With the help of Derek Robertson
There is a new experience unfolding In the rural Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts – one that has implications for where and how cryptocurrencies operate in everyday life.
At Berkshire Food Co-Op in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, you can see which local farm grew your produce, pick up an “eco cup of reclaimed wheat stalks,” and as of that harvest, pay for it all in cryptocurrency.
The currency is not Bitcoin, with high carbon emissions, or many private cryptocurrencies backed by venture capitalists. Instead, the co-op is working with a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement to use a technology often associated with unfettered global capitalism for a different end: radical localism.
The launch of cryptocurrency Berkshares this spring is the latest step in a decades-long effort to boost a self-sufficient economy in the Berkshire Mountains, a popular haven for the wealthy and educated in the Northeast.
As globalization continues its steady course, this autonomy has remained elusive. But now, with the advent of blockchain technology that has led to a widespread rethinking of money, supporters of that effort have gained a new opportunity.
To exploit it, they enlisted the help of early adopters only in Berkshire such as a harp factory, a wandering clown and a prominent local witch.
But backers of the coin insist it’s more than just a quirky pet project. They argue that the same technology that launched a thousand get-rich-quick schemes could also help rural America get rich slowly.
“We are not in a three-year project or a five-year project,” said Susan Witt, a supervisor at Berkshares, which, as co-founder of the Schumacher Center for the New Economy, has been trying to break the dollar’s monopoly on American money since the 1980s. “It’s more like a 50-year project.”
Witt was closely involved in two earlier schemes to launch a Berkshire alternative to the dollar, one of which is still in circulation, and is considered a success in the murky world of local currencies. When she started attending cryptocurrency gatherings, starting with the Miami Bitcoin conference in January 2016, Witt, now 75, remembered being the oldest person in the room, dressed in pink amid a sea of hundreds of young men dressed in black. She said, “I loved her.” “I was learning a lot.”
With Berkshares being positioned as an alternative money pioneer that has enjoyed little celebrity among crypto enthusiasts, Witt said she feels a kinship with some of the anarchist impulses — which favored local control — that fueled Bitcoin’s development.
But it also views financial speculation and globalization trends surrounding technology with suspicion, and said it has rejected several offers to convert Berkshares into cryptocurrency. But she eventually decided that her ambitions required a digital transformation with Berkshares: a digital system would enable more and more transactions while generating detailed data on how the currency was used.
The result: Launched in April with the launch of a smartphone wallet app, Digital Berkshares is now one of the most interesting experiments with using cryptocurrency at the grassroots level as a true alternative cash system.
For the full story, and an update on how it goes, read Ben’s Post from Great Barrington in Politico magazine.
Who is Sam Bankman Fried, And what does he do with democratic politics?
Politico’s Elena Schneider answers this question in today’s profile of the billionaire head of crypto exchange FTX, as he continues to allocate significant portions of his fortune to democratic campaigns across the country:
Elena wrote, “…in the past year, he employed a network of political activists and spent tens of millions more in shaping the Democratic House primary.” It was a shock wave of spending that looked like it could reshape the Democratic Party seat in Washington, candidate by candidate. Looking ahead to the 2024 elections, he said he could spend anywhere between $100 million and $1 billion.”
You may have noticed that one number is missing from this ledger: 2022. Elena reports that Bankman-Fried is reluctant to achieve such a huge midterm success, telling her that he only plans to spend about half of the $40 million he spent on this year’s primary in general elections. (“Just.”)
Bankman-Fried also cautions against being too closely associated with the crypto world that helped build his fortune, particularly to be seen this way: “Although nothing is mentioned about cryptocurrencies, and speaking only of epidemic prevention, to say frankly,” Just to be clear, there is no encryption corner, “there is not some hidden crypto agenda here,” he told Elena. “If something was wrong, which he did, he wouldn’t have realized early on that I needed to be blatantly and repeatedly frank about that fact.” – Derek Robertson
Potential competitors will like it on Twitter A peach or a mastodon usually follows a predictable cycle: a fair amount of fuss followed by a little further down the path of a permanent footprint.
A recently launched social media platform is hoping to avoid this fate by offering a profile of its kindunexpected element of the mix: cohost, an Ad-free and algorithm-free social media platform It allows users to incorporate CSS into their posts.
For people who aren’t smart, CSS (short for “Cascading Style Sheets”) is a language that bestows visual qualities on HTML input. This sounds dry, but in practice it allows the most creative group users to create fast-loading and elaborate interactive images within the browser: with just a quick search when creating an account and logging in, I found a simulation of fridge magnet hairAnd the Windows 2000 Professionaland even classic Advance Game Boy.
The site is not built especially As a platform for such tools – and their stated purpose is to “give you ways to express yourself and keep in touch with your friends” – but their ubiquity is a good reminder of how people are using new technological tools like 3D art, blockchain, or even the boring old internet browser in this case, in unexpected ways. – Derek Robertson
Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Shrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Konstantin Kakays ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed.
Ben Schreckinger covers technology, finance, and policy for POLITICO; He is an investor in cryptocurrency.
If this newsletter is sent to you, you can Register here. and read Our mission statement is here.