Planet Claire

some say she's from Mars

What is LETS?

by Claire 11/29/2007 5:33:00 AM

A couple of people have asked me lately, what exactly is LETS?   Here's my take on it, in particular our local system here in the Perth Hills called "Swan Hills LETS".

We’ve been in LETS since our daughter was born in 1997.  I used to read about it in “Grass Roots” magazine which I used to subscribe to in our “self sufficient” days before life took over.  Then I met someone at the community learning centre who was in it & got into it then.

LETS systems are active all over the world, but they’re always community based.  It’s basically an alternative local currency – ours is gumnuts. 

The system prints its own virtual currency (gumnuts in our case) which circulate throughout the community.  We have access to a member directory of goods & services on offer, and there’s a strong social culture.

When we trade with each other, our transaction is recorded in a central database, in our case a website that all members have access to - members record their own transactions.  Every member has an account which starts at 0 and fluctuates into credit or debit, a credit representing work we’ve done for the community and value that we’re hoping to get back out of it.  A debit represents a debt we owe the community.  On leaving the system everyone’s supposed to return their account to zero so there’s no leakage of energy from the system.  (This doesn’t always work in practice).

The sorts of things our family have offered & used in the past are gardening busy bees, eggs, massage, herbs, babysitting, 2nd hand goods, excess home grown veggies, help building a straw bale structure, etc etc.

We get out of it as much as we put into it, so sometimes months go by when we’re not involved at all, and other times we’re trading frequently. 

Pros:

  • Make new friends
  • Encourage healthier lifestyle
  • Extend purse strings
  • Strong community

Cons:

  • Hard to get tradespeople to join, and hard to get blokes to do a lot, which is what a lot of people want, especially single women & older people.
  • You have to be pro-active to get the benefits.  Most members are busy people just like everyone else & need to be asked directly.  So sometimes people join LETS & then get disappointed that nothing happens, but the most successful members are those who attend social gatherings, busy bees & get actively involved, and more recently, those with email who use the member forum.
  • You have to try & spend & earn equally (over the long term) so you don’t end up with a big debit or credit.  This can sometimes mean being creative about what you spend your gumnuts on.
  • Our “community”, the Perth Hills is a huge area – Pickering Brook to Guildford to Toodjay.  I would like to see more LETS systems being much more local.
  • Sometimes members leave the system with debit balances (owing), which basically means that the energy they owe the community is lost.  This seems to happen more often than people leaving with credit balances, and is actually quite detrimental to the system, although happening much less frequently now that the committee has recognized it as a problem.  The best way to not be affected by this is to ensure that you never get too big a credit balance, and always try to spend what you earn.  It works well for us.

Does this interest you?  Are you in the Perth Hills?  We're always looking for new members!

http://swanhillslets.org 

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LETS

Swan Hills LETS directory, check out what you're missing

by Claire 11/10/2007 11:10:00 AM

I've just made an update to Swan Hills LETS site that lists the very exclusive & secret Wink member directory on a publicly accessible page!  Hidden are names & contact details though.  Go check it out now to get the lowdown on what you're missing out on for gumnuts.

Hey what's this LETS / gumnuts thing I hear you ask?  LETS stands for "Local Exchange Trading System" - it's a local currency trading system, not a barter system, but a proper currency that a community creates and then trades with, as a complement to the Federal monetary system.  It strengthens communities & acts as a bit of a buffer against economic downturns.  Also a great way to re-localise yourself and make new friends.  The system I'm involved with is the Swan Hills LETS system in the Western Australian hills east of Perth.  There's about 60 member families in our system & growing.

Do a google for LETS or "Local currencies" for more information.  Wikipedia would be a good start.

 

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LETS | Life

Home collection of household goods

by Claire 6/9/2007 8:20:00 AM

Here's a list of charities in Western Australia that do home collections.

Anglicare 9358 4055
Good Samaritan Industries 1300 855 130
Salvation Army 13 72 58
St Vincent de Paul 9444 5622
ParaQuad Industries 9381 0111

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Life

A National LETS conference.

by Claire 6/5/2007 10:05:00 AM

Wow how exciting.
Today our LETS president dragged me along to a meeting organised by the founder of many of the LETS systems in this state. I had no idea what the meeting was going to be about, and lately I've been rather disillusioned with LETS, so wasn't expecting much.
It turns out that this man has just attended a LETS conference in Germany and has brought home some exciting ideas for us to build on over here.
LETS is a great idea but I have felt for a while that it needs to mature before it can really make a difference in communities on a sustainable basis. Well apparently it is maturing, with ideas like C1-C4 currencies and "re-localization", we here at Swan Hills LETS just haven't woken up to it yet.
A National LETS Conference is to be organised, to discuss ideas on how to make LETS sustainable into the future.

 

Edit:  Unfortunately this didn't eventuate.  What a shame. 

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LETS