In the world of community currencies, Pressed Flowers have resiliance. To my continuing surprise, the humble floral unit has legs! Last night, under the add-on, flowers were reserved, catalogued and most importantly traded.
Some months ago the Vienna artists' community took children to the hills near Baden to collect flowers. These were pressed in the sleeves of books and a more crude version of a flower press awaiting tonight's events. Now, the pressed flowers have been reserved by recording them all and preparing them for distribution.
Yet such a community setting. Overhead in the scaffolding in Wallensteinplatz, a performance by a popular Astrian warbler AustroFred (singing songs by Queen in German. "Under Pressure" sounds like "Amadeus" ...). Underneath, a gang of artistic financial cryptographers catalogued and laminated hundreds of pressed flowers. They are now official floral reserves of the FlowerBank.
This crazy little thing called trade. A dance group was paid in pressed flowers. Their dance presented flowers to the audience, and each audience participant was encouraged to take the fresh flower and bail it in to the FlowerBank for pressing and future conversion for more liquidity.
Pricing the laminated pressed flowers was an issue that wasn't resolved beforehand. After the performance (and flower bank revitalisation) a lengthy negotiation meandered between the supply factor of time for complete flower pressing in volunteer labour (about an hour) and the investment of the performers (about 2 hours each). Eventually, trading parties settled the price at PF8, or PF2 per performer.
(The rain started but nobody cared. The wind blew the stock of reserves around. Pandemonian, but ... The show must go on!)
This is Europe so the kids are out on the streets until the early hours. At least, this was the Turkish community. Keeping children focused turned out to be a simple matter of pure bribery (anything for sugar). In exchange for writing out the leaflets describing the terms of trade, flowers were paid and kids were well behaved, for once.
The reserve units were accepted for meals and icecream and I converted my wages in laminating into a dinner of fried meat, noodles, basil, and peanuts. Delish! A plate cost PF2 and icecream only PF1 although there was some debate about that.
In the event, the flowers economy all went to pot. Some insisted on keeping their flowers and forewent the benefit of the further trade. Kids on the other hand raided the local park for flowers, traded them in for precious reserves and then traded those for meals but not the icecream. Snip, snip, snip. Another myth bites the dust.
It gets more Austrian. Rumour has it that one of the kids, Nenad of age 10, has responded to the critical shortage of flowers and has started his own bank with pressed leaves. Already adults are speculating on when pressed insects will emerge, and the rate of exchange between leaves and flowers.
Opinion aside, the essential metaphor here is a 'favour currency' which records our good deeds. This is a soft issue in that it really doesn't matter if we get the exchange rate askew or the float adrift. What matters is that the system supports the actions - when a favour is paid for, it stays paid. When it isn't paid, the system does not get in the way of denying people's intent to avoid a direct recording of the event.Posted by iang at July 31, 2005 04:44 PM | TrackBack