Reflecting on Memorial Day

best buddy

I woke up this morning with so much racing through my head. The one note that kept returning was a half remembered quote: “any act of telling a story is an act of compassion”. Those who know me suffer through some rambling stories from time to time.

On Memorial Day, this national day of remembering, I’m wondering how many stories will never be told. Maybe I should rejoice in the stories that have been remembered and re-told.

I like this one:


There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. 

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

It’s not “about” war, but yet it is all about war.father_2

There’s a power in stories. They exhibit Universals—fear, heroic action, betrayal, friendship, brotherhood, envy, hatred, love, pride, anger, self-centeredness—all the things that make us people.real eyes

A soldier’s story is likely to die with the soldier. Many don’t far as the eye can see

Their buddies who do, often feel guilty and are reluctant to share a story about a friend who did’nt make it back.

for uSome of the most memorable stories recount not what went well, but most often the times we almost made a mess of things. The combination of tragedy plus time turns those close-calls into humor. We survived. but just barely and can now with the distance of time, can laugh about it.humor and memory and time

Marine Sergeant Dan Daly entered World War I as one of the United States’ most famous soldiers, having already won the Medal of Honor on two separate occasions for his service during the Boxer Rebellion and the U.S. occupation of Haiti. Daniel-DalyThe 44-year-old continued to write his name into the history books during June 1918’s Battle of Belleau Wood, a month-long offensive that was one of the first major World War I battles fought by U.S. troops. On June 5, Daly bravely extinguished a fire on the verge of igniting a cache of explosive ammunition. Two days later, as his Marines were being shredded by enemy machine gun fire, Daly urged them to leave their cover and counterattack by supposedly screaming the famous words, “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?!”

We remember them all today. And there have been

Memorial Day is a national holiday. A time
to remember those who have died serving our country.

• It’s observed on the last Monday in May.
• In the past, Memorial Day was called “Decoration Day”
because people would decorate the graves of soldiers.
• Red poppies were often sold on Memorial Day to raise money for veterans
and their families.

remembrance day

Today there are scores of stories to help us remember.heroes

We need more than just one day. To listen and remember all the great stories. Here’s one more.

Henry-JohnsonHenry Johnson was the most famous member of the “Harlem Hellfighters,” an all-black National Guard unit that was among the first American forces to arrive in Europe during World War I. Johnson and his fellow African American soldiers spent their early days in the war performing unskilled manual labor before being sent to reinforce the depleted ranks of the French army.

On May 14, 1918, Johnson and another “Hellfighter” named Needham Roberts were serving sentry duty in the Argonne Forest. Just after 2 a.m. the duo was attacked by a detachment of some 20 German troops. Both men had soon been wounded—Roberts so severely that he was unable to stand or shoot—but Johnson held fast and fought back with hand grenades and his rifle. Despite being shot several times, he returned fire until his weapon jammed, and then used it as a club and fought hand to hand until it broke into pieces. When Johnson saw that the Germans were trying to take Roberts prisoner, he drew his one remaining weapon—a bolo knife—and slashed and stabbed several men until the raiding party finally fell back. When the dust cleared, Johnson had inflicted at least a dozen casualties on the Germans and suffered 21 wounds from gunfire and bayonets. Both he and Roberts were later given the Croix de Guerre—one of France’s highest military honors—but Johnson’s heroic stand went unrewarded in the United States until 1996, when he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. He later received the Distinguished Service Cross in 2003.

My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.

Henry Rollins

desert storm

jb signing off…05.24.2015 5:53 p.m.


Can Introducing a “Local Currency” into DTLA Make a Difference?

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Introducing a remarkable complementary currency…

Skid Row “$cript”

During the Great Depression in Europe, a small Bavarian village adapted just such an idea with positive results:

  • Of its population of 4,500, a third–(1,500) were without a job. Two-hundred families were penniless.
  • The mayor had a long list of projects he wanted to accomplish, but there was hardly any money with which to carry them out…(1) repaving the roads; (2) street lighting; (3) extending water distribution across the whole town; and (4) planting trees along the streets.
  • Rather than spending the 40,000 Austrian Schillings in the town’s coffers to start these projects off, he deposited that money into an account at a local bank as a “guarantee” to back the issue of a type of complementary currency known as ‘stamp scrip’.chiemgauer
  • The “stamp” referred to a requirement that a stamp needed to be placed on a Note each month to indicate that the Note was in fact “in circulation” and therefore was valid and could be freely accepted as payment for goods, services, produce, other products.
  • In that village, Wörgl–the stamp amounted to 1% of the Note’s value. The money raised was used to run a soup kitchen that fed 220 families.
  • Because nobody wanted to pay what was effectively a “hoarding fee”, everyone receiving the Notes would spend them as fast as possible.
  • The original 40,000 schilling deposit allowed anyone to exchange scrip for 98 per cent of its value in Schillings. This offer was rarely taken up though.
  • Of all the business in town, only the railway station and the post office refused to accept the local money.bavarian stamptrain station
  • When people ran out of spending ideas, they would pay their taxes early using scrip, resulting in a huge increase in town revenues. Over the 13-month period the project ran, the council not only carried out all the intended works projects, but also built new houses, using skillsa reservoir, a ski jump, and a bridge.
  • The people also used scrip to replant forests, in anticipation of the future cash-flow they would receive from the trees.bavarian garden
  • The key to its success was the fast circulation of scrip within the local economy, 14 times higher than the Schilling. This in turn increased trade, creating extra employment. At the time of the project, Wörgl was the only Austrian town to achieve full circLocal Currencies Today
  • Local currencies are still alive in central Europe today, with something like sixty-five regional currencies competing with the Euro, according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

There are some examples of local currency, alive and well in the U.S. as well.  Ithaca HOURS and BerkShares are great examples.

  • boulder 1 front

  • John Robb thinks local currencies are a useful tool for building resilient communities, but notes that they remain “a lifestyle choice” at present. BerkSharesRobb believes that the Worgl experience in the 1930’s indicates that script can work if:
  • Community members are allowed to use the $cript to pay all or part of their tax liabilities to local governments. This instantly establishes a market for the currency.
  • Also, if $cript can be used to pay City/County local government employees a portion of their wages in $cript.
  • The means of avoiding deflating or devaluing the value of the $cripT by perhaps one percent per month to promote immediate use rather than hoarding
  • Connecting script to local production rather than just emphasizing retail use. Locally produced food (farmer’s markets) for example. Also encouraging its use and freedom to be spent for locally produced products and for manual labor/services.
  • Further, work with local banks to establish checking accounts for scrip and to enable conversions to hard currencies (at a slight discount).
  • Its worth noting that local currencies did exist prior to the (literal) Renaissance before they were replaced with centralised currencies.
  • Centralized currency — invented during the Renaissance, really — favors the kinds of business practices and centralization of power that actually works against good, honest, local commerce. In short, it favors Wal-Mart over, say, Community Supported Agriculture.
  • There are other kinds of money – and they were in existence until they were outlawed by kings and queens looking to centralize authority. Money that is lent into existence by a central bank will tend towards scarcity and competition. Money that is earned into existence by people in a specific place has very different properties, and works on a model of abundance.
  • Like the ancient Greek philosopher Aristoteles, Gesell recognised money’s contradictory dual role as a medium of exchange for facilitating economic activity on the one hand and as an instrument of power capable of dominating the market on the other hand.ancient Greek philosopher

From… Local Currencies Aren’t Small Change

Joel Stonington

Most people don’t think much about money beyond the fact that it seems to leave their wallet quickly.empty pockets

Soooo…..people …are re-inventing money!make it happen

The reinvention is taking place in the field of complementary or local currencies that work at local and regional scales to build sustainable communities.Oklahoma is IN

Local economy activist Margrit Kennedy : “Money can be made to serve rather than to rule, to be used — rather than profit-oriented — and to create abundance, stability, and sustainability…… “money is one of the most ingenious inventions of mankind”. It has the potential to be the most destructive or most creative.creation of money

Money should empower people to care for each other and the earth.helping

From Ithaca Hours to the Time Dollar to the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS), dozens of local currency systems are already being used throughout the world alongside a national currency.sample

Paul Glover started Ithaca Hours — denominated in hours of labor — in 1991, distributing the notes to local businesses willing to accept them for goods and services.ithaca 2

Perhaps in DTLA: local stores –our Farmers’ Markets and all the people we regularly interchange with will see the value our skills and our Time can contribute? Let’s explore how to encourage growing our local economy by creating a program to accept Local Hours for produce, and for other hand-produced items…even for time spent helping other people with a variety of tasks.give and get

Glover said, ‘When I started Ithaca Hours I thought it would be illegal but it wasn’t. It’s too bad, the supposed illegality was part of the fun.’ahnold wants local money

The Ithaca Hours program continues to grow today. It now includes a local credit union that provides an optional Hours account and a health insurance program — Ithaca Health Fund — that relies on a simple $100 yearly payment. The Hours maintain a strong value independent of federal dollars because they are backed by future productivity in the community.

Over 50 communities throughout North America have adopted local currency programs using the Hours framework.

Who’s ready to start here?ideas


jb–signing off…10:04 a.m.