Steampunkerie
A steampunk blog of fashion, food and fun..

The Steampunk Ethic.. finance and financing

Utopian flying machines of the previous centur...
Here's something I have been thinking about a lot lately.. the steampunk ethos of "love the machine, hate the factory" can also be applied to financial/financing matters. The amazing Cory Doctorow
spoke about his take on it in MAKE magazine, and he makes some fine points. I think there's other things this philosophy can be applied to as well.

Whenever I have a choice, whenever I am able - if I have a choice between supporting a big corporation and supporting a small business - I'll choose the little guys. If I have a choice between supporting a small business and a teeny weeny one - I'll lean towards the smaller one. If I can go local, I will. If I can help an artist put food on their table, I will. If I have a choice between handmade and mass-manufactured, I will choose the handmade item.

And for investing? I'd rather put my money into the hands of people who will use it to do good things. Participating in Microlending is one way to do this - instead of dealing with a big bank, it gives people the option of getting money from individuals instead. As an investor, instead of putting money into shares, stocks, bonds.. I can invest in making someone's life better. www.kiva.com is one place to find microlending opportunities. At the moment they don't offer interest, but reportedly this will change soon.

Another good thing to participate in if you get the chance are self-funded projects. www.kickstart.com is one site that you can use to find and fund projects. Here's a project I threw a few bucks at today:



There's hundreds of projects like this.  I think this is one of the ways in which technology is helping artists.  Amanda Palmer put her own spin on this issue in her blog. The mechanisms are in place for people to "escape the factory". Books and albums can be self published. Cottage industries can sell to the world through the web. Artists can seek funding, sell their works and connect to their fan base. You now need "a thousand true fans", not an agent or a company to represent you.

A year or so ago now, I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne after losing my job. I was in fairly dire financial straights - if not for the generosity and aid of some friends I would have been in a very sorry state indeed. One friend in particular lent me a significant amount of money. When I was able to pay it back, my friend said, "no, don't pay it back, pay it forward..." I have tried to do that, putting it into the hands of people who need it.

Since moving down here one of the big differences I've noticed, and one of the most welcome, is the number of smaller businesses in operation here.  I have hardly been in a supermarket since I got here. I am able to get what I need in ways that I find a lot more aligned with my ethics.

The more people do it, the easier it becomes. There's a change in the wind.. and the steampunks amongst us are raising their sails.



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