Often, we consider ourselves as poor if we don’t have enough money. But even if we have no money, we have resources and capacities that we can share and that might be of value to others. Think of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the longest-lasting economic depression of the 20th century - the market crashed, unemployment skyrocketed, there was no money...But then, amid all these dark tidings for the economy, how did the small Austrian town of Wörgl manage to actually flourish and prosper economically? It is called the “Wörgl Miracle”. In these harsh times for the economy, this town introduced an alternative currency which led to increased employment rate and the completion of local projects, such as new houses, ski jumps, bridges etc. Inflation and deflation were reported to be non-existent!
The Wörgl Miracle is no miracle at all - alternative currencies have always existed and continue to grow as a very strong social movement. They are here to remind us that even when all money dries up, we still have people - and people will always find a way.
With the “money-creation-party”, the participants’ awareness is raised that money is not the only means of exchange - but that anything we can offer can be used as a means of exchange.
A Game / Activity with the group, best with a big group of 30+ people, as part of a bigger conference / seminar / camp or whatever - where people will have the opportunity to convert the vouchers.
60 minutes – it is good to have it before a break, so that people can extend it individually.
To realise and use other means of exchange than money
To experience a moneyless system
Required Materials and Tools:
Small pieces of paper to serve as alternative currency (you can also colour them in any colour to spice up the game)
Tuning in: Speaking about the importance that money has for all of us – not because of itself, but because of its power to be exchanged into everything. A lot of things depend on money - but this is due to the power we give to money as a means of exchange. But: we can create other means of exchange, if we want to!
Ask people to reflect on what their capacities are, what they can offer and what might be needed for other people – for the group, for the parents of the group-members, for other young people etc. Maybe they also have things or resources that others would like and don't have, like a nice T-shirt or leftover wood from a carpentry. Give them 5 minutes to think about this.
Now it is the moment to create your own money. Take the (coloured) papers and let the whole group decide on the name of the currency (it can be something funny, like Red Flying Elephant, no limits!), The coloured papers will serve as money. Allow some time for the participants to embellish these papers, maybe with a drawing or such like. These papers are worth a certain unit of what you offer (you decide how much!)
Examples of what you could offer: one backrub of 5 minutes, half an hour of foot-massage, half an hour of translation from English to your native language, half an hour of weeding your garden, surplus salad in summer-time, taking care of kids, private lessons in (…), fixing your bicycle's flat tire, kitten, walking other people’s dogs...
Then the participants are asked to walk around in “the marketplace” and try to “sell” their services.. You can of course as well give them for free to someone. It’s as fun as trading them against other bills.
Since during the trading phase you might get paper from other people, you can of course trade these bills as well.
The trading phase of the game can have an open end, or end at a certain time.
How many people really got into bartering/using this alternative currency system? How much was the option used to give the services away for free?
After this experience, do you think it would be useful to establish some kind of exchange system in your youth-group?
Instructions for Submission
Upload a picture of the currency that the participants created and submit your answers to the questions from the Reflection section. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading
Instructions for Assessment
Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback
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