Notes from Alternaive Banking Meeting of 11-30-11

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Notes from Alternative Banking Meeting of Wednesday 11-30-11

Held at 45 East 20th Street- Office of Independent Diplomat


Executive Summary:


Draft of –  “The Commons – A Good Bank“ was circulated and formed the basis for general and in-depth discussions of what would be the desired attributes for an alternative institution.

 Attributes were discussed at length as were types of structures that any enterprise would take.

 Decided to add a GoogleGroup and make that the basis for discussions. Items would continue to be posted on nycga site.

 Next scheduled meeting was set for Tuesday December 6th.  7pm.  Location: 45 East 20th street – Office of Independent Diplomat.


 Detailed Notes:

 The group had just over twenty and some were in attendance for the first time.

 Carne Ross convened the meeting around 7pm. Copies of “ The Commons – A Good Bank” was distributed to serve as a point of departure for discussion about desired attributes for any proposed bank type enterprise. 

 There was a re-cap of the last 11-23 meeting. 

 At the start, there were lengthy discussions on how to discuss —boiled down to use of a “stack” system for the meeting and the agreement that phone conferencing would be just too unwieldy at this point.  Jim Costanzo volunteered to keep track of the stack. 

 As attributes were brought up, it was noted that any proposed enterprise would need to include business lending—especially small business lending.  People in the group who were very familiar with operations of Credit Unions spoke about how CU’s are presently very limited in their ability to lend.

 Agreed that small business lending and lending to sole proprietorships needed to be included in any attribute list.

 Discussions about reach were next – Carne made the point that this project does have large scale reach in that any enterprise here could be, and should be designed to be, easily replicated.  Project here is very plausible and could have an enormous impact.  Also—by promoting the values of the enterprise, there would also be a large political impact. He suggested that we keep a high degree of optimism and allow ourselves to be idealistic.  An idea of using trust as opposed to contracts was brought up – certainly in microfinance this is key and has been shown to actually work.

 Discussion moved to possible structures.  Again attributes of CUs and mutual savings banks were brought up.  The customizable flexibility of Benefit Corporations was mentioned. A point was made that we really needn’t be constrained at this point by present legislation – that we must think beyond these restraints.

 Bill M. let people know that The UN has declared 2012 to be the year of the Co-operative and suggested viewing an interview with Chuck Gould.

 NOTE:  Interview with Charles Gould, the Director-General of the International Co-operative Alliance can be seen here:  

The slogan for the 2012 will be  “Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World”  The idea is to bring attention to co-operatives as a serious business model, across many areas including banking, that is democratic and values based.  Goal is to make co-operatives the fastest growing enterprise model as people have come to recognize that present economic systems have failed them on some levels.

 Rick DeVoe suggested that at the heart of the issue was who controls the money creation process. Also suggested that predatory lending affects those who can least afford it and that any enterprise must add lending to its concerns.

 Richard Harris made a point that lack of FDIC shouldn’t be a major impediment to an enterprise; that it would need to be all inclusive. and would need to be innovative.

 Janu Subramanian brought up the area of Microfinance and a discussion of  Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank ensued with the focus on how trust has been successfully used. Don suggested that it would be problematic to have any non-contract system here in America.

 Gabriel McMillan suggested that people, who may not be members, who are in the physical area of the enterprise be also given a vote as they are still stakeholders.  Also made note that the enterprise should be competitive with the present system.

 Rick DeVoe – let people know that Common Good Finance is building an enterprise that is designed to go beyond what credit unions now presently do.  Discussion of alternative currencies ensued with Rick giving us all a teaser ad for a forthcoming presentation by him to the group on this subject. 

 NOTE: Common Good Finance – information here: 

James Sherry – strongly suggested that we needed to write up and really distill the group’s thoughts.  Offered that we focus on exactly what would be the mission, the objectives and the services of the enterprise.  The group concurred with Mr. Sherry.

 George added that we should also be open to multiple models; that one model may not fit all needs.

 As the meeting began to wind down, Rick said he would like to present the alt currency items to all the Alt banking groups at one time.  An excellent salesperson, he piqued everybody’s interest without revealing anything.  We await the presentation.  (R you ready? We give him credit. )


Carne wrapped up the meeting with the suggestion that we all be expansive and broad in our thinking as we continue to grapple with ideas about possible organizational structures. 

 Meeting closed – will re-convene next Tuesday – (NOT  Wednesday) December 6th  7pm.  Location: 45 East 20th Street- Office of Independent Diplomat.

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