Sustaining Technologies

Sustaining Technologies is a worker-owned and cooperatively managed (one owner = one vote) LLC.   We provide effective tools to harness the power of local money and the economic multiplier for communities that are building vibrant and resilient local economies.

The founders of Sustaining Technologies helped create and develop the Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative network.

Our experience with Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative has given us a deep understanding of the challenges inherent in building a successful network. We support entrepreneurs pioneering the development of these networks, coaching them and using our tools for realizing systemic economic change in their communities.

People

Terry Garrett

Terry Garrett has an extensive media and publishing background, and has been on the economic development marketing scene since 2004- consulting with BALLE National on their early marketing campaigns. Terry has been developing the marketing network that is GO LOCAL within Sonoma County and the North Bay. He also has many years of experience in organizational development, bringing to the table many tools and processes to make networks more efficient and successful.  Terry is a Co-Managing Member of Sustaining Technologies, and is currently serving as co-manager for Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative.

Reavis Sutphin-Gray

Reavis Sutphin-Gray began programming as a hobby in junior high school. He graduated from Pomona College in 2005 with a B.A. in computer science. Since then, he has worked in electronics and as an independent contractor engineering biotech software and systems. Reavis strives for efficiency and reliability both when developing algorithms and when mapping out the role of technological components in complex systems.

Recently, Reavis has leveraged his extensive background and education in traditional imperative, functional, and object-oriented programming methodologies to become adept at agile web application development. He sees Ruby on Rails and Django as powerful tools that enable small teams to create outstanding software through rapid iteration paired with extensive automated testing and static analysis. Reavis is the Lead Software Developer and Co-Managing Member of Sustaining Technologies.

Philip Beard

Philip Beard, Ph.D., emeritus professor of German at Sonoma State University, co-designed and from 2000 to 2005 co-coordinated the Global Studies B.A. program there. His interest in complementary economics stems from his extensive study of the roots of violent behavior. Since the early 1990’s, Dr. Beard has collaborated on various projects aiming to design and implement robust, sustainable mutual credit programs at the regional level. Dr. Beard is a Partner of Sustaining Technologies, co-founder of the Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative and currently serves on the cooperative’s board of directors.

Janeen Murray

Janeen contributes organizational and collaborative expertise to the team, drawing from experience in both the business sector and the educational arena in Sonoma County.  As a junior high and high school public school teacher for seven years, she inspired a commitment to learning and sustainability in our youth.  For the next decade she developed a comprehensive understanding of the needs of local business, managing both Operations and Marketing/Communications at two Sonoma County locally owned companies. As a 2011 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, Janeen is impassioned in her work to strengthen the economic and educational pieces of the sustainability pie, to increase the quality of life for all in Sonoma County. You may also come across her wailing on her accordion around the county with the Hubbub Club street band.

Strategy

Building on the relocalization framework and leveraging the existing networks of BALLE and AMIBA, Sustaining Technologies has developed a strategy, organizational tools, and technology for growing strong networks from the ground up that will serve as the economic hubs of their communities.  We see four distinct implementation stages for relocalization networks that build on one another to create a holistic community economic system.  Each stage is explained in more detail below.

 

Ongoing Organizational Development to Increase Capacity

Every organization, whether non-profit or for-profit, needs four primary elements in order to succeed: a plan, a marketing strategy, people, and money.

While BALLE and AMIBA provide member networks with a solid ideological framework, the specific tools to build a strong organization isn’t included in member services.  An organization, no matter how passionate its members, needs well-defined management practices and effective managers guiding the organization.  ST has developed organizational tools to help localization networks become high-achievers by converting good intentions into actual results.

We advocate creating heterarchical organizations with decision making ability coordinated with multiple stakeholders.  We see this focus on “organizational intelligence” as an important shift from the hierarchal management model common to most organizations.  The belief among the organization development community is this innovative approach will make both the individual networks and the movement more successful and enduring.

Local First and Our Community Web Platform

A “Local First” campaign is the core of any effective localization effort.  BALLE and AMIBA have contributed much to this effort and have provided excellent ideas and best practices.  ST builds on their work.  By promoting a positive vision, networks engage the community to harness the economic multiplier and begin reclaiming local economic power.  Like any marketing strategy, successful local first campaigns include . . .

  • Rational appeal - Provide a rational argument (backing claims with solid research) for why localization enhances quality of life.
  • Emotional appeal - Engage the community in fun and creative ways, making it socially and emotionally appealing to participate.
  • Clear Path - Outline a series of easy steps that community members can take to participate in the shift.  A rewards card, for example, is an easy-to-use, engaging tool that incentivizes people to “go local first”.

ST provides model operating procedures for implementing effective local first programs that can be tailored to a community’s needs.  We also provide a community web platform that is integrated into our operational procedures, and serves as the local first online hub for the network.  Included features are . . .

  • Business Directory- A searchable and interactive directory with “micro-sites” for local businesses and non-profit organizations.  Micro-sites include location mapping, email and website links, business description, hours of operation, photos, videos, ratings, reviews, and rewards card data.  Businesses and organizations get access to an easy, do-it-yourself interface allowing them to easily manage their micro-site and rewards card offers, plus view transaction activity on a dashboard similar to Google Analytics.
  • Stories- An intuitive module for creating, publishing, organizing, and displaying web content in a news format including videos, photos and audio.  Utilizing “stories” effectively, networks can create websites that become the go-to resource for community information and news.
  • Events- Categorized and searchable, our events module allows users to post community events and easily find things to do in the community.  Networks can highlight specific events using the “special pick” designation.
  • Content Tagging- Business micro-sites, stories, and events can all be connected and consolidated through tagging.  This allows content to be organized and displayed in an unlimited number of ways, making websites very dynamic.  A powerful example is creating neighborhood home pages by assigning a neighborhood designation to related stories, events, and businesses.
  • Contest module- set up contests that has built-in registration forms and  maintains a database of contest registrants.  Formatted and designed to display all the pertinent and required information for a contest.
  • Mobile Templates—With nearly one-third of mobile phone users regularly accessing their smart phone utility for finding what they need on the go, we’ve deployed mobile templates that work across all formats.  Users can find nearby rewards and businesses displayed closest to them, where ever they are, with one-click direct dial to phone numbers displayed and instant mapping.

 

Rewards Card

A network loyalty and local money system integrated into the business directory that incentivizes shopping at member businesses.  The system will evolve into a “community supporting” rewards card that allows automatic donation of local bucks to community non-profits.  This effective community engagement tool also functions as the first stage of a local “mutual credit clearing” system that facilitates cashless trade and barter transactions between members.

Community Exchange with Credit Clearing

A robust local first program is a great way to leverage the economic multiplier and stimulate a local economy, but more needs to be done to build local economies that will endure.  As trade relationships are strengthened, they can be formalized into a trading network that facilitates cashless exchange using specialized accounting software, paper notes, or both.  This ensures that regardless of the state of the national or global economy, a community can continue to connect buyers with sellers and employees with employers.

Sustaining Technologies has extensive expertise and resources for exchange system design.  Our rewards card system is poised to evolve into a fully functional exchange platform that will connect community members in the following ways.

  • Business-to-business - Short-term credit lines can be extended to business participants, who can use that credit to purchase needed goods and services from other businesses in the network.  Immediately via the platform software, the selling business can use the trade credit received to purchase from others in the network.
  • Business-to-citizen - Retail businesses can issue rebates back to their customers using the rewards card system that are spendable anywhere inside the network.  All participating businesses can pay their employees partial salary or bonuses in trade credit, which the employees can spend at participating businesses.
  • Citizen-to-citizen - Community members can use their trade credit to purchase goods and services from each other.  Eventually, “online classifieds” will be added to the system to make it easier to buy and sell.

In addition to businesses and citizens,  non-profits and government agencies can avail themselves of many creative opportunities to participate in the trade exchange.  Non-profits will be able to receive donations through the rewards card system, and governments can be given a credit line similar to businesses that would allow them to source goods and services from inside the network and pay employees with trade credits.

Community Investment & Cooperative Business Development

Formalizing trade relationships into an exchange system is key in creating a secure, resilient local economy.  But to solidify continued economic development in communities, local investment and business development programs should also be created.  This allows trade to be enhanced by identifying and filling “value gaps” with locally financed and community-owned enterprises.

Sustaining Technologies, working closely with Katovich Law Group, has developed an innovative “community cooperative” structure that allows members to invest equity capital in a co-op that is used to build new or enhance existing local enterprises to meet the needs of the community.   The GO LOCAL Cooperative is just such a co-op.  In addition, we are working on a “stakeholder cooperative” model where control of and benefit from an enterprise can be effectively balanced between all of the connected parties (see example below).