The Adelaide Local Exchange Trading System (Adelaide LETS) is a volunteer run community exchange system operating throughout Adelaide and beyond. Its membership base heavily serves the Northern and Eastern Adelaide Suburbs with a growing membership base in the Southern and Western Suburbs, as well as in the Adelaide Hills. We also have country members as far out as Lower Light, the Barossa Valley, Riverland & MurrayLands.
Adelaide LETS gives its members a network of people who are wanting to help others, without the need for conventional currency. In short, LETS is a way of simplifying barter.
In traditional barter, you must find 2 people who need what the other has and are happy that the items are of equal value. LETS expands upon this notion by allowing multifaceted trading.
A very simple example of this might be:
Beth needs a haircut, and has some eggs from her chickens to trade for it.
Tom is after eggs but only has an excess of magazines to trade.
Tom can’t cut hair, and Beth has no need for magazines.
This is where Jessica comes in & the ‘multifaceted trade’ takes place
Jessica is collecting magazines for an inspiration board she is making, so she has a clear vision of her future once she finishes her Hairdressing apprenticeship.
She ‘wants’ Tom’s magazines & ‘offers’ Beth a haircut, and all 3 are able to trade.
The best bit? Adelaide LETS is free to join!
Once you have joined, you will receive a CES (Community Exchange System) account number and password. This will give you access to your Adelaide LETS account. Then you, along with all of our other members, advertise your goods and services to trade – both the things you can offer and things you want. CES also allows you trade with other exchanges in South Australia, Australia and around the world!
With the Community Exchange System you can also view the balance of your account and view the trading position of others before you enter into a transaction with them. In this way, the system has full transparency.
In trading with Adelaide LETS you don’t need to save up for what you want before you begin to trade. An account in debit is merely a commitment to give back to the system at a later point in time – At all times your aim is a zero account balance – put into the system what you take from it.
In Adelaide LETS when we trade our currency is called the Unit.
LETS is about more than money, it is also about rebuilding society using alternative/sustainable economic policies and practices. Complementary Exchange Systems fall into this category because they are instrumental in:
- Mobilizing the Real Wealth of a Community: The knowledge and skills of its people is the real wealth of a community. Conventional money drains away while a local exchange system keeps this wealth moving about the community, generating economic activity and providing access to the common wealth for all involved. People who have accumulated a wide range of skills and abilities suddenly become once again highly valued members of the community.
- Fostering Self-Reliance & Self Esteem: In our communities unemployment is growing and increasing numbers of people are unable to get their needs met. Single-parents may need respite care or other services for their children. Elderly pensioners also need a range of specialised services or may simply require company to combat loneliness. At present a person’s ability to access these and other services is proportional to their purchasing power. The community exchange system breaks this bottleneck by making it easier to match someone’s need with another’s offerings. People are no longer dependent upon welfare or charity, and everyone’s self esteem is elevated.
- Increased Personal Savings & Disposable Income: Because CES users can acquire local goods and services through their local exchange system, this reduces their need for national currency. Disposable income in conventional money, available after basic needs are met, thus increases. Those who trade regularly with complementary exchange systems will find they have more money left in their pockets at the end of each week. The rate of community savings, and therefore of community investment and capital generation, will improve. This will result in an improvement in the quality of life for everyone.
- Creating Local Economic Control: Complementary exchange systems help to plug the leaky bucket of the local economy. By creating an exchange system that reduces the leakage of wealth from a community, uncontrolled and activity-limiting capital outflows are reduced. As wealth generated by users of a local exchange system only has value in the community in which it is generated, it continues circulating to create more wealth for everyone. They give community members a powerful new tool with which to “steer” the local economy in directions which benefit everyone.
- Building Community Support Networks: Because the CES plugs its users into a local information network, it provides new or isolated residents with an instantaneous social support network. This avoids the embarrassment of introductions for strangers. Through a CES network all users have a ready reason for calling for support or help. Elderly pensioners, people with disabilities, unemployed youth, supporting parents, new arrivals, and single-income families with partners trapped in a dormitory suburb can all build firm friendships on relationships established through a functioning network.
- Fostering Social Justice & Equality: Because the value attached to one’s time and commitment is set individually by participants, a complementary exchange system equalises the differentials that exist in the conventional economy between the work of women and the work of men. This greater equality helps prevent the polarisation of the community “haves” and “have-nots”. There is no point in accumulating community credits as they do not earn interest. It is only by spending them back into the community that the individual or community benefits. Local exchange systems foster participation at all levels in the community.
- Building a Sense of Community: The increasingly transient, temporary and mobile lifestyle in the world today has seriously damaged our sense of belonging to a meaningful community. Because a local exchange system builds relationships it is a powerful means of regenerating a sense of trust among community members, a necessary component to the health of any community. As communities become more self-aware and self-reliant through the use of a local exchange system, isolation, fear and loneliness diminishes and everyone benefits.
- Keeping Wealth Where it is Created: National currencies always leak away to the ‘money centres’ creating money deserts and the dwindling of local economic activity. Local exchange systems, on the other hand, are community based and so keep wealth where it is created. Where previously economic activity was stagnant, the local exchange system can stimulate trade and permit things to happen where formerly there was no economic activity due to a lack of money. By being community focussed the entire community becomes self-sufficient and does not have to rely on ‘imports’ and external businesses to provide what is required.
- Bringing the ‘Money Power’ Back to the Commons: The money we use in our daily lives is provided by the corporate financial system as a profit-making enterprise, not by the government as a public service to the community. As such, the money we use does not belong to the commons and so we have little control over how it is spent and who it benefits. A local exchange system is democratic because it brings the ‘money power’ back to the people. Its users can decide how that power is exerted.