From its roots in small-scale African development projects in the early 1990’s through to our more recent work on FrontlineSMS, kiwanja.net has always had a strong local community focus. Means of Exchange was a recent initiative looking at how emerging, everyday technologies could be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use, leading us to a better, fairer, more locally-connected world. The following summary was taken from the Means of Exchange website before the project was closed down in April 2018.
Means of Exchange
It’s only when things go wrong that we question the systems which regulate, control and dominate our lives. We live in a time of great economic uncertainty. Millions of people around the world have lost jobs, homes, businesses, independence and purpose. Millions more face growing uncertainty and insecurity. Many hard working people have been hard hit. In the greater scheme of things they’re simply collateral damage in the rebalancing of a larger, broken world economic system.
The system is broken. Long live the system.
While it’s impossible for most of us to reduce our exposure entirely from the global economy, there are things many of us can do to lessen our dependence on it. Funnily enough it’s something our ancestors managed to do pretty well. It’s called self-sufficiency.
But before you dismiss this as hippy-style “grow-your-own vegetables on village allotments”, more meaningful economic self-sufficiency is possible if people are creative in how they earn, trade and share with one another. As money has taken over as our primary means of exchange, other more traditional methods have been lost.
What we’ve been left with is not only an economic system few people understand but one we have little control over, a loss of community and a drift away from the consumption of locally produced goods and services.
But all is not lost. The slide can be halted, and by using the very technologies which enable us to take part in a globalised society, it can be reversed.
If you’re one of a growing number of people interested in how we might achieve economic self-sufficiency, or you wonder what impact the current economic system is having on communities around the world, or you’re curious about the kinds of tools and resources that can help you rebuild yours wherever you are, then Means of Exchange is for you.
We’ll be looking at how a combination of everyday technologies and human ingenuity can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use. We’ll encourage new thinking, build new tools and take a fresh look at the public messaging behind local economic empowerment schemes to help make them more inclusive, simple, relevant, fun and engaging in today’s social media-driven world.
Further details on Means of Exchange are available on the project website here.