Wednesday October 21, 2015

Why Money Isn't Everything

Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba and former Governor of Paraná, inventor of the "garbage currency," at one of Curitiba's groundbreaking bus tube stations.

Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba and former Governor of Paraná, inventor of the "garbage currency," at one of Curitiba's groundbreaking bus tube stations. (Rafael Dabul)

The world over, alternative currencies are helping societies solve key issues. In Japan, volunteers earn redeemable friendship tokens when they care for the elderly. In Brazil, one city's garbage crisis disappeared when it gave people bus tokens for their trash.  We're also hearing about Toronto's tool library and workshop space. Sheetal Lodhia explores how healthy communities can be built without money.  **This episode originally aired May 12, 2015.

Complementary Currencies - fureai_Kippu

Volunteers care for an elderly man in the Japanese Fureai Kippu system.

There are many illusions about money. One is that banks create money when it's printed. But money is actually produced through bank debt, when banks loan money to individuals, to governments or to corporations. Actually all our national currencies are private creations produced through bank debt. We see money as the only way to buy or sell things, or to drive an economy. But, across the globe people are challenging this system, using alternative currencies – complementary currencies – just as effectively. 

Complementary Currencies - The Belgian Toreke

The Belgian Toreke, complementary currency in the city of Ghent. Torekes are used to rent plots of land and earned through civic deeds.

There is a "garbage currency" in Curitiba, Brazil, where garbage is traded for bus tokens. Mayor Jaime Lerner solved a garbage crisis and created a transit system envied the world over, cementing Curitiba's status as "eco capital" of the globe. In Japan there is a "caring relationship" currency, where good deeds are traded like money, a system that has provided quality care to the fastest growing elderly population in the world -- all at no cost to the government. In Canada, there is a sharing hub at the Toronto Tool Library where sweat equity gives access to woodshop space and over 3,000 tools, again at low marginal cost.
Most people have encountered complementary currencies but don't know of them as such. The most well known example is "airmiles," a corporate incentive, conceived of as a way to increase customer loyalty. But when complementary currencies are used for social purpose, they can actually pave the way for the democratization of money. Worldwide from grassroots organizations to municipalities and countries, complementary currencies have aided struggling economies, marginalized people, and the environment.

Participants in the program:

Lawrence Alvarez
and Ryan Dyment, Co-Founders of The Toronto Tool Library, a project of the Institute for a Resource Based Economy (IRBE)
Mayumi Hayashi
, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Institute of Gerontology King's College London
Bernard Lietaer, Economist, Author and Professor in the Erasmus Mundus program at the Sorbonne in Paris
Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba and former Governor of Paraná. Mr. Lerner is considered a visionary in urban planning and development.
CBC News Power Tools on Loan. April 30, 2015
Goodman, Josepeh, Melissa Laube, and Judith Schwenk. Curitiba Bus System is Model for Rapid TransitReimagine! RP&E.
Hayashi, M. (2013) The Care of Older People: A Comparative Study, England and Japan, Pickering & Chatto, London.
Hayashi, M. (2012) Japan's Fureai Kippu time-banking in elderly care: origins, development, challenges and impact. International Journal of Community Currency Research, 16 (A), pp. 30-44.
Hayashi, M. (2014) Dementia care in Japan is being solved through volunteer schemes, not government. The Guardian: Social Care Network, 18 November 2014. 
Lietaer, Bernard and Jacqui Dunne, Rethinking Money: How New Currencies turn Scarcity into Prosperity. Berrett-Koehler, 2013.
Lietaer, Bernard, Christian Arnsperger, Sally Goerner, and Stefan Brunnhuber. Money and Sustainability: The Missing Link. A Report from the Club of Rome, 2012.
World Wildlife Foundation Curitiba Waste as Resource