Fight Capitalism with Maddy

Hello everyone,

My name is Maddy. Though you and I may not be intimately acquainted, it’s likely we have at least one thing in common: we’re both extremely uncertain about the future of the human race.

It’s possible we may also have something else in common: rising income disparity, severe austerity measures, and years of economic recession have left us feeling less-than-confident in our global systems of governance. Wars are declared and we are told to “go shopping.” Non-renewable resources are being depleted and we are told to “keep consuming.” Does this not sound a little backwards?

All's fair in money and war, apparently.

Our Present Predicament
You may have difficulty imagining how the very institutions responsible for these problems will manage to solve them.

Here’s my hunch: they won’t.

The climate is changing, and our leaders are failing to act appropriately. Their hands are tied. All our hands are tied. Sea levels are rising and our hands are tied. Entire ecosystems are being decimated and our hands are tied. Our collective well being is taking an irrefutable plunge and...! You catch my drift.

If you’re still with me, then you’ve probably long-since stopped pretending this is all well and good. I’m proud of you, because that takes courage.

So what is it that’s got us bound-and-gagged in the face of impending doom? 

Simply put, we are locked into failing systems because of our overwhelming dependence on them. I am talking about neoliberal policy and consumer capitalism, the systems of insatiable greed. As long as big business and corporatist governments continue to control the flow of resources, we have no choice but to obey their laws -- even as those laws bring us to the brink of disaster.

Inconvenient though it may be, unlimited growth on a planet of finite resources is not sustainable. By refusing to address this, we are knowingly sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs. Things must change.

This begins with a simple acknowledgement of the sheer volume of work ahead. We need to stop scapegoating other groups of people who also have their hands tied, and start designing new systems of living and working that allow us to meaningfully address the major issues facing us.

Local autonomy begets independence. The stronger our communities, the more power we have to resist.

Are you skeptical?

Good – you should be. We’re looking at a question so massive, it’s almost impossible to comprehend. What comes next?

I’m not trying to claim I have all the answers. In recent years a number of books have cropped up to discuss ideas for a sustainable, ‘post-capitalist’ future and what that might look like. This is just one more attempt to explore possible alternatives. So, without further ado...

Fringe In: ‘Progress’ Redefined
Fringe In is an independent research project for a new approach to sustainable development. The Fringe In Manifesto is as follows:
1. We critically examine everything that has come out of this giant experiment we call modern-day industrial society, and start making decisions around what we want to bring with us and what we want to leave behind.

2. We take a step back from the laboratory and spend some time learning from the pros – those who lived sustainably off the land for thousands of years prior to globalization.

3. We take a bottom-up approach by supporting pre-existing grassroots movements towards more autonomous, resilient communities, and

4. We empower emerging communities with universal access to decentralized energy (solar) and information (the internet).
Fringe In’s proposed microgrid technology aims to bring electricity and mass communication to places that currently do not have these resources. With these two tools at their disposal, communities will be able to self-develop with full autonomy. We want to set off a new wave of innovation by empowering villages on the ‘fringes’ of our current ‘modern’ world.

Which brings me to the fundraiser.

Maddy in Bolivia
This July, I will be traveling to Bolivia to volunteer with local organizations on community-requested projects. As I am covering my own travel expenses, all monies raised through GoFundMe will be split amongst these organizations for current and future initiatives. The main idea behind this fundraiser is to gather a group of like-minded people so we can all learn from my trip and share ideas.

Bolivia: A Legacy of Exploitation
Bolivia is an amazing country whose past and present-day struggle can help us understand where things are going. It is home to some of the world’s largest deposits of silver and lithium. At the dawn of the Age of Discovery, the mining of silver in Potosí, Bolivia became one of the first-large scale plunderings of the imperial territories. Impoverished and condemned to slavery, the indigenous population plummeted from 70 million to 3.5 million in just 150 years.

As the distinguished Latin American scholar Eduardo Galeano so eloquently put it, “Development develops inequality.”

Now, entering into another great epoch, history is rhyming. In the Salt Flats of Uyuni, lithium’s role as a vital component of electric batteries once again places Bolivia directly in the capitalist’s line of fire. According to studies, the lithium boom is poised to take off in 2020, with large-scale development of the Salt Flats beginning in 2018. 

Taking into account Bolivia’s long history of exploitation, Galeano’s words raise the question: is Bolivia’s lithium a blessing or a curse?

Many have placed their hopes in Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, whose extraordinary socio-economic reforms over the last decade have reduced poverty and extreme poverty by 25% and 43%. For the poorest country in South America, this was unprecedented!

The money for Bolivia’s new social programs came from a radical shift in fiscal policy. In his first term, Morales flipped fossil fuel profits from 18% to the state and 82% to the private sector, to 82% state/18% private. Thus, where Bolivia had received $173 million in 2002, by 2006 they received $1.3 billion – a huge win in the battle for Bolivia’s natural abundance to benefit its people.

Morales’s dedication to a thriving, equitable society is a good sign for things to come, but state policy isn’t everything. Equally important are the efforts of the citizens to increase local autonomy on the ground. The organizations that I will be volunteering with are shining examples of this. Fundación Alternativas and Agua Sustenable are working towards greater food and water security in La Paz, Condor Trekkers in Sucre takes profits from tourism and reinvests them back into public initiatives, and Potosí’s Cepromin works directly to support people in the mining industry. These are the types of projects I believe we need to lend our support to as we move away from an exploitative, capitalist economy and into a future where communities are empowered to self-govern in the interest of their own people.

You and I are standing at the precipice of a unique turning point in history. By helping with this project, you have the power to steer this unruly vessel we call human ingenuity.

Come with me!
If you’re interested in being a part of this journey, I encourage you to join me. This is your opportunity to get involved with the Fringe In vision at its inception. Your donation will place you in a network of fellow forward-thinkers, with updates dispatched straight to your inbox. In addition, you will be offered the chance to participate in the Fringe In dream project of building ‘autonomous villages.’

Anything helps! Seriously, if you’re considering pitching into the cause – first off, thank you so, so much. That you even took the time to read over this lengthy GoFundMe gives me faith in humanity, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Please get in touch with any questions, comments, criticisms, additions – anything at all. I would love to hear from you. 

Below is more information about the organizations that your money will directly benefit: 

Fundación Alternativas (FA) is an organization generating sustainable approaches for greater food security in Bolivia. FA works to unite civic, public, and private efforts in the design and application of public policies, programs, and initiatives to ensure communities are able to satisfy their universal right to food. Some of these initiatives include introducing municipal governments to urban agriculture, outreach programs on how to grow food indoors and outdoors, and partnering with micro-finance institutions to provide resources and technical assistance to young entrepreneurs interested in starting urban farms. Learn more.

The Center for Sustainable Water and Environment Management, or “Agua Sustentable”, is a non-profit NGO for sustainable water management and environmental sustainability on national and international levels. Their work focuses on building knowledge, policies, institutions and legal norms aimed at improving collective well-being, socioeconomic and environmental development of local populations. Agua Sustenable is guided by the human right to water and the priority of water use intended for life, understood as human consumption and productive activities related to food security and the environment. Learn more.

Condor Trekkers (CT) was initiated in 2008 in Sucre, Bolivia, and is modelled on the Quetzal Trekkers organization in Guatemala. Condor Trekkers offers city tours of Sucre as well as multi-day hikes guided by community members, offering them a sustainable income through tourism. 100% of the profits from these treks are directly invested in the communities through which the groups hike as well as established social projects within Sucre. Learn more.

Cepromin is a small NGO working in La Paz, Oruro, and Potosi to support communities impacted by or working in the mining industry. The branch of Potosi works on different projects to support the families of miners of Cerro Rico, both within the area of the mine and within further mining communities. Some of their projects include: support for women suffering from domestic abuse, youth centres within the mine/providing services to kids living within the mine, youth art projects for self-expression, workshops to provide hard-skills to youth other than working in the mine. Learn more.


Madelyn Capozzi
Montréal, QC

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