Residents of the Greek city Volos—some of whom have lost up to 40 percent of their disposable income—have taken to bartering or using alternative currency to survive the worst economic crisis in modern times.
Organizers say some 1,300 people have signed up for an informal bartering network. A currency known as the Tem, which constitutes a form of community banking monitored entirely online, is “not only an effective antidote to wage cuts and soaring taxes but the ‘best kind of shopping therapy,’ ” The Guardian reports.
“One Tem is the equivalent of one euro,” Volos resident Angeliki Ioanitou said. “My oil and soap came to 70 Tem and with that I bought oranges, pies, napkins, cleaning products and Christmas decorations,” said the mother of five. “I’ve got 30 Tem left over. For women, who are worst affected by unemployment, and don’t have kafeneia [coffeehouses] to go to like men, it’s like belonging to a hugely supportive association.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Greece’s deepening economic crisis has brought new users. With ever more families plunging into poverty and despair, shops, cafes, factories and businesses have also resorted to the system under which goods and services – everything from yoga sessions to healthcare, babysitting to computer support – are traded in lieu of credits.
“For many it plays a double role of supplementing lost income and creating a protective web at this particularly difficult moment in their lives,” says Yiannis Grigoriou, a UK-educated sociologist among the network’s founders. “The older generation in this country can still remember when bartering was commonplace. In villages you’d exchange milk and goat’s cheese for meat and flour.”
Other grassroots initiatives have appeared across Greece. Increasingly bereft of social support, or a welfare state able to meet the needs of a growing number of destitute and hungry, locals have set up similar trading networks in the suburbs of Athens, the island of Corfu, the town of Patras and northern Katerini.
Gwydion M. Williams (CC BY 2.0)