‘Oh here we come a-wassailing, a-wassailing come we. All hail, all hail, fine apple tree, all hail, all hail to thee!’
We began this week in song, and doesn’t song offer a welcome diversion from everything else. Counting the blessings: my folks’ apple harvest was an incredible bounty last year, and tits and fieldfares and blackbirds and squirrels and others are even now still enjoying the windfalls.
And the year in a nutshell for this artisan: no nomadry, and a romance that stalled like every other plan; much vegetable-growing (in hay bales in my folks’ garden in Devon); a fair amount of weaving, but also the seedlings of another new project…
…a moneyless marketplace. An online trading post that should enable proper reward for small, sustainable businesses punished by capitalism whilst improving affordability for the rest of you also punished by capitalism (where capitalism = the extraction of ‘surplus’ value from the planet and the many for the purposes of wealth concentration).
Does ‘higher prices and more affordability’ sound like an oxymoron? It doesn’t have to be! You should be able to pay in whatever you have in the way of goods, services, skills and trades (although we will be quite selective to start with as we cement the marketplace identity for quality). As long as all participants buy about the same amount as they sell, very little ‘normal’ money will change hands; but where (naturally) there is discrepancy between what a participant buys and sells, this difference will be settled in normal money. It is essentially a multi-way barter network that’s supported by a cash clearing system to prevent blockages and imbalances. As above, it will not be strictly moneyless (and I fear I’ll have to ditch that term altogether), certainly to start with. Rather, it will be a hybrid of a mutual credit and a LETS scheme, the one ironing out the flaws of the other, with sellers paying transaction fees (in ‘normal’ money in the first instance) to cover marketplace running costs. Thus it will serve as a transition model from a hierarchical monetary system (where money is created from nothing as debt at interest by a privileged few) to an egalitarian one (where we are all owners of credit within the natural limits of our labours).
As you might hope and expect from someone like me, there is a deeply transformative purpose to all this: trade can operate here in an economy that, to the extent that it is moneyless, does not have a structural growth imperative. That means that this economy, unlike the prevailing debt-money-based global one, does not require inequality, excessive consumption or infinite growth. Rather than compelling a cost-cutting, profit-maximising race to the bottom that ravishes communities, natural resources and habitats, it allows truly sustainable businesses to survive and hopefully thrive. A people-saver, a planet-saver – and a market-saver! Who knew this eco-socialist had a market-based solution?!
Has anyone here any experience of starting a Community Interest Company? Having gathered a possible partner or two I am now drawing up the non-profit business plan to impress the other interested parties (who are revolutionary, philanthropic, software providers). Again, who knew this Luddite would benefit so much from t’interweb?
Stay tuned! I especially welcome expressions of interest in my Facebook group ‘Towards a Moneyless Marketplace’ where ideological, economic, technical and practical discussion is fostering community-building to prepare the ground. The draft banner below (blockprint credit: Hannah Regier of Sky Like Snow) gives a sneak preview of the project’s identity. Does it draw you in?
Meantime I wanted to alert my most loyal followers (if you’re reading this, that’s you) to two other things happening right now:
Firstly, These Isles’ January sale, where a few selected weavings in my Etsy shop are currently reduced by 25% (that’s 25% off the price you see marked below, search ‘sale’ to see these reduced items, but please note that the poncho – top left – has already sold).
Secondly, my newest batch of weavings fresh in my shop to kick off 2021: emberscape oranges, where one customer described orange as the colour of victory. I’ll go with that, here’s to it!
These latest weavings are large (double-size) snugs, or snug cowls. They are very good proportions: small enough for convenience and practicality; voluminous enough for great warmth. Generous and robust but fine and soft too.
They’re made of a lovely yarn I’ve only recently begun using: an indulgent lambswool in incredible colours. ‘Indulgent’ not least because the yarn has come all the way from the antipodes. (Rest assured that I confirmed the supplier’s non-mulesing policy.) However, because it has come all the way from the antipodes, I’m not sure I will continue with it. My own ‘moneyless’ marketplace will have strict sustainability policies and I’ll be launching new products there made only from the most sustainable yarns (the more expensive local/undyed/plant-dyed/handspun and so on; subtler, as per this post’s banner image).
I do not make these cowls often because they are cost ineffective for several reasons: the wool is fine and therefore an inch of fabric takes more labour/time to weave than with a thicker yarn, and the handknotting or handsewing of their longer seams is similarly cost-ineffective.
So don’t count on there being an endless supply of these: snap them up while I’m still indulging. (Most folk are worried about money at the moment, understandably; see my shop policies section for flexible payment options, and also the ‘Barter’ tab on my website here.)
In each listing you’ll see full info, but brief introductions follow…
Cowl number 1, ‘Kingfisher’ (SOLD: emberscape warp interwoven with a strong teal weft for a kingfisher effect: picture how she glints low across a river in a flash):
Cowl number 2, ‘Sky blue’ (emberscape warp interwoven with a variegated turquoise weft, for the hint of a cloudscape in that kind of blue herringbone sky that’s shot with sunset and reflected in ripples on wet sand on a west facing beach when the tide goes out):
Cowl number 3, ‘Reddest ember’ (emberscape warp interwoven with a variegated rust-red-orange weft; the brightest of this range, epitomising the red ember glow of a warming hearth):
Cowl numbers 4 and 5, ‘Fiery ember’ (emberscape warp interwoven with a variegated rust-orange weft; the orangest of this range: fiery embers to warm the heart and lift the spirit):
Cowl numbers 6 and 7, ‘Shetland ember’ (emberscape warp interwoven with a simple tweed rust Shetland weft; think rusty iron rings embedded on a rock at the harbourside):
Cowl number 8, ‘Terracotta’ (emberscape warp interwoven with a sombre rust weft; the subtlest of this range):
Cowl number 9, ‘Earthen ember’ (emberscape warp interwoven with a tweed Shetland weft that includes rusts, dark olive greens and even minute emerald flashes; the texturedness of the colours make this the most earthen of the range):
So that’s the news from These glowing Isles in a dank January. ‘See’ you in my shop or somewhere soon I hope.