The lead up to my LETS
Presentation in Aas, Norway, can only be described as very thorough.
And what makes it even more of an achievement is that it was all due
to the efforts of one young man. Alf Haakon Lund.
Aas is the perfect town
for a LETS group. Even though it's only a small town of 6,000 people,
its Agricultural University makes the young green-minded student population
excellent LETS prospects.
Alf is the co-ordinator
of Bytteringen i Aas (Aas LETS) which was formed in 1994 and peaked
very early in 1995 with 200 members contributing to 6,000 'gryn' (the
local currency) of trade. Even though their membership is still 200,
their trading has slumped to only 2,000 gryn last year. The purpose
of my visit to Aas was to see if I could rejuvenate their initial
So Alf sent emails to everyone
in his LETS group informing them of my arrival and scheduled presentation.
He also invited neighbouring LETS groups to attend. A4 flyers were
designed and posted on shop windows and notice boards. And reminder
emails were sent to his LETS group members on the day before my presentation.
But his biggest coup was
getting me a slot as a featured speaker for "The Week In Aas Festival"
which is held in Aas every 2 years and goes for 4 weeks (go figure!).
So my LETS presentation was listed along with all the other featured
speakers and acts in their 56 page colour catalogue.
So we were hoping for a
large audience, and I was happy to see Alf's efforts rewarded with
the largest audience I spoke to in all of Europe.
The format was a little
different from the usual. At 12 noon on Saturday, our session started
with a Trading Segment. LETS members set up stalls selling food (coffee,
tea, biscuits, cakes, jams �), clothing (dresses, shoes, handbags
� even ice skates!), small furniture and fittings, computer software
and components, etc. And everything was being traded for gryn. My
suggestion to use Summary Trading Sheets instead of individual LETS
cheques was gratefully accepted and trading was brisk.
My presentation was scheduled
to go from 2 - 4pm, and after my short introduction, I was presented
with a traditional Norwegian gift � a warm pair of black and white
knitted gloves. The weather had been a constant 3 degrees all week,
so I'd get some good use out of these.
As there were many non-LETS
people in the audience, I made sure to share some basics about LETS
before I started. And I thought it would be a golden opportunity to
try to earn some gryn to pay for the Polynesian Massage I'd enjoyed
the previous day. I thought I'd also take the opportunity to show
LETS members how easy it was to come up with a long list of offerings.
This would help counter the familiar, "But I don't have anything to
So here's the list I came
up with �
Dieting and Weight Management (I've lost 7 kilos in the last 5 weeks)
4-4-40 Lifestyle Planner (how to work 4 hrs/day, 4 days/wk, 40 wks/yr)
WRITING: (also available
internationally while in Australia)
Editing (and improving) Advertising Material or Business Letters.
Editing (and improving) Short Stories and Poems.
Walking or jogging partner. (if you hate exercising alone)
Dance partner (I can also teach basic Rock'n Roll)
Taking photos (I was a professional Wedding and Portrait Photographer
for 18 yrs.)
Chess partner (I love playing chess)
Cards partner (I can teach 'Con Can' as well)
English Pronunciation (I've been living in Australia since 1956)
Greek Pronunciation (I'm Greek, and born in Greece)
I purposely included some
things which would be unlikely to be taken up. But as I explained,
"You never know what will be requested, and anyway, there's no harm
done if you don't get contacted about some of the things offered."
And did I get to clear my
debt to Aas LETS? You betcha! And just so you don't need to keep guessing,
I was asked to be a Dance Partner for a lady who was celebrating her
birthday that night with 14 other women. Well, I mean, how lucky can
a man get?
Needless to say, the rest
of the presentation went sensationally. And I was pleased to see 5
new members join Aas LETS after my presentation. The following day
Alf was sent an email telling him that James Taris was the best speaker
they'd ever seen in Aas! Very flattering indeed.
And here's an email I received
when I arrived back in Australia �
> Fredikstad, Norway
October 20. 2002, Dear James Taris, We hope you had a nice journey
back to South Africa. We enjoyed the meeting in �s on October 12.
It was absolutely worth the 80 km. trip from Fredrikstad to hear
your enthusiastic presentation about "Bytteringer". Our local "Byttering"
had a meeting on October 14 and we gave a report on your presentation
to the group. We have already started revisions in our program which
include delegating responsibility for the administration to more
of the members. Thank you again for the helpful suggestions. We
will be following your net page and hope you will summarize your
trip and observations you have on other "Bytteringer". Have a pleasant
stay in South Africa and a good trip to China. Best Wishes, Torill
Frydenlund and Berit Diedrichsen