Community Exchange SystemI’ve just discovered the Cape Town Talent Exchange, and I think it’s marvellous.

It’s essentially an alternative economy – a way of exchanging goods and services without handing over cold hard cash.

“The Community Exchange System (CES) is a community-based, global trading network using a money other than our familiar national ones — an alternative, parallel, local, community or complementary currency system. In short, the CES is a new money system.”

What I like about this system is the feeling of value you get by both giving and receiving.  You have to have something to offer, before you can join, and the idea is not to ‘sit’ on the money, and hoard it, but to keep the flow going, by spending it on other services or goods.

Since I joined, not so long ago, I’ve already had a few website projects, and some editing work, and I’ve spent some of my ‘Talents’ on a chiropractor, an awesome visit to a hot stone massage therapist and am about to get me some mulch for my garden – all without spending a single (real) cent.

And, this isn’t just a local thing:

“There are many similar trading systems around the world, commonly known as Community Exchange SystemsLocal Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS), Mutual Credit trading systems or Time Banks.

The main difference between these and conventional money systems is that the scope of the money is usually restricted to a geographical area or organisation. Money in the above types of complementary currencies does not ‘exist’ like conventional money so there is no need for a supply of it and you don’t need any to start trading. Money in these systems is a retrospective ‘score-keeping’ that keeps a record of who did what for whom and who sold what to whom.

There can therefore never be a shortage of money and money does not have to be created by a third party (banks or government) outside the circuit of buyers and sellers. For this reason money and credit are free, for the buyers and sellers ‘create’ it at the moment of trade.

Obviously, there are limitations – Talents aren’t going to buy you petrol, for example, or most food (not yet, anyway), but you’re allowed to charge for your services/products in part Rands, part Talents, if you so desire, making it a bit more flexible.

So, if all that sounds interesting, check out www.ces.org.za and read their extensive faq’s.  Then, sign up!

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