Category Archives: local currency

A Market Stall for the Community

 Editors note: We are members of our local currency, I am a committee member, and I work on our bi-monthly newsletter. Here is an article I’ve written for the weekly free papers in Whanganui to increase awareness and interest in REBS, and our market stall. 
A Market Stall for the Community
You may have noticed the River Exchange and Barter System (REBS) stall at the Saturday market and said to yourself, “What’s that all about?” Answering what REBS is about is a big task, so I’ll just say that it is form of a ‘local currency’ that allows members to sell and buy goods and services independent of the New Zealand dollar. The aim of local currencies is to maintain wealth within the community, because the ‘money’ earned and spent is only accepted by other members within the network. Whanganui’s REBS programme has been in existence for over two decades.

The REBS market stall provides the opportunity for members to sell items on Saturdays without having to buy their own tent, pay full market fees, and commit five or six hours to the endeavour. Currently, about six REBS members are splitting the stall fees and sharing the workload. The tents have been paid for, and our stall is a well-known fixture – having been at the market every Saturday for years on end! All we need is you!
Actually, we need your: fresh, local fruit and vege; quality art work; pot plants; hand crafts; high quality second-hand goods; and, if you have a valid food handling license, your prepared food items. All items on the stall can be sold part REBS currency and part NZ dollars (NZD). For example: 50% NZD and 50% REBS; 80% NZD and 20% REBS; or 100% REBS.
In order to make the stall economically sustainable, we need everyone who brings items onto the stall to commit one weekend each month and 10% of their takings. Additionally, contributors to the stall must join REBS, which has an annual subscription fee of $15. The top sellers on the REBS stall take in over $50 every weekend, and sometimes have topped $100 in a single Saturday.
For more information, please stop by the REBS stall on a Saturday to inquire. (We are located between the trolley tracks and the river.) Or contact Michael O’Shea on 344 5032. Please don’t just show up at the stall with goods in hand expecting to sell. We need a minimum of two days advance notice.
Peace, Estwing

The Third (!?!) Law of Thermodynamics

I’ve taken over editing the monthly River Exchange and Barter System (REBS) Newsletter from my wife because she gets busier by the week with work at the YMCA. It has given me the opportunity to think and write about ways of retaining wealth in our community. Below is the article I wrote for the September Newsletter.

Peace, Estwing

Energy is often defined as the ability to do work. In many ways, money – or wealth of any kind – is also the ability to do work. In other words, I can pay someone like Jonah to help me install my stove, or I can buy petrol to put in my car. A big difference between these two is that when I pay Jonah the wealth stays in the community, but when I buy petrol most of the wealth leaves the community. However, I can’t really pay Jonah to bring my wife home from work on a day she works later than the last bus. (Come to think of it, I probably could but she may not enjoy the ride in his bamboo bike trailer).

The point is, the work that energy or wealth can do is not 100% transferable back and forth. But sometimes it is. Going back to the example of the multi-fuel stove, the work that Jonah did will translate sometime in the future into energy savings in the form of reduced home heating costs.

Additionally, the wood that we will burn will likely come from the land cared for by Melinda and Murray. Therefore, any wealth transfer for home heating goes to these three “locals” and not to Meridian Energy in Christchurch (I believe).

And the same can be said for another form of energy delivered to Wanganui nearly every day for free: sunlight. Sunlight can heat homes quite effectively, and simple insulating and draft-proofing efforts can help hold the heat in overnight. These efforts may be labor intensive, but if the labor is local then the wealth stays in the community. Over time the homeowner makes up the upfront cost in energy savings. And then those savings can be reinvested in the community. For example, our electric bills are so low that we treated ourselves to an afternoon of local rugby. Go the Butcher’s Boys!