In the Dargle we have been talking about introducing our own Dargle Dollar for many years, to keep our money circulating in the valley. We began with vouchers that could be exchanged at the market and a few local vendors. There were a few drawbacks to this system – mostly administrative – which meant it hasn’t really got off the ground.
One initiative that has flown really quickly is our Dargle Trade.
On the third Thursday of each month, we gather on the veranda of il Postino with bags and boxes crammed with excess produce from our gardens and kitchen (and some craft, clothes, books too) and share with neighbours and friends. This has become a lovely social occasion as we barter for cappuccino too and catch up on local gossip. Interestingly, it always feels like you go home with more than you brought!
We also registered the Midlands Community Exchange. While this is a new idea in the Midlands, local currency has been utilized in communities in England and the U.S. for three decades and Cape Town has been trading in talents for at least the last ten years.
LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System and that is also the name of our new Midlands currency. It’s an encouraging, positive and co-operative sounding word. Go to http://www.ces.org.za/index.asp and learn all about the system. Choose South Africa and then Midlands Community Exchange and view All the Offerings. Why not register you own right away?
Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), are locally initiated, democratically organised, not-for-profit community enterprises that provide a community information service and record transactions of members exchanging goods and services by using the currency of locally created LETS Credits. LETS networks use interest-free local credit so direct swaps do not need to be made. For instance, a member may earn credit by doing childcare for one person and spend it later on carpentry with another person in the same network.
The great attraction of Local Exchange Trading Systems is that any group of people can start them without waiting for premises, permission, grants of expert community development skills. In as little as a few weeks individuals without special skills can start trading – and building their community.
- it is a Membership organisation
- there is no compulsion to trade
- it is non-profit making and no interest is charged or paid
- Exchange of goods and services by using the currency of local created LETS Credits
- Direct swaps do not need to be made
- Transactions are recorded in a central location open to all