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Event explores alternative economies

Three days of workshops cover a variety of financial avenues
Event explores alternative economies

by Kyle Wells reporter@prpeak.com A unique and multi-faceted exploration of local economics, taking place in Powell River for the first time, promises to be an insightful and varied look into money matters.

The Local Re-conomy Celebration will take place at Powell River Community Resource Centre from Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 18, offering a wide range of workshops, discussions and lectures on personal, business and community financial issues.

Transition Town Powell River has organized the event around a visit from Dave Pollard who is leading a workshop entitled Natural Enterprise, a one-day workshop on creating a small green business. Pollard is a business advisor and author of Finding the Sweet Spot: The Natural Entrepreneur’s Guide to Responsible, Sustainable, Joyful Work and on the Saturday he will be going over the basics of market assessment and business development.

The three days are laid out with a semblance of order in mind. Events on Friday are geared toward traditional economic development-related issues. Saturday is focused on workshops dealing with individuals interested in starting businesses. On Sunday personal finances will be the main focus and events include a workshop entitled Save Money and Put Your Debt on a Diet.

Overall, Transition Town founder Kevin Wilson said the purpose of the event is to raise awareness of different aspects of the local economy. While traditional economic development is certainly important in Wilson’s view, there are other avenues that need to be explored.

Personal economy is one such avenue. While much focus is paid on the financial economy, Wilson believes that a perhaps equally important non-monetary economy exists underneath that we often forget about. This economy involves people doing things for one another, lending items, sharing or giving things, both within and outside of families, and is most often not considered an aspect of economics.

In much of the world “that unofficial, informal non-money economy is most of what people live on,” said Wilson.

In this spirit comes one of the more unique events for the weekend: the Really, Really Free Market. The name is a playoff on the economic term but at this free market everything is literally free. Whether it be a skill, a service, a talent or actual material goods, people are being encouraged to come to the market and give it all away for free.

Everyone is welcome to come and give away items that are in good shape and are not too large, or provide some entertainment or teach a skill. No bartering, trading or purchasing is allowed. As an example, Wilson, a lifelong fiddle player, plans to play some tunes for the visitors, free of charge.

“We all know that giving is almost as much fun as receiving, sometimes it’s more fun,” said Wilson. “Giving things away to your friends and neighbours and strangers is a good feeling, and of course there’s also the ‘oh, I can get something for free.’”

The local currency presentation at 7 pm on Friday will feature concept pioneer Michael Linton giving a talk on the benefits of developing a local currency and how to get it started. Following in the example of the Salt Spring dollar and other local currencies, some see the concept as a strategy to boost the local economy and help people who are struggling to make ends meet under the Canadian dollar.

For more information on workshops and to register for paid events, interested readers can visit the website, email transitiontownpowellriver@gmail.com or call Wilson at 604.483.9052.