The Bakery is a bustling metropolis of community socialism tucked away in one of those nearly-mystical in-between places of the world. It inhabits a special place in the region meriting appreciation as a piece of the local culture—really the local soul—as well as a unique resting point between the vast waters of the Pacific ocean and the California heartland.
The popular currency here is an IOU taken on faith of being repaid and most people pay what they owe even if they live out of state. Sometimes they leave extra in appreciation. Another form of local currency are bags of Meyer lemons which are traded by the pound in exchange for a quantity of baked goods. These payment methods offset the fact that despite the increasingly digitized age the Bakery accepts no form of plastic. Credit cards are no good at Wild Flour Bread because every transaction on a card gives money to the banks. When asked, it’s a common refrain to hear a worker at the bakery say, “The banks don’t need your money so we don’t give it to them.”
The global corporate market damages the ecosystem of small businesses the world over and it’s a crisis. Places like this are becoming rarer though they are needed more than ever. David Korten says that “global currencies lose connection with reality in the markets, shops, and communities of the people.”
There are many possible solutions and partial solutions to this crisis, from broad-sweeping legislation to altering the Constitution—as Thomas Jefferson would have suggested—and to the creation of state-chartered banks. But the Bakery suggests something fundamentally profound that can take place without input from lawmakers. The suggestion is simple: Build communities. The driving force of the Bakery’s survival is its claim to a community spirit. From the people working there to the tourists passing through—everyone is treated like a part of the family. No shortcuts, no corporate dealings, and no credit cards.
The only credit needed here is that which is bought by hard work, fellowship, and a love of good thick bread.
~ Odin Halvorson (Freestone, California)
Odin is a writer and avid geek. He hopes to inspire community-building with his work and facilitates a twice-monthly “Democracy Café” which uses the Socratic method to discuss society.
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