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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

My second birthday cake.

CANADA - Niagara (Wk.5 of 5 weeks)
Week 35 of World Tour

1. Two Birthday Cakes

When was the last time you celebrated a birthday without any family? Well, this week I was turning 49 and for the first time in my life I wasn’t anywhere near my family. In fact, if I was in Melbourne, Australia, and drilled a hole through the centre of the earth, I’m sure I’d come out in Welland, Canada. So I couldn’t be any further from my family than I was today.

It was Monday, January 26, so I’d been in Welland for almost all of the last 6 weeks. And they had been very sure to include me in their Christmas and New Years Day celebrations. But my birthday?

My focus that day was to design some new LETS literature for LETSniagara, so I was on the computer all day (until 2.15am!), but I was pleasantly surprised at dinnertime when the Sheffields brought out a small chocolate cake with 2 large candles on it and began singing ‘Happy Birthday To James’. It was a quiet evening with only about 5 of us there, but at least this special day hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Then on the following Saturday, MaryBeth invited a large group of friends and LETS members to come and meet me before I left for Kitchener. But unknown to me, this was my Surprise Birthday Party! A much larger cream-layered cake came out at dinnertime, this time with 49 candles on it.

I was speechless. Before leaving Australia on my world tour, I never imagined being treated so thoughtfully by my LETS hosts. It was totally unexpected.

MaryBeth (left) and Amber hold my cake while I blow out the candles.

But the highlight of the night wasn’t going to be me. It was Chonie, MaryBeth’s 3 year-old grand-daughter.

“Come on Chonie, show James your surprise”, MaryBeth tempted.

But Chonie was being a little shy. Nevertheless, eventually she plucked up the courage, and put on her little performance.

“I am a genius”, she sang, bringing my Archimedes character to life, and giving a few quick stomps in lieu of the finger-clicking which she was unable to manage at her age, “I am a genius, I am a genius. Doo-doo dum doo-doo dum!”

Well, as you can imagine, she brought the house down.

“She’s been doing that all week”, MaryBeth said, “ever since she saw your play last Friday”.

What a lovely realization. Not only had I impacted both adults and teenagers, but now The Glory Of Athens had also made an impression on the toddlers!

And maybe, with a little more practise, Chonie could even become a future understudy!

MaryBeth gave me a traditional Sheffield teddy for my birthday.

2. Designing LETS Stationery for LETSniagara

This week was spent redesigning the LETS stationery for LETSniagara.

And if you're not happy with your group's stationery, then you should have it redesigned as well.

For your LETS group to function properly, you must have the appropriate LETS stationery.

So here’s the basic pieces of LETS Stationery I found to be critical when I got involved with LETS about 10 years ago ...

Registration Form
Membership Card
Cheque Book


And if the stationery your group is using is out-dated, or hard to read because it’s a copy, off a copy, off a copy, etc. … then it’s time to renew it. It’ll be worth your while as it’ll make a very positive impression on prospective new members.

This stationery was designed on MS Publisher, so you don’t need any fancy software. You are welcomed to use these ideas when creating or updating your own LETS stationery.

To view sample .pdf images of the artwork for these items, click on the links below.

Welcome to HamLETS

where we don't need cash because ...
we're bringing home the BACON!

HamLETS Registration Form CLICK HERE

HamLETS Membership Card CLICK HERE



How To Prepare Your LETS Directory

The most important item your group will provide to its members is the LETS Directory. Without it, your members are left in the dark, without any way of contacting other members to trade. And if you have one which is difficult to use, then your members won’t want to use it. So here’s the best way I’ve seen to prepare your LETS Directory, so it’s easy for your members to use, and encourages them to contact other members to trade.

LETS Directory
As proposed by James Taris


The Directory should be in 2 parts:

SKILLS DIRECTORY: Alphabetical listing of all member offerings

MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY: Numerical listing (by m’ship number) of all LETS members

This directory should be in category order.

Art and Crafts
Bicycle Repairs
Computer Services

All entries should have:

Detailed description of offer
Member’s number, name and town/suburb

... And that’s all! The rest of the information can be found in the Membership Directory


(Under COMPUTER category)
DTP Designing: business cards letterheads, with compliment slips, forms, brochures, flyers, etc.
077.James (Grand Pork)

(Under BUSINESS SERVICES category)
Copywriting: Advertising copy, sales letters, phone scripts, etc.
077.James (Grand Pork)

(Under TRY ME category)
Try me: I’m happy to consider anything else (for upto 4 hours)
077.James (Grand Pork)


All entries should have:

Membership number
Name (first name or code name is OK)
Phone number
Email (if pos.)
List of 6 goods and/or services offered
Level of expertise
Trading price: services at 100% LETSpoints (plus cost of materials in cash if nec.)

This makes contacting very easy and trading enjoyable.


077 . James
(Grand Pork)
(123) 456 7890

DTP Designing: business cards, letterheads, with compliments slips, forms, brochures, flyers, vouchers, etc. (No newsletters or directories. These take too long.)
- professional DTP service, only accepting work via email
30 Bacons/ hour

Copywriting: Advertising copy, sales letters, phone scripts, etc.
- over 20 years exp. in business and sales, only accepting work via email
25 Bacons/ hour (min. 2 hours)

Try me: I’m happy to consider anything else, so send me an email and I’ll see if I can help.
10-30 Bacons/ hour (max. 4 hours)


So now it’s just a matter of getting your Directory designer to phone, or email, all of the LETS members in your group with the good news that a new LETS Directory is being compiled and will be sent out to them as soon as it’s completed. You can even send them a copy of this if you like.

Then tell them what it’s going to include and why it’s such a good idea to have it that way.

Then just keep asking questions until they give you all the information you need.

And if you don’t have someone to work on your Directory yet, then just send this out to your members and ask for someone to do the job. They’ll get paid for their work (at 10 Bacons/hour) so that will be a good way for a new member to get their account quickly into credit.

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

About the book

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