Substation33, Food Connect and the Albion Peace Hall

By Simon Cole, Chair.

During May, I went to the YFS Social Enterprise Initiative, a hacker space in Woodridge called Substation33, to talk to the manager, Tony Sharp.Walking into the warehouse, I saw more than 20 people sorting e-waste for recycling. Impressive! Here, many people have found support and the routine, structure and training to go on to other employment: a win-win situation.  I had 30 minutes to sell BrisLETS to Tony. After giving me a fair hearing, he said he likes the whole concept, but considers the added complexity something his organisation is not ready for right now.

But the good news is …

I went away with a promise of an opportunity to make a future presentation to his staff and employees.
He also offered to give us a free laptop for our Northey Street Sunday Market stall.
And a PA system for the Peace Hall!

I was delighted. It was the first time I’ve pitched BrisLETS to a business, using a modified version of Alison Bird’s five-minute slideshow. Alison loved promoting BrisLETS via speeches and presentations.

Benefits for businesses

An incentive I mentioned to Tony was that there could soon be other businesses on BrisLETS that Substation33 could trade supplies with. Bartercard is a company that provides an alternative currency for businesses to trade their excess stock to each other. I hear it was inspired by LETS.

Different kinds of businesses may supplement each others’ needs. For example, Substation33 buys lunches from Food Connect (FC); FC buys computers and amps from Substation33. Both can sell the idea of mutual credit to their employees and pay wages in Units. The workers can then access our market on CES.

Existing members then have a range of goods and skills previously unavailable in Units.

Food Connect

I also visited FC and met with Robert Pekin, one of the “carelords”, as they jokingly call him. They already have an account with us and are offering space for hire. We could hold Market Trading Days there on every other month, to service the southside better.  In September, FC will host a BrisLETS musical evening with musicians associated with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. It will be a special occasion, catered by in-house FC tenant chefs. At this stage, I believe it will be entirely funded in Units, and tickets will only be available in Units.

I see this event as one that will add true value to Units. The lead-up to the event and advertisement of tickets will draw in interest and curiosity. People will ask, What am I missing out on, not having Units?   They may be able to pay for their ticket by joining and getting a Unit rebate either from admin or a member-friend using a code. Their new account will have a credit to get them started trading.

More about this exciting musical event in a future NewsLETS.

Albion Peace Hall (PH)

Currently, the PH charges us dollars to use the space. I have suggested that our respective associations join each other, with the PH accepting Units. I intend to pursue this further.  Our first monthly Market Trading day at the Peace Hall was held in February 2018. After more than a year, it’s time to reassess the pros and cons.

The pros of the PH

  • It is a very large, relatively inexpensive space and has a kitchen and two other rooms. We use all of them for different reasons.
  • It is the only venue of its kind (that I know of) that is fairly central, and not aligned with any religious group.
  • It is a truly community-oriented organisation with a history BrisLETS can be proud to be a part of.
  • We are both aligned in our philosophies to serve the community, relying on an open, local, secular support base.

The cons of the PH

  • It’s on the north side of Brisbane.
  • The acoustics are challenging for people with hearing difficulties.
  • The Peace Hall management committee currently don’t accept our Units.

Other venue possibilities

Northey Street City Farm at Windsor does accept Units, and is more central.

If our relationship with them blossoms, we could possibly hold our Trading Days there as our market is in the afternoon and theirs is in the morning. However, it is an outdoor venue, so is exposed to the elements.

The Food Connect Shed at Salisbury is another possibility, but it’s a bit further from the CBD (12 km) than Albion (6 km). I see us as possibly consolidating our relationship with them. They could perhaps be a potential alternative, south-side venue when BrisLETS has more members. It could host a market day two weeks away from the north side market day, or on alternate months.

However, meeting at a fixed venue saves us time finding and organising a venue every month.

And, just saying, our Onsite Events Organiser, Isabelle Derouet, is resigning from her position after July. We need to replace her.

The coming year will be different to the past year. Ideas are welcome, but more importantly, YOU are needed to make the changes happen. This is YOUR community group, and it only survives by YOU working for each other.

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