Recent documentaries and movies dismantled the hidden face of finance and banking sector and showed how they truly are. The wolf of Wall Street, the big short, Inside Job unveiled some complex and scary pieces of info about this “big money industry” on which we have no influence but can have so much impact. Speculation, hedge fund managers, private equity fund managers, real estate fund managers, and future and shorts… The industry is often depicted as a dehumanized world in which the only goal is to make more money.
What do I know about banking? Not so much, I hope the bank keeps my money safe but don’t try to understand what is behind this complex system. However, is it okay to know so little about what are banks doing with our money? As an individual always looking for ways to make this place on earth more pleasant and better, I believe that we SHOULD be aware and interested of what our banks are doing.
What if the bank invests in the nuclear arms industry industries or very polluting industries, as many of them do?A recent Belgium’s study revealed that our money placement, were at the top of our carbon footprint with 100 tons of CO2 per year. That is so much more than our consumption and production footprint so we should care about the banks investments. We can make a choice by choosing a bank that doesn’t do this kind of investment. Big improvements have been made in this direction, particularly by the DIVEST movement; an international movement which only goal is to put away investment from polluting and fossil energy corporations through petitions and campaigns. I believe that these kind of initiatives are necessary to build a better world. Finally, changing our behaviors, sharing our beliefs and international movements of this type have all the same common purpose to influence the settled globalized system runs by big corporations.
Luckily some “ethical banks” are emerging; these banks are working according to the same model as the usual ones but with a different guideline: transparency and trustful policies. Their first objective is not to make profit and enrich the elite but invest and support actions and companies with social and environmental purposes; letting their customers aware of the bank’s activities. Then, choosing a more responsible bank can be a way to show that we don´t agree with the current system and would like to make it change. They are more and more present and popular in Europe.
But still they are part of the financial sector and work on the same model. I would like to explore if we can do without them? So what are our possibilities?
Alternatives to the current banking system exist; new currencies are emerging with communitarian monetary systems. A good example is the district of Brixton in London which has its own “Brixton pound” with its own printed bills and coins. I see these initiatives as a clever way to break the globalized consensus settled in the world today coming with a lot of advantages but some undesirable effects too. It reconciles communities, reduces the production circuit and proves that pull ourselves away from the usual national and international bank system is possible. On top of that, they personalized their money appearance and its 10 pounds bill has the face of David Bowie printed on it; which is much more fun than the Queen! Those solutions are more sustainable as the economy doesn’t only profit to the elite but encourage local economy and small businesses, while limiting environmental impact.
But what to do with your savings? Today, interest rates are so low and economy so fragile that it´s difficult to trust banks for our savings. Savings that we want to make for our children to have an education or to save for a nice holiday. Some people would just take out their money from the bank and hide it under their mattress. But actually, our possibilities are wider today. Crowdfunding platforms and projects like ‘kickstarter’ and ‘kiss kiss bank bank’ for example are a good way to place your money in projects that you believe in. However, you will not be able to send your children to university through crowdfunding invests. So, if you keep looking, there are still other solutions to make profit from your invests… Going in this direction, new crowdfunding platforms like www.oneplanetcrowd.com allows you to invest in some startups and businesses’ projects with the possibility to get good percentage from it in return. Or, invest directly in renewable energy for example seems like a responsible option too to make profit if you’re concerned about the environment and sustainable solutions to fossil fuels and want to slow the bank industry’s power.
So, making businesses, profit, investments, savings without banks is possible; collectivity and sharing have a lot of promises.
Without knowing we take advantage of others people ideas’ every day. Whether it is as simple as a fork or as elaborate as a major scientific breakthrough as the last discovery at CERN with the particle Z(4430). It ALL started with the conception of an idea. We can imagine that someone in ancient Egypt or the Qijia culture (2400-1900 BC in China), had the brilliant idea for a fork and courage to speak out. He thought that the idea would make life better if we would have a fork, and he spoke with his neighbor…and he or she found the concept of a fork a great idea and gave some suggestion of what materials to use or how to make it. And so the first fork was made. Maybe not the best….but it was the start of an evolution, to make something better.
Many philosophers have given their input of ideas and how to understand the world around us, and this is still needed to interpret the actualities of the present daily life. Idea has the power to have impact for the future in the positive sense. Ideas although it is something untouchable can be very powerful.
This power is only created if the idea is shared, and transmitted and communicated in some way. If it is not shared the idea keeps imprisoned in its concept chamber. Ideas need to be shaped and nourished, as anything that grows in this world. Indeed, evolution is not about protecting ideas, it is about connecting them together. Like bees pollinating flowers, people spread ideas to grow something new.
What is incredible today is that we are more and more aware that the whole world forms one global entity in which we are more and more connected to each other. Technology and innovation bring us endless possibilities of sharing ideas; and that’s for our best.
One of the possibilities is by participating or following TED.com. A place where you can read that Ideas are like a virus but with inspiration instead of sneezing. Through the diffusion of short talks, this platform offers people coming from different places in the world and having different backgrounds the possibility to share their ideas to the whole world. And the unique purpose of this is to spread ideas to inspire people. We can never have enough inspiration; inspiration is the cradle of new ideas and creativity.
In short, ideas cause ideas.
And March is the International Ideas Month, so let’s just celebrate and appreciate all those ideas burgeoning all around the world. I challenge you to use this month to listen to people’s ideas, get inspired and finally, share your own ideas. Coming spring is a good time to explore your creativity. So grab your notebook everywhere you go because as we all experienced it, ideas often strike us like a flash and then just go away.
When the bodies were found, they discovered Scott’s diary. In the diary he described harrowing experiences during the last weeks. He described the fight against the extreme weather conditions and the lack of food and fuel. He knew they would die. The last words written were: “For God’s sake look after our people.” This was an SOS message to the world to take the right turn before it’s too late.
The importance of expeditions tend to be forgotten but there are still important polar expeditions undertaken, even in our current time. In May 2015 two experienced Dutch polar explorers went on expedition in the Arctic, Phillip de Roo en Marc Cornelissen. Their aim: to do research on the ice conditions. Exploring the effects of climate change on our Arctic.
The first days, the harsh Arctic conditions made it hard to do what they came for, but after some days the weather cleared up and everything went smooth. Then fate struck unexpectedly, Marc sank through the thin ice and Philip tried to help him and got into the freezing water himself. Leaving their third companion, Kimnik, the sledge dog alone on the ice. Remains were the footsteps and the sledges with all the measurements and results of the research.
We consider Marc and Philip as heroes, because the pushed the boundaries of what was possible because they cared so much about the Arctic, and about the earth. With their research they took their responsibility to help to protect what is so precious to us.
We commemorate them as lifesavers, driven to create a better the world. They are a personal inspiration to us by their power and courage, with a common grateful goal. We have to build further on the things they have accomplished and left behind. All together, everywhere and every time.
When you are fighting for something, you care so much about. You mostly want direct results. But making progress never comes easy. From the moment it becomes a personal goal. Let’s say it becomes your ‘why’ in life, it becomes very powerful. Follow your dreams, day by day to make this a better world and do it with a smile on your face.
If you want to go fast, go alone! If you want to go far, let’s go together.