There are Users, and there are Members…

In BrisLETS, there has long been an assumption that opening an account on CES to trade and joining BrisLETS are one and the same thing. But are they really? And should they be? What if they were quite distinct? What if anyone could register themselves on CES and start trading? What if becoming part of the BrisLETS community was quite another thing? Would this expand the market in a good way? Would it engender greater appreciation of the personal support,real life events and the volunteers who provide them?

I delve into these questions, consider the answers and discuss the implications for our constitution, logo, name, Terms & Conditions and the ‘joining’ process.

As I collate the results of the Member Activation Drive and delve into the CES User Guide to update the data base, I’m becoming more aware of how important the distinction between Users and Members is. I believe that those of us who have looked into it need to pass on the information and provide members with some guidance. The results of MAD will be released in a separate report.

The CES is a new money system, not a club or organisation. As such those who use the CES are its users, not its members. New users do not ‘join’ the CES but register to use the system and are in there for life, just as they are in the official money system for life. We are ‘registered’ to use the official money system when our parents register our births and do not consider ourselves as opt-out members of a club when we use that money system.

Users can of course de-register from the CES if they want to, but as there are no renewal requirements they are not automatically ejected after a certain period of time.

CES User Guide; Members vs users
(see under “Help” tab)

This suggests that Community Exchange accounts should be as readily available as accounts in the debt-based banking system. However, the Aussie dollar, like all debt-based money systems, has a culture that goes along with it and users are never warned of it. Essentially, it’s a tool for accumulating wealth (and power); a commodity issued only by institutions controlled by the rich. The culture is acquisitive (greedy) and supported by the taxation system of a political structure that has come under its influence. For example it subsidises bank interest for investors. People begin to understand some of this as they use money, but most never learn the half of it.

Mutual credit also has a culture; a culture of fairness, impartiality and neutrality. It is an abstract and unlimited measure of value (like meters and kilograms); it is interest-free and not a commodity.

Therefore, in order to attract people from money to mutual credit, the transition needs to be reasonably familiar and easy; at least to begin with. In time, they will learn how different it is and how to do trade and economics with a completely different heart. Every member of the community can contribute to the success of this by being well-informed and ready to educate others at all times.

Our Association is an incorporated ‘club’, which is what people pay for when they join and become Members. It’s a luxury that most Community Exchanges don’t have; most rely soley on a volunteer CES Website Administrator. Being incorporated protects committee and team members from personal liability, should something go wrong and good-will fails to resolve the problem.

Is it time for a change of name that makes it easy for someone that has no knowledge of LETS or the CES system? In 2019 we are hoping to use grant money to boost our public profile using street and house signs, flags, banners, business cards, pamphlets, letters to editors, social media and zero-cost trader advertising as marketing tools. A title which describes us, for example Brisbane Community Exchange may be easier to read and understand. If BrisLETS is used on its own, an outsider has no idea what it is unless they know of the LETS movement.

Currently our Association’s official name is Brisbane Local Energy Trading System Organisation Inc. and we use BrisLETS as a brand name for marketting. On CES our exchange is called BrisLETS Community Exchange.

Many people, including existing members but especially newcomers, have trouble understanding what “BrisLETS” is what “CES” is and how they are different. “BrisLETS” has a catchy feel, and encapsulates the LETS side of our history. However, since the merger with CES, we have been gifted a very powerful online system for trading that also networks us globally.

There are good reasons for clarifying the difference between CES and the Association, as I’ve outlined above. But the compelling reason for naming them similarly is to make it easier to see the connection between them. Online the difference is obvious; they have separate websites. They also have their own logos.

The table below summarizes how a clearer distinction between the two would work.

CES

BrisLETS

Current names and logos

BrisLETS Community Exchange

Brisbane Local Energy Trading System Organisation Inc branded as BrisLETS

Proposed changes

Language

  • Open an account/register (with CES)
  • Join (the club/association/community)
  • apply for membership
  • User, Trader
  • Member
  • Market Days

Privileges & Obligations

  • Use of CES to advertise and trade
  • Email support
  • Social Media contact
  • Monthly email list of announcements and Offers and Wants
  • Monthly NewsLETS
    • warning that Users must pay an entry fee to events if they’re not Members
  • All privileges of Users plus:
  • In-person support (phone, face-to-face)
  • Attend events free or by donation
  • Use of Drop off Points
  • Monthly Events Update email
  • Voting rights at General Meetings and other rights as defined in the constitution
  • Opportunity to serve on committees and teams, paid in Units
    • Protection of personal property and assets from legal action when on committees or teams
  • Bound by Terms & Conditions
    • Pay transaction levies
    • Application approved by CES Website Administrator
  • Learn from website, Help & Guide:
    • How to use CES online
    • Understand the culture and expectations of CES
  • All obligations of Users plus:
  • Pay $20 joining fee for 12 months membership
  • Renew membership annually by donation
  • Serve on a committee or team for 1 year every 5 years, or do 1 ad hoc job every year or renew membership for $20

Management

  • CES Website Administrator
  • Management Committee
    • President (& Membership Secretary), Secretary & Treasurer
    • Entrusted with keeping the association legally incorporated according to the constitution
  • Management Support Team (subcommittee delegated by Management Committee)
    • CES Website Administrator
    • BrisLETS Website Administrator
    • Planning & Technical Support
    • Team Representative
    • Team Representative
  • Other Teams

At the time of writing, it is not advisable to canvas major name changes because of a lack of information on constraints such as our website url (brislets.com) and our name on CES and associated account prefixes (BLCE). When the information is available, we may be able to consider dropping BrisLETS in favour of Brisbane Community Exchange.

Whatever we decide, we need to be ready to educate newcomers, we need to be well informed ourselves. Our Association is an ideal club for supporting and sustaining those of us with even a hobby-like interest in monetary and mutual credit systems. Our Library and Advisory Body are spaces for learning, sharing and storing an accumulating body of knowledge that can be drawn on by members.

Simon Cole
December 26th, 2018