Jenny gives us an explanation of the LETS system – essentially a volunteer-run network of self-help groups who, through barter, share skills and community support.
When his BC town faced major unemployment, Michael Linton started a ‘local currency’ of ‘credits’, to help the town survive. There are now over 2500 known groups in about 150 countries.
The system runs on the premise that every person has something to offer society, even though it may not valued commercially – cash wise. Each group is autonomous and modifies the rules to suit itself.
The groups agree to exchange individual members’ skills/talents/services for ‘credits’ or points instead of cash. You can exchange ‘credits’ with anyone in your group as well as with members of other LETS groups.
There is a minimal use of dollars. Each group has a different name for these credits- beans, diamonds, shells, melbas, echos, quolls etc.
Mary bakes a cake for Jim and earns 10 credits. Then Mary gets her hair cut by Betty for 20 credits, while Jim might do some home maintenance for Peter for 10 credits.
Betty can use the 20 credits she earned doing Mary’s hair, by getting some babysitting, and so on. Money is usually only exchanged when materials are bought or used.
When baking a cake for Jim, Mary would charge $$s only for the ingredients she used and diamonds for the labour. Mary’s haircut would be diamonds only. Jim’s home maintenance might involve buying wood and nails; Peter would pay for these in cash and diamonds for Jim’s time and effort.
You do have to contribute to the group in some way! You may have a hobby like leadlighting, or love baking cakes, or knitting beanies or be a qualified bookkeeper.
If you offer some thing exotic like translating into Swahili, then it is advisable to also offer driving or something slightly more practical, so that you can trade both credit wise and debit wise. You may have excellent secretarial skills so you could become the group secretary…
For further info you can contact Jenny: email firstname.lastname@example.org.