... from the Comox Valley LETSystems Newsletter - June 5th, 1995

Youth Internet Project

Two months ago, I briefly described a summer training project, primarily for youth interested in computers and internet. The project will be funded entirely by commercial sponsorship, contributed in local currency. It will be announced in the local press within the next two weeks, and start in early July.

The announcement will focus on the various benefits of the project - the relevance of internet to the future of the community, the value to trainees, to the local economy, etc - and briefly describe the fund raising method to show how it supports community efforts when normal money is not available.

The main purpose of the project is to introduce the business community to the use of local money, a task that has proved difficult since LETSystems began over 12 years ago. Other communities, particularly in New Zealand and Australia, have been more successful but only slightly, so there is great interest throughout the world (of LETSystems) on this specific issue - showing the business community how to use local money without risk or pain.

We have had discussions with the Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture on possible participation. The provincial government may provide some funding for materials development, and the Chamber may assist with co-ordination and evaluation, but the project is not dependent on such support.

Initially, this project is also independent of the present Comox Valley and women's LETSystems. The merchants who join only agree to accept the credits they have issued, so you won't be able to spend either your Valley or women's $ with them.

The project itself -

    will provide participative training on the internet to as many as 40 youth over the summer, and will pay between $7 and $10 per hour, part cash and part merchant credits.

    Applicants should have access to a computer, preferably with a modem and be able to commit around 20 hours per week in July and August. Experience and aptitude will be taken into account.

Products of funded project

The primary objectives will be to prepare and to publish on the internet a profile of the Comox Valley in general, an information base of and for any CV non-profit organisations, and a complete listing of all local businesses - an internet yellow pages.

For the contributing sponsors, the trainees will prepare more extensive commercial advertising. There may also be a regular feature on the project and internet in the local press.

Additional results will include skills development for the trainees, and employment prospects.

An indirect but highly valuable consequence of the venture could be the introduction of as many as 500 new people and perhaps some 200 local businesses to trading in local money.

How you can participate

Once the "merchant credits" are established, you can help the process by buying them for cash.

There is clearly no direct and immediate advantage to you in this, as you are only able to spend the merchant credits where they are accepted, but you are doing good things for others - in this case the youth who get training and experience. And the businesses that try this are very likely to carry on in the other valley LETSystems thereafter. That is the purpose of the exercise, and you can help by "spending" them into the loop.

Before the program is operating, and you can see exactly where you will be able to spend these credits, we won't be accepting any cash in exchange, but -

any indication of general willingness will help us to sell the idea to local business.

In summary, the way it works -

- business contributes "merchant credit's"

    We expect contributions ranging between $500 and $10,000 from about 200 local businesses - all in their own local currency, a merchant credit that they will accept in part payment for their goods and services.

- people buy them

    The project will offer these merchant credits to the general public in exchange for cash, $ for $, to provide the project with its required cash flow. So people can fund community needs, and spend with the local business that supports the community, and yet it needn't cost them a cent.

    The minimum exchange for new accounts will be $200, but current LETSystem users will be able to make $50 exchanges.

If you know possible trainees, or are interested in buying merchant credits to enable the project, please contact me, Michael Linton, at 338-0213.

June 5th, 1995.


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