In December 2018, two friends got together for coffee and decided to see if there would be any interest in a LETS group in Fremantle, having been members of a successful LETS group in the past.
We are now looking for members to join our new group, so if you live in the Fremantle area, we welcome you. The current list of suburbs is:
- Bibra Lake
- East Fremantle
- Hamilton Hill
- Mosman Park
- North Coogee
- North Fremantle
- South Fremantle
- White Gum Valley
If your suburb is not listed, feel free to email us and we might be able to put you in touch with others in your area. We would also be happy to offer our help with starting up LETS systems in other areas.
You will need to think of something to offer and something to request, but first, a bit about what LETS is and how it works.
It's a "Local Energy Trading System", first invented by Michael Linton in Canada. We buy & sell in a local currency rather than the dollar. For Fremantle LETS we have created the "seashell" currency.
LETS is often mistaken for bartering but it's not a bartering system because there actually is a currency involved, and there's a network of members, so you don't have to find one person to trade directly with. You can make a one way transaction with anyone in the system. So it's arguably closer to the regular $ system than a barter system. And it's local, which means the community benefits.
Here's a graphic that might help explain things. This might also give you an idea of some of the things you can offer and request.
This is the number one question.
- Browse the list of requests - you will probably think to yourself "I could do that".
- What are your hobbies? Are there any that you would like to share with others in some way, perhaps by tutoring or creating something?
- What have you done recently to help others - for example mowing the lawn, helping a relative with a clean-up, giving someone a lift, looking after pets - all of these general skills are very welcome in LETS
- Think about your occupation - would you consider occasionally offering your skills for the local currency rather than the dollar?
- There's no such thing as interest - so it makes no sense to save seashells. The best way to run your LETS account is to spend as you earn, or conversely, earn as you spend (see 2. below)
- Credit is available immediately - meaning you can spend seashells as soon as you join - you don't have to earn them first.
- There is a limit - you cannot have a balance of more than +/-1000 seashells, and individual transactions are limited to 500 seashells. Again, spend as you earn, and vice versa.
- You are sometimes permitted to charge partly $ - minimal dollar charges are acceptable for costs that you have incurred directly as a result of providing a service or item to a member. You must make this clear before any trade takes place, and you are not allowed to use this to profit in $. You may decide it's not worth it, and you're willing to effectively convert some $ to seashells.
- You begin on zero, and you are expected to end on zero. Because this is a local currency, it affects people in the local community in a very real way, so if you are about to move away, and you have a debt, you are expected to trade up to zero before you leave.
- It's transparent - built into the system is a level of accountability - all members can see the balances and turnover of all other members, but not individual transactions.
- There are fees - 20 seashells per year, and $12 dollars per year, to cover admin costs and $ running costs.