LETS do it!

Two months to go until TEDxExeter! My second post about how to simplify your lifestyle, while connecting with your neighbours and local community, is about LETS.

Local Exchange Trading Schemes have been around for a long time. They are local networks in which people exchange all kinds of goods and services with one another, without the need for money. LETS use a system of community credits, so that direct exchanges do not have to be made. People earn LETS credits by providing a service, and can then spend the credits on whatever is offered by others on the scheme: for example childcare, transport, food, home repairs or the hire of tools and equipment. And the service is usually valued by time, so for example an hour of childcare will ‘cost’ the same as an hour of website development.

Contact details for LETS in the South West

Exeter LETS

Sharing stuff and working together

On the themes of interconnectedness and sustainability, I’m going to write a series of posts about how to simplify your lifestyle, and reach out to your neighbours and local community.

Maybe you want to learn a new skill, or your drill has broken and you don’t want to splash out on a new one, or you have a drill gathering dust in the cupboard. Or you want to do something new, but it’s hard work to make things happen by yourself, and you would like the assurance that others share your vision or have the skills and willingness to help.

More and more websites are being developed that are enabling people to connect with each other. And the best are bringing people together in real life too.

“I’ve got all this stuff I want to get rid of, but I don’t want it just to go into landfill”

The first website I want to mention is Freecycle, which many people already know about, but it’s nearly the weekend and it’s time for a bit of a spring clean and a clear-out. Freecycle groups match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them. You can either offer something, or post a ‘wanted’ message. They say: “Our goal is to keep usable items out of landfills… Another benefit of using Freecycle is that it encourages us to get rid of junk that we no longer need and promote community involvement in the process.”

I’m turning my back garden over to veg, but it would have been sad to compost some of the healthy ornamental plants. So I offered them on Freecycle. Over the next few days, several people got in contact, and did the work digging the plants out for me!

Freecycle groups in the South West

An event with integrity

Hello. My name is Clare Bryden and I am the new Storyteller for TEDxExeter. This is by some margin the coolest and most poetic job title I’ve ever had. I hope to do it justice.

Well, three months to go and we’re already sold out, so the focus needs to shift from marketing to putting on a great event. Last Thursday we had one of our regular planning meetings. Jeanie and Claire have done a formidable job as co-ordinators, and it was good to see the energy and commitment throughout the room, from Jackie volunteering to organise the registration, to Tobit updating us on the preparation for filming the talks and the buzz, to Caroline coolly announcing success with finding a company to run the bookstall.

The most impressive is the desire to run an event with integrity, holding to the subject of “Sustainability and our Interconnected World”. So we are banking with the Co-operative, and the food and drink will be vegetarian and sustainably sourced (we have asked for no bottled water). We discussed goodybags: one of our talks will be about what is enough, and we thought they would be just more ‘stuff’ – unnecessary and unsustainable.

Similarly, how do we distinguish members of the team, the speakers and performers from the delegates, and the delegates from the general public who may also be in the Northcott during the day? T-shirts for the team and and lanyards for all, again rejected as too much stuff, in favour of re-usable lanyards for the team (we want TEDxExeter to be a regular event, after all!) and simple stickers for delegates.

What of interconnectedness? Well, it is time for a refresh of the website content, so keep coming back. And Clive and Sara have been doing good work on the social networking front. Catch TEDxExeter on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, for more about our speakers, and snippets on sustainability and actions you can take.

What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxExeter, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxExeter event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.