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Inspiring Solutions for Desperate Times

After several years in recession and with 21% unemployment rate, the Greek city of Volos was pushed towards finding their own solutions. A few months ago a new bartering system has been introduced by a grass-roots initiative. The new currency is called TEMs and enables now more than 800 members to access products and services in the local area, from food to babysitter services.

This solution comes with greater benefits than the mainstream economy, for instance, a woman that took to the market a tray full of cakes brought home in the end of the day plenty of fruit, 2 litres of olive oil, soaps, beans, a dozen eggs and yoghurt. Although the cakes were sold at only 1 TEM each (thus not fully covering the costs of producing it) the quantity of products exchanged came at a much lower price than if she had bought them in a supermarket.

This kind of community entrepreneurship has a precedent in Germany. It started as a school project by Christian Gelleri that motivated their students to create their own money to be directly used in local businesses. The name of the currency is chiemgauer and in 2010 counted with more of 600 businesses in the Rosenheim- Traunstein area and at least involved 2500 people regularly using the new currency.

The idea is not new, if anything is a forgotten ancient practice, and when institutions and governmental practices work against our basic best interests it presents a empowering strategy that closes up economy into a community level. It brings the responsibility of our livelihood back into our own hands, thus tackling our dependence on big chain stores and globalized banks.

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