I’ve been a member of BrisLETS for ten years and I’ve made some wonderful connections. Long before I started volunteering for it, I found something compelling about its beliefs, and my instinct told me it was going to be a big part of my future. But for a long time I held off. I was uncertain how I could contribute ― and I was baffled by its ambience of scarcity. More bang for my buck I wanted to find a better way to carry out my trading and economic activity. I wanted to minimise my participation in the debt-based monetary system and its culture of greed that’s central to so many problems we experience as a species. I’m debt-free, independent and have tertiary qualifications in Community Administration, Behavioural Science and Education. I wanted to throw my support behind something better. Your concerns about changes I writing to you now because I want to answer the concerns some of you have about changes I’ve brought about, and explain them. I want to explain my motives and reassure you that I’m offering myself in service. I also want to reassure you that the Management Committee is abiding by the rules and respecting democratic conventions. Any questions you still have about that are welcome. Coming back to my motives A major deterrent to trading has been the perceived lack of services and goods. But some great things are on offer. And of course we’d always like more. In the past there were more tradies who earned a lot of credit. We even used to have a dentist. So I’d like to see many more ACTIVE traders within BrisLETS. A genuine alternative for fair trade I want to change that perception of lack. You only have to scroll through the list of Offerings to see that! And I want a genuine alternative to the dollar ― not a small-scale play-thing that could be mistaken for belonging to the gift economy. Sharing freely happens between generous friends, and is something I want to protect and encourage. But mutual credit is a fair-trade mechanism for more anonymous relationships. To expand our market by increasing the number of traders, our association needs to be “semi-professionalised”. A professional organisation has paid workers on industry-standard contracts. I’m not proposing that, but stay with me. Be the change you wish to see I’m offering to help transform BrisLETS into a well-organised, coordinated and fun group of people, each carrying out a small task they like doing, which is rewarded in Units. If Units are to become a viable complimentary currency in Brisbane and its surrounds, we need to organise things better. Obviously, I can’t do all this by myself. But you ― yes, YOU ― can help us. At the moment, meetings could be run more efficiently with a bit more preparation and commitment. We can certainly do better, and I’m here to help make that happen. Yes, times do change Some of you who have been in LETS for a long time regret the loss of simplicity you’re witnessing. You long for the good old days when everyone knew each other, and it was easy and informal. Don’t despair! The group I envisage will continue to nurture kindness, goodwill and friendship among members. But it won’t be as small. For those who pitch in to help organise, it will involve some learning. And there’ll be no shame in not volunteering; you’ll be able to contribute and support BrisLETS by occasionally giving just a few dollars and/or Units. How will this happen? With a bit more organisation, we can offer better and more frequent market days, more education and more support services. Eventually, our group can even act as a point of contact and host for people with a special interest in community exchange systems. The magical ingredients for success are simply a spirit of cooperation and goodwill. You can help by joining in, and by putting your faith in the members of the committees and teams, despite any reservations you may have. No one is perfect. So offer helpful suggestions where appropriate. Let them know you’re grateful to the folks who volunteer their time and energy. I look forward to a positive future together ― one that includes friendship, joy, constructive dialogue and service to the community that we may all be proud of. How will this happen? Find your niche and pitch in!
―Simon Cole, President