Durham Exchange is a community currency system for people living in Co. Durham, UK, founded in 2001. In order to fully benefit from the system it is helpful to be able to come along to regular get-togethers and for that reason we only accept members from central Durham and surrounding areas.
The aim of a community currency system is to build local community, to share and reuse resources rather than throwing them away and to provide an alternative way to trade goods and services which does not rely exclusively on money.
What do we do?
We use time as our currency and trade with each other in Hours. Members earn and spend Hours when they help each other. For example, you might earn Hours from one person by helping them with their garden (say, by doing an hour of gardening), and then spend them on four pots of jam that another member has made (which took an hour to make). Transactions are recorded using system cheques, and accounts are kept on a central computer. Our system is built largely upon trust, but there are a few safeguards: for instance, people’s balances are published regularly.
We hold monthly social events, usually on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon. Members talk to each other about what they can do for each other, share food they’ve brought along, and trade things which they don’t need any more, using Hours as currency: clothes, books, toys, spare produce, extra seedlings etc. Sometimes people also bring along beautiful things they have made to trade. We also arrange talks on environmental issues, walks, bike rides, and workshops, eg. bike maintenance, silk painting. From time to time we get together as a group to help a fellow member, eg. pull down a shed, tackle an overgrown garden (it’s actually a lot of fun doing these things with friends!) and if you help out, you earn Hours!
How can I get involved?
We have a Yahoo group where we offer trades and arrange the next meeting. However, the best thing to do is to come along to the next meeting if you can, so you can see what goes on and if you like it. To find out when this is, then please contact: Lynn Thompson on lynntom111 [AT] yahoo.co.uk.