There are so many people within a local community with things to offer that are wanted, but often the money for the transaction is lacking. This problem prompted a group in Tavira, called REconomia, to think about ways they could share their skills and products without using euros. They have created a local currency called Tavs. As part of the global Transition Movement, the association uses the currency to trade and offer services. The great attraction of the scheme is that any group of people can come together, without waiting for grant money, premises or permission and begin sharing and trading locally. This type of project is not new in Europe and the USA with many community exchange schemes aiding and strengthening local communities.
Vanessa Gonçalves, a founder member and creative business owner, said, “Groups of this kind are diverse, creative, collaborative and equitable. Members of the group come from different backgrounds and countries, but we all have the same aim and that is to peacefully enhance the life of everyone living in and around Tavira.”
The scheme in Tavira has three main characteristics: It is non-profit making; there is no compulsion to trade; information about balances is available to all members of the scheme.
How it works is the offers and wants are placed in an online directory and individuals set their own rates and decide who they want to trade with and how much trading they want to do. The online system keeps a record of the transactions.
Although the scheme is Tavira-based, it is open to people who are within the region. Regular events are organised where people can also meet each other and trade.
Jim Hall who is the volunteer administrator for the Community Exchange online scheme in Tavira, said: “It is really about building community connections. Yes, it is about trading but, more importantly, it’s about strengthening relationships. When we have trading events people bring produce they have grown, jars of pickles and jams, books, clothes, in fact, anything they want to swap or trade. By talking to people who come, new friendships and relationships are formed. It is also a way of finding out what is going on locally. Yes, you can look on Facebook, but meeting people face to face is where the community richness begins.”
In the UK, there are now schemes in Totnes, Lewes, Brixton, Bristol and Exeter. Schemes of this kind have worked in small towns like Totnes and the Ekopia community in Scotland because the people who live there are engaged with their local economy in a meaningful way.
Jim continued, “Given the nature of Tavira, a thriving, involved community, it seems an ideal place to set up such an activity.”
The Scheme along with the Association REconomia will be officially launched at the library in Tavira on the 19 May 2018, 15:00 to 18:00. REconomia is part of the global Transition movement and is working to promote resilience within a low-carbon, socially just and happier earth. It is a movement to replace the economy of excess and exploitation with a new economic understanding based on respecting the environment, democracy and indigenous rights. The Community Exchange Scheme is the first project organised by REconomia and as such is a way of leading and connecting with the local community to work towards a new economic model that is not consumption driven.
If you want to join the scheme either come along to the library on the May 19th at 15:00 and find out more or send an email to Taviratavs@gmail.com