Creating Resilience – With Community Exchange Systems

How can communities and local businesses be more resilient to those winds of global finance that influence our quality of life yet seem beyond our control? The answer is to create our own credit clearing systems; so suggested Thomas Greco, during his recent European tour. His latest book “The End of Money and the Future of Civilisation lays down a blueprint for a radical overhaul of money creation. For the past 30 years, Greco has worked on cashless exchange systems, community currencies, and community economic development. It’s a message that now seems to be finding an audience, as people respond to the implications of the financial crisis.

I had the pleasure of working with Thomas and the European Sustainability Academy to develop a network of professionals in Greece who organise alternative exchange systems, such as the local market currency in Volos, called the TEM. We facilitated the drafting of the Drapanos Declaration on Community Exchange, which provides a basis for future collaboration. It highlights the insight and purpose that many people share. I recommend you read it, share it, and consider endorsing it yourself.

Thomas then came to the north west of England, to speak at events organised by the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS), which I’m founding at the University of Cumbria. We organised the events with Transition Lancaster, the local chapter of the worldwide Transition Towns movement, which encourages local action to create sustainable communities. As a result of the events, IFLAS is now engaging Transition Lancaster and the Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association, other interested business networks and community groups in the region, and the nation-wide Sustainable Money Working Group, to design experiments and action-research projects for scaling up alternative means of exchange. We hope to link this local innovation with the Working Group on the Sharing Economy, of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, because we believe these issues are of global relevance.

The next event is a one day seminar on why and how to launch your own local exchange system, led by myself and John Rogers, co-author of People Money: the promise of regional currencies, and in association with the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, on March 11th, 2013.

The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) will be formally launched next year, with a 3 day summit of international sustainability leaders. Based in the middle of the world-famous Lake District, the ILS is an autonomous part of the University of Cumbria Business School, collaborating across the University on inter-disciplinary research, education and advisory. We work on personal and collective transitions towards more fair and sustainable societies. The field of alternative exchange systems and complementary currencies is an area which we welcome enquiries, particularly from potential doctoral candidates, partners in funded research, or prospective participants in our March seminar. For this, I can be contacted via my profile page at the University.


Professor Jem Bendell

Director, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria

Founder, and Lifeworth Consulting

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