After the concept of ‘descrecimiento’ (downturn in growth) burst onto the political and social scene in 2002, many of the experts at a UNESCO organized conference in Paris called ‘undo development, remake the world’, agreed that unlimited growth was neither desirable nor in fact possible,
Nowadays activists no longer look to promote alternative development, but rather focus on offering alternatives TO development. To achieve this it is often necessary to take a look behind us in history and retrieve old ideas, or develop new ones, that will enrich us and, along the way help us to open our minds to different ways of doing things. In a hyperactive society that is ruled by runaway and mindless consumerism, and where the capacity for individual decision making is pushed out of the way for the automation of the masses, radical and original movements opposed to this obsessive growth are needed, and indeed, are appearing, stubbornly opposed to the idea that unlimited economic growth is beneficial either socially or economically.
Where to find that key to help us lift the foot off the accelerator? Humans have always had the need to swap those things that he owns but doesn’t really need for those that he really wants, and so the barter system came about to facilitate these commercial transactions without the need for money. Recently, these forgotten ideas of cooperation and exchange have been resurrected into what we now call time banks or LETS (Local Exchange Trading Schemes).
With this purpose a scheme in Málaga has been running for the past 3 years under the name ‘Málaga Comun’, inspired by the Transition Town concept, which has alternative economies at its heart. Through a new virtual currency, the comun, goods and services, even ideas, can be exchanged. Integral to the system is the promotion of the connection between people, giving value to the community and respect to the environment by extending the life span of products and minimising the culture of buy-use-throw. All this is achieved through the local economy, using efficiency and entrepreneurship. Each exchange has a value that is equal to 10 comuns per hour, and 1 comun is equivalent to 1 euro.
What can be exchanged through Málaga comun? The answer is wide and varied, from small home repairs to purchases of, mostly organic and always local, fruits and vegetables, second hand goods, cakes, transport, creating websites, advice, training and workshops both in person and online.
How to get involved? Visit the website www.malagacomun.org, get to know the project and get started! Already more than 250 people are registered to Málaga Comun, and what people find in the network is the chance to buy and sell products and services in a fairer, social and open way.
This post is also available in: Spanish