This is the information James Taris shared with LETS groups all over the world on his international LETS tours between 2002-2004.
8 Dec 2009
me, 2009 will be the year I made a feature-length movie, Everything
is Possible, without any money ...
At this stage the first edit is 90% completed, so after the next 2 edits (video edit and audio edit) I expect it to be ready for screening in the first quarter of 2010.
Already I can see hints of bigger things to come out of this venture...
And that's ther way it is with LETS.
You never know where your LETS trades will take you: a new friend, a new contact, a new skill...
Odds are that you'll get something positive, but unexpected, out of it.
So in this coming year - the end of the first decade of the 21st century - allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised by offering to help your fellow LETS members.
All I can say is that ...
If it wasn't for LETS, I wouldn't have learned desktop publishing, web site design, travelled to 18 countries, written and performed a stage play in 10 countries, and honed my public speaking skills internationally.
LETS is a gold mine of opportunity.
Give it the respect it deserves.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
JOKE OF THE MONTH
KIDS IN CHURCH
little boy was overheard praying:
the christening of his baby brother in church,
particular four-year-old prayed,
Sunday school teacher asked her children as they
mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3.
father was at the beach with his children
wife invited some people to dinner.
Mulder: We're too late: it's already been here.
Scully: Mulder, I hope you know what you are doing.
Mulder: Look, Scully, just like the other homes: Douglas fir, truncated, mounted, transformed into some sort of shrine; halls decked with boughs of holly; stockings hung by the chimney, obviously with care.
You really think someone's been here?
Scully: Mulder, over here! It's... fruitcake!
Mulder: Don't touch it! Those things can be lethal.
Scully: It's OK. There's a note attached: "Gonna find out who's naughty and nice."
Mulder: It's judging them, Scully. It's making a list.
Scully: Who? What are you talking about?
Mulder: Ancient mythology tells of an obese humanoid entity who could travel at great speed in a craft powered by antlered servants. Once each year, near the winter solstice, this creature is said to descend from the heavens to reward its followers and punish its disbelievers with jagged chunks of anthracite.
Scully: But that's legend, Mulder -- a story told by parents to frighten children. Surely, you don't believe it?
Mulder: Something was here tonight, Scully. Check out the bite marks on this gingerbread man. Whatever tore through this plate of cookies was massive -- and in a hurry.
Scully: It left crumbs everywhere. And look, Mulder: this milk glass has been completely drained.
Mulder: It gorged itself, Scully. It fed without remorse.
Scully: But why would they leave it milk and cookies?
Mulder: Appeasement. Tonight is the Eve, and nothing can stop its wilding.
Scully: But if this thing does exist, how did it get in? The doors and windows were locked. There's no sign of forced entry.
Mulder: Unless I miss my guess, it came through the fireplace.
Scully: Wait a minute, Mulder. If you are saying some huge creature landed on the roof and came down the chimney? You're crazy! The flue is barely six inches wide. Nothing could get through there.
Mulder: But what if it could alter its shape, move in all directions?
Scully: You mean, like a bowl full of jelly?
Mulder: Exactly. Scully, I've never told anyone this, but when I was a child my home was visited. I saw the creature. It had long white strips of fur surrounding its ruddy, misshapen head. Its bloated torso was red and white. I'll never forget the horror. I turned away, and when I looked back it had somehow taken on the facial features of my father.
Mulder: I know what I saw! And that night it read my mind. It brought me a Mr. Potato Head, Scully. It knew i wanted a Mr. Potato Head.
Scully: I'm sorry, Mulder, but you're asking me to disregard the laws of physics. You want me to believe in some supernatural being who soars across the skies and brings gifts to good little girls and boys. Listen to what you are saying. Do you understand the repercussions? If this gets out, they'll close the X-Files.
Mulder: Scully, listen to me: It knows when you are sleeping. It knows when you're awake.
Scully: But we have no proof.
Mulder: Last year, on this exact date, SETI radio telescopes detected bogeys in the airspace over 27 states. The White House ordered a Condition Red.
Scully: But that was a meteor shower!
Mulder: Officially, maybe. Two days ago, eight prized Scandinavian reindeer vanished from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Nobody -- not even the zookeeper -- was told about it. The government doesn't want people to know about Project Kringle. They fear that if this thing is proved to exist, then the public would stop spending half its annual income in a holiday shopping frenzy. Retail markets will collapse. Scully, they cannot let the world believe this creature lives. There's too much at stake. They'll do whatever it takes to insure another silent night.
Scully: Mulder, I ---
Scully: On the roof! It sounded like... a clatter.
Mulder: The truth is up there. Let's see what's the matter....
21 Sep 2009
Hoping you can be of assistance.
Firstly, we have been members of our local area LETS since 1995. Unfortunately, area local area LETS folded and we joined up with another LETS system, farther up north. Due to the growing rate of interest from local residents from our area, a LETS system was reformed in our local area. We immediately rejoined our new and local LETS.
When this new scheme was established some years ago, we signed up. Since this time, the rules, regulations, etc., have changed considerably. Earlier this year, new forms were sent out to members to sign. We did not sign this new form because we did not agree with a certain clause & sub-clause, namely bringing the balance back to zero with "cash dollars" if unable to do so with local LETS currency.
Due to my ill health and my husband working full-time & caring for me, we are unable to offer our services to our local LETS community. Our account is stale and has been for a few months. We sent this Coordinator a reply to her email regarding renewing membership, as follows:
I'm sorry but we no longer wish to be LETS members for now.
Following the Coordinator's 2nd email, I sent a further reply:
We do not intend to pay out in cash as we have not signed any documentation to this effect.
We are now receiving emails from the Coordinator, see below:
I have just emailed you a copy of your current LETS statement which as you will see shows you with a balance of minus 467 "points".
As a condition of membership your account needs to be brought back to zero to close it.
Please let me know if you will be paying that out in cash or if you intend on selling goods or services through LETS to make the 467 "points" to bring your account back into balance.
All members since the beginning of LETS have signed an agreement saying this.
I don't understand why you are being like this, and frankly you are one of the last people I would have expected such blatant dishonesty from.
Please let me know how you intend on bringing your account back to zero as per the agreement you signed when you joined LETS.
James, as I have stated the original membership form did not indicate that cash dollars were to be paid to bring the balance back to zero. This new "clause" was introduced earlier on this year.
We do not have any goods or services to sell at this point in time.
Can you please advise how to resolve this issue.
Further to my below email, although we are not "active" in LETS, we are most certainly active in "FREECYCLE" and giving items away free. There is no charge. We are contributing towards our community but not in a LETS way.
Things that might be our trash is somebody else's treasure and it's not worth putting items such as this on LETS.
I hope you understand.
I'm sorry to hear about the ordeal you're currently going through. My view of LETS has always been to offer a system of exchanging goods and services to the local members without the need for money. Whereas I can understand the logic, and good intentions, used for including a bring-your-account-back-to-zero clause in a LETS agreement, I firmly believe that these clauses kill any potential a group has for growing and flourishing in any community. Killed because it imposes a fear that, due to unforeseen circumstances, an account may not be able to be brought back to zero through trading and may result in a ... dare we say ... cash settlement requirement.
My experience has always been that just as many people leave a LETS group with a positive balance (mine included) as those that leave with a negative balance. And even if an account is closed with a negative balance, the suppliers have already been credited with their points ... so why the panic? Nobody has lost anything and, heck, these are really only favours anyway ... members helping other members in a time of need. A better rule to impose would be that members can only trade to a maximum of "x" debit, and not allowed to trade any further, thus limiting the amount of debit any member can benefit from a LETS community. Your debit balance of 467 "points" is quite small, actually, so I can't see why the LETS group should be so concerned about it.
When LETS groups show a genuine concern for helping their members, and removing this ridiculous clause for cash settlements of debit balances, then they will see a much more positive attitude amongst those who trade and a non-threatening opportunity to those interested in joining the group.
In the end, it's not my decision to make. This is something that the LETS group management needs to make, and for members to agree to and then abide by. However, if this amendment was made after you'd already joined the group and you never signed a contract agreeing with it, I don't see how they can expect to claim a cash settlement from you.
My book, The LETSaholic Twist goes into much more detail in this and many other areas for creating a LETS group which can help members improve their lifestyles through LETS. I strongly urge you, and everyone else in LETS, to read this book and use these ideas for making LETS the global cashless-community phenomenon it truly deserves to be.
Disclaimer: My opinion is solely my opinion and based only on the information supplied by the LETS member in the case above.
LETSaholic Twist ebook is available for only $9.99 to each
LETS group, and copies can then be given FREE to all their members.
You can purchase your copy from this link:
Some of your responses:
The Lets system was setup as a community organisation, this flies in the face of all community ideals. I am not sure where you are, but in Australia you would be a sitting duck for trouble with the Tax dept, with a clause like that in your rules ... Connie, Northern Suburbs Letsystem.
Jct: So don't quit. Keep your account in the other city. Maybe, someday, someone from that city will visit yours and you'll be able to earn some credits putting them up for 5 Hours per night. Start offering accommodations to the old group and no one will mind you being in the negative. Quit and you force them to do some arithmetic. Stay and all keeps going normally ... King of the Paupers
might be practical for many to "settle" an account
I am appalled by the attitude towards your correspondent.
JOKE OF THE MONTH
FRIENDS: Never ask for food.
FRIENDS: Call your parents Mr/Mrs.
FRIENDS: Bail you out of jail and tell you what you did was wrong.
FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that is what the crowd is doing.
FRIENDS: Would knock on your front door.
FRIENDS: Are for a while.
FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough.
FRIENDS: Will ask you to send this to 5 of your Friends, including themselves,
if you’re a “real friend”.
16 Aug 2009
It's not quite LETS, but this year I formed a group that makes films without money.
Zero-Budget Films (Z-BF) is a film production group dedicated to offering acting and production opportunities to Shanghai residents.
Z-BF aims to produce 2-4 feature-length films per year.
This idea developed once I realised I'd travelled to 18 countries without money, published 18 books without money, and performed my play in 10 countries without money. Then why not make a feature-length film without money!
The first project for Z-BF is called Everything is Possible, which is based on my stage play, The Glory of Athens. Even though I started shooting it on July 16 and expect to have it finished by the end of August, it's really a 12-month project, as I began writing the screenplay in January and don't expect to have it ready for screening until December - the film editing will probably take about 3 months.
Anyway, take a quick look at the Z-BF web site. Both of these web pages have photos of the production in progress. You'll find me looking very different in each scene as I'm acting in 9 different roles.
you have a good laugh!
JOKE OF THE MONTH
Kids in Church
little boy was overheard praying:
the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the
way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times
what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted
us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.'
particular four-year-old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets as
we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.'
Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to
church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One
bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'
mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3. The
boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother
saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. 'If Jesus were sitting here,
He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.' Kevin
turned to his younger brother and said, ' Ryan , you be Jesus !'
father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son
ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull
lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked.
'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied. The boy thought a moment
and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'
wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their
six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?'
'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied. 'Just say what you
hear Mommy say,' the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and
said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'
2 Apr 2009
taken from Chapter 2
I SEE THE LIGHT
I had only produced the LETS newsletter for a couple of months when I noticed the account balance of one of our members was over a thousand LETS points in debit. That rang warning bells in my head. All the literature I had read about LETS warned of such situations and how ‘the wealth of the local community’ was being sapped by such members who took from the system without giving back.
With those thoughts in mind I rushed to the LETS co-ordinator to let her know my discovery.
“Sue, one of our LETS members is now over a thousand LETS points in debit. Do we have a debit limit? … Do you want me to freeze her trading account?”
“Whose account is it, James?”
“It’s Helen’s. She’s over twelve hundred points in debit now.”
The next few minutes forever changed my outlook on LETS and had an unparalleled impact on me and my LETS life.
“Ah … Helen. Let me tell you a little about Helen, James, but let me precede that with a small observation I’ve made. LETS attracts lots of different people, but they primarily fall into two groups: those who like to help people, and those who really need help. We have a small membership, and most of them are mature-aged. They are our best helpers because they are fairly comfortable with their lives, and if LETS did not exist, they would still be inclined to help others: it is typical of what their generation is used to doing. On the contrary, Helen is a single mother with an eight-year-old child and she recently purchased a house in Brunswick. It is an old run-down house with much need for renovating. These debits are a result of members helping to make her house more livable – turning it from a house into a home. Helen is the other half of the LETS equation: right now she really needs our help.”
Sue noticed I needed a little more persuasion, so she continued.
“Debit balances can be a real problem in a LETS group when it becomes apparent that a member is abusing the system by taking without any intention of giving back. Now let us take a look at Helen’s offers. First of all she has a piano, and although she does not teach piano lessons, she is offering the use of her piano for anyone who wants to take piano lessons in her home. Secondly, she is offering gardening, which is a high-demand service in our group. When she gets settled in her home, I am sure she will be pleased to help other LETS members improve their gardens. And finally, she is the only member we have who is offering holiday accommodation. She has a little country house near Ballarat that she is happy to make available to our LETS members for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks at a time. I have already been there myself, and it is a lovely place to go and just relax for a while. Helen is not a freeloader. She is currently a mother with a child who needs our help, and once she has settled in, you will see, she will become one of our most active traders.”
Then Sue concluded with a revelation that I have since adopted as my own:
“James, LETS points are not dollars. They are more like favours. And when you can accept these LETS points as just being “favours” from one member to another, you will not be concerned about the balances on their accounts; either in debit or in credit. And really, what does it matter if Helen is not able to bring her account balance back to zero. I am sure most of our members, especially our helpers, will take pride in knowing they have helped one of ‘us’. These members, you will notice, have credit balances – some quite high – and most have never asked other members for any help, and never intend to. They are Givers and do not really want anything back in return. They are just as excited about giving to our members, as those that are helped are excited about receiving. In their minds, they are simply doing favours for our LETS members, just as they would for their neighbours, families and friends.”
From that moment on, I knew exactly what LETS was … at least to Sue and to me and to our LETS members. That LETS philosophy has stayed with me for ten years and it is the key motivation that drives me to be such an active participant in ‘all things LETS’.
My understanding of what Sue shared with me in such a caring way was that the LETS account balances were just a record of how much each member was giving to, or receiving from, the LETS group. It was necessary to keep record of each member’s trading activity so they could then strive to bring their balances back to zero, thereby keeping the system as fair as possible for all.
By far, the biggest improvements I have seen in LETS groups have come about after members changed their concept of the group’s purpose from that of being a local ‘employment’ or ‘barter’ system to that of being a ‘self-help’ group. Along with that comes a new understanding of what a LETS point really represents: changing it from being an alternative to cold, hard, ‘cash’ … to a much warmer, ‘favour’.
more LETS ideas
Happy trading in 2009!
JOKE OF THE MONTH
Little Nancy was in the garden filling in a hole when her neighbour peered over the fence.
Interested in what the little girl was up to, he politely asked, "What are you up to there, Nancy?"
"My goldfish died," replied Nancy tearfully, without looking up, "and I've just buried him."
The neighbour was concerned, "That's an awfully big hole for a goldfish, isn't it?"
Nancy patted down the last heap of earth and then replied, "That's because he's inside your stupid cat."
9 Feb 2009
It's the beginning of a new year ... the perfect time to concentrate on recruiting new LETS members.
I knew that, due to various reasons, losing members was a normal occurrence experienced by any membership organisation. I found that, as it applied to LETS; some members simply moved out of the area making trading difficult, if not impossible; other members got new, or additional, jobs that robbed them of any free time they may have had for LETS trading; and the members who never traded at all – usually thirty percent of the members – did not renew their membership because they did not believe that LETS ‘worked’. So, recruiting new members had to be an ongoing group activity to ensure the growth and survival of the group.
Various recruiting methods were used by LETS groups to attract members from their local community. Here are a few that worked well:
WHAT’S ON SECTION
There was usually a Public Notices or What’s On section in our local newspapers. As LETS was only of interest to local people, it was a waste of time and effort to promote our group nationally, statewide or even citywide.
We felt that people who read our local newspaper were excellent prospects for our LETS group; they were interested in their local community and would occasionally notice anything unusual – like a group of people in their area who traded with each other without the need for cash!
By promoting our LETS trading days regularly in the What’s On section of the local newspaper, we attracted a small, but steady, stream of interested prospects to attend out trading days. They just about always became members before leaving the event. The temptation to join was too great when we told them, “Feel free to browse through the stalls. If you like something, you can become a member today and get it without paying any cash”.
Apart from including all the relevant information in our What’s On ads - day, date, time, address, contact name, phone number – including a ‘hook’, that is, something to tempt the reader to want to follow-up on our notice, helped increase the number of responses.
Dew always promoted her trading days [see ‘LETS trading
days’ in chapter 5] in her local newspaper. On Friday, April 4,
2003, she placed the following ad in the WHAT IS ON section of the Wairarapa
Times-Age newspaper, promoting her Monster Garage Sale and my LETS presentation.
Whenever I was shown a newspaper article featuring a LETS story, I wondered why more LETS groups did not take advantage of that option. It was only natural that the longer we were in LETS, the more likely it was for us to take LETS for granted. LETS, however, was still a very newsworthy topic – as I noticed on my travels around the world. In fact, I made it a standard practise to encourage LETS groups to approach their local newspapers to write a special feature article about LETS while I was in their area; this resulted in a published article most of the time.
The approach I preferred was to write a PR article and submit it to the local newspaper encouraging them to print it ‘as is’. Occasionally, my article was accepted. On other occasions it triggered an interest in the LETS group resulting in an interview being arranged with a journalist, and sometimes a photographer as well. The articles usually included reference to the group’s most active LETS member, or a special LETS visitor, or an exceptional LETS trade.
Journalists were constantly looking for something … anything! … that would be of interest to their readers. Stories about LETS did that. My articles were about how LETS benefited its members, then I encouraged readers to find out more about the LETS group. A crucial part of the submission was to include a contact name and phone number at the end of the article. The story was then – almost always – published in the next issue of the newspaper.
more recruiting ideas are described in The LETSahoilc Twist.
Happy trading in 2009!
JOKE OF THE MONTH
Art of Recruiting
One day while walking down the street a highly successful executive woman was tragically hit by a bus and died. Her soul arrived up in heaven where she was met at the pearly gates by St. Peter himself.
“Welcome to Heaven,” said St. Peter. “Before you get settled in though, it seems we have a problem. You see, strangely enough, we’ve never once had an executive make it this far, and we’re not really sure what to do with you.”
“No problem, just let me in.” said the woman.
“Well, I’d like to, but I have higher orders. What we’re going to do is let you have a day in Hell and a day in Heaven and then you can choose whichever one you want, to spend an eternity in.”
“Actually, I think I’ve made up my mind; I prefer to stay in Heaven”, said the woman.
“Sorry, we have rules…”
And with that, St. Peter put the executive in an elevator and it went down-down-down to hell.
The doors opened and she found herself stepping out onto the putting green of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club and standing in front of her were all her friends - fellow executives whom she had worked with, and they were all dressed in evening gowns and cheering for her.
They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times. They played an excellent round of golf and at night went to the country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and lobster dinner.
She met the Devil who was actually a really nice guy (kinda cute) and she had a great time telling jokes and dancing. She was having such a good time that before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everybody shook her hand and waved good bye as she got on the elevator. The elevator went up-up-up and opened back up at the Pearly Gates and she found St. Peter waiting for her.
“Now it’s time to spend a day in Heaven,” he said. So she spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing. She had a great time and before she knew it her 24 hours were up and St. Peter came and got her.
“So, you’ve spent a day in Hell and you’ve spent a day in Heaven. Now you must choose your eternity,” he said.
The woman paused for a second and then replied, “Well, I never thought I’d say this, I mean, Heaven has been really great and all, but I think I had a better time in Hell.”
St. Peter escorted her to the elevator and again she went
She saw her friends were dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage and putting it in sacks. The Devil came up to her and put his arm around her.
“I don’t understand,” stammered the woman, “yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and we danced and had a great time. Now all there is, is a wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable.”
The Devil looked at her and smiled. “Yesterday we were recruiting you. Today, you’re STAFF.”
Other James Taris web sites
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