Workshop on Krone as a Reward System in Ocean View

October 2023

Holly Judge

A community engagement workshop took place in Ocean View on 7 October, 2023. Ocean View is a low-income community in the Western Cape. The venue was Ocean View Secondary School.

The total number of participants was 11. Participants were recruited via a digital poster that was circulated via WhatsApp and Facebook.


Businesses in Ocean View

One of the starting topics was the fact that OV residents are purchasing fruit and vegetables outside the community, at places like Food Lovers Market, despite many people having fruit trees and vegetables in their garden. Participants stated that they would rather buy fruit and vegetables from their neighbours than from supermarkets, but people are not yet capitalizing off having excess fruit or vegetables growing in their gardens.

An issue local businesses currently face is that people from outside the community have shops in OV, and these shops offer credit, meaning people do not need to pay up front for goods. OV residents, however, cannot afford to do this. The presence of these shops has, according to participants, significantly hindered the ability of small businesses to grow.

One participant was an artist, and she explained that the market for art does not exist inside OV. In-stead, if artists want to make money off their art they need to travel outside of OV, and many do not have the money to do that. This participant makes money within OV through mural painting, but she does fabric painting as well and uses Facebook to find a market for that because OV does not have enough consumers for her.

It was restated, as has been previously documented, that currently 80% of the local economy leaves OV.

Bartering in Ocean View

One participant was engaging in bartering. An example she gave is that she gives her hairdresser a massage in exchange for a haircut and color once a month. While the consensus was that bartering was not a very established form of trade in OV, it was noted that the increase in cost of living has started to force people to barter within the community. What is more common, another participant explained, is people helping one another, that is this week participant A helps participant B, and next week participant B helps participant A, and in that way bartering is happening. The problem with this, however, is ensuring fair value. An example given was someone lending another person coffee. If person A lends Jacobs coffee to person B, and next week person A wants to borrow coffee from person B, but person B only has Ricoffee, then it isn’t fair trade because Jacobs coffee is worth more than Ricoffee. The inequality in this trade causes arguments, and this is where systems of bartering sometimes break down in OV. Community currency could circumvent this issue through assigning value to goods exchanged.

Previously, the Mosque had tried to implement a similar system to the idea of earning a plate of food by doing a good deed (this concept will be discussed in more detail later). In order to get a plate of food, the person needed to do a task for the Mosque, such as working in the garden. The program came to a close, however, when people started stealing.

Shifting the handout mentality

Soup kitchens in OV currently offer free plates of food for people in need. However, an issue with this system, the participants explained, is that residents come to expect that plate of food and feel entitled to it. One participant stated that these soup kitchens are ”taking away the dignity of people, because they have become so dependent on the soup kitchen”. Another participant stated that a mentality that has developed in OV is people coming to expect things for free. Therefore, when the soup kitchen is not open for some reason, some residents will get angry. The group agreed that people should instead work for that plate of food, and that this shift in mentality would empower the people who are currently expecting that plate of food for free. Not only is working for something inherently empowering, but in learning a new skill when working for something one is also empowered. One participant stated, regarding the OV Krone, ”its not just a currency, its a mindset”. An example given was if someone is required to volunteer for their plate of food, and their volunteering is fixing a broken window, they will then learn the skills required to fix a window, and with time they can start to capitalise off these skills beyond simply earning a plate of food.

The ”pilot project”

A recurring question was how would this pilot project be launched and when. Participants were tired of talking about this concept, they wanted to see it implemented in the community. They saw no need to wait any longer than they already have. It was suggested that the pilot be launched within a month, and that a meeting be held in the community to announce it. WhatsApp was also seen as a way to circulate the launch of the Krone, and after that it would become word of mouth. The ”core” of this pilot project would be soup kitchens, where a plate of food could be used to quantify the value of Krone. Soup kitchens were chosen for various reasons. Firstly, one of the participants ran a soup kitchen and she was happy to use her soup kitchen as part of the the pilot. Soup kitchens are also low risk, as they are currently not asking for money, therefore accepting Krone comes with no risk. The mentality shift that working for your plate of food that could come with piloting the OV Krone in a soup kitchen was also what made the soup kitchen the primary subject of conversation. Furthermore, there is a field opposite the soup kitchen run by one of the participants that is always covered in litter, and having this field in such close proximity would make it easier to transition people onto the system of earning Krone to pay for their meal, as they would not need to go somewhere else to find a good deed to do and people at the soup kitchen would be able to look and see whether the person was actually cleaning up the field (more details on this process were expanded on later in the workshop and are discussed below). The result of the soup kitchens receiving Krone is obviously an accumulation of Krone at the soup kitchens. The suggestion was that the soup kitchens use the Krone they receive to purchase additional goods they need to make the food (beyond what the donors already provide).

Other services besides the soup kitchens would also need to be involved in the pilot to get the community’s buy-in. Suggested additional services were a local shop stocking at least bread, milk and sugar, and instead of the mosque giving away Jungle Oats and rice packets for free, charging Krone for them.

Feasibility of an app

Participants explained that while some people do have phones and could use an app for spending and receiving Krone, many people do not, especially the people who would be doing good deeds for Krone. A hybrid approach was suggested, where people could either have the app on their phone, or they could carry a QR code that can be scanned to pay for or sell goods and services, and can be used to receive Krone when one performs a good deed. Children were also mentioned as being unlikely to carry phones, however it was decided that children under 13 would not need to pay to get food from the soup kitchen.

Accepting Krone

Participants were asked what percentage of their total sales would they be willing to accept in Krone. While participants did not give exact figures, one participant responded saying, ”to me there is no risk” in accepting Krone, but they would also need cash to pay for rent and other goods and services where Krone is not accepted. Another participant said that they support the community as a conscious choice, such as through only purchasing local takeaways, and accepting Krone would be another means for them to consciously support the community.

Community currency role play

Participants were each given a sticky note and a cup of 20 beans. Each bean represented 10 Krone and, for the sake of simplicity, 10 Krone was decided to be equivalent to R10. Participants wrote on their sticky notes what kind of business they were, the main service they offered or goods they sold, and what the price of this was. Businesses included a car washing service, Wi-Fi provider, two grocery shops selling basics such as milk, bread, sugar and eggs, a fruit and vegetable market selling pre-made ”soup mixes”, face painting, a massage studio, a soup kitchen selling bowls of biryani, and a babysitter. One of the researchers role played as the ”good deeds person”. This person started the role play with no Krone, and had to earn their Krone through performing good deeds for the various business owners. Business owners chose the value to assign to the deeds this ”good deeds person” completed. At the end of the role play, participants counted the amount of beans they had left in their cup. The person with the most amount of beans was the person role playing an Wi-Fi provider, and the person with the second most beans was the person role playing a grocery. Wi-Fi can already be pur-chased using Krone, and the setting up of a local grocery store that accepts Krone is in the pipeline, therefore the fact that these two businesses were the most popular is a promising sign that Krone will be successful in OV.

The participants were then asked whether the person with the most amount of beans was the wealthiest. The participants agreed that he was not the wealthiest, because that is not how a community currency works. The group understood that the purpose of a community currency was to uplift the community, rather than to make certain individuals wealthier. One participant stated ”I don’t think they are wealthy, I think they are greedy”. The conversation throughout the day was usually orientated around how the Krone could uplift those most in need in the community, rather than how Krone might help the participants grow their businesses. One participant explained that the think Krone should ”flow” in the community, rather than be hoarded, because in hoarding Krone you are ”depriving somebody of a plate of food”. The participant further explained that ultimately what the Krone is, is ”putting a value to your energy”, where energy is the effort you expend on the service you provide. Unlike money, you cannot run out of energy.

Brainstorming good deeds

The role play served to ground the topic of community currency in ”real-life” scenarios. The next phase did the same, by listing out which deeds would qualify as good deeds for the ”pilot” of the community currency. Participants were given sticky notes to write good deeds on which were then stuck on a standing board for the group to see. It was agreed that this list would evolve, but it was important to agree on some fundamental ones in the beginning. The good deeds included: volunteering at the old age home, neighbourhood watch, participating in the school walking bus, river clean ups, ushering at community organised movie nights, volunteering at the disability school, volunteering at the clinic, playing music, and cleaning OV by collecting bags of rubbish. An example of how playing music could be applied as a good deed was playing music at the soup kitchen. Recycling was seen as a risky option as addicts currently collect recycling and use the money they make doing that to buy drugs. It was also suggested that ”practical” deeds could be paid for in Krone, such as cutting someones lawn.

Checking the completion of good deeds

It was discussed that there would need to be a person to check that the person doing the good deed had in fact done it. It was suggested that someone be employed to carry out this role, and this person would earn money in a mixture of both Krone and cash. ”Krone Ambassador” was termed as the title for the person carrying out this role. The Krone Ambassador would be responsible for helping people set up wallets either on the app on their phones or through issuing them a physical card, and they will check that good deeds have been completed. The person who does the good deed will need to take a photo to prove that they did it.

Assigning value to good deeds

Since the focus of the workshop was a pilot project for Krone, with that pilot project being largely centered around the soup kitchens, a plate of food was used as a measuring stick for what people should earn for good deeds. It was decided that a plate of food would cost 40 Krone, and therefore a good deed should correspond to a plate of food for this pilot project. Two bags of rubbish collected from the fields or streets would equate to 40 Krone. Participating in a river clean up would equate to 20 Krone. 2 hours of volunteering at either the disability school, clinic, or old age home would also equate to 40 Krone. It was also decided that the amount of Krone you can earn per day should be capped so as to prevent people accumulating large amounts of Krone and then the soup kitchens needing to be able to meet this demand. It was decided that 50 Krone would be the cap per day for good deeds. One idea was that if people earned 50 Krone Monday-Thursday, it would mean on Friday they would get a ”free” plate of food, that is they wouldn’t need to work on Friday for their plate of food.