Friday, 19 September 2008

In for a pound...

The surreal juxtaposition of the sell-out success of the Lewes Pound against the backdrop of the collapse of our global economy was highlighted by Tuesday’s Argus poster screaming: Lewes £ Soars! next to piles of newspapers headlined ‘Nightmare on Wall Street’. The greed and folly of our international banks has come home to roost, unfortunately taking out the millions of small investors and pensioners.

This is one of the purposes of the Lewes Pound – to reconnect ourselves to each other, to create a resilient economy - economy being shops, farmers, people making things and people needing things; the word comes from roots meaning managing a household.

Until the cheap oil bonanza allowed us to ship work overseas to cheap labour, communities the world over used to provide their basic needs such as food and household goods close to home, only shipping in exotic ‘cherry on the cake’ items such as spices, silks and oranges. Now we’ve reversed that trend, and all our basic necessities, especially food, are provided and waste disposed of in far-away places where the immoral way most people and resources are treated is conveniently hidden from us. The posh things are produced and sold locally. Lewes is an example of this, with few of our independents of whom we are so proud actually selling basic necessities such as affordable local food or services like repairs.

If banks and corporations can just go belly up overnight and say to their customers, ‘Sorry, we didn’t see that coming,’ what’s to stop our supermarkets upon which we’ve allowed ourselves to become so dependent, go the same way? Or what when oil prices start rising again? Or overseas staple crops fail from climate chaos or drought? To rebuild resilience, the web of relationships that we have systematically dismantled, we have to change our priorities. And there’s a whole conversation here to be had about cost.

The Lewes Pound is in its early stages, but if it works (and that’s up to us all) it can be developed to something that really serves us all. The week after the Lewes Pound launch, the Archers have decided to look in to creating their own currency (see here for the transcript), so we must be on to something then.

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