We're happy to announce that Money & Life was sought out and chosen to be 1 of 20 films in the inuagural Awakened International Film Festival Retreat in Santa Barbara, CA this October. Director, Katie Teague will be present for a panel discussion after the film and workshop some time during the course of the retreat. Come join us if you can. See attached press release for details:
During the summer I stumbled across the Transitions Network website and then discovered a Transitions group in my area called Village Surrey. After watching numerous documentaries about the problems with money and its power structure, I had come to the conclusion that the root of all evil was indeed money, but at the same time it’s also the most simple and powerful “voting” tool we have as individuals. The Money & Life movie became our movie night choice for September and a small, diverse group showed up to watch the documentary and discuss it afterwards.
One Muslim woman commented on how she felt nauseous after seeing how the fractional banking system really works. She reflected on how the Qur’an views the act of charging interest as a moral sin. Another man, who have moved to our area from Africa, shared how he felt disconnected from those around him and how difficult it was to feel a part of a new community. He valued the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. One participant felt we should not put too much emphasis on money so as not to overstate its importance. Fair point. A range of thoughts and ideas were shared, but what mattered was that Money & Life provided a starting point for people to connect, learn and grow.
One of the purposes of showing Money & Life was to see if there would be some interest afterwards in starting a local currency to promote local businesses, create resilience in our economy, and start reconnecting people. Money can be a democratic and empowering tool. Hopefully, whether we barter, have time shares or an electronic currency, there are ways to make powerful changes since we all deal with money on a daily basis and would ultimately like to spend much more time on what skills we can share with each other, not on how much we get paid in a national currency.
Learning about what others are doing is encouraging. So we shall see where this local currency project leads and at the very least, it has me thinking more about my community and how to make its roots stronger!
Surrey, BC, Canada
Guest Post by Scott Morris
A few months ago, I got a phone call from Katie. "How would you like to go to the DR?" "The what?" I replied. "The Dominican Republic. They have an environmental film festival that's featuring Money & Life this year and I'm already scheduled elsewhere and can't go. It's M&L's first big film festival. Sound like something you'd be into? They are paying all expenses!" "Well uh, let me think about tha...YES!"
Having never been further south than Florida, and knowing little to nothing about our neighbors in that direction, I was excited to accept the opportunity for some adventure. And, of course, another opportunity to spread the good word about Money & Life and the new economy movement.
Truth be told, I've been in heads down mode, trying my hardest to keep focused on my currency work and not entertaining things non-essential. I didn't do any homework on the DR before going, but at the same time that meant I left without expectations, which is rather advisable when traveling abroad I've found.
We walk into the 6th or 7th floor of an American sized mall, and into a totally modern movie theater. There's a green room with drinks available (at prices you'd expect in any American city) and this epic "May the Force be With You" on the wall, complete with a Darth Vader mask. Way too cool. After some meeting and greeting we take our reserved-by-name seats and strike up a conversation with a couple of Californians there representing "Otter 501". Before too long, a flurry of camera strobe flashes tells us that the former President of the DR has arrived at the venue...a mere 6 seats away from yours truly. Unfortunately, I have to leave the opening ceremony early in order to attend the first screening of Money & Life at a nearby college campus, but I knew I'd be linking up with El Presidente soon enough.
The first screening was interesting. The panel prior to the film had gone over its time budget, so they'd gotten started much later than anticipated, meaning that the last third of the film (all the good news) had to be cut if I was to have any time to speak with the students. I got up and, through translation, did my best to make up for the absence of the usual, Money & Life-instilled inspiration, and hopefully some of the students took away something useful as they headed off to their 8pm classes.
The next screening was at another university in a town about two hours away. We enjoyed the ride out with our translator and a couple of other escort volunteers, taking in the beautiful countryside views of rice fields, african-looking trees, and mountainous backgrounds. Of course there were the usual developing-nation scenes of more people than appropriate riding on a motorcycle, vans without doors spewing pure black exhaust as a passenger hangs out the side, and goats....just....goats ok? Anyway, the university is another sustainability-minded one, nestled comfortably back into some forest just outside the city. We were greeted by the hosting professor and the Dean of the School of Economics, who mostly focuses on Finance. We shared some discussion before heading into the screening room, where the film was just about halfway through.
After the film had concluded, I was introduced and brought to the podium to speak. This time I wanted to focus on keeping things simpler, more concise, and more heartfully directed. Guillermo did a masterful job of live-translation, and after the talk a number of students stuck around with a few follow up questions. A couple wanted to know how they could start up a "HERO Rewards" of their own there at the University, always an exciting question to field for me. I'm looking forward to following up with them about that. It was a lot of fun and I left a few token Merits with the professors as a sign of my gratitude for the gracious hosting.
One night Lucy Walker was due to receive an award from the organization for her film "The Tsunami & The Cherry Blossom". I was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to use my proficiency in Japanese while viewing the film, as the subtitles were only in Spanish, leaving the English-only folks literally and figuratively in the dark. After the screening and Lucy's receiving of the award, we were all ushered upstairs to the board room on the top floor, where we would be treated to a surprise meeting with Leonel Fernandez, the former President.
We assembled in the room slowly and former President Fernandez takes his place at the head of the table. He then invites us to introduce ourselves before moving forward. When it's my turn, I cite myself as a protagonist in Money & Life, due to my work "creating a cooperative currency system which supports sustainability-related volunteerism, stimulates the local economy, and works to complement the national currency." "So...you create new currencies? That's kind of COOL!" he says. "Yes sir, we should talk more about it sometime."
The conversation goes on, and he talks about his vision of development for the DR, focused on education, film, and sustainability. He talks about changing the classroom dynamic, fostering more waste-to-raw-material industry, and getting more students interested in filmmaking. I was nervous. I was thinking about speaking up about a system I'd just been reading about in Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne's recently published, "Rethinking Money: How Currencies turn Scarcity into Prosperity" and I really wanted to share, but I wasn't sure now was the time. After all, I told myself, we'd be seeing El Presidente again at the closing ceremony. No. I had to speak up now. I raised my hand.
"Yes?" Mr. Fernandez says after my politely raised hand had been missed by another speaker, "Did you have something you wanted to say?" I did. Even now I can feel the tell-tale jitters that accompany me when I'm living my edge. Voice shaking a bit, and feeling shy on breath, I begin "Well, I just wanted to put something forward for your, and everyone's, consideration. I've been reading this "Rethinking Money" book by one of my advisors, and it has something to offer which could pull my currency work out of the abstract and into more concrete terms. In fact, I believe it would address many of the needs you've just identified, as it's custom tailored to education, and can increase any investments made into education have a greater return by 10 or 12 times the original amount..." I went on to describe what Bernard and others call the "Saber" currency, which uses vouchers issued to very young students to incentivize cross-generational tutoring, and resulting in cheaper access to higher education for graduating seniors. "What can you tell me about BitCoin?" he asks. "Well, there're a lot of people very excited about it these days, and I can understand why. BitCoin has been useful in that it has shattered the misconception that it is only governments and central banks who can create money, but in terms of its system design, it's actually very limited in terms of what it can do for social or environmental ends. I think we'll see it become a commodity-like store of value, but not much more." I reply.
Someone asks him whether he'd rather be a former president, or a baseball player for the Cubs, and that's the end of the group's time with him. Afterwards, while taking some group photos, I shake his hand and reiterate my desire to have a conversation about the DR's development and currency. We agree we'll meet in NYC in the first week of October. "Be sure to follow up on that." he says. I sent the email yesterday.
After our screenings were done, it was go here, enjoy this, go there, enjoy that until we headed home. We visited a cacao plantation, saw how cacao was planted, grown, harvested, fermented, roasted, and processed into that sweet brown nectar called chocolate. We planted about 2,000 trees with a bunch of Dominican students, and dined at a restaurant right on the water, which had its own private swimming area in case you felt like taking a dip before (yep) or after (that too!) your meal. Of course the meal plans were slightly interrupted as a mild tropical shower decided to join the party, sending the restaurants crew running on the dock (pictured) grabbing table cloths, collapsing umbrellas, and otherwise battening down the hatches. Half an hour and some floor squeegeeing later, no problemo!
We spent most of this time connecting with other filmmakers and film festival hosts. Lucy Walker was emphatic in her recommendation that I get myself to Silicon Valley as soon as possible (anyone feel like sponsoring a plane ticket?) because there are "loads of people with loads of money looking for people with ideas just like yours." She and a number of others all extended offers of places to stay should I ever come through, and I hope I'll be able to take them up on those sometime!
Eventually it was time to head home. We were to arrive at 11pm with plans to pick up the car and drive directly back to Ithaca, 4 hours away, getting us home at 3:30 or so. "Plans? HA!" the gods said. We got home to discover that in spite of a seemingly still charged battery, my car wouldn't start, leaving us stranded on the other side of New York state. The gods, if ironic and comical, were at least kind in their favor as we had parked in the driveway of someone we found on Craigslist. He kindly put us up for the night, helped us try to jump the car the day after, and even put us up for another night ALL FOR FREE when it ended up needing some time in the shop. What a blessing ~~ Frank, you really are a life-saver. Thank you so, so much again. Looking forward to hosting you here in Ithaca sometime soon! ~~ Such a gift-economy experience seemed a somehow appropriate way to end a marvelous trip to an island paradise-to-be.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Katie, both for the opportunity to enjoy this trip, and for the trust to represent the message of Money & Life with authenticity. Thank you to FUNGLODE staff and the DREFF volunteers for making the experience the smooth sailing it was. Special thanks to Natasha, Emy, Marc, and Guillermo for their excellent work. Looking forward to seeing you in NYC in October! If not there, then perhaps in the DR again sometime for another festival.
For many in attendance, being invited to, and given the special treatment at the DREFF was a chance to step back and realize that what is often thankless work is actually seen, appreciated, and very important to many, many people. For me, it was a chance to take a moment to catch my breath and help spread the good word about the beautiful gift to us all that is Money & Life. Katie has done us all a great kindness, and then done it all over again by releasing the film in the way she has. I humbly and cordially charge each of those who read this piece to share Money & Life with their community, a group they're involved in, or just a friend, and to send something back in return for the gift to Katie, whether by charging a voluntary donation, taking a collection, or otherwise just pulling a little something together. With all of us sending this and that, we will eventually return the debt of kindness with the best kind of interest there is.
Now, it's time to return to our work. We have a great responsibility as those aware of which way up is to spread that awareness, raise one another's consciousness, and leave this world in a better state of affairs than we inherited it. Jean Houston had it completely right "This is clearly the most interesting time inhuman history. I mean other times in history thought they were it, but they were wrong: this is IT!" So get out there! What ever instrument you play in this symphony of shifting paradigms, play it loud and play it with pride.
Scott Morris lives in Ithaca, NY and was featured in Money & Life for his "HERO Rewards" program and its "Merit" currency, which encourages volunteerism, supports the local economy, and builds real wealth. He now consults for the board of the Ithaca HOURs, and is working to bring modern cooperative currency technology to N. America via a Cooperative model. For more information including contact info, please visit www.mylocal.coop.
Posted by Katie Teague
Here is the late Summer update on Money & Life. Highlights include these stats since the launch of the film on May 1:
Since we've gifted the film and effectively removed M&L from being the "middle man" we've found it difficult to accurately track screenings as they happen without our knowing. This is great AND if you are planning a screening, please let us know and we can post it on our website and we would like to keep track for our own metrics.
The film has now been translated into and can be viewed on Youtube (just click on the CC button for language options) in the following languages:
~ Spanish (Mexican)
~ Spanish (Spain)
~ French (translated but not posted on Youtube yet)
THANK YOU to all the amazing, generous folks who gifted their time and skills for these translations! A shout out to Stacco, Balint, Chris, Jonas, Carolina, Oliver, and Jorge.
It's been wonderful and awesome to watch the film circulate throughout the world. It has a very big presence internationally, especially in Europe.
We're also looking into other film festivals and talking with possible "smart TV" distributors to increase M&L's circulation. Some interesting possibilities are being explored and we will keep you posted. We will also be turning our attention to the educational market soon.
Late summer is Phase 2 of our Money & Life outreach-distribution strategy. So, we'll be spending time reviewing the feedback and data thus far to discern next steps.
The communications keep rolling in from all over the globe as people become aware of the film and they are inspired and impacted by its message and transmission. And we keep doing our best to honor the spirit of Money & Life.
UPDATE: Since Nathaniel posted his “Are We Viral Yet?” blog last week on the 21st, we’ve jumped from 20,342 streaming hits on Youtube to 38,171 and counting. If our average views for the first 20 days was 1,017, the average of the last week has been 2,547. You don’t need to be a mathematician to see that with a jump of that nature the answer to Nathaniel’s question is a very likely YES. Now the challenge is to keep up that pace! I’m eager to hear what strategy Katie and Nathaniel decide on and am looking forward to taking part in whatever way possible.
Since the conclusion of the last Kickstarter, I’ve fallen fairly quiet in the Money & Life digital community. Thank you all again for stepping up and helping Katie and Nathaniel make it around the country for that tour. I was lucky enough to attend the premiere in NYC, and have to say the audience’s excitement for Money & Life was palpable in the atmosphere. You could actually feel the inspiration, and even relief, people felt by hearing Katie’s message of hope and solutions-oriented focus. It’s little surprise to me that people are eagerly sharing this film with their own communities, friends and family.
Personally, Money & Life’s success is something I’m invested in in more than one way. As the prime driver of HERO Rewards, I’m very much a part of the living story it tells. Believe me when I say I don’t take that sense of responsibility lightly. In fact, that sense of responsibility is what brings me here to you today. I feel I owe it to you, as the Money & Life community, to continue that work and see it through to scale so that any and all of you can bring HERO Rewards and other life-nourishing systems to your own communities. I am very clear that that is my life’s purpose, and I’m fully devoted to it.
After the conclusion of our first pilot of HERO Rewards (which happened right about the time Katie filmed us the first time), we decided that a cooperative was likely the best way to scale the system and share it everywhere. In staying true to the spirit of the New Economy, we wanted an equitable, democratic framework that could offer true ownership on top of meaningful utility. So, “myLocal Cooperative” was born, and I'm now gnawing at the bit to raise the money we need to be able to reach communities across the US and beyond.
Today, I’ve been applying my meme creation skills to a crowdfunding campaign of my own in order to make that cooperative a reality. In order to develop the resources we need to go and raise real capital, we need about $5,000. That will go to covering time mapping out the membership and business model of the cooperative, some mentorship, and access to resources in the university communities at Cornell and Ithaca College. If you are inspired by our mission to bring this place-based and people-powered system to the world, please consider chipping in and sharing through social media. If you haven’t already, please send me a friend request on facebook! I do love connecting with members of this community and would love to have your support in getting the word out here in the last week of the campaign.
Scott Morris is a New Economist and the Founder of myLocal Cooperative. He works with community currencies and sustainability organizations in Ithaca, NY. He serves on the board of the Green Resource Hub, Greenstar's elected council, and organizes for the Ithaca HOURS. He is also an artistic travel and nature photographer. Learn more about his startup cooperative and currency work at www.mylocal.coop and see his photography at www.CScottMorris.com.
by Nathaniel James, Engagement Strategist
Money & Life has been widely available for 20 days. The great news is that 20,342 people have streamed the film as of this writing. That's an average of 1,017 per day. At this rate, when you add in all the planned community screenings, DVD sales and downloads, it's possible that somewhere as many as 300,000 people will have seen the film by the end of the year. This is a wonderful indication that our grassroots distribution model is working and that the film is fulfilling a need. But, at the same time, our daily viewership rates began to slow a little bit over the weekend.
I can't help from asking a few questions. Are we headed to a plateau or a serious slow down? In this age when a (let's face it) frivolous music video can garner one billion viewers, what's it going to take for meaningful media like our film to reach one million?
In other words, are we viral yet? And if we aren't, what can we - the Money & Life supporter community - do to move us to that tipping point? I'm including some short notes on virality and asking you - our friends and supporters - what you think we can do together, given our limited budget and team capacity, to reach for that one million viewers mark. Before I dig in, I want to reiterate that the quality of M&L dialogue and action is the most important thing, but driving quantity audience size makes better quality possible.
Media "goes viral" through a number of channels. An important feature of viral media is its shareability. When thousands of people are compelled to hit that share button, email a few friends, or otherwise nudge a piece of media outward to their networks, and each new wave of sharing generates a larger wave of sharing, then virility is possible. So, how shareable is Money & Life?
Between Facebook, Twitter and our mailing list, we can reach about 3,000 fans. And, of course, upwards of 24,000 people have seen the film! And we know many of you have been sharing the film and we thank you for it. But the strategic question is, now that M&L has touched so many people, how can more of us rally together to amplify the film to that next level of hundreds of thousands?
Would you participate in a coordinated social media and face-to-face outreach campaign? What kind of support would you need, knowing that our resources are largely tapped out at this point?
Last week, I met with Colin Mutchler, Louder's founder and sketched some ideas about using their tools to amplify our signal. Louder is a platform to fund advertising for purposeful messages. Think of it as Kickstarter, but with a specific focus on pooling funds specifically to reach audiences. They are about to launch features that begin with expanding shareability, but ultimate lead to a funding appeal that is directed to advertising of the campaigner's choice.
Many of you crowdfunded to make production possible. Many crowdfunded to make our premiere tour possible. Would you join us in raising some pool of funding to buy advertising space? Obviously, "advertising" has a bad reputation for those of us who want to change the world for the better. But as Colin said, "If we're going to be stuck with an advertising-based media for the foreseeable future, why shouldn't more advertising space carry our messages," rather than those that support the status quo of consumer culture? I, for one, think that's a terrific question.
And we have already experimented with advertising, specifically spending $40 over our first two weeks on Facebook ads. We have reason to believe that those ads are a main driver for our consistent audience growth. As much as I'd rather not line the pockets of Facebook's owners, I think it's worth asking what could happen if, one time, we spent $1,000 or $5,000 or more advertising on this kind of advertising. What do you think? Would you add a little money to the pool to make that happen?
I'm still learning about it, but Thunderclap "is the first crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together." In other words, supporters connect their social media account, and when the time is right, Tweet and Facebook all together. Do you think we should give this a try?
A second pathway to virality is exposure to large audiences via traditional media: press, radio and television. During the premiere tour, we engaged a very capable PR pro to help us do this. However, for a variety of reasons, Money & Life has so far proven difficult to "sell" to journalists.
And yet, on an almost weekly basis, I am seeing discussions in the mainstream media about the ongoing collapse of the status quo economy and I think, "Why aren't they calling Katie?"
Media pitching is an arduous, time-consuming tactic. And we've exhausted our current budget for that work. But I believe our network can help us connect to some highly visible journalist. One way to do that is to successfully "go viral" without the big media and then that is the story. Or, somewhere in our 20,000 strong audience is a relationship with a media outlet that would resonate with the film.
Are you someone who can introduce the film to a big media producer?
To close up, it's important to repeat that we are absolutely thrilled with how the film has done so far in its early release period. And we are endlessly grateful to its supporters for making that happen.
We're simply turning some questions we've been asking behind the scenes over to you. Do you want to see Money & Life reach larger audiences? If so, what can we do together to make that happen?
The “official” premiere tour is over and May 1 is here. I stand at a threshold of having completed the film and having watched it personally with over 1500 people (not including the rough cut screenings). And now I release it globally out into the world. It’s like giving birth to a fully mature teenager who’s ready to leave home, who kind of still needs you but not really.
I am still catching up to myself from the whirlwind of traveling across the U.S. for over 3 weeks and being blessed by the gracious orchestration of so many people who helped make the premieres happen and meeting so many amazing human beings along the way. I realize as I offer Money & Life as a Gift into the world that the nature of Gifting has reciprocity inherently built into it, such that you don’t always know who is gifting who or where the gift began, especially when we begin to acknowledge the abundant flows of wealth beyond money itself.
Money as we know it today measures scarcity really well. But it’s a lousy measurement of the many dimensions of wealth intrinsic to our being human.
So, I would just like to thank everyone who has been a part of the premiere tour journey with me ~~ sponsors, coordinators, hosts, fairy godmothers and attendees alike. In summary, I feel I’ve been witness to an extraordinary tapestry of goodness and potential being activated.
And now I am thrilled to offer and announce the global release of Money & Life. It is now available on DVD with 33 minutes of extra interviews (for sale on the website**), online streaming and digital download (at no cost = pay according to your values and means). And we’ve now already had around 50 people contact us to register hosting a screenings in their communities (click here to find out more about hosting a screening)!
I’ve decided to take a very non-traditional approach to distribution by Creative Commons licensing the film and actually encouraging the sharing of the film and by offering it online at no cost because the most important thing for me as the filmmaker is that the seeds of the film get spread across the fertile soil of humanity. Yes, I do need to recuperate expenses put into the film (above and way beyond funds raised via Kickstarter) and there does need to be flow into the production company to continue and further outreach and distribution AND I trust that those who are touched by the film and have the means will become an integral part of the Gift and its inherent reciprocity.
As John Lennon sang “You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
** DVD’s won’t start shipping until on or around May 10.