An ongoing Swop Project, Audio

The interviews in this archive are made with people involved in community economies operating as alternatives to the dominant monetary economy.

The project is structured as a relay. It started out with two interviews. At the end of every interview the interviewee is asked to introduce two new people to be interviewed next. In addition, they are asked to exchange two of the ten initial questions.

The structure in itself aim to illustrate resistance to profitable systems, in the sense that it supports network building, is anti-hierarchical, equally distributed as well as without copyright.

strohalm - single image

Quote from interview with Jaap Vink from STROhalm in Utrecht, NL (Image above):

“Strohalm started in the 1970’s as an environmental organisation. We were very active in the anti-nuclear movement but throughout the years we changed our focus to the more underlying causes of the environmental problems. We found out – of course it took years of investigations – that the actual monetary system, and especially the role of the interest mechanism, results in short time investments with negative consequences for the environment but also for the welfare of people. We developed different methodologies that we try in pilot projects. We started up the local exchange trade system LETS in the Netherlands. It is still one of the largest LETS systems worldwide, by now it has around a 1000 members. We decided to expand our activities also to other countries. The need for change is larger in southern countries and organisations there are more motivated to join these kinds of projects. They see the problem of interest, because interest rates in Brazil e.g. can be up to 40 or even 70 percent.If you have a sort of mechanism to stimulate internal trade within a community the currency starts circulation within the community. And if you use local currency, which can only be used within the community, it prevents the money flowing out to parts where it would get higher profits on investments. Companies and people get a possibility to use their capacities they were not using before. Smaller companies can start in a semi-protected environment, the system gives a protection from strong competition on the world market. Another advantage is that it also makes people conscious about what their money is doing.”

Quote from interview with Neelima Kafle. General secretary of MASK
– a NGO providing micro-savings and loans to women of rural and urban areas in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.
“The men are powerful in our country compared to women, who rarely get an education; they are treated as secondary people. Women are the main target group for our micro loan system. When the women start their business, they use what they earn on their children, education, health and the house.”


Quote from interview with Ditlev Nissen from Christiania in Denmark.
About the local currency LØN:

” […] In 1997 Christiania started a new and exciting experiment. We made our own currency, called LØN. It can be traded in all of Christiania’s shops and bars. When you trade in Christiania you can choose if you want your change in LØN. One LØN  is equivalent to 50 Danish Crowns. LØNis distributed by Christiania’s Common Funds. A fund guarantees that it always will be covered for the LØN circulating. The idea is to develop the local economy, to create new activities and businesses and to support sustainable growth. The LØN can only be used within Christiania, and that supports the local trade and creates social actions. It’s about circulating the money before they are thrown into the rest of the society. But within the economy today what  happens is that the local community is emptied for resources. It is the linear economy, where the money just goes through the local community and drains it’s energy. It’s all about acting locally and thinking globally. But we’re lacking in perspective and in a deeper understanding of things. The small heart functions as in life, we all have a heart…that’s the way it should be in the local community too […].”