons and that people all have equal value, and that we have a duty not only to this generation, but the next seven generations

Manda: So the whole biosphere.

Diana: Yeah, exactly. We’re trying to actually steward the planet for ourselves and for the future. If that’s really what this is about, we would not invent as the governance system a market economy. What would we invent? We’d invent a kind of commons governance system. And so let’s get busy trying to decide that. What will it need? Well, it won’t need money, because as I’ve said, money is at complete odds with with what value is all about. But we will need current-sees to see where value is being created and how it’s being shared, or how it’s being destroyed. We will need organisations of some type, because for things like a health service or to build a computer, you do need co-ordinated things and you do need supplies from different parts of the world. But those organisations don’t need to be corporations. The key thing about a corporation, apart from non-profit organisations, but basically a corporation is there to make money for the shareholders. Whatever its stated activity is, it’s not its purpose.

Manda: The venture capitalists who funded it. Yeah.

Diana: So we need organisations, but we need organisations that are purpose driven.

Manda: A future guardian model.

Diana: Co-ordinating people to do things, but not on the basis of money. And we also need to completely change our concept of land ownership. At the moment I can buy a bit of land anywhere, I can dig up lithium and create havoc and it’s fine. I’ve bought the land I don’t have to think about it.

Manda: Yeah  you can pour glyphosate all over it. Nitrogen and phosphate and produce food that is killing people and claim that this is a good thing.

Diana: Doesn’t matter. It’s all fine. It’s mine. I can do what the hell I like with it. And externalities, the pollution and the whatever, well, I just expect the rest of the world to pick that up for me. So those are the three things we need, current-sees. We need to get rid of the idea of private ownership, not just of land of ideas as well. You know, intellectual property is one of the worst things. It’s like whoever had an idea actually, without having been…

Manda: Without being part of a culture. Yes, absolutely.

Diana: And so that’s what I want us to try and be. You know, that’s what I’d like to be involved in doing next year. I hope my next job is helping people design and experiment how we do a commons. Because Elinor Ostrom’s work, you know, everyone needs to have a stake in it. They need to work out what the rules are between them and then we need to be able to call out bad behaviour and sanction that. That’s kind of what she said. And that can work fine without any kind of tech or visibility, if you like, when it’s 150 people in a community managing a bit of land.

Manda: Exactly. But at global scale, it can become a global state quite quickly, which has implications we might not want.

Diana: We need visibility because when it’s 150 people, I can say, John, I saw you do that and now here’s the consequence.

Manda: Even so, politics being politics, and we all still have our Palaeolithic brains. I was talking to someone today about a completely separate thing, but she said the organisation people don’t leave until they die and the people who are oldest have the most authority and the rest of us cannot argue. So you still need to create systems of emotional literacy and and democracy, even if it’s just a room full of 20 people.

Diana: Exactly. So how are we going to do this? Can we avoid a hard landing? Probably not. One of the most interesting conferences I ever went to was in Hull, actually, and we had two or three days, I forget what it was, of trying to decide what is the new economy that comes next? It was great, and about halfway through day two I put up my hand and said, you know, these are amazing ideas and it’s all fabulous. But how are we going to get there? We haven’t talked about it.

Manda: What’s the thrutopia, what’s the through line. Yeah.

Diana: And she just said, oh no, we all know the current system is just going to collapse. This is about how do we create some kind of legacy or model for the poor bastards who live through it and come out the other end, so that they don’t recreate the same rubbish. And I thought, I’m usually the most depressing person in the room, but here are some people who are truly, truly, you know.

Manda: But they aren’t necessarily right.

Diana: I hope not. And so I hope that the people who are doing the lovely work of trying to minimise the harms of the current global economy, that they will do stuff in time enough, and meanwhile we can grow this and we can gradually transition some things across. Because lots of things were actually in a different system and they’ve come into the market in my lifetime. For example, child care and elder care and various other things. I’m not saying it was great. It was that women weren’t paid or recognised for their work, but meanwhile they socialised children really well and fed them really well. You know, we can see that we have undervalued child care within our current market economy, by looking at rates of teenage mental health problems, rates of childhood obesity and early onset diabetes. We can see that we are not actually valuing how we socialise our children and similarly how we look after our older people correctly. We said to ourselves, because we need women in the workplace to grow the big economy, we’ll do that. We’ll let them buy the things they need to look after the children. And because it all used to be free and there’s this idea of scarcity of money within a market system for some reason, so we’ll have to pay them very little. And so we have school leavers with very little training who are not personally invested in this little person, how they’re going to grow up and develop.

Manda: Or this old person.

Diana: Or this old person. Yeah. And meanwhile, you know, as parents, you know, we’re working flat out. So we have to get takeaway pizza or whatever it is and shovel all kinds of rubbish down our children’s throats. It’s just…

Manda: The system is broken.

Diana: Anyway. So if we brought things into the market economy, maybe we can extract some of them. And I would start with a lot of the health and social care stuff. And this is where maybe the universal basic income comes in, because we’re going to dismantle this, it’s now part of a different system. But anyone within that system gets the universal basic income. It means it becomes like a voluntary thing that you’re enabled to do, and as soon as it’s voluntary, as we know from the James Hayman and Dan Ariely, then you’re engaging with it in a different way and you feel it has a value. And it’s not about I’m getting paid to do it, so you’re separating the money. You’re making it so that it’s not commoditized labour, it is me doing my heart’s desire to look after children or older people, and I’m enabled to do it thanks to universal basic income. So we gradually extract things from a market mentality. And that’s as far as I’ve got with my thinking, really.

Manda: But that’s absolutely brilliant. Yes, because where does your heart’s greatest joy meet the world’s greatest need? Is everybody’s baseline, really. Everybody wants agency and a sense of being and belonging, and that would give it. We’re so far over time. Let me stop looking at the clock. I’m thinking I was listening to Josh Davila and Primavera De Filippi the other day, talking about the coordination, which is the opposite of the whole kind of libertarian nation network state stuff. It’s a sense of how to create Non-geographical Elinor Ostrom, Commons style digital commons and communities. And I’m wondering, partly because that’s very alive for me, and partly because it seems to me that the old style nation states have to go. And yet, in the interim, I think of Scotland. I sat beside a woman at a college in Oxford. It was a dinner for something completely separate, and I ended up sitting next to an economist who you would really have got on well with. And she and her husband taught half the time in Oxford at one of the colleges, and half the time they were in Glasgow working out a central bank digital currency for Scotland after it gained independence. With the idea that you helicopter money to everybody and the velocity of that draws money, and provided you take that as tax and you take the fiat currency of either Europe or the remains of the UK as tax, then they are going to stay more or less at parity.

Manda: And it seemed really exciting. And that seemed to me one of the few arguments for maintaining nation statehood at the moment, provided it was allowed. I imagine Scotland would be turned into Gaza quite quickly if they tried to do that, but that’s a separate argument. That if one of the Scandinavian nations or Iceland or New Zealand or somewhere that has geographic boundaries was able to take on board, because everybody said when the crisis happens, the ideas that are around are taken up and you have to have the ideas around. And that’s what Hayek and the Chicago school had when everything fell apart in the 70s was, oh, look here, we’ve got this whole new idea that we can give to you intact, and it will make everything right. And so if you have ideas that enough people believe in, they’ll get taken up. I struggled to see the existing governance hierarchy taking this up. We’re going to need new governance, aren’t we?

Diana: I mean, you’re right, we need that or the current systems will fail. And this is why, even though I hate the idea of a massive disaster, I feel like it’s inevitable in a way, and I feel like maybe it is part of the story, it’s part of what enables what comes next. But I’d still rather work towards maybe we can try a soft landing and we just need to keep working on that very hard. I have to think that because otherwise.

Manda: You go mad.

Diana: It’s very difficult to get up in the morning, isn’t it? But at the same time, I try and hold that even on my dark days where I think, oh my God, it is all going to go horribly wrong. At least, I think if there’s anyone surviving at all after it all goes horribly wrong, maybe we can really think about what comes next. And so I think, you know, despite the time when I went to that conference in Hull, just thinking what? That’s crazy. I actually think that part of the reason I want to do that work of designing that global governance system for Commons Earth, is because this is really important. If we do get through the current thing, we need it. We need it, whether it’s a soft landing or a hard landing, we still need it.

Manda: And somehow you need to be putting it into little time capsules periodically so that somebody can dig it up and find it a hundred years from now in case they need it. 

Diana: Exactly. So they were thinking in Hull about an oral tradition; how do we create stories that we could feed into the kind of nursery rhyme, fairy tale, religious…

Manda: I am going to feed all this into the next book, I swear. So if you want me to somehow give credit, I will definitely give credit in the acknowledgements. I mean, this is why the whole thrutopian writing concept is if we could get every bit of fiction, if all of the big writers started writing stuff with this embedded in it, it would be there overnight. If every television producer could not get anyone to write EastEnders or the next James Bond without it having this in it, it would happen within a year. But they won’t take it at the moment. But if they couldn’t get anything else, they would have to take it.

Diana: That’s a really lovely thought. And I think that is the problem, isn’t it, that that kind of mass entertainment that we have through film and cinema and…

Manda: It’s conditioning, it’s propaganda. Every bit of it is propaganda.

Diana: It’s both distraction and propaganda. From the little placement of a Coke bottle here to the normalisation of here I am sitting by a pool drinking a cocktail. And here I am jumping on an aeroplane, it’s just built into the plot of everything.

Manda: And I am the guy or the woman who’s made it. And if you haven’t, it’s because you haven’t just spun the hamster wheel quite fast enough. But you will get there. We could have a whole nother podcast on.

Diana: But let’s no.

Manda: We’ll do it one day though. This has been so exciting, so interesting. We could go on talking for hours, I completely get that, and we will definitely come back for a second go. Is there anything that you want to say to listeners that they could usefully do now to help, to be part of making this a reality?

Diana: Yeah. I mean, you haven’t got a game to help you do it, but try and have that mentality that actually I could just shorten my shower. Just the little things that you can do every day. And it’s so easy to have that apathy of like, well, why would I bother? It makes no difference. But there are so many ideas for those little things we could do. And and if we do it, we help make it more normal so that someone else will do it.

Manda: Provided we tell people we’re doing it.

Diana: Yeah, exactly. And this is another little bit actually. The way to make change happen, is it doesn’t happen usually by some big social media influencer. Change happens in minorities. So minority groups do something, someone in that minority group has an idea, does something. And because the little people around them in that minority go, oh, that’s cool. And they feel safe to try it out. And then a few other people try it out, and then there’s a whole little minority that are doing this new thing.

Manda: And then you hit a tipping point where it begins to ripple.

Diana: And then as they are seen by other people,  it starts to spread that way. So think about what little communities you’ve got, where actually together you could be game changer. You can be the first game changer, but you’re spreading this in an area, not where you’re going to get laughed at by every troll on social media, but instead where you’re going to just share it with people where you feel safe doing it. And, and I guess the things that I would be trying to do, and the things that I try and do in my own life, is how do I both work less – I’m not very good at that, but at least I try and work for less money.

Manda: And hey, you enjoy doing spreadsheets so they don’t feel like work, right? 

Diana: So be less dependent on money. Reduce everything you can. Really look at did I need to buy that new pair of whatever? Did I really need it? And just try with every purchase and then when you’re working less then you’ve got more time and then you can spend more time cooking. So then you can get that veg box that you’ve been meaning to get. And, then you don’t have to go to the supermarket. It’s just little things  but the key thing that I’m constantly thinking is I want to use less. I want to spend less money. I want to use less money. I want to earn less money and spend less money. And that’s I think, you know, that’s a good place to start.

Manda: That’s fantastic. Right, well, until the next time, we are so good to have another conversation because this is so exciting. And I want to know where you’re going to take this. And maybe we can make it happen somehow. There must be ways that.

Diana: That would be great. I have a few ideas, but it’s going to take a while, I think, to work out exactly what to do. Which is part of the reason to write the book and then think maybe after that.

Manda: And when is the book out? Tell us when the book is going to be out. 

Diana: I don’t think it’ll be actually, you know, at a bookshop near you until September. I think it will physically exist from about May, but I think then there’s some kind of promotion.

Manda: Okay, but maybe you could come back in September when it’s going to hit the shelves, and we’ll remind people that it’s going to hit the shelves and we’ll see where we could take some of the ideas.

 Diana: Thank you so much, Manda, for having me. 

Manda: Thank you. This has been really exciting.

Diana: It’s been a real honour to be on your podcast because I listen to your podcast and just think, wow, these are amazing people. Oh my goodness. And then when you said you could be on it, it’s like, I just can’t believe it. 

Manda: Oh there you go! And you have such exciting ideas. This has been really genuinely very exciting. So thank you very, very much. Brilliant. Thank you. Diana: Thanks, Manda.

Manda: And that’s it for another week. Enormous thanks to Diana for the depth and breadth of her understanding of what we could do. For going to the conferences with people who think it’s too late, and still believing that it isn’t. For having coherent concepts of how we go about dismantling the superorganism. We have to do this now people and each of us can play a part. And what Diana just said about starting the small communities, not just of place though that matters, but also of purpose and passion. The places that you collect online are as important as the places where we collect in person now, I think. Start the balls rolling, start holding these conversations. Start talking to people about the changes that we can all make, not just in our behaviour that is really important, but in the behaviours all of us expect of the organism around us. If we stop expecting stuff to arrive from a sixth continent just in time supply chain, then we stop relying on them, then we can dismantle it. This is really important now people. So I’ve put links in the show notes to the various things I forgot, like the Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which I managed to completely forget the name, that is now in the show notes. And any connections otherwise that Dana and I feel are useful will be in there.

Manda: And otherwise we’ll be back next week with another conversation. In the meantime, thanks to Caro C for the music at the Head and Foot. To Alan for some stellar production. To Anne Thomas for the transcripts. To Faith Tilleray for the website, the tech that keeps the gatherings going. My goodness, there is so much behind the scenes people. And for the conversations that keep us moving forward. And as ever, enormous thanks to you for caring, for wanting to be part of the journey, for being there, for taking whatever steps you can take. And if you know of anybody else that understands that we need to dismantle the superorganism and is looking for ideas of how we could do it, or just wants to share the journey, then please do send them this link. And that’s it for now. See you next week. Thank you and goodbye.

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