The current economic climate clearly demonstrates that the ability for an economy to flourish is directly dependent on the amount money that is spent within it. The lesson for local economies is that if more of the money spent locally is spent between members of the local community rather than large multi-national corporations the greater the benefit to the local economy. By spending your money with a local trader who in turn spends it with other local traders you are not simply improving things for an individual trader you are directly benefiting the local community.

Whilst this is all very nice in theory it is not necessarily an easy concept to understand for the average person and therefore the aim of the Barter Project is create a novel system that will allow users to see this process in action and see the overall benefits shopping locally produces.

 How Does it Work?

Unlike local currencies that largely have the same overall aim it does not seek to replace existing currency but rather illustrate how best it may be used. The BARTER system uses a combination of trading card and electronic system to capture the amount of money, which is being spent within the local economy that will then be illustrated to all members within the community through a variety of novel visualisation techniques. This IS NOT TRACKING INDIVIDUAL SPENDING but simply illustrating the flow of the money within the economy and therefore personal identification data is only used to validate you as a member of the system and is not revealed to any other members of the system. The second stage of the project will be a local social network and market place so that customers can rate the quality of local trading and businesses and organisations can build a stronger reputation within the local community.

Who Is Running The Project?

The BARTER project is initially administered by Lancaster University who will develop the system in direct collaboration between local businesses and organisations and the general public within Lancaster. At the end of the project it is anticipated that system will be taken over by the Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association (ESTA) who will taken over the operation for the wider benefit of the community. At this point any member of the system can either remain part of the project or can have all their personal identification removed from the system. At this point all software produced as part of the project will be released as Open Source so that other communities can use it to create their own systems and the other local system such as LETS schemes can be incorporated within the same platform.

Who Can Get Involved?

The project will ultimately be open to local businesses, organisations and customers but in the initial stages will are working with members of Lancaster ESTA and their customers. However we will encourage anyone within Lancaster and the local area to get in touch with the project if they are interested