YOUth LEADing the world Nov 27th, 28th & 29th 2012

3 day Youth Leadership Congress where Youth explore local and global issues of sustainability, measure and understand their own eco-footprint and work on action plans to make change in their lives, schools and communities.

Congresses are held simultaneously, digitally linked across multiple australian and global location. YLTW is now in its 4th year set to run in 50 locations.

Wodonga is lucky enough to be a part of this fantastic opportunity for Youth to focus on global sustainability.  See the flyer  here for details on how to register for this fantastic opportunity being held at The Cube, Wodonga.

Donogoes rather than Dowangos?

I have been discussing the topic of Complimentary Currencies with as many people as possible since my earlier post. 

One enlightened comment (thanks, KB) was that a system such as this would not work as the currency will be taxed at 20% in Australia.  If so, a local, complimentary currency would not be illegal, but very difficult to implement.  I have not been able to confirm that yet and I will continue to look into it.

In my search for information I did find some information on the “Baroon Dollar“, a currency system much like “Dowangos”, which was to be introduced in the Sunshine Coast area.  More information on the currency and an image can be seen here

I am unable to find out what happened to the Baroon Dollar, but the most recent information I could find on this currency is here.  Not so good!  I emailed one of the people involved a week ago, but I have not had a response yet.  I will keep you up to date.  But it looks more like these currencies are no-goes!  Donogoes.  However, the database of complimentary currencies lists quite a few Australian local exchange (LETS) systems (click on “Asia/Pacific” in the left menu to view Australia).

Ali Mitchell

Complimentary currencies – Dowangos?

This is an image of money notes pinned to a wall.  Source: thing that is rarely critically analysed in courses on Sustainability is economics.  Of course, we all know that most decisions are driven by economics, but what do we really know about economics per se?

My holiday reading was a book by David Boyle titled “Money matters: putting the eco into economics – global crisis and local solutions” (2009, Alastair Sawday Publishing).  I would highly recommend this book.  It is in sections of one to three pages that readily explain the particular topic be it where money comes from, what it means, what it is doing to the planet or how we can change the status quo.

One of Boyle’s most stunning commentaries of what we know as our economic system was concerned with how it knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.  As a consequence, things of real value are excluded from our economics.  For example, community services such as home-caring, volunteering or natural resources are not included in GDP calculations.

A topic that particularly interested me was communities developing their own complimentary currencies.  There are many systems currently active worldwide and you can browse some of them here.   There is also a LETS system in Melbourne and you can have a look at that here.   Please share your knowledge of others.

Years ago money used to stay in local economies, but today it tends to leave quite quickly via big-chain stores (and possibly leaves the social tax system via offshore secret banking!).  This threatens local communities, but one solution is a complimentary currency that is entirely local.  An example of this is “BerkShares” used in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.  There, you can buy the equivalent value of $10 for $9 and you can change the Berkshares back into national currency at any time in certain banks in the area.  Big chains in the area don’t accept Berkshares, but local businesses do.  These factors encourage the local community to buy local goods and use local services, which keeps the local economy afloat and even booming.  You may be surprised by the data in the book (I was) that it takes 50,000 pound spent in a local shop to employ a local person whereas it takes 5 times that amount (250,000 pound) spent in a big chain store to achieve the same result.  That’s amazing!

So, if a complimentary currency is such a great thing for communities why aren’t all local communities using them and especially those that aren’t valued by our traditional economic system?  Why aren’t local governments initiating and encouraging them?  I don’t know, but it may be that they are not aware of them or there may be a perception that rates from big business may be threatened or ….  I really don’t know.  But I am inspired to initiate and encourage a local currency.  How about you?  And how would we go about it?  How would you manage the risks?  And what would we call it?  Maybe “Dowangos” (anagram of ?).  🙂

Ali Mitchell

 “There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration.” John Ruskin, in “Unto this Last”, 1860.