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Your idea's name (maximum 50 characters):
Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)
The insecure public are now calling for financial reform, but power-down activists like Transition Towns also push for localisation of goods and services, development advocates want the informal economy recognised and thousands of groups are already using their own, sustainable money.
Complementary currencies have proven themselves very successful in revitalising communities, utilising under-used resources and stimulating local economies, especially when national economies fail. They are also widespread in Japan; WIR Bank has thrived in Switzerland since the 30s; RegioGeld currencies multiply in Germany; Time Banks have helped revitalise inner-cities in US.
Some schemes issue paper, such as the Totnes Pound, Ithaca Hours, and Berkshares. Most use cheques or account books a few use a more on-line banking model.
Few schemes have the resources or patience to adopt existing web applications which are written from scratch, inflexible, and poorly supported. Both theory and practice show much more variation in multiple currency implementations, gift economics, and demurrage mechanisms, than any software can model.
My idea is to support these activities on the FOSS platform, Drupal, to make it easy to install and configure, and offer it as a service. Consulting with key people, I have developed such a module and the first beneficiary will be the 'SEL du Lac' scheme in Geneva, Switzerland.
What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)
Communities lack the resources and expertise to identify, install and configure such options, let alone to collaborate on generic, usable software. Relying on spreadsheets and photocopying, many expend precious resources on laborious, centralised accounting. Until now, the movement has been losing momentum, failing to communicate its relevance, failing to reach out to wider communities, and failing to attract young people.
Absent from the web, the movement is unable to step up and preach its economic message of localisation, sustainability, empowerment and altruism, just when we need them to step into the breach caused by failed value systems.
If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)
With the right software, more communities would reduce their dependence on debt-based currencies and increase their resilience to recession/collapse. South Africa New Economics Network has proven how online systems can foster prosperity even in the developing world.
There would be indirect benefits to everyone from a parallel economic system; environmental benefits stemming from the localisation of trade, and a re-evaluation of energy and resource usage would be more possible and likely with a new money. Doubters of globalisation will see less taxes frittered away in a centralised void, and stronger local governments.
NOW is the moment for local money to provide a democratic and just alternative.
What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)
Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)
I seek to transform complementary currencies from an arcane middle class hobby to a tool which adds resilience to small economies, from the grass roots.
Impact would be measured with the following indicators:
Appropriate software would also facilitate experimentation in different currency models, and a mutual support network would be established around the main platform.
But this project should go beyond Drupal, firstly to facebook and the new generation of mobile phones. The world should start to move towards forms of currency more appropriate to a century of globalisation, resource shortages, decentralisation and social justice. Communities would be shielded from economic mismanagement of governments. Economies would be greener, local variety would flourish in place of multinational uniformity. We would usher in the Star Trek Society!