Realising the Sweden’s cashless society is utterly dependent on the electricity supply, one organisation working with disaster preparedness is experimenting with making currency with scissors and paper and rubber stamps. The experiment hopes to increase disaster preparedness, but also to get the community looking at the assets it already has should even other disasters strike.
Does your local community need and injection of money to usher in prosperity? No worry, just get your scissors out and make some! This is anyway what a group of local community developers in Sweden are trying. The initiative is a cooperation between Transition Towns in Sweden (the organization that works on a local level to prepare for a world without oil) and ISSS, the Institute of Swedish Safety and Security – an organization that is working to promote resilience and disaster preparedness.
Says ISSS chairman Philip Wyer: “In our disaster preparedness work we note a lack of resilience in modern currency systems and realize that, should the electricity go down for a longer period, the cashless society that Swedes are building up would be a money-less society as well. Sweden’s monetary system is totally reliant on functioning electricity and Internet”.
Philip sees many parallels with the work of his organization and Transition: “being able to create and roll out your own currency, should disaster strike, is essential to be able to keep the wheels of society turning. But it also has a lot to do with trust, and everyone finding a role for themselves instead of feeling left out. Local food production, the ability to self-organize, keeping a roof over your head, having everyone involved – these are all essentials of survival after a major disaster and central to Transition as well.”
Together with Transition, ISS is launching an exciting experiment in community resilience: a volunteer currency. Philip explains: “This currency is actually close to a gift currency as it just represents people’s volunteer hours that they offer to help their community towards transition”.
The experimental currency, called ITK, which translated stands for Voluntary Time Coupons, is based on the German currency Minutos and is self-produced using a printer and rubber stamps. The coupons represent voluntary time in minutes. Although people produce their own notes based on a template downloaded from the project site, they are not valid unless two people endorse them by stamping them their personal stamp.
And the idea is to give them away! One experiment will be where volunteers give a certain number of voluntary hours via ITK to the local transition group. They will then organize activities and acknowledge people’s engagement with the notes given them by local volunteers.
If for example, you give the core group ten one-hour ITK’s you might find yourself getting one back after making sandwiches for the group meeting.
Says Transition Sweden Core group member Stephen Hinton; “this trial aims to test several things: Firstly, can we use a variant of Minutos to teach people about local currency and how money works in general. Secondly, we hope that just bringing people together to try cooperating locally will strengthen the community- and resilience- even further. Finally, we will be asking people to try things out to learn from the experiment, so hopefully we will be able to pass on what we have learnt to other groups and Sweden will be better prepared if, during a long, cold dark winter, disaster strikes and your Internet Bank no longer works!