My name is Jana and I recently started volunteering with Bristol Pound. I moved to Bristol from Essen, the second largest city of the largest urban area in Germany, Ruhr. In this blog, I’ll tell you what led me here and why I decided to come to Bristol and work with Bristol Pound.
Whilst studying ‘Sustainable Development’ with an economic focus, I wrote a term paper about two elements of currency: our current monetary system, or ‘Fiat money’, and local currencies as an addition to this system. I examined whether local currencies have the potential to make our economies more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive.
During my research, I had a closer look at a variety of existing complementary currencies worldwide and stumbled upon Bristol’s local currency, the Bristol Pound. Browsing through their website, I was instantly impressed by the modern set-up and the popularity of the Bristol Pound. While other local currencies are usually limited to paper money, this one offers payment via app on top of that. This function really sets the Bristol Pound apart from similar projects.
In terms of economic impact, Bristol Pound’s aims align with those of other local currencies: encouraging people and businesses to buy locally. On the one hand, this keeps the flow of money within the community, strengthening the local economy and creating more and better jobs. On the other hand, local supply chains also have a positive impact on the environment, minimising transport-related carbon emissions. In this critical moment of climate change, this is a crucial factor and advantage compared to Fiat money.
Since the topic of local currencies really piqued my interest, I decided to volunteer with Bristol Pound to gain some first-hand practical insights into how it works. And so, here I am, working 30 hours per week with Bristol Pound until the end of May 2020. Not only do I hope to learn a lot about local currencies and their ability to shape a city’s economy in a sustainable way, but I also hope to contribute to Bristol Pound’s success while working here.
After having finished my volunteering, I am planning to do a Masters programme called ‘Pluralist Economics’ at the University of Siegen in Germany. During this study, I expect to learn more about alternative economic systems and how they could help change the economies of the future. I believe that my experience with Bristol Pound will be a perfect preparation for this.
Until then, I am very excited to work with the team at Bristol Pound and get to know Bristol. There are 6 different roles for volunteers: Community Champion, Fundraiser, Administration and Customer Service Assistant, Communications Assistant, Bookkeeping Volunteer, and Events Assistant. I originally applied for Administration and Customer Service Assistant, however, since I am staying for 8 whole months, I will have the opportunity to take over a variety of other tasks as well.
Although I moved here only three weeks ago, I have already learned a lot. Besides my daily roles like taking care of our emails, I am also responsible for creating web pages for our premium members, helping to organise the Christmas Gift Fair and developing a Bristol Pound magazine. The job is fun and I recommend it to everyone who has some spare time and wants to support Bristol Pound in any way.