We are facing a financial collapse but we have the choice to act and participate in the evolution of the world. The author introduces us to the G.A.M.E, an exchange system based on the value of time, which is universal and accessible to all. It is a concrete solution, which values enjoyment, talent and room for everyone in the community.
Yes, money rules the world… it has us wrapped around its little finger! Yes, banks create money out of thin air. Yes, world bankers are responsible for wars, genocides, famines and I am responsible, as well, each time I use their services! Yes, we are probably heading towards a world financial collapse. But concrete, efficient and fun solutions exist. The solution we are about to explain is simple, user-friendly and accessible to all groups of 2 people or more. We are talking about the G.A.M.E. (read more about it at www.gardenofexchange.com)
The acronym G.A.M.E means Garden for All Matter of Exchange. It originally comes from the French acronym JEU, which also means ‘game’ and stands for Jardin d’Echange Universel (Universal Garden of Exchange). Invented in 1998 by Daniel Fargeas in France, this network mainly spread in France and Quebec, Canada, before it slowly spread to other countries such as Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico and the US. The G.A.M.E facilitates the exchange of produts, knowledge and services between people wanting to use autonomous money. Unlike other exchange systems from around the world, which are based on a centralized management, the G.A.M.E is self-managed and without borders. I can exchange with anyone on the planet and also with other existing exchange systems such as the S.E.L (Systeme d’Echange Local) in France or its equivalent in North America, the L.E.T.S (Local Exchange and Trading System). I completed my first transaction during a trip in Quebec, Canada in 2006. Since then, I regularly make exchanges in France and Quebec.
I can start a G.A.M.E group with anyone, anytime, anywhere! To start “GAMEing” you just need 2 people who own a G.A.M.E booklet. You can download a booklet for free from the following websites (http://www.gardenofexchange.com/account_book.html and http://www.personocratia.com/en/personocratia.php#monnaie) or buy one during a G.A.M.E meeting in your area from a GAMEr who makes them. What is important is that we write the following information such as date, name, type of exchange, location, number of points, etc. in the booklet. It is highly recommended to start GAMEing by offering products or services to other active GAMErs right away. This way you can start “in the positive.” Services, know-how’s and products are exchanged for GAME points. One point is worth one minute of time. What’s nice about this unit is that it’s the same anywhere on the planet and it’s not affected by exchange rates. For example, I can offer help gardening and receive 60 points per hour of service in France, Canada or Chile.
I can also ask for the number of points that I think my product or service is worth. For example, I do some translation work and because of my expertise and investment in translation software, I can ask 120 points per hour (or more). On the other hand, the person who asked for my translation services can decide that 100 points per hour would be more appropriate for her. For each transaction, the 2 GAMErs discuss a fair price which would satisfy both parties. It’s about finding a win-win solution in each transaction, a rare occurrence in today’s society where we are used to win-lose transactions. What is important is to decide on an agreement in advance to avoid surprises. Also, each transaction allows the person to heal some of her fears: fear of lacking, self-devaluation, low self-esteem, failing to recognize the value of the other person and so forth.
Since there is no centralized organization to manage the booklets, each GAMEr is responsible for the good functioning of the GAME. I can decide to refuse to do an exchange if I don’t trust the product or the person, if the other person’s balance is too low in the negative, if the other person does not regularly offer products or services, or if a positive balance seems suspicious. Thus, the GAME relies on each GAMEr’s vigilance and respect. Even though the unit (one minute equals one GAME point) is universal and I can exchange with anyone on the planet, the GAME, first and foremost, remains a local exchange system. We usually know everyone in our group and a GAMEr can quickly gain a good reputation with just a few exchanges.
In the GAME, there is no hierarchy, membership or structure. I manage my own booklet, although, I never write in it. When I make an exchange of products or services with someone, I give my booklet to the other person and she gives me her booklet. Once we agree on the number of points, I write the transaction in her booklet and she writes it in my booklet. Then we get our booklet back. We keep our old booklets as proof of the history of our active participation in the GAME.
By GAMEing, I get wealthier, I bring wealth to my community, I increase my circle and I please myself! I offer products and services that I enjoy doing so much that I would almost pay to do it! I can also develop my creativity: instead of offering what I do best but don’t enjoy as much, I dare to offer what I’ve always dreamed of doing.
GAMEing is also about daring to ask. Instead of stressing myself out by moving alone and carrying all the boxes myself, I can invite some GAMErs to join me and thank them in points: I can transform hard labor into a friendly moment.
Great, I want to play the GAME! How do I know who offers what? One person (or several) organizes monthly meetings during which she gathers a list of demands and offers from the active GAMERs of the group. She then sends it by mail or email to all the GAMERs. In order for the GAME network not to run out of steam, it is important to thank the group facilitator for the time spent in organizing the event by giving her some points. Some groups decide to give a yearly contribution. Generally, meetings take place every month; it is wise to organize them at set dates making it easier for people to remember. For instance, for the group that I facilitate in Parisot, the meetings take place every 15th of each month and for the group in Toulouse, it is every last Friday of the month.
Meetings enable us to welcome new people, meet other GAMERs and share a convivial moment. We take the time to gather to make decisions by unanimous consensus and discuss current matters. Anyone attending the meeting can have a say and influence the decision. Then, most of the time, we have a fair where we exchange our products and we end the meeting with a potluck-type meal. I also organize theme events such as a musical evening, projection of a documentary, plant exchange, etc.
Because of its simplicity, the GAME allows us to take action without having to create a heavy administrative structure which is so fond of lots of volunteers and time. It is up to each of us to spread the GAME, to talk about it with friends, to print some booklets and to create a network around us! If necessary, I travel to introduce the GAME to new communities and help them get set up.
Solutions to get out of the soon-to-come monetary deadlock already exist. Should we wait for the financial crash to take action? Absolutely not! The GAME is an easy, fun and fast solution to set up. Now, it is up to you to play the G.A.M.E!
Author: Amaryllis, GAME facilitator of 2 groups in Southwest of France.
Article published in the magazine Rêve de Femmes – Winter 2011