The Great Lakes Commons “Water Currency”

By on April 7, 2017

The following announcement was originally published in Kosmos Journal.

Kosmos is pleased to award a 2017 Seed Grant to Great Lakes Commons (GLC). The Great Lakes Commons cares for the protection of the second largest freshwater source in the world through education, interventions, and water protection.

GLC is a diverse network of people and organizations working to preserve the bioregional area of the Great Lakes and establish it as a commons—a resource that people collectively share, inherit, protect, and enjoy. With this grant, the GLC will explore an experimental econo-art intervention to rethink currency, value, and the impact money has on the world around us.

The pilot project will test people’s imagination and commitment for not only a new relationship with water, but with the money system that spoils it. The project asks: What if the value of currency was based on clean, available water—a commons-backed currency, rather than one based on our current measure of value? What would this money look like?  How would this money be used?

With the Seed Grant Award, GLC plans to produce 5,000 alternative currency notes for distribution to their Charter Supporters. One side of the currency will include information about water and special instructions. Receivers are encouraged to circulate the money, perhaps in gratitude to someone working in water protection, possibly to a teacher, or as a gift. The water commons-note will inspire receivers to imagine the possibilities associated with a new value system, and they’ll be directed to share their experiences and reactions online at GLC’s collective community website.

Statement from Great Lakes Commons:

The Great Lakes Commons initiative is a bioregional aspiration and invitation for protecting these waters as a sacred trust and shared commons. We express and advance our effort through a Commons Charter, collaborative storytelling map, and a set of tools and resources for ‘commoning’. At our core, we are a united community working on Great Lakes protection from different campaigns, locations, and cultural ties. We seek a deeper relationship with the waters and all those who live within this basin.

We are grateful to Kosmos Journal for funding our Great Lakes Commons Currency project. By sharing 5,000 new water-commons notes to our Charter supporters around the lakes, we can create new pathways for shared responsibility, reciprocity, and connection to the Great Lakes. The stories of how this currency circulates and what impact it makes will be shared on our collaborative map and with the Kosmos community.”

– Paul Baines, GLC’s Outreach and Education Coordinator

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