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    Reading Richard Douthwaites book “The Ecology of Money” has illuminated for me why the current financial and money system is such a disaster for both people and the planet.

    It is simply that without growth the system grinds to a halt. Therefore continuous growth must be ensured. Well it doesn’t take much to realize that this clashes with the reality that we live on a planet of a more or less fixed size.

    Clearly in moving towards a more sustainable way of life, not driven by the economics of the mainstream, or at least in trying to be less dependent upon it, people are having to be quite inventive with their means of exchange.

    I would be interested in hearing peoples experiences with other means of exchange than national currencies. Examples include Time Dollars, Lets schemes, barter, Islamic banking,freecycle,wwoofing and no doubt many others, and what the relative strengths and weaknesses are, from people who have some experience of them.

    Also what kinds of difficulties with money and the off-grid life people have been having and their approaches to solving them.


    Sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow has done some interesting thinking in that direction, looking at what could happen with bartering, homemade wifi networks and other ‘liberated’ infrastructure in several of his stories. His mid-to-far future fictional money system was called Whuffie – an economy based entirely on your reputation amongst your peers. The technology side of his stories is a bit scary and far-fetched perhaps, but a lot of food for thought in there. He publishes most of his stuff as free downloads as well as ‘dead tree’ editions.


    Have not read the book, but I can say that if this topic interests you I would HIGHLY recommend reading from the ‘Austrian school’ of economic thought. The Chicago or Keynesian school, which is the current mainstream, has as its basis the idea that wealth is created through consumption. It doesn’t matter how money is spent as long as it is spent and spending continues. (This get us into trouble and then we get brilliant ideas like the recent ‘stimulus checks’… so we can go out and keep consuming.)

    Any way I would highly recommend Murray Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money? as a starting point for the ‘Austrian school’. It is available

    for free as streaming audio at is full of great audio lectures and includes some discussion of alternative currencies, even in prison where cigarettes became informally monetized.

    It may not look like what you are looking for at the moment, but it will provide you an excellent overview of monetary structure and history upon which to explore the idea of alternative monies. I myself am involved with community groups, of which local currency is a topic of discussion and action. The knowledge from places like has proved to be indispensable.


    Hi. Also well worth taking a look at the Totnes Pound Project. See:

    There are a couple of other local-money schemes in the UK too.

    I use Totnes pounds whenever I can and have the satisfaction of knowing that every time I spend them, the money stays within a few short miles of that spot.

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