Update 2012.01.11: Since this post was written, SEWLETS have (wisely) rebranded as Cardiff Taffs Community Currency.
SEWLETS is all about getting back a sense of community spirit. As a group we exchange all kinds of goods and services with each other, using community credits. You might earn credits by painting a fence for a neighbour, then you could spend those credits getting computer help from someone else in the group. So the circle goes on, always helping people in our community. Our credits are called “Taffs”, and you should value them at about one pound each. LETS are already popular across the UK, including Bristol, Bath, Edinburgh and several areas of London. If you value community spirit then this will be just the thing for you!
Discovered via a tweet from Guardian Cardiff, this is my first exposure to the idea of a Local Exchange Trading System. It reminded me of a great science fiction story I read years ago: “…And Then There Were None” by Eric Frank Russell. It’s the final story from a novel where a starship is visiting different human colonies in the hopes of establishing an empire…
The final planet, K22g, has developed an unusual social system. The population call themselves Gands (after Gandhi) and practice a form of classless, philosophically anarchic libertarianism, based on passive resistance (“Freedom – I won’t!” and “Myob!”); and a money-free gift economy based on barter and favour-exchange, using “obs” (obligations). To perform a service for somebody “lays an ob” on them; they can then “kill the ob” by returning the favor.
SEWLETS are using a Drupal plugin called Local Currencies for functionality:
Local Currencies (Complementary currencies) is an all-embracing and flexible package which includes a mutual credit engine, transaction forms and displays, including several views and blocks. It can be used as a digital back end for paper money projects, or to run an entire LETS or Timebank. With a little tweaking, it can manage currencies conforming to a wide range of designs.
Interesting stuff. Sadly without signing up there’s no way to gauge how much of a community there is (the forums are certainly quiet). Some kind of dashboard on the front page (ideally showing a thriving community of people trading various skills) would make a huge difference. Maybe I’ll sign up when I have some free time and report back…
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