The benefits of a local currency for the local community are doubtless. Let alone when the social and economic welfare are in a deep downfall.When a place is stricken with economic crisis, local currencies, like the Bristol Pound canve the economy a chance to reflate by providing an alternative way of trading so that people will be able to spend it locally, on homegrown products.
In communities like Volos in Greece , where there is a struggling effort to afford items and services in euros due to the deep financial crisis, people got creative and discovered the benefits of establishing a local currency.
The local currency of Volos
Volos, has created an organized exchange and solidarity network that’s been operating since 2011. It was an initiative from citizens with the aim of supporting one another with extended benefits for the local economy. It actually is a system of mutual demand and supply to satisfy needs that cannot be covered by paying in euros. The local currency is called TEM, which stands for “Local Alternative Unit “.
The team behind it call it a “positive action initiated by the citizens of Volos. A decision to take life in their hands , create employability and give value on the local products.”
Yiannis Grigoriou, coordinator of the network, claims that this project is not something different from what was always happening in the Greek society, where the citizens had those unofficial agreements of helping each other without money intervention. In a smaller level, as that of a village, this is still very effective.
“We support the initiative because it’s a very good way out of the deep economic and social crisis,” he says.
How big it is
Τhe network had 50 members in its first year of operation. By April 2012, it had more than 800 individuals supporting it. Ιt seems like it becomes more and more popular while it makes people think about the real value of money. After years of being brainwashed about the significance of our debt crisis and how catastrophic this is, a local currency like TEM make people reconsider the real value of euros, and gives them back the hope and joy it was taken from them.
How it works
Volos’ local currency functions in a slightly different way than Bristol Pound. All the transactions are digitally recorded and valued in TEMs. It works as an exchange system. If you have goods or services to offer, you gain credit, with one euro equivalent to one TEM.
A simple example: A member of TEM’s network undertakes the job of teaching English to the children of another member. After this work is done, the teacher’s account is credited with the agreed value in TEMs. The father’s account is accordingly decreased. For the people that doesn’t have access in the digital form of payment, there are vouchers (payment mandates) that show the value in TEMs.
Maria McArthy, a British woman that has been living in Volos for many years now, has been trading in TEM since it started,3 years ago, by offering English and guitar lessons, second-hand clothes and bric-a-brac .She claims to have earned and spent 9.500 TEM.
Volos is οne of the biggest Greek cities with a big percentage of young population and a significant port. Citizens that support the scheme claim to have a significant benefit, especially now that financial future is really uncertain.
If you would like more information about it, refer to the articles below:
1.How we survive a Greek tragedy. The everyday life and experience of a British woman (Maria McArthy) living in Volos for many years now, and why she supports TEM
2.”Meet the Greeks who have already Ditched the Euro” by Bloomberg Business.