The development of LETS takes time, organisation, and management skills, and requires participants to adopt a co-operative approach. It also entails the members of the system using existing skills, developing new ones, and being able to trade in these skills. Of course, people become involved for very practical reasons. If you are a mum whose washing machine has just died, membership may mean there is someone there who can help. You don’t have to worry that you don’t have the cash to call out a repair person. But then, cash is only one form of capital. To me, LETS are about building the capacity – the human and social capital – of communities though the participation of their members.
Too many people living in our communities have skills that are undervalued. We don’t appreciate the home-made, home-grown label any longer. Yet this throwaway society in which we live has great potential. By exchanging skills, trading and growing, we can make the best use of the skills in our communities.
The buzzwords these days are Social Inclusion. Some of us still prefer to talk about the fight against poverty. Whatever it is called, I believe that it is vital that Government continues to support the development of the Social Economy’ and that includes support and expansion of LETS, Credit Unions, and other community organisations run by and for local people.