(Community Design) Hyper-Local Basic Income

Kent Dahlgren
6 min readAug 15, 2020

Most discussions about BI (Basic Income) are framed within the context of national economies, and described as a Universal Basic Income.

But I believe it’s more likely BI programs will be adopted in hyper-local economies, such as one surrounding an institution embedded within a neighborhood, such as a church.

For years (actually for generations) we’ve been conditioned to believe that the only type of financial system is one which is built upon centralized institutions.

This has been the case for so long that it’s easy to forget there’s any alternative.

However, humans have structured themselves in a decentralized manner for literally millennia.

In fact, if you think about your most exclusive circles, you’ll see that a majority of your daily interactions occur within overlapping circles that are very “local“ and specific to your loyalties and/or interests.

You may entertain a national affiliation, but most people are more loyal to their tribe or clan, so to speak.

As we consider solutions to address the needs of economic refugees (those negatively impacted by economic reversals, such as an economic recession), is there not room for a pragmatic hybrid approach, where we embrace local economies, while the centralized institution recovers?

There’s ample precedent for these hyper-local experiments, and we’ve seen them arise throughout history many times, around the globe.

Point being: these programs work.

This is a lot less mysterious and theoretical than you might think: it’s really as simple as a rewards program that encourages the community to “buy local.“

Which is really just a reward program.

If you’ve used United Airlines frequent flyer miles or Starbucks points, you are familiar with how a rewards program works.

If you’ve purchased wooden tokens at a farmers market or tickets at a school bazaar, you have seen this “buy local” approach in action in the real world.

By leveraging a “buy local” program, there's a lot of creative things a community can do for itself, under its own steam, simply by emphasizing the growth and diversification of a local economy (such as a town or a city).

However, these programs can be introduced within even smaller “hyper-local economies,” such as a neighborhood community surrounding a church.

For example, they can experiment with a wealth redistribution exercise that begins to resemble what some people call a basic income (BI).

Generally, some people do not like universal basic income (UBI) when applied at a national or state level.

They don’t like the idea of their money being given to others in the event that the “others“ are slovenly, lazy, non-productive, etc.

And more that: they fundamentally don’t often trust the government, because it is not known to be transparent, it is frequently unaccountable, and almost impossible to audit. Consequentially the government is associated with fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption.

And therefore, mistrust of the government in general translates to a disinterest on the part of many people to allow the government to manage a social program such as BI or UBI.

But let’s switch it up; let’s remove the government from the equation, just for a moment.

What if you knew that you were a member of a community of people like yourself?

We’re not talking about 50,000 people or 5 million people in this example. We’re talking about a few hundred, or maybe 1000 people.

We’re talking “hyper-local,” for example: the congregation and community associated with your church.

It might be easier, or at least more palatable for people to except a resource redistribution methodology if they felt confident that the benefit was limited to “their community,“ emphasis on the word “theirs.”

Social programs are generally more easily accepted when they are limited to a “tribal affiliation” rather than extended to all.

In other words: ardent opponents of UBI offered by the government are more likely to embrace a “BI-like” program when it’s offered by their church, exclusive to their church community.

Likewise, there might be more trust in how this program was deployed if the implementation of this wealth redistribution plan were done in a manner that was transparent, accountable, and easy to audit.

Further, what is the program itself were designed in such a way that it was nearly invisible?

Here’s an idea:

What if your church ran a fundraising “bazaar“ utilizing an app (such as the one provided by 214 Alpha), that enabled marketplace transactions between members of the congregation on a 24/7 basis?

This would enable members of the extended church community to sell products and services to one another within a high-trust and exclusive marketplace.

The church would keep 80% of the transaction fees, and this revenue adds up quickly: for a community of 1,000, the church might expect to receive $6,100/month in transaction-fee based revenue, and this projection is predicated upon an assumption that the church levy a 5% fee per transaction.

The church could levy a 10% “tithing” per transaction and still be significantly less expensive to use than Amazon Marketplace + Visa (18.3% per transaction) or eBay and PayPal (13.4% per transaction).

Point being: this service has the potential to help the church generate a respectable quantity of additional revenue that is ordinarily given to Amazon, Visa, PayPal, eBay, etc.

Which enables the non-profit church organization to extend support to its congregation in a very progressive manner, no pun intended.

In this instance the church congregation would utilize the 24/7 bazaar app as a fundraising approach, simply by facilitating a “buy local first“ program which emphasizes the hyper-local community surrounding the church itself.

The church may charge a nominal transaction fee for each marketplace transaction, say: 5%, which is still substantially less than what is charged by Amazon, eBay, or other online platforms, as illustrated.

The church keeps 80% of those transaction fees, and that adds up in a hurry, representing a significant source of revenue.

The revenue itself is reconciled as individual contributions to the nonprofit or to the church; this is similar to how Goodwill Industries reconciles profits generated when they sell clothing or other items at their many thrift stores.

Because these revenues are reconciled as individual contributions to the corporate entity, they are afforded greater options for discretionary spending, which enables the church or the nonprofit greater latitude and how these revenues are then re-distributed to benefit their own community.

Libertarians might note that this approach resembles something akin to a tax, but it’s entirely voluntary, thus satisfying the terms of the nonaggression principle (NAP).

Members of the church community can choose to opt in or opt out of the program, and are not coerced into its use; if they don’t want to pay the “voluntary tax,” they don’t have to use the 24/7 “church bazaar app.”

Simple!

So. Back to wealth redistribution:

Would it not be simple to ensure that the church’s 24/7 bazaar includes a wealth redistribution approach, designed to benefit the church family?

A person might be ideologically resistant to wealth redistribution in the context of government, but support for the same program for their own church or school community, or for their own neighborhood.

In this manner, the community can step forward to embrace and support their own, giving the government itself more breathing room as it pivots towards recovery in the wake of the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Resilience, an invention of Johan Nygren, serves as a peer to peer wealth redistribution model that’s voluntary and equitable.

He even gives his idea away for free.

What is it?

It’s a peer to peer resource redistribution app, built to be almost invisible within a community; people can opt in or opt out of participation.

Pretty simple, but very effective.

And we are able to embed this into our self-governance app if a client (such as a church) feels the services may be advantageous to their community.

These solutions are not theoretical; we can begin implementation today, just as soon as your community is ready.

It’s exciting to be on the front lines of delivering solutions for communities that are keen to demonstrate their leadership in the wake of economic chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are each other’s keeper.

Are you interested in exploring how this may benefit your community? Contact us today and see how our Community Activation and Launch Methodology (C.A.L.M.) process may benefit your plans to achieve a state of autonomous self-sufficiency.

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Kent Dahlgren

Product management fix-it guy. World-famous people skills. Extremely small hands. (edit) marketing lady says I’m also supposed to say “CEO of software company”