Philadelphia & New York LETS Accommodations Trading
John C. Turmel writes: The following article is being sent out to the 1000 members of the Philadelphia Equal Dollars Local Employment-Trading System (LETS) in the upcoming edition of their Directory. Please network it to others so that as many people as possible might be informed about "travelling for time."
TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH EQUAL DOLLARS
by John C. Turmel, B. Eng.
As an early engineer of LETS local currency systems, I have always promoted intertrading between systems. For several years, I have travelled the world visiting LETS and paying for our travelling accommodations with IOUs for accommodations back home in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. I would actually sign an IOU for each night of overseas accommodations.
Last year was no exception. I like to attend The Other Economic Summits (TOES) which are held in the same city as the G8 meetings for world's richest nations. In 1999, it was held in Cologne Germany where there was also going to be a large Jubilee 2000 gathering.
I searched the Internet for European local currency connections and sent them all an Email informing them that my companion, Pauline Morrissette, and I were going to be visiting Europe and would like to swap accommodations. After a couple of weeks of organizing, I had set up accommodations trades with LETSers in Germany, Belgium, Austria, France, Sweden, and Finland.
My web page at http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel includes a section called Latest Posts where you'll find my complete European trip reports on those visits but I'll explain here how anyone can swap accommodations with other local currency systems in a very similar fashion.
At page http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/urlsnat.htm at my web site is a list of internet links to over 700 local currency systems in over 40 countries. Over the weekend, I traced down almost 200 more LETSystems around the world. I have added these to my original 500 links to make the new total of 700. I would particularly like to thank email@example.com who sent me a list of 98 LETSystems in Holland of which the 45 with internet links can be found at http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/urlsnat.htm
There, http://home.t-online.de/home/fabian.betz/letstrav.htm is a link to a European LETS Network of accommodations traders called LETS TRAVEL. It is true that like Philadelphia's Equal Dollars, most systems are linked to the national currency but every system always has a basic local currency wage for an Hour's work. Many systems around the world don't even use the federal currency link and like Ithaca Hours, simply call their currency an "Hour" worth 12 American dollars, or 6 British pounds, 20 German marks, 60 French francs, etc. With everyone basing their currency on an Hour of time and with an
Hour of time being the same 60 minutes everywhere, it is therefore possible to intertrade between systems with ease.
In Europe, they decided to initially value an evening's accommodations at 5 Hours per night. Up to 10 Hours if your host acts as your tourist guide for the day. That seemed reasonable to me. Especially since in some cities, like Cologne and Paris, a hotel would cost several times that amount in Federal currency. A hotel in Cologne would have cost me $150 and paying 5 Hours worth $50 or $60 was a great saving. But even better was the fact that we weren't tourists having to fend for ourselves in a new place. We were guests, part of the new international local currency movement, and were treated like guests. Being all part of the same new local currency movement made discussions with our hosts particularly interesting for both parties.
What makes intertrading on the internet even easier is best demonstrated in what many local currency traders in France call the
"JEU," the "Jardin d'Echanges Universel," the "Garden of Universal Exchanges." Most systems hold everyone's account at a central computer where records can be checked by anyone to make sure that the people you are trading with are on the up-and-up. They decided that instead of keeping everyone's records at a central location, everyone would keep a notebook of their own transactions which they could show to others so there would be no need to have a central system to register their trades. And no administration fees!
With the internet, this becomes much easier. Simply post your page of accounts in public on your own web site so that anyone can go see it and it's even better than having them at a central computer where people can go see it. So that's what I did. I started my own personal LETS local currency system page at http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/lets.htm where you can find the following information:
- my "time currency" earnings,
- my "time currency" spendings,
- my services offered
- my requests.
That's all there is to it.
So here is how it worked for me in Europe. If you go visit that page, you'll notice that when I got back from our trip, I sent IOUs for:
- 20 Hours for the 4 days we were hosted in Cologne Germany,
- 15 Hours for the 3 days we were hosted in Betecom Belgium, and
- 15 Hours for our second 3-day stay in Antwerp.
- 10 Hours for the 2 days we were hosted in Paris,
- 5 Hours for each of the many 1-night stays elsewhere, etc.
Notice that with every transaction is an internet link to the person who provided the accommodations so anyone who doubts anything can always contact the other party.
Out of the 40 days we spent in Europe, we only paid for a hotel for one night on a long stretch between an Austrian system and a French one. The other 39 nights were paid for not with cash but with IOUs for Canadian accommodations! If we consider the conservative estimate of $100 per night for hotels, that's almost $4000 in federal cash we did not have to pay for our trip. We paid with a commitment to host future visitors to Canada for 39 nights. That made a trip that would have been unaffordable quite affordable.
But what if you personally don't have a free room to offer. No problem. If you belong to a local currency system, does anyone else on it have a spare room to offer? If so, list that address. They can provide the room and you can pay them with your local currency but everyone on your system now qualifies to travel and pay with your own local currency. So anyone who belongs to a local system can use the travel credits as long as someone else on the system can handle the accommodations if requested.
Even if you don't belong to a system, do you have a friend with a spare room for whom you can offer something in exchange for letting visitors stay? That's good enough.
There is also another great advantage to bartering accommodations. In many systems there are people who do not possess skills that are in great demand and who are fated to mostly be in the negative. Yet, being often unemployed, they have the new opportunity to earn credits within their local system by hosting foreign visitors! This should be a great boon to such members.
So anyone may follow in our footsteps. All you have to do is copy my lets.htm web page, fill it in with your own information and send your lets.htm web page link to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll add you to the urlsnat.htm page so anyone contemplating visiting Philadelphia can contact you. Or you can send the info to the Philadelphia Equal Dollar system at and they will list it for you.
If you don't have a web page to post your LETS account on, keep a copy of it ready to be emailed out to anyone who asks. That's just as good if slightly less convenient for you.
If you don't have a computer, get someone who does to broker your accommodations offer for you. A 10% broker fee seems quite reasonable to entice someone to operate your personal internet currency account for you. As soon as you have registered your offer, then, even before you have earned any accommodations credits yourself, you can contact anyone on the list to inquire if they can arrange a room for you when you travel. When you get back, you register your IOU on your page, email them a copy of your timecurrency IOU to register on their page and that's all there is to it.
The upcoming Republican convention in Philadelphia this July provides a great opportunity. With tens of thousands of protesters coming to town including me and with many of them belonging to one of the 86 local currency systems I have already listed in the U.S., it's a chance to start earning accommodations credits towards your future travel. And since anyone from anywhere can join the network by offering accommodations, if they don't belong to an already existing system, they can start their own personal LETS page and add a new destination to the list! It's not only a great chance to earn credits for yourself but also a great chance to expand the network.
Of course, with the international trading network established for accommodations, we'll soon be able to start intertrading many other things. I'm looking forward to setting up the "used books" section. I'm sure many other exchanges will soon develop.
So, as members of the Philadelphia Equal Dollars system, I hope you agree that connecting to the accommodations-trading network will be of great benefit to all of you in very many ways. I invite you to register any accommodations which can be advertised to the visiting demonstrators.
How to participate:
1) Call the Equal Dollars hotline at 215-951-0327#3051 and register the address and specifications.
State you prefererence(s)
(Male, Female, Couples, No preference)?
(Retired, Middle-aged, Young)?
(Able to host or not able to host)?
(% Cash, % Credits)?
2) You can let Philadelphia Equal Dollars broker your offer at a 10% broker's commission? Or you or a friend can handle your own internet transactions for free by sending me your address at email@example.com so I can post it to my urlsnat.htm page.
If you are planning on participating in the Republican Convention demonstration and would like to host some out-of-towners under the above conditions, please contact me or Equal Dollars to register your offer. If you are coming to Philadelphia and would like to barter for your accommodations, work on getting some accommodations set up in your home town and get them registered on urlsnat.htm Then, when the Philadelphia list comes out next month, contact anyone on the list and make your own arrangements.
For New York:
I'll be in New York from the May 18-26 for conferences at the Foundation for Ethics and Meaning and Millennium Forum at the United Nations and would certainly like to arrange the same kind of set up there too. There will be local currency advocates coming to both conferences who I'm sure would appreciate being hosted as much as I would. So if you are from New York and wouldn't mind earning some housing credits by hosting a visiting guest, please contact me so I can add your address to the list. Similarly, if you want to take advantage of accommodations-swapping while in New York, find some
available accommodations in your home town and register them on the list too.
If the anti-poverty movement can organize itself to swap accommodations in this manner, it will make attending these
conferences that much more affordable for all of us. There's no reason we should be wasting our cash resources on hotels when we can get organized to help ourselves in this way. And staying with a host interested in the same issues we are interested in makes for a much more enjoyable stay and often results in many fine friendships.
For Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Tom J. Kennedy writes:
"I am prepared to host out-of-town visitors to Ottawa under the above conditions and I am quite certain that other Ottawa LETSers would be willing to do likewise." So if anyone wants to take advantage of accommodations-swapping while in Ottawa, Ontario Canada, find some available accommodations in your home town and register them on a list that Tom J. Kennedy is creating. Tom's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't Cancel Debt! LETS Cancel Debt Growth First !
John C. "The Banking Systems Engineer" www.cyberclass.net/turmel
For anti-bank and pro-LETS community currency adventures and reports,
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Amen to Jubilee in 2000 with L.E.T.S. usury-free bank accounts for all.