Commons Currency: an econo-art project across the Great Lakes

While having money is private affair, the value of money is a commons. Like many other commons, money is a social agreement on what we value and how that value is exchanged and passed on. Let’s imagine for a moment.

Let’s imagine that the value of money is tied to the quality and availability of water to serve life in the Great Lakes basin. Since we are water, the water’s benefit is our benefit. We know economics is a sub-system of ecology and our money system needs to reflect this, not subvert it.

The Trouble of Growth: A Dispatch from The Wastelands in Cleveland and Lorain

What good is art in the face of ecological tragedy? That might not be the most fruitful lead; let me come at it from another angle.

The Erie algae blooms are smaller this year than last. Some might see in this news a sign of progress: Toledo’s drinking water shouldn’t be cut off this summer (at least not for environmental reasons). But the myth of progress, the story that things in this world are getting better, dissipates, it seems, the deeper you dive into its waters, or the farther out of them you rise.

A Dispatch from The Wastelands -- Cleveland

This is how our journey seems to move: in waves of excitement, followed by small waves of apprehension. Scientists have a name for subtle movements like these: seiches—not to be confused with the tides, seiches occur when the atmosphere shifts and the winds push the water from one side of the lake to the other. Our arrival at St. John’s Institute in Cleveland—our new performance site—has signalled a similar shift in atmosphere.