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Columbia Exchange Circle Minutes

Mtg Minutes 01/15/09

We explained the rudiments of both LETS and Timebanking, getting across the basic why, what, etc. We found it important to make it understood how individual exchanges happen.

-Idea- @ infosession after LETS is established, show an exchange happening right there.

Also of concern was how the value of the LETS credits is set. There were ideas about basing them on urban agriculture production, etc. The idea of using smallscale community currencies is that the value of the currency is distributed enough for it to be relative, and to be set from transaction to transaction. Only on larger scales is it needed to have set values. There are several faqs on local exchange trading systems that explain this process more thoroughly.

However, in the future, it might be an interesting idea to base it on urban agriculture production and other tangible, real things. There are great possibilities here for situations where scrip is used widely, and possibly talking with some heavy alternative economics theorists might make this a reality. It would be a currency that would grow in value every time food is harvested, and underproduction would devalue it. There would need to be complex controls, of course.

Another important point to get across is that this is not any replacement of US Dollar systems. It is a way to promote exchanges, whether within our system or without, and to build networks and build community. People will be able to save money as they earn goods helping out in their community in their spare time. It will give us an economic cushion to the blows US Dollars may be facing in the future. It is a way to organize people in their community around putting their shoulders to the wheel when it comes to creating sustainable and viable local economies.

Overwhelmingly, people were opposed to the idea of holding many more meetings without establishing the system. Though I think we still need to work out a lot of the rudiments, and figure out a few things before we get started, I think this is a great idea. There are ways we can ensure that the system will be dynamic, and even that people can participate in how it is run.

However, this is going to take more work than we realize. We will need to hold some fundraisers to raise about $200 to buy a domain (comoexchange.org, anyone?) and run a Cyclos capable web server for 12 months. Some friends working at Carfax, whose user end is all in java (java is the language the Cyclos program runs in), offered their help in setting it up, possibly in exchange for hours or credits.

What else is there to do? We need to decide on whether we want timebanking, LETS, or both. The folks at the meetings werent everybody, but the plural system seemed to be favoured. Here, we need to decide whether there will be a set rate of exchange between these two systems or this as well will be transaction based. There are still a lot of things to work out and this will be happening in the next few weeks as we get the system up and running.


These are important next steps for the design and implementation of these systems. We will need to make formal decisions on a few things, and others are actions that we need to take and events we need to organize. This will require some delegation of tasks, and will be our first chance to earn hours/credits.

  1. How to raise $200 to get the system going for a year (Missourian might still host, but it might be easier to do ourselves.)
  2. How the system will be managed (i.e. hours for volunteers, or apply for grants for trained, paid staff)
  3. How the system will function (hours, LETS credits, or both, and how they will articulate)
  4. What we will call the LETS credits (wheels, rocks, others were suggested?)
  5. How the system will be promoted (fliers, presentations for associations and community groups, networking with community leaders) This stuff is especially important. Building a strong network of community based organizations and community leaders will ensure the life and effectiveness of this endeavor. It is important to get a wide community based network of members, so that it isnt subject to student turnover issues.
  6. How the system will articulate with the local food system, food circles network, etc.
  7. How the system can be used to exchange local knowledge, skills, information, and ideas

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