Pauline Morrissette's A-16 Washington LETS Trip Report Washington,D.C. April 16th,2000
Departed Ottawa late Thursday the 14th and drove all through the night, 12 hours from Ottawa.
Our first function was at the Foundry United Methodist Church at 1500-16th Street N.W., Washington, D.C.
Globalization's Triple Threat: WTO, IMF, World Bank Guests speakers we were anxious to hear were Edward (Teddy) Goldsmith, from London, England. I was fortunate enough to have spent time with Teddy 2 years ago thanks to my very good friend Sabine Kurjo-McNeil. He had written a wonderful paper on LETS and gifted me with it on my departure. Another guest speaker and an advocate of LETS was Kevin Danaher. We had met Kevin in Denver Colorado when we attended a G-8 function there in 1997.
When we got to the church we were informed it had been sold out. I asked the security guard at the door if it would be at all possible to just go to see Mr. Goldsmith for a brief moment to say hello as I had driven all the way from Ottawa, Canada. So they had me escorted to the front. It was a brief hello but he was very pleased to see me.
When I went back outside John was busying himself handing out flyers and talking with groups of people. Our signs for this function read "Don't Cancel the Debt, L.E.T.S. Cancel Debt Growth." It sure was an attention getter.
I went around asking if anyone wanted to sell their tickets. Finally a young student came to me and just handed me tickets. He said they had a couple extra and didn't want anything for them. So, in we went I watched from the gallery and took photos, John was on the lower level.
A female reporter Marita Knipper from PG Wirtschaft, Landwirtschaft and Umwelt, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org. Marita was from Koln, Germany. We did an interview. Unfortunately she was more interested in knowing if I thought there would be any violence than about the message I brought but she did take the literature and I directed her to the cyberclass information.
After the speakers we went outside to catch the crowd as they departed. I saw familiar faces in the crowd, one I didn't expect to see was Avi Zion, John's host for the Toronto-Much Music show back in 1993. He acknowledged John and was telling his group John had been on his show when he was running for Prime Minister of Canada. John later told me how good it felt to finally tell Avi he knew he had ran out of shills on the show. The whole Much Music fiasco was a set up to make John look foolish. They strategically placed their people around the studio and asked only them to pose questions that would put John on the spot. They also put through selected telephone calls to disrupt him every time he was on a wave length. Interested parties from Toronto that had gone down to partake in that show also sensed the set up. We have it on tape. Rev. Lindsay King, a very staunch L.E.T.S. supporter in Toronto, was there and we later asked him to verify what he was mouthing on the show. Indeed he was saying "Media Manipulation."
Randy Bachman from Bachman, Turner, Overdrive - Taking Care of Business - was John's interviewer on that show. Randy had called me in Ottawa a week before the show. He said he wanted to be well-prepared and be able to ask the right questions. Made sense to me so we spoke for about 20 minutes and then I faxed down some information. Indeed he was well prepared and took his interviewer job seriously, asking the right questions at the right time and giving John lots of lead-in opportunities and following right along to be able to ask further informed questions. When the media fix started, all hell broke loose and the show got so disruptive they cancelled the last 10 minutes, not allowing John to continue. Avi lost control of the show. What he probably didn't realize at the time ws that we all knew about Media Manipulation. Just another part of the adventure I thought you'd like to hear about.
Later that night another forum was set up and Maude Barlow from Canada was to speak. I was very tired from not having slept the day before so I went to the van to have a rest. Later that night, we continued to hand out our flyers and mingle and talk to different groups of people.
I went up to one young girl and asked if she enjoyed the day. She said she had and it gave her a lot of hope to see this number of people involved. I continued to talk with her and her companion and told them about Birmingham England. I told her that John and I have been travelling extensively bringing the message of L.E.T.S. to communities around the world and also learning ourselves how L.E.T.S. was being used in different places. Her mouth fell agape. She was speachless. She finally said "I set up a L.E.T.S. in Newfoundland." I had goosebumps. I said "good girl, congradulations" and we hugged and jumped up and down with excitement. I said "you're not Lori, from "bringing back the Cod?"" She said "yes" and John had just walked by. He told her "I have your story in my journal." He went quickly to the van to get it and held it up for her to see. She was truly thrilled. I told her my mother and friend Mr. Cutler have been visiting Newfoundland on and off over the last couple of years and gave me the "Downhomer," a Newfoundland publication that carried the story.
A breakthrough just before leaving Ottawa. One now can get on a L.E.T.S. simply by hanging up his shingle on the internet. Offers, wants and your LETS timecurrency accounts. No need to wait for a community to set one up and no annual administration costs as long as they maintain their own account. Wow, we were able to talk about this to several groups in Washington, mostly a young crowd. They also saw the potential. The biggest turn-on for the kids was the LETS Travel Plan. Even if they couldn't get things immediately that they needed by LETS, the thought of working this way and banking time dollars to put towards travel in the future really turned their crank. I explained that travelling this way, you're not a tourist, you're a member of a global extended family. You will see the best sights, eat the local food, and you will be with like-minded people who talk about the same issues you will want to talk about, the environment, health issues, etc.
We talked about the social aspects of LETS. All were in agreement that to be able to work, when one felt well enough to work, for example the mentally challenged person who is on drugs, on good days these people are able to function and function well. To be able to be part of society and having a place to reach out and say I feel well enough to do something today, then go out and do it. This person will eventually and slowly work him/herself back into a functioning society. Everyone wants to do what they do best. And this is the way. Just because they want high tech, we don't all have to be mathematicians, engineers, we can still be bakers and gardeners, window-cleaners, grass mowers, whatever you feel like doing and if not, you have that option.
I have seen this first hand. A very good friend of mine on her good days was able to set up offices for the francaphone mentally challenged people in Ottawa and also set up a local Cancer Centre for francaphone women. She would take important information packages to hospitals to the francaphone Cancer patients on her good days and talk with them, giving them hope because she herself was a Cancer survivor, as well as being challenged. The best incentive was her own time/green account to aid her with cleaning, driving, etc. This young woman worked selflessly for hours getting government grants, hours of administration that benefit many in the Ottawa area, yet because on a disability pension which barely covered her necessities, she is now dead at the young age of 50. Did anyone ever have the opportunity to say thank-you? No. She is an unspoken hero. Lorraine Pharand. RIP.
This opened conversation about the Volunteer System. Many countries have volunteers in all aspects of life, hospital, libraries, schools, girls and boys clubs, you name it. I say that every volunteer out there should have their own time dollar account. This is how we in society can thank them. Volunteers working for institutions can simply have a time card, and this information can be fed in once a week, the number of hours, and they will have a pay check in the form of time dollars. I believe that everyone, with or without a family, have found themselves in need of help at one time or another. They can call up their extended LETS family, state their account number and get the service they need and earned with dignity.
In Washington there were many young people. It had a 60's feeling. They were rebelling, they want love and peace. It was also very clear that they did not want to work to give half of everything they earned to the government for deficit reduction. But when asked if they would mind working and banking Hours, to get such things as travel and knowledge from other countries, if they could teach drumming sessions, gardening, dancing whatever took their fancy. I saw looks of disbelief.
This took us back to more conversation on the social impact of LETS. I explained that being in my 50s, I went through a growing-up period, that even though my parents were a middle class working family, we were able to get things that parents cannot afford to give their children these days. We were able to try out all our creative outlets to see where we fit in. Be it piano lessons, dancing, guitar, violin, somehow they found a way to allow us to try. Children today don't have this because now it has become a luxury most young families cannot afford. So what we are seeing is children tied to the television, hanging out in malls, etc.
Again, I have been fortunate enough to see the changes that LETS is making around the world in this respect. Young families can now work spare hours to get those luxuries for their children, to keep them active, to keep them off the streets, hence more harmony in society.
We must not forget one of the most empowering aspects of our global interLETS economy. We have all heard about the bankers getting into the insurance business. This is just another way we are becoming slaves to the system of the bankers' world. The sooner we get our act together and realize in large numbers that we can do anything we want and that includes insuring ourselves, the better off we all will be. The present system out there has us insuring homes, apts. (I had to pay a large premium before I was allowed to rent), cars, boats, cottages, possessions and the list goes on and on. In our interlets economy, once there are enough members, we can start up our own insurance system. The little man in the computer runs around and takes out a couple of cents per account to put into the account of the guy who burned. Is this not a more social and friendly way to live life? See large-database free self-insurance at: http://turmelpress.com/abprogs.htm
On our final day in Washington, the big march past the IMF-World Bank site, demonstrators were everywhere. We had parked our truck but then eventually found we were boxed in, no way to get out. So out came the signs. As the demonstrators marched past, John was drawing large crowds, television, reporters, but mostly people stopping to get the literature. He recited poetry, they would cheer. I would tell people LETS is what we can do RIGHT NOW to help ourselves. During our stay in Washington we handed out close to 2,000 pieces of literature and had spoken to many groups. In all I felt it was a very successful trip.
I spoke to groups about Ralph Nader and his Timedollars, most had heard of him but not to much about the Timedollars. When I explained the concept which is just like LETS and that we eventually wanted to connect all these systems world wide, they seemed to be in agreement. Why not? Especially the LETS Travel. I mentioned a tape that was made with Ralph Nader showing the spinster school teacher who was forced into retirement. She was still able to teach but now on a pension, had needs and no dependents to help her. She got on the Timedollar system and earned her timedollars by tutoring a child one-on-one who wasn't making it in the school system. The child would also earn timedollars by consenting to receive the lessons. Just one beautiful example of the social impact LETS Timedollarshas. Now she has her own driver to take her for groceries and carry them in for her plus other needs that she just could not afford on a pension are bartered by her service with dignity.
At A16, we wanted a panel on alternative currencies. Every time John asked if something could be set up, he was shut down. The last great news we had was from a young man in Quebec who was proud to mention that he had started up his town LETS on his father's birthday. His parents were "skipping upside down." All John wanted to do was to get this exciting news out there to the anti-poverty demonstrators on the a16-international-planning list, for like minded people to celebrate with this young man and they censored his article again.
A lot of my conversation with people in Washington stemmed from my own experiences and knowledge that I have picked up over the years in other countries. If you find after reading this report, you would like to learn more, please feel free to go to Pauline Morrissettes reports at: http://turmelpress.com/pauline.htm
BREAK-IN Sunday morning, John and I were sleeping in our camper van when... John said "Oh well, another victim of Rothschild and Rockefeller disease. R&R left him with no money so he has steal." We had to run around but replacement was going to cost $370US=$550CA on Sunday, $170US=$255CA on Monday and $50US=$75CA back home. So John and I couldn't protest together. I had to stay with the vulnerable vehicle. After two tours of picketing duty, John decided to try to drive closer to the parade route and I did get a chance to help passing out flyers to the passing crowds.
A last night camping in the van and then we drove home to Ottawa. Another interesting adventure in LETS land.
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