Whistler local Myra Graham is trying to make a difference in the Whistler community one step at a time and without a price tag.
Graham hopes to make that difference through a Community Exchange Service (CES), which is a community-based exchange system that provides means for its users to exchange their goods and services instead of person-to-person trading. Currently 502 groups exist globally and Canada has 17 groups.
“Think of Craigslist with a bank account, when you become a user of the system you register and you have to offer some kind of exchange service,” said Graham, who has been a permanent Whistler resident since 2011.
The online service does not require a membership fee, however to participate people must have something to offer in exchange for other goods and services. Listings range from a local organic produce business to yoga classes, childcare, dog walkers, accommodations and cooking classes.
Graham said there is a lot of things people are passionate about that they aren’t willing to pay for, but would be an added value to their lifestyle.
“Your imagination is your limitation, it can be anything you’re passionate about,” Graham said.
Currently the Whistler exchange has 12 members and the first public meeting to introduce the CES to the community was held Wednesday night (March 6) hosted by the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE).
“The system starts off with a balance of $500 in debit once you join and you can start spending right off the start,” Graham said. “What it’s all about is just creating our own wealth, and keeping it local.
“That’s the beauty of an exchange program is that it doesn’t leave.”
“What it’s all about is just creating our own wealth, and keeping it local.”
It works on a mutual credit system instead of a national currency and members set the price they feel is the value of what they offer.
“Then the person who is purchasing or trading with you would have to agree that that is the value and if not you can chose to negotiate,” Graham said.
When asked about fraud occurring in the CES, Graham said it is virtually impossible because the system relies on actual services instead of currency, so there would be no profit for the person committing fraud.
Graham said she thinks the core community of Whistler would benefit from this system.
“One of the benefits is that we create the capital, we create the wealth through our productivity,” Graham said. “We can exchange goods and services without having to find that money in the first place.”
Graham wanted to give the CES a chance in Whistler after first hearing about an already growing group in Vancouver.
“(I want to) introduce the idea and see if people can take it on, and grow it into something that will make Whistler more resilient to the economic crises that we are still going to keep facing,” Graham said.
Graham is taking on the project herself and is hoping the community pitches in. She said there is no particular benefit to her other then her giving back to the planet so that when she leaves she has affected it in a positive way.
“There is no profit involved in this; the only thing that would be nice is to not have any expenses,” Graham said. “Right now it’s just time and paper but I’m willing to donate that.
“The whole system is set up for growth within itself, and I don’t foresee myself being the administrator of this forever and a day.”
Go to www.community-exchange.org for more information on the Whistler Community Exchange.