Initiative: The Local Exchange, Localism Help Desk, Marketplaces, BarterWorks and WRAP

By Nathan Stretch and Eli Winterfeld

In response to current economic development—where the labour market does not accommodate those willing and able to work with full-time permanent positions—we are engaging with people around livelihood and strategies for building a sustainable way of life that includes multiple income streams.In this way, we are expanding on a familiar conversation at The Working Centre – how to engage and maintain meaningful, community involvement – by linking the principals of producerism, living simply, building community and serving others back to income as it supports livelihood. By hosting these conversations on livelihood in K-W, a community-based response that is emergent and practical can take shape.

We are encouraging people to think creatively about combining income earning activities in a way that is sustainable and responsive to the local labour market. By practicing skills, gathering sector specific knowledge and training, or acting on a passion, people can imagine contributing a service or product within the frame of a challenging local economy. Strategies for sustainable livelihoods can combine small business or home-based projects that compliment part-time or contract work, and a commitment to frugal living and artful innovation. Purchasers are able to ‘buy-local’ and support the creative livelihood decisions of their neighbours, strengthening a community of trade.

The Working Centre is supporting sustainable livelihoods through developing neighbour to neighbour exchange. Localism—as we have been calling it—values, supports and promotes relationship between local producers and purchasers and recognizes its contribution to the socio-economic resilience of our community. The thread of Localism connects emergent and established projects and practices at The Working Centre.

The Local Exchange is an online tool that catalogues the products and services of its users, and helps buyers and sellers to contact one another by maintaining a dynamic, hosted and secure website.

Barterworks, the local currency trading group is now part of The Local Exchange. This website can facilitate buying and selling using Barter Dollars or Canadian currency. The Localism Help Desk assists people to use the new website and help build marketplace opportunities for producers and purchasers.

WRAP small business supports hosted at The Working Centre encourage the development of small business, with a focus on local enterprise. The Local Exchange website and Localism supports are open to individuals considering or testing ideas for small business, encourages the development of small business, and welcomes established local businesses.

The Working Centre’s Job Search Resource Centre is a place where counselors can help you look for a job that complements livelihood goals. A comprehensive Job Search Road Map is hosted on our website and can be navigated with a counselor, in small groups, or individually. An Employment Counselor can support decision-making processes as people consider information about career counseling, labour market research, training and education, apprenticeships, and government funding. Our job postings site is active and up-to-date.

Understanding the earning potential of specific work, combined with the projected income from a skill or product offered locally can contribute to a frame for living frugally.

Money Matters and Localism Help Desk are available to guide and encourage frugal innovation and living simply with practical ideas and concepts for financial planning, transportation, food, clothing, gift and household items, technology, child care, and entertainment.

People are welcome in our Community Tools Projects to build hands on skills. These projects provide opportunity to participate in social enterprises that are responsive, innovative, and thoughtfully frugal.


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