Beyond Local Currencies

The Totnes pound has captured the attention of Transition initiatives worldwide.  But local currencies aren't the only way of sharing finances within communities.  There are time banks, LETS systems, barter, plus a whole realm of alternative sharing arrangements -- many of which are quite easy to set up and implement. 

The Sharing Solution, by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow (Nolo 2009), describes many of these simpler sharing arrangements.  If your community is not yet ready for a full-fledged local currency or the other sophisticated arrangements (time banks, LETS systems), the simpler arrangements can help pave the way.  They help neighbors get used to other ways of thinking about finances, and other ways of working together, plus they can help ease some of the local hardship in this crumbling economy.

Alternative sharing arrangements can be as simple as a seed swap or a group purchase of bare root fruit trees or rainwater harvesting barrels.  Other simple sharing arrangements might include carpooling, sharing pet care, or harvest sharing of backyard fruits and vegetables.  All of these help blur the line of "this is MINE" and get people used to working with each other.
 
Sharing becomes more elaborate with arrangements like garden sharing, where a property owner gives a gardening friend permission to grow vegetables on the property-owner's land.  In some communities, people join together to create a neighborhood home improvement group, working together on projects at different members' homes each month.  In Portland, they have a tool sharing arrangement, which works a lot like borrowing books from a library.  The Nolo book offers many examples, plus gives you questions to ask and legal agreements you can use.

One of our local groups in Los Angeles is organizing a Neighborhood Sharing event which will showcase many of these alternative arrangements.  The event is designed as a way of getting the simpler ones up and running instantly (with tabletop signups at the event) as well as networking those people who are interested in discussing and pursuing the setup details for the more complex arrangements.

Why not try such an event within your local community?  It's a way of jump-starting the new economies we'll need as the current economic system crumbles, it should increase neighbor connectivity, plus it promises to be a lot of fun.  For an explanation of how the Los Angeles group is setting up their local event, see http://legacyla.net/transformation/?p=274 

Oct 2009 addition:  For resources from this event, see http://envirochangemakers.org/sharing.htm

 

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