Alternatives

Adopting alternatives to our current paradigms is challenging, as the invisible hand of the system is tugging us back into line. It takes time and perseverance, but the benefits are ample. We uncover some alternatives and add more as we find them.

Money

Originally money was a way to exchange goods and services and many alternatives are available.

Time Banking

Time Banking involves a network of people with a range of skills who offer goods and services. The Time Banking system records everyone’s efforts and this becomes a credit to effectively purchase some other skill you may need. It is effectively skill barter with the time being recorded. There are many Time Banking networks around New Zealand.

If you would like to set up a Time Bank there is a step-by-step guide here.

A good article about Time Banking

Mutual Credit

Mutual Credit is an alternative currency system where members have a ledger in the organisation and spend the currency with other members. The intention is to develop cash free trading economies. This excellent article:Reclaiming Credit Commons Towards Butterfly Society sets out the core conceptual ideas involved. We think there is vast potential for these philosophies to take hold in NZ. Watch this space!

Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have only been around for 10 years and there are a lot of different types being explored. They use decentralised computers and encryption to provide security and all transactions occur online. They challenge the current banking system, and consequently banks worldwide are not recognising the use of them.

LETS

Community Exchange information site and info site
Community Exchange   trading software

Herald Article : Meet the ‘green dollar’ society

Energy

The earth is hugely energy abundant, and the energy potential around us is largely under utilised. Financial prerogatives and outdated approaches to energy generation and distribution have led to New Zealand working on a system where electricity generation is centralised (mostly in the form of South Island hydro lakes), and then transmitted expensively, inefficiently and vulnerably via the national grid. Furthermore these systems were built by taxpayers money, for public benefit, they were subsequently sold off and are now in private hands.

clyde-power-station

Since the deregulation and then privatisation of New Zealand’s electricity generation and transmission infrastructure in the 1980s and 90s, the inflation-adjusted cost to consumers of electricity has doubled. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the western world, where the experience over the past 30 years has been stable or significant drops in pricing. See a NZ Herald article examining the pricing of electricity.

Today there is an increase towards both “off grid” networks. This can be individual private residences as well as larger local community-based networks. This is mainly generated from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal and it avoids the costs and inefficiencies of long distance transmission. Here is a good wiki on these developments: Distributed Generation

In NZ, there are several websites which provide information about taking yourself “off grid”. We found this one particularly informative: Current Generation

Housing Alternatives

We all need a place to call home. In New Zealand we have a great diversity of people, yet not a wide range of options for different ways of living. We share alternatives to the usual paradigms of renting or buying a house, and creating nuclear family units. Here are some of the resources we have found on alternative living systems.

Co-Housing

Co-Housing is an alternative community-based living system. It involves a group of “micro-housing” units where people have privately owned and controlled living/sleeping spaces which are built around centralised shared areas and facilities. There are a number of different ownership/occupancy models available, some of these are explored on sites such as Converge

Co-Housing Facebook page

There is also a fascinating thesis paper about the social benefits and challenges of co-housing: Alternative Communities in Aotearoa, New Zealand: The Cohousing Lifestyle

There are surprisingly few people creating community living, but it is starting to happen all around NZ. The excellent website Co-Housing sets out the current state of play with co-housing developments around NZ, updating where projects are established, and what is “in the pipeline”.

Tiny House Living

Tiny House living is another fast growing alternative living paradigm – take a look at these resources:

Living big in a tiny house

Tiny House New Zealand

You can find information about building a tiny house in NZ and see what others are building at Wee Make Change.

DIY House Building

To become sustainable requires conscientiousness. Follow the experts and adopt what suits you. Doing this will raise connections to your community, to the environment and to yourself. The process yields unexpected benefits as living by values of abundance benefits your world, as you know you have created no harm in far off places.

The illustration below shows how Time Banking works

Favourite Articles

The Guardian  

Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut
George Monbiot

Stuff Will Harvie  Getting NZ Ready for Postcapitalism

Michel Bauwens: The Transition Will Not Be Smooth Sailing

Websites

A wonderful website with stories, resources about moving towards a world of shared resources Commons Transition

Workers not being exploited is a good start