Photos courtesy Gabby Carroll
Last week at the Creative Alliance, the Baltimore Green Currency Association (BGCA), founder of Baltimore’s regional currency the “BNote”, screened the documentary Fixing the Future, of which Baltimore is one of the stars. The film featuring several Baltimore locations where BNores are currently exchanged, including Hampden, Lauraville, breathe books , and Zeke’s Coffee.
Fixing the Future is about community initiatives across the country that on the local level can revolutionize the economy and rebuild community through practices of time banking/hour exchange, worker cooperatives, local business alliances, community banking, and local currency. This film examines the cause of financial crisis and envisions what a sustainable future can look like in the U.S. as more goods and services return to the local level, rebuilding the interconnections in our communities from solar salmon fishing at Lummi Island to Tiny Houses in Bellingham to a laundry co-op in Cleveland to the creation of a local currency in Baltimore. This film documents initiatives across the country and asks the important question, “Do people exist to serve the economy or does the economy exist to serve the people?”
Baltimore’s cooperatives and grass root organizations came out this night to support the BNote and table at the event with Red Emma’s, Baltimore Green Works, The Baltimore Time Bank, and the Baltimore chapter of Zeitgeist all representing local initiatives.
After the film screening, a panel discussion was held with Jeff Dicken, the current Director of the BNote, Christina Nutile, Program Manager at Baltimore Green Works, Iris Kirsch, Red Emma’s Cooperative Owner, John Duda, Red Emma’s Owner and expert on Evergreen (a large scale Cleveland-based, worker co-op) and Edgar S. Cahn, the creator of the Time Dollar and time banking.
The panel on stage at the Creative Alliance mirrored the panel that appeared at the end of Fixing the Future, bringing part of the film back again to the immediate. The audience asked questions from how to reopen the Sparrows Point steel mill that closed down earlier this year, laying off 2000 workers, to how engage their children in a local, living culture. Edgar Cahn who had a wise and gentle nature about him said at one point on the panel, “It’s time we stopped outsourcing what it means to be a human being.” In a world where interconnections between neighbors and between people and their environment have been sold off in an economy where anyone’s labor can replace anyone else’s and everyone is dispensable, time banking, cooperatives, local business alliances etc are all a solution, which recreate community bonds and affirm that we are interconnected, that our happiness is dependent on others’ happiness and that we do in fact need each other.
The Baltimore Green Currency Association has started a local economy movement in Baltimore, from launching the Bnote, to hosting a market minus the dollar event at the Creative Alliance last fall, to spawning The Baltimore Time Bank. Creative, local, community initiatives are afoot in Baltimore as the conversation in this city is turning towards how we can revolutionize our economy and in doing so contribute our piece to revolutionizing the world.