What I Want From an Economic System…

Part of what I’ve been trying to do with my lifestyle experiment is live as much outside the boundaries of money so that as I move back into using it, I can use it a bit more consciously and with a healthier flow. With the common capitalism we are following today, it is based on some really poor assumptions and some terribly flawed practices, like indebtedness, scarcity, competition, irresponsible consumption, and endless growth. I think that economic flow should be based on things like honesty, integrity, character, work, creativity, compassion, collaboration, transparency, and abundance. But that’s just me. It’s kinda the way I roll.

 

WBPM-logoA few years ago, I started tinkering with an idea that I call the WeBMaP. I’ve referred to the philosophy behind it as ABC2 Economics. The premise is that just as nature has the four elements of water, air, earth, and fire, humanity is comprised of heart, mind, body, and spirit. It makes sense that if we are going to create civilization in a balanced image, we can realize this by recognizing that our society is comprised of the four similar parts of Artist, Business, Citizen, and Charity (ABC2, cute, huh?) and that as life artists, each of us can channel the flow of our financial energy to each of these economic components by practicing Commitment, recognizing our Ambitions, realizing our Resourcefulness, and refining our Dedication (or playing CARDS, according to artist Gale Fulton Ross).

 

Although I am fashioning projects based upon this premise at the Flow Factory, it his my hope to be able to work with open source code writers to develop something more systemic. Where I imagine taking this idea is to create an app that helps people channel the flow of their money to the elements of the life that they want to support. For instance, in Facebook, when you “like” something, it goes into a little category on your About page and you give that entity the energy of support by introducing them to your network. In a WeBMaP infrastructure, when you “love” something, a portion of your currency flows toward it in a continuous show of support and appreciation. When money moves through your account, as an Artist, you would get a quarter of it, a quarter would be divided up among the Business network that supports you, a quarter would be divided among the amenities and infrastructure that allow you to life your best life as a Citizen, and a quarter would be divided up between the organizations and endeavors that are near and dear to your heart, your chosen Charities. Basically, by empowering people to channel their own funds, we can draw energy away from government and business entities that we feel are wasteful or moral/ethically questionable, and support those endeavors that we feel are vital and beneficial, fertilizing what we want to see grow while withdrawing from what we want to see diminished.

 

Is that asking too much?

 

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com, fairly regularly at SarasotaDay, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

The War on Marijuana is About More Than Keeping People Off of Drugs

Without changing our patterns of thought we will never be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought.

-Albert Einstein

 

Now, I’m not going to try to rationalize the use of drugs – though I can attest from personal experience that marijuana has several therapeutic, recreational, and creative uses – and I would never want to put marijuana in the same class as any other drugs, like cocaine or heroin. Marijuana is a plant. It is a natural, living organism, designed by God, or Nature, or whatever you believe causes life to happen. You can grow it in your own backyard, provided you want to serve the prison time. It can be used to treat anxiety, depression, pain, and an assortment of other ailments that are affecting our culture in more ways than I could possibly name because, frankly, it gets me depressed just thinking about it. Marijuana, cultivated and used with knowledge and responsibility, could help a lot of people for the price of a seed and the patience it takes for it to grow.

I’ll bet the pharmaceutical companies aren’t really pushing for that to happen. If Americans are given back the right to care for themselves, pharmaceutical companies as we know them are going to be out a hell of a lot of money. The people afflicted with those anxiety disorders that they’re currently paying eighty bucks a month to medicate – which only serves to increase the anxiety they are trying to cope with – probably won’t be valued customers anymore. If Americans are given the right to cultivate their own pharmaceuticals, how will these companies make money? How will the government be able to tax us as we strive to make ourselves better on our own?

Yet there are still nay-sayers. There are still those who think Reefer Madness was a documentary. I’ve got news for you. Reefer Madness is to marijuana as Friday the 13th is to summer camp.

Along with marijuana, our country has deemed it necessary to outlaw the cultivation of hemp – the part of the plant that isn’t as fun to smoke. In 1640, the Governor of Connecticut declared that every citizen should cultivate his own hemp. There are currently thousands of possible, environmentally friendly uses for hemp, from clothing to fuel. In California, Woody Harrelson’s driving around in a hemp-powered bus. Yet, for the majority of our country, hemp is illegal. Sure would have been nice if the Exxon Valdez spilled hemp instead of oil. I’m sure the fish would have been a lot happier.

 

This is an excerpt from The Rucksack Letters. Order your copy now.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

The Orb

Estralarian_IMAGE             As the door closed behind me, I was enveloped in an inordinate silence. I called `Hello’ once again, but my voice seemed to get lost somewhere between my lips and ears. Then the whirring started again.

I took a few steps forward and froze. As I approached it, a soft glow began emanating from the back room. I slowly walked toward it, my heart rate quadrupling with each footfall. I reached my hand forward and pushed the door open, my eyes opening widely at the spectacle that appeared before me.

In the center of the room, a glowing orb hovered a few feet above the floor. About the size of a beach ball, the orb was mostly blue with clouds wisping through it, as if it encompassed the sky within its circumference. It drew the light from the rest of the room, and I forgot for a moment where I was.

I took a few more steps toward it, mesmerized by its motion as swirling clouds began to take shape inside of it. As my consciousness was drawn into the globe, I experienced what can only be described as déjà vu; however, it was unlike any déjà vu that I’d experienced before.

The orb was a vision of my life, a circular cinema, a window to my world that left me slack jawed and dumbstruck as I watched my life unfold before me. I saw myself playing on the beach, bobbing in the warm surf of Siesta Key. I played hide and seek among the houses of my suburban neighborhood. I watched my father build our new
home before we moved in. I wandered through the palmettos behind it.

The images didn’t play out in chronological order, but overlapped one another in a moving collage rolling through the ball like a schizophrenic marble.

I saw myself in confirmation at Faith Lutheran Church, holding the collection plate as an acolyte, and walking forward at the altar call at Colonial Oaks Baptist Church. I saw myself in various schools and finally graduating and going to college. I saw myself in dozens of jobs and a myriad of relationships as the fabric of my life embroiled into an ever-changing tapestry.

Without even feeling my feet move, I was drawn closer to the circular vortex of my life’s history. The rest of the room and the memory of walking into it had faded from my mind. All that remained was the miraculous image of all that I was encompassed in a swirling mass of light and movement.

In a flash, I was an infant and an adult, a child and a teen. I was a Christian and an agnostic, a poet and an idiot. In the blink of an eye, I saw myself leave Sarasota with a pack on my back and arrive in Los Angeles with a motorcycle between my legs. I saw myself coming back to Sarasota with nothing but my tail between my legs.

As my life progressed, I saw the ripple of it proceed to others. My actions, my emotions, my thoughts, they echoed through the minds of those who shared in my journey. Whether they were aware of it or not, everything that I did affected everyone that I met. My highs lifted them. My lows dragged them down.

When I laughed, they smiled. When I frowned, they mourned. When I sang, they danced. When I cried, they fought. The law of cause and effect was lost on me, and I was unsure of whether I was causing their ups and downs or if I was the effect.

My spirit would spike when I felt love, when the harmony of nature and the joy of creation prevailed. But my consciousness would plummet when I felt that I was causing pain. Hopelessness overpowered me with the sense that we were all imperfect and subject to failure. Anger stirred within me and war broke out around. Fear overcame me as poverty stripped well-being. Guilt submerged me in selfishness as I gave way to my own desires and thought nothing of those who had need.

My shoulders drooped and my head lowered, though my eyes remained transfixed on the glowing orb of biography. My body grew heavy. The edges of my vision blurred until even the globe started to lose focus. Under the weight of my shame, my knees gave out as my vision faded to black, and my body fell to the floor.

This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Get your copy now!

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

The Impetus of The Rucksack Letters

TRL-Cover-060111 I spent the last several years trying to find my place in life. I began searching for it through the Church; in allegiance to God, I sought to be a servant. I searched for it in other people, entertaining them, serving them, and knowing them. And I searched for it in myself, only to find that one of the reasons I couldn’t find my place was due to what this society deems a neurological disorder. I was damaged, unfruitful, and unable to function properly in society without continuous medication and treatment.

I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder earlier this year. I took this diagnosis as an opportunity to integrate and put to use the two varied degrees I struggled to get, Psychology and Film. My recent goal has been to create a documentary about ADD in order to educate others, and more importantly, to educate myself. My hope was to create something informative, as well as interesting. Not enough art is bleeding into the human condition. My dream was to show how ADD had affected my life and how I had overcome it. My motive was to be appreciated for something I actually followed through on, not generally a strength for those of us walking around with ADD.

After three days of shooting, escorting my cameraman to interviews with professionals, and acting as one myself, I was exhausted. I had spent the last several months trying to use the creative skills often apparent in ADD to create, to educate, and to enlighten. I served as producer, director, writer, actor, and every other task required to make a film, except cameraman and sound technician. These roles were embodied by my good friend, David Ortkiese. Dave had worked with me on two documentaries I did in film school, and I saw him to be a great ally. In spite of the varied degrees of success on those projects, Dave still had enough faith in me to sacrifice a few days of his life to voyeurize mine. He went home Wednesday night after we finished a true test of attention, a four-hour video time lapse of the sun setting over Siesta Key Beach. When the sun melted into the sea, my project was wrapped. And after Dave left, I was able to watch my life and see how well I had conquered this disorder.

The good news is that I learned more about how ADD was affecting me than I had ever imagined. This was, incidentally, also the bad news. It wasn’t exactly a pretty sight. After a few hours of watching what the experts in the field think of my current state of affairs, and a six-pack of opinions from the Plank Road Brewery, I realized that the documentary had already fulfilled its purpose.

This video, the most recent of my endeavors, will not, to keep in line with so many others, be finished. As I watched what I had filmed during those three days of trying to uncover the truth about ADD, there was little truth apparent, at least little that I agreed with. I watched myself trying to explain how this “disorder” is plaguing the lives of millions of people, how it is ravaging their self-esteems, and ruining their lives.

The truth is that I don’t believe in ADD in its most popular form. It’s not that I don’t believe in it exactly, I just don’t consider it a disorder. A “disorder” is considered to be anything that would impair the way you operate in a “normal” society. I guess the question has to be, “what is normal?” For me, normal has been considered modern American Capitalist/Consumerist society

There is little compassion in normal society. There is little fairness, justice, or peace. And I soon realized that the goals I was striving for were not ones I truly wanted to attain. I don’t keep a good bankbook because I don’t care that much about money. I don’t organize because I prefer the journey to the destination. I don’t plan well for the future because I live in the present. My desires and my methods don’t blend with normal society.

This all brought me to the conclusion that the reason I haven’t been as successful in my endeavors as I had hoped to be was that my goals weren’t my own anymore, but the goals of whatever it was that I let influence me. I was blinded by what the general public and the advertisements that guide society told me to find important. And truth be told, on further inspection, most of what I’ve been striving for and occupying my mind with now seems like a complete waste of time and energy.

If I can’t function properly in this society and don’t mesh with society’s desires and systems, maybe there is another one in which I can. And for that, I must explore. Through all of this searching to understand God, others, and myself, I have realized that I may never find my place if I don’t continue to search. The answers I’ve been given so far have not brought me peace.

If you ever took a Psychology class, you may remember that Maslow‘s hierarchy of basic human needs defines physiological needs as the most basic, followed by safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and finally, the need for self actualization. If you haven’t heard of this before, don’t feel bad. I have a degree in Psychology and even I had to look it up.

Well, I’ve been living in the modern American/Judeo-Christian/Capitalist/Consumerist society for thirty years now. For the most part, my safety and health have always been provided for, thanks to wonderful parents who regard me with ample faith and limitless patience. And while I’ve often felt love, I have found no belonging, my life subject to that of a renegade and a dreamer. Without belonging, esteem has never been fully reached and self-actualization is a distant fantasy.

I will continue to write of my journeys for as long as words can describe them. I make no promises that my language will always be sweet. I can assure you that there will be times it will be as hard for you to read my tales as it will be for me to live them. If what I write offends you, know beforehand that it is not my intent. If you disagree with me, I only ask that you examine why. If I let you down, get in line with all the others I’ve disappointed. If I challenge you, I hope that you will meet it.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

The Course of My Chosen Profession

Before we go any further down this path and get into the fundamentals of the Economics of Happiness, I feel it pertinent to give you a little background into the wordsmith that is trying to fashion these parameters of enjoyment and bliss and develop a plan through which we can all enjoy a life of greater abundance and joy. If you’ve seen me around town, riding around with a lil’ blue wagon, or have heard my story, you may imagine that I am operating under auspices of questionable sanity or drug-induced delusions. While I will neither confirm nor deny any rumors or judgments, I do feel that I have a pretty good idea about what it takes to be happy.

LADP_Small-CoverWhen I was diagnosed with what is commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder at the age of 29, it came at a time when I had all but let go of the evangelical religion that had guided my teenage years and was trying to find a way to fit into this society. Although my thought processes seemingly deemed me as neurologically disordered, I came across the writings of Thom Hartman, who not only put a positive spin on my condition with his book ADD: A Different Perspective, but also enabled me to take another look at my faith through his book The Greatest Spiritual Secret of the Century. So with the much more empowering idea that the influx of people who thought the way that I did might actually be the precursor to an evolutionary step for an ailing civilization and the affirmative understanding that we are all One spiritually, I set out to use the gifts at my disposal to search for a way that they could be used as more than an excuse for why I couldn’t cut it in mainstream society.

TRL-Cover-060111

After shooting what would later become a documentary about my dealing with ADD, I took a year and a half to travel the country by car, hitchhiking and motorcycle, to explore the nation’s underbelly, seeking out lifestyles outside of the mainstream that might yet be more beneficial in seeking the future we desired beyond the mindless work/produce/consume mentality that had become the status quo. Inspired in part by Jack Kerouac’s vision of the Rucksack Revolution in his book The Dharma Bums as well as the call of Christ to simply have faith in universal provisions and love my neighbor as myself, I set out in the hope to find a new direction, not only for myself, but for the world community I loved so dearly. The result was a book of discovery I called The Rucksack Letters.

After a year and a half of continuing to cultivate my creative gifts as a writer and performer while living on Los Angeles, I returned to Sarasota and started to put my talents into practice. Yet while my vagabond lifestyle had given me the unflinching understanding that a life of purpose and happiness could be found outside the mainstream status quo, I was still struggling with how to bring my two realities together. It was then that two more concepts were introduced to me that have helped me take my personal journey to a place where it is more amenable to being shared and offering a course by which, I believe, we as a people can steer.

 

Photo by Jessi Smith

Photo by Jessi Smith

By aligning a number of the paradigms I have studied through my journey, I realized that there was a thread of truth that ran through all of them. As is common in the ego-based mindset that causes so much of the conflict in our varying cultures, we tend to latch on to the traditions we are given as the highest form of truth. Whether it be a religious structure or a philosophical breakdown, when we find a truth that speaks to us, we have a propensity to see that truth as better than any others… we erroneously deem our truths as Truth. However, when I aligned these various truths, these pathways to higher consciousness that people use, I realized that the greater Truth is that we are all on the same journey, what I call The Unbroken Path. Basically, as Thom Hartmann wrote in The Greatest Spiritual Secret of the Century, We Are All One.

Joseph Campbell said that it is important to move past the metaphors of our traditions in order to realize the truths that they point to. He also said that what the world needed was a new mythology. On both a personal level and on a level of creative expression, I believe that this Unbroken Path gives us the ability to transcend our own cultural differences and open up to the greater responsibility of manifesting the Truth within them.

WBPM-logoIn a similar fashion, I have been developing a new economic system that I call the WeBMaP. Based upon the idea that the four natural elements of water, air, earth, and fire are mirrored in the human aspects of heart, mind, body, and spirit, the concept sets up a more integral approach to not only finding balance in one’s personal life, but also has technological applications for utilizing monetary currency and directing the flow to attend to the four societal structures of artistry, business, citizenry, and community.

Both of these projects are still in their infancy, but have deep roots that I have been cultivating over the last decade and have manifested in my recent art installation The Labyrinth of the Unbroken Path.

 

¨The Labyrinth of the Unbroken Path¨  Photo by Arielle Monaghan

¨The Labyrinth of the Unbroken Path¨
Photo by Arielle Monaghan

Last year, realizing that my community was still struggling over making many of the antiquated machinations we’ve developed over the years work in these changing times, I realized once again that there was more to creating an abundant life than merely working within the status quo. So, in order to let life flourish as it must, unhindered and unforced, I gave up on the use of our flailing financial system, ostracizing myself from the man-made in exchange for the more eternal, and sought for a better way. I’ve been mostly smiling ever since.

cropped-cwtb-bannerDuring my stint of moneylessness, I was formative in creating Sarasota’s first alternative currency system, the Common Wealth Time Bank through a partnership with Transition Sarasota. The online infrastructure allows Sarasota and Manatee residents to use their time, services, talents, and skills as currencies beyond the limitations of the monetary system to help ensure that our core economy is cared for and fully realized. Through the time bank, I’ve also managed to help start the Garden Brigade, aligning property owners who want gardens with gardeners that want to cultivate them, and am currently developing a community third space called the Flow Factory, where I am experimenting with alternative currencies for a variety of activities that I hope to incorporate into a shelter and school of life for Sarasota’s homeless.

While I am still technically “homeless” and cannot be considered a financial success under that old paradigm of the capitalist ideals, I have realized must stronger community ties, greater abundance of creative flow, and the vibrant reverberations of synchronicity on a daily basis. I am still on my journey, and may never reach that point of perfection sought by so many. However, I am thoroughly enjoying the educational process and the constant allowance of excellence that it affords me.

Estralarian_IMAGEIn the meantime, I continue to write, make music, produce videos, cultivate community, build cool stuff, eat good food, and work toward creating alternative forms of currency beyond the limitations set forth by the industrial mindset, doing my best to usher us into the revolution of Wisdom. And apparently, according to what the aliens told me, I’m supposed to help Sarasota become a marketing mecca. The most integral aspect of developing an Economics of Happiness is having a day filled with doing what you love with people you love.

 

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at InkenSoul.com, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, Sarasota Day and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Help Lay the Foundation of the Unbroken Path

Where will the path take you?

Where will the path take you?

The Labyrinth of the Unbroken Path is entering into a new phase with the installation at this Year’s Harvey Milk Festival, and I could use some help in putting it together. This installation will feature walls made from pallets which will form an interactive maze where sojourners can leave messages for others who come behind them. The walls will then be installed as grow walls for an edible garden to be planted by and for Sarasota’s homeless community.

941281_10151565050277557_268584487_nIf you would like to be a part of this community-based arts initiative, there are a few roles that need to be filled in the next week and a half, building up to the festival.

941743_10151565052022557_1946761037_n1. Painters – each of the pallets are being painted different colors, and I need people to help get the colors on.
2.  Installers – this will include unloading the pallets from the trailer, assembling the Labyrinth, and screwing them into place.
3. Labyrinth guides – I need people to greet attendees and encourage them to fully participate in the experience during the festival.

4. Uninstallers – help taking the Labyrinth apart and packing it up.

If you are interested in being a part of this project, please email me at inkensoul@gmail.com.

Remembering Julia Seyffert

5732_1192888055904_4889487_nI met Julia Seyffert while I was living at the Bay Shore House. She was a sweet woman with a big heart. She was one of the people that opened her home to me and let me help her get organized. Some of her friends are hosting a memorial service that I cannot attend today, but I wanted to make sure that she is remembered fondly.

Her story, in my mind, is one of the great American tragedies. Marrying relatively late in life, a few years into their partnership, her husband Peter contracted cancer and subsequently dissolved the relationship within the year, dying at home in their bed. Within the year that followed, as she was dealing with the crushing blow of not only losing the love of her life, but also having to watch him whither away before her very eyes, Julia contracted cancer herself and lost both of her breasts. In the time that followed, Julia continued to fight with her cancer, but ultimately lost the battle and retired from this business of human suffering in April.

Despite her hardships, Julia was always ready with a smile and , until the cancer made her too fragile to squeeze, she gave incredible heartfelt hugs. In her last months, she was transferred to hospice and a nursing home due to her increasing weakness and growing dementia. Although she had a pretty good supply of pharmaceutical pain killers in the hospital, there were a number times she wanted to leave so she could simply go home and smoke a joint, what seemed to her to be the best treatment for combination of chemo and cancer.

Julia and I had many conversations about creating a collective of artists and citizens, and helping to develop new ways to meet people’s needs beyond continuing to empower an ineffective government to take on yet more responsibility that it can’t handle. In many respects, she was an incredible visionary, and it breaks my heart that she will be unable to participate in so many of the projects we discussed that are finally coming into manifestation. Julia and I had a very special relationship, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to know her while she was here.

Cherish those that share your life with you. We are all here for such brief glimmers of time. May we all shine as brightly as we can given the light that is within us, so that even when our lives are eventually dimmed, our spirits will shine on into eternity.