It has been an extraordinary time for us volunteers promoting the Lewes Pound, as the backdrop of rapid global economic change compels us to develop the it into an effective, mature mechanism. The Guardian ran a feature on us last weekend that was, on the whole, accurate and positive http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/nov/01/consumeraffairs-communities
The seed of the idea
The initial idea behind the Lewes Pound was to raise awareness of the issues and gradually, over a year, gain traders’ and consumers’ confidence in it. This seems to already have been achieved within weeks and, following a strategy meeting a fortnight ago, and a meeting co-convened with the Chamber of Commerce last week, we are starting to prepare ourselves for the next phase.
We are working with some of the members of the Chamber of Commerce to find ways for traders themselves to help make the Lewes Pound work, since the shops and service providers who actively promote, eg with offers, or giving it as change, seem to be getting more general trade as a result. Those who just wait for it to come in, and grumble that it’s not working, don’t seem to be reaping any benefits. Look out for our centrefold in the December issue of Viva Lewes, or on our website, for a complete list of traders and new offers.
The 100 Club
Meanwhile, thanks in much part to the 100 club, the Lewes Pound continues to steadily enter in to circulation from our issuing points and the Farmers Market. Some stalwarts do much of their weekly shop in Lewes Pounds; this is particularly helpful as it gets more LPs in to circulation, which helps us test it more effectively. Others are using the Lewes Pounds to take them into new outlets; a local decorator, Paul Kench, is reporting that he’s received over 200 LPs to date from new customers. Others use Lewes Pounds to find new people willing to accept them; new traders are very welcome to go on the Traders List, via the website. Finally, some of us are trying to use Lewes Pounds to develop local livelihoods: an important consideration as the economy shifts from global to local.
Some people have complained that Lewes Pounds are not working as they are still just a token. In a way, it’s great to have this complaint, as it encourages us to deepen the idea. Some ways forward are
- Issue larger denomination notes (we are looking in to 10s and 21s);
- Encourage traders to find local producers to supply them and deepen the cycle of wealth and relationship;
- Encourage traders to discover ways of offering discounts in less-needed goods or services at less needed times, for Lewes Pounds
- Uncouple – with plenty of notice – from Sterling so that LPs will be exchangable for local goods that are widely needed.
- Using ways to develop Lewes Pounds as a basis for developing local livelihoods.
We are writing a business plan detailing some of the ideas above and are now seeking a patron or business angel who will help us find the funding needed to take this work to the next step. The world is watching the Lewes Pound: we need your help!
The Lewes Pound Group of Transition Town Lewes