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. 


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


  • 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! 

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Kevin07 - Happy?

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

Well I'm glad that's over with!

What a result, Australia finally decided to vote little johnnie out.  Very lucky for this family, because had the result been different, we were ready to pack up & move to the UK, NZ, Canada(??), the Maldives, wherever!  (Not joking)

The question remains:  Did we vote John out, or Kevin in? 

Was it just "time for a change" (I can do without hearing that expression again), or is Phillip Adams onto it? (Worth a read!).   Very interesting that Howard was, right up till the last minute, the favourite on economic management, yet he still lost everything.  Does that mean that we Australians have a heart after all?  That we care about the environment too?

Also very interesting that here in WA we still favoured the Liberals.  Apparently that's cos we're all doing so darned well over here at the moment.

Personally, I'm just so very relieved at the result, but I'm not expecting miracles.  Kevin might be a great guy but I'm almost sure he's going to have trouble implementing all those wonderful policies he sold us on.  I imagine he'll be under a fair bit of pressure from all sides, particularly the union movement & the Greens.   Speaking of the Green issue, here's an article from Dr Guy Pearse on how to tell if & when Kevin sells out.

On another personal note, I'd like to thank everyone who supported Gary Warden in his bid for the Senate.  Needless to say he didn't make it, but that's no surprise.  Atleast we had a bash at it, & I don't think we've seen the last of him yet.

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Ah Hah! So he IS asleep on the job!!

by Claire 11/17/2007 6:28:00 AM

Just as I thought!!

(photo courtesy Crikey & Guy Pearce)

But what's not funny is the comparison between the Liberal Party's climate change policy from 1990 and it's lack of policy now.

Former Liberal Party speech writer and advisor Guy Pearce, who wrote the article above, gives a very interesting presentation on Australia's response to climate change starting here.

The sound quality DOES improve by the way.  Very entertaining "reality TV"!  The other 6 instalments are available on youtube:

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Another plug for a political party who cares.

by Claire 11/13/2007 8:57:00 AM

Gary Warden & Sarah Bishop on Wake up WA last Friday.

We all care about our planet earth.  The survival of our species depends on us staying on this planet long enough to develop the technology to go out to other worlds.  This isn't going to happen any time soon, and it wont happen at all if we cook our planet before we've got the means to escape from it!  Think about it - we're not that special in the great universal scheme of things.

The UN Secretary General has declared climate change a global "emergency"

You care.  We all do if we put aside our selfish ways for a moment.  But, because of government's unhealthy relationship with polluting industries, the major parties simply cannot be trusted to do anything useful about reducing greenhouse emissions.  They will not do what is necessary until the crisis has become too overwhelming to ignore.  This is why we need the influence of people like Gary Warden in our senate.

On November 24th: 

Vote for the Climate Change Coaliton.

Vote below the line to specify your own preferences. 

The major parties cannot be trusted to do anything substantial on this issue - we are fools to think otherwise.

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Walk against Warming

by Claire 11/13/2007 8:00:00 AM

100,000 people took to the streets Australia-wide yesterday in the Walk against Warming, demanding immediate action from our politicians on carbon reduction.  Here's the ABC news report about it.  Not surprisingly Western Australia doesn't get a mention, but we were there in Fremantle, and so were thousands of others (about 5000). It was hot, really hot.

The Liberal party didn't bother to show up to say their piece, but then that's not surprising either given their complete denial of the issue - you weren't really fooled by the "Climate Clever" ads were you?  What did disappoint me was the ABC radio news reports this morning giving plenty of air time to Steve Thomas, the State shadow minister for Transport & the Environment, criticising Transperth for putting on free transport for the day and accusing the Labor state govt of politicising the Climate Change issue.

How depressing. Our politicians really have got a very long way to go before climate change is seen as a bipartisan issue, and there's no time left for inaction. 



Life | Politics

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

Vote below the line and bypass dirty preference deals

by Claire 11/9/2007 4:39:00 AM

The Senate Group Voting tickets (preference flows) for the various candidates in this coming Federal Election has been released and some of the preference orderings are creating quite a stir amongst those who know and care about these things.

I wasn't one of those people until recently.  I used to be one of the 95% of voters who vote "above the line", trusting the flow of preferences to the party who I voted for.  But I've since found out that blind trust isn't such a good thing in this case, because the preference deals that the party you vote for has made may conflict badly with your own ideals, and even the policies of the party you're voting for.  Especially if it's a fledgling party faced with the choice of using the system to get a boost, or wasting time & effort on a campaign that has almost no hope of succeeding.  It's a corrupt system, one that obviously needs to be changed.  

So my advice to anyone who'll listen is:  Wake up!  Stop trusting the system, vote below the line, numbering every box in your order of preference, and then go home and watch the election on TV knowing that your vote really counted for something.



So what exactly is "Clean Coal" anyway?

by Claire 11/2/2007 7:00:00 AM

The libs are really pushing this "Clean Coal" thing at the moment in the runup to the election.  It all sounds very nice, like they're acknowledging that global warming is a problem, and that they're doing something about it while at the same time protecting the workers in the coal industry. 

But what exactly is Clean Coal anyway?

I'm not one for watching commercial TV so I might have missed out on the detailed explanation that I'm sure we've all been given so that we can make a truly informed choice when we go to vote.

So I looked it up, and apparently it's about capturing the nasty CO2 emissions as the coal is burnt to boil water to run the machines that make this country go, and then storing the stuff in the ground somewhere, or maybe underwater. 

But the trouble is that there's so much of it!  My understanding is that for every tonne of coal burnt, 3 tonnes of CO2 are produced, and an ever increasing quantity of coal is dug up and burnt every day.  So the quantity of CO2 to bury must be extraordinary.

Here's Doctor Karl Kruszelnicki take on it.

It's not the magic bullet the major parties are trying to sell us.  We can't go on squandering electricity in the happy knowledge that it'll all be ok now cos clean coal's come to the rescue. 

The reasons why we should embrace non-polluting power generation are very compelling, and it's all very, very possible.

Vote 1 the Climate Change Coalition on November 24th! 

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New blog engine, new theme

by Claire 11/2/2007 5:10:00 AM

Maybe this'll encourage me to write new blog entries!

 (maybe I overdid the sifr thing a little, cool though aint it! Cool )

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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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