The Network Project: WORKSHOP

Sat 17th April 2010: - FROM HERE to WHERE?
Room S314, St Clement's Building, LSE, 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm

This is an Openspace Gathering to celebrate visits to the UK of John Courtneidge and Robin Upton. The Network Project was set up under the leadership of Rosamund Stock and Ian Brown, with the aim of making a difference, and ran a successful series of workshops from February 2003 to November 2006. After an interval of over three years, we need to review our various projects, identify common themes, and find ways of moving forward. Contributors so far are listed below - more may be added.


John Courtneidge, co-operator and quaker, is active in CCMJ and a trustee of LETSlink UK. He now lives in Canada and contributes to the theory of democratic, co-operative socialistm. His website, is due for an upgrade. John has contributed a 50-page paper which you can download from this site - we will try to bring some copies, called The Kingdom of Heaven - by Tuesday.


Robin Upton: has worked in Bangladesh for a number years, and is will be travelling to South Korea later this month, looking to meet similar spirits this month. His vision is of a decentralised internet gift economy, in which some accounting (Altruistic Economics: www/ does the maths to flag up free riders and makes sure that what goes around comes around, so the norm is to focus on what you can give, not what you can get. As a basis for this, I've created an XML-Virtual machine (, i.e. an advancement on WWW. While this may seem tangential to the mission of amending money, I see it as essential if the system is to scale securely and properly. As well as technical stuff (I'm now specifying a new URI standard for F2F), I'm interested in publicising minimalist alternatives such as RRFMs (= give and take tables), FreeHugs etc. and general promotion of altruism/Gift Economy (


Peter Challen is chairman of the Christian Council of Monetary Justice CCMJ and chairs The Global Table, where knowledge of monetary reform initiatives around the globe is shared. Peter offers, in the scene setting, a paper which he has submitted to the Finance Innovation Lab following a recent seminar, which found diificulty in reaching beyond personal responsibility to any of the structural issues that we must face. It touches some of the key areas of structural reform of which we all need to be aware: Our Civilisation is Structurally Unstable.


Tarek El Diwany will be joining us for the afternoon session, having another commitment elsewhere in the morning. He is a consultant in Islamic banking and finance at Kreatoc Ltd in London. He is the author of "The Problem With Interest" a practical commentary on the extent to which interest is now affecting humanity. He is a writer and consultant in Islamic banking and the senior member at Zest Advisory LLP:


Rosamund Stock co-founded The Network Project in 2003. She is a researcher at the London School of Economics. Her latest formal contribution was about Decision Making for the Intelligent Society. She writes: Democracy is both a way of making collective decisions and a form of participation in society. The way we participate affects the decisions we make and our role in the decision process affects our membership of society. If a society can draw upon the expertise and knowledge of all its citizens, then it is more likely to be able to make adaptive decisions in a changing environment. If the decision making process involves the citizens of a society then they will see themselves as part of that society and take on a responsibility for their actions within it. Read More.


Ian Brown, co-founder of The Network Project, writes: the neo-liberal worldview can be defined as the belief that the unfettered pursuit by individuals of private and selfish good creates a spontaneous order that benefits all of the members of society. The political strategy of neo-liberalism is to ensure that an international competitive order is created in which every state is governed according to the values implied by this worldview. We look forward to hearing more of his research, meanwhile see his substantive contribution at The Network Project's inaugural conference in 2006: Not In My Name.


Chris Cook of Partnerships Consulting, is helping people to create innovative multi-layered organisational structures, more sophisticated than the single-level workers co-operative structure. In a Partnership model, the land is held in trust, whilst investors may support development of the site, and individuals can receive community-credits for their work. Some will be more closely involved, whilst others will be occasional visitors. Chris now lives in Scotland and cannot be with us for this meeting. He continues to work at a high level, developing his concept of Open Capital.


Maureen Boustred is a member of Devolve, and has shown a keen interest in co-ownership projects following the demise of her caravan park in west Kent, when the tenants who paid rent for their pitch on the land, not knowing how to co-operate when the land was inherited by the son of the owner, was sold for profit, and the residents were harassed over a period of years, and forced off the land. Nowadays she is leading a new project called East Kent Eco Holding, where a small-holding, which produced chickens decades ago, is now being converted to a permaculture project. The owner has now willed the project to a trust, who are charged with developing the project, and is fully participating in the work ahead.


Mary Fee sees the internet as a technology for connecting activists and grounding theory in practice, particularly in relation to implementing complementary currencies. Whilst holding the threads of the network together since the year 2000 - LETSlink UK comes at the top when you google for LETS - her main quest has been to find software to enable online trading, in collaboration with more technical colleagues in the LETS community. "Local Exchange" has enabled several long-standing groups, which had become static, to revive themselves. These projects require a recognition that we are not just using tools so we can have an easier time doing as we did before. A successful revival requires a total review of how the group is functioning, and this ultimately resolves conflicts between "systems" and "schemes" which hitherto marred the development of LETS in the UK. Click the spots on this atlas page to link websites already launched using this technology:


Woody Bronson is an active and dedicated LETS member, and a trustee of LETSlink UKwho has been a key figure in North London LETS. Our online project, which aimed to engage members to take an active role in managing their own accounts, developing more local co-ordination, met with fierce opposition from the "centrist" management group. The conflict illustrates the key role of systems technology in raising our game in how we run LETS. After a two year campaign, 9 months from agreement to installation, then a further 9 months in stalemate, with the management group refusing to engage a resolutionis now in sight, with the management group having resolved to re-launch their own project offshore, by becoming members of the South African Community Exchange, leaving us to work directly with members to develop the system as intended:


Matthew Slater is working on social networks specifically designed for LETS. All our sites have • Customisable digital barter money • Offers and wants directories • Support for non-web users • Statistics & visualisation • volunteer task management • News, photos, calendar • Mass transactions • and more: • He issues a warning about governance: "Complementary currencies historically have a very high failure rate. Web tools are no substitute for proper governance and community buy-in. You should be seeking advice from experienced professionals if you don't want to let down people in your community, and the wider movement. Please check out Value for People's Community Currency starter pack."


Mario Molinari writes: Can we have afood and Energy education please? Localise learning. Localise resources. The problems associated with food and energy still vex us, but this only because food and energy, or indeed the essentials of life, are not part of our upbringing and education. The need for an education of food and energy has never been so great. We need one. This education raises hopes for a better today.


John Papworth, editor of Fourth World Review, and a very active local campaigner and editor of a local newsletter, cannot join us in person, but contributes a paper attacking left-wing centrism, and promoting devolved politics. We have discussed the possibility of an online archive of Fourth World Review, and this should be borne in mind in our discussions about the future of The Network Project. The notes he has contributed for the conference deserve our close consideration: Village Democracy.


Frank Bowman writes: Thankyou very much for inviting me. I know Chris Cook, and Woody, both nice people, powerful, and I expect John Papworth is also, as I and Vic, have read and been influenced by all of them, as well as Islamic finance, and the Paid network. Here follows a heavy broadcast by the Everybody Do Nothing and Enjoy Life Party! about Forced Exchange and Exchange.


Dr.Muhammad Mukhtar Alam writes: Dear Mary, wishing you all the best for Network Project. 58-C, Top Floor,DDA Janta Flats, Ashok Vihar-III,Delhi-110052,India. Tel:+9968345380 •



Top of Page Papers WorkshopsHome