UK Local Exchange Trading and Complementary Currencies
Development Agency

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December 2008: "LETS respond to Credit Crunch"

Dear Friends
It's been another busy year, with a much increased level of interest in Community Currencies, as the Credit Crunch deepens, and here is a brief update. Here are are some links to recent articles - any more please let us know:
Nov 21st 2008: Rachel Heaton: MSN Money: Trading schemes ease credit crunch woes
Dec 14th 2008: Judith D Schwartz: Time Business & Tech: Alterntive Currencies Grow in Popularity
Jan 11th 2009: Jean-Paul Flintoff: Times Online: Money is Dead, Long Live Barter
Jan 20th 2009: George Monbiot: Guardian: If the state can't save us, we need a license to print our own Money
Jan 24th 2009: Jack Izzard on the Today Programme: Barter Economy
Jan 28th: Wandle LETS is featured on Inside-Out London - I-PLAYER
Aug 12th: Shropshire Star - a-problem-shared

 

Dear Members & Friends

LETS is in the News !
TV and radio are full of reports and discussions about the Credit Crunch, and journalists are pursuing both LETSlink UK and individual LETS groups to hear what is being offered in the world of complementary currencies. So life has been busy not just for central office, but also for local groups, giving interviews and helping with filming projects. We would be grateful for reports and links to these reports to be sent to us.

Have System will Travel
This was our last website headline and it related to our quest for software, which has continued throughout the period from 2005 to 2008. Our method was firstly to analyze the essential requirements for running a LETS. We began the process during the training course we ran in London in 2005 – thanks to Mamading Ceesay for beginning this work, which we called “specification for a universal transaction engine”. In 2006 we continued to refine it, and to shortlist existing software to see how it matched our requirements – thanks to Matthew Slater for support on this throughout 2006. From this work we did not immediately find anything that seemed quite specific enough, and were inspired to create a special website for a city-wide LETS, which Matthew began and Progga developed during 2007 and implemented for London-wide LETS.

Along the way, we found customized PHP sites and content managed or social networking systems adapted for LETS with only partial success, demonstrating an urgent need to continue our research – which is a moving target as the technical work continues. Currently we have identified “Local Exchange” as the system which best fulfils our criteria. It was commissioned by Francis Ayley, an experienced LETS practitioner from the UK, and coded by Calvin Priest in the USA. Progga adapted it for the UK, and implemented it for four groups during 2008, with several others in the pipeline. Further improvements are being coded by Chris MacDonald, working with Rob Follett in Cornwall. Overall progress is being recorded in our members’ area, as well as on a dedicated website: www.cxss.info.


Research Continues . . .
Inbetween the software project we have continued our earlier mission of mapping LETS all over the UK, for the practical reason of enabling the public to find them. When we are able to speak to LETS organizers, we ask them how it’s going. Many are doing well, maintaining a consistent size and serving their members needs well. Few are expanding, leading us to wonder if there is an ideal size for a LETS, or whether, given appropriate software which takes care administrative tasks, organizers will be able to increase the effectiveness of their group.

Neither the lottery nor the government is paying for this research, so we need to cut to the chase, and have learnt to diagnose what is happening in a LETS group by listening to the symptoms. We can tell quite a lot from phone and email, but if we are going to install software, we have learnt from the projects already undertaken, given that our time is a scarce resource, the necessity of direct contact with key members of the group, to ensure that if software is installed,organisers will adopt it, and that the project as a whole is capable of benefiting from it. This has led us into another whole area of discourse, ie the detailed issues of management and co-operation, and as we continue our research, it is likely that we will discover not just one, but a number if different successful models suiting different circumstances. This is why, the attached, Renewal and Questionnaire encourages a broad range of response with space for groups to tell us all the positive things they are doing to maintain their LETS.

New Kid on the Block
On our travels we have come across Transition Towns, which have gained popularity during the past two years. Putting the ideas of permaculture into an urban context, their mission is to up-skill communities to meet the challenge of Climate Change and Peak Oil by embracing “energy descent”. Given that TTs are mainstreaming the concepts that LETS have promoted over two decades, and are attempting to engage with the local economy, we are encouraging all LETS organisers to contribute your expertise to TT projects near you: if you need support, contact: admin@LETSlinkuk.net

 


 

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