… Schools … Schools
This week was particularly
unusual. Lorne had booked 3 appointments for me to speak to 3 school
Jan 6 … speaking about LETS and my travel adventures
to a Year 12 Geography class at Confederation High School, Welland.
Jan 7 … speaking about LETS and my travel adventures
to a Grade 5 class at Oakridge Primary School, St. Catherine.
Jan 9 … performing my play, The Glory Of Athens,
to all the Year 12 students at Confederation High School, Welland.
And each of these experiences
was simply magic!
The Grade 5 class was a
lot of fun. It was great to see their hands shoot up as soon as I’d
ask them a question. So there were lots of questions being asked by
me and lots of questions being asked by them in return. The period
went for about 70 minutes, with the first half dedicated to sharing
my experiences in different countries around the world, and the second
half of the period dedicated to explaining how a LETS system could
operate in their class.
But the highlight of my
school experiences was definitely when I performed my play, The Glory
Of Athens. And the best way to explain it would be to share a couple
of testimonials from the audience. One from a teacher and one from
a student …
Hi James, As promised I'm getting back to you with a more detailed
response to your performance of "The Glory of Athens" at
école secondaire Confédération on January 9,
I must confess that I was
a little hesitant to have you perform the play at first. I wasn't
concerned about the script. I liked the text, having read it online.
I thought it had lots of humour and the message at the end of the
play is truly inspirational, challenging viewers to believe in themselves
without reservation. What made me nervous was my knowledge of what
a difficult audience high school students can be, especially when
a single person tries to hold their attention for 90 minutes. We teachers
find it a challenge to hold their attention for far shorter periods.
When you began your performance,
however, my fears were quickly laid to rest. You captured our students'
attention with the first line and never lost it. They laughed at the
funny parts and listened attentively to the serious parts, and I could
tell that the applause at the end was heartfelt. What impressed me
most, however, was the way the students interacted with you in the
question period after the performance. The quality of their questions
showed how thoroughly engaged they were by your play.
The audience included about
40 grade 12 students ranging in age from 16 to 18, most of them being
17 years old. To tell the truth, if I had known how good your performance
was going to be, I probably would have tried to include our grade
11 students as well. Although there is some sexual humour in the play,
I don't think any of it would be shocking to teenagers who watch prime
time television in North America. For that matter, that type of humour
is not unfamiliar to anyone who has studied Shakespeare.
I should mention that I
gave a brief history lesson to our grade 12 students the day before
the play to furnish them with some background knowledge about the
historical and mythological characters in your play. I also showed
them a poster of the Parthenon so they would have that image in mind
when it was mentioned in the play. Though the students probably would
have understood your play without that lesson, I think the preparation
probably heightened their comprehension. For example, because I explained
the technique of Socratic dialectic to them, they were really able
to appreciate the humour of your parody of Socrates' argumentative
Once again, thank
you very much, James, for performing your play for our students. May
all of your performances of "The Glory of Athens" be as
successful as the one at École secondaire Confédération.
Sincerely, Doug Janack (English Teacher, Confederation
High School, Canada)
a quick note to say that our students' enthusiasm was confirmed during
further discussion on Monday. Donna and I have asked students to send
emails to you. Doug Janack (English Teacher, Confederation
High School, Canada)
name is Samantha, and I am a student at Confederation High School.
I was in the groupe of grade twelves to whom you presented your play
"The Glory of Athens" on Friday, January 9, 2004, and I
really enjoyed it, so I felt I should let you know. I just wanted
to send out a quick note to say that I was really blown away by your
presentation: the acting, the humour, the play as a whole. It was
really a wonderful story, a beaufitul message, and a fantastic laugh.
It's just what we all needed on a Friday afternoon. I think I speak
for everyone when I say that I was very impressed by the play. It
was a great story line, and very well portrayed. We all had a lot
of fun, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for
having come. Best wishes in wherever and whatever life brings you!
Cheers! Sam! (Confederation High School, Canada)
Christian Favours sermon at the
All Peoples United Church, Welland.
LET Niagara know
no bounds when it comes to finding an audience for me. And I must
admit they even impressed me when they told me I’d be giving
a sermon at the All Peoples United Church in Welland, on the Sunday
I was due to leave for Kitchener.
Pastor Donna Totten is
a great advocate for LETS, in fact, LETS Niagara use the church for
their LETS meetings.
So she was very keen to
have this Australian LETSaholic address her congregation, and educate
them to the benefits of getting involved with LETS. She even preceded
my sermon with a short example of trading, using trading cards with
some of the children.
So my LETS Favours
presentation was changed to Christian Favours, heavily reduced from
90 minutes to 20 minutes, and the supporting scriptures were Matthew
7:7-12 “Ask, and it shall be given you …”,
which also finishes with the Golden Rule, and Matthew
25:15-28 “And unto one he gave 5 talents …”
The response from the audience
was very supportive, so I’m sure there’ll be a few new
members joining LETS Niagara soon.
Here is the sermon …
My name is James
Taris, and I’m a LETSaholic. That is, I can’t get enough
For those of you
who don’t know what LETS is, LETS stands for Local Exchange
Trading System. It’s a group of people from a small community
who all agree to exchange goods and services with each other, without
the need for cash.
And once you've
grasped the LETS philosophy, then trading in LETS points becomes an
enjoyable and rewarding experience.
My LETS philosophy
is, "Don't think of LETS points like dollars. Think of them as
favours. Christian Favours!"
The LETS group's function
is to act as a bookkeeper for the members' transactions, keeping record
of these 'favours' (also called 'beans', 'auras', 'shells', 'talents',
thank yous', etc.) and putting the members' accounts into debit or
credit accordingly. An account which is in credit identifies a member
who has given more favours than he's received. And vise-versa.
I've been involved
with LETS since 1994, and once I understood and accepted the principle
of give-and-take with my fellow LETS group members, I quickly noticed
a sharp rise in the quality of my lifestyle.
Having a limited
income meant that I could only afford to pay for the essentials in
my life: Rent, gas, electricity, phone, petrol, food, clothes, and
so on. Everything else became a luxury, which I either did without,
or chose to do myself.
But that all changed
with LETS, because I found that I could at last enjoy some of these
luxuries by offering a range of goods and services through my LETS
group. Very soon I was mowing lawns, removing rubbish and painting
Later on I was also designing business cards, brochures and newsletters.
And I even traded tiny picture frames, small bookcases and kitchenware.
In return I received
massages, piano tuition and restaurant meals. Computer support, computer
software and web design services. Greeting cards, teddy bears and
bonsai plants. All of these goods and services would've been reluctantly
by-passed if I had to pay cash for them. Thankfully, LETS made them
So how did I become a LETSaholic?
I was a professional photographer
for 18 years, and in 1994 I decided that I didn’t want to do
photography any more, so I closed my studio down and found myself
out of work.
I’d heard about this
LETS thing, where people could get things without using cash, so I
found the nearest LETS group to my home, which was a 20 minute drive
away, and I joined.
My offer to the LETS members
was wedding and portrait photography.
And as I scanned through the LETS Directory, which listed all the
goods and services being offered by the LETS members, I could see
dozens of things which I was sure I could use.
Books, CDs and
software. Piano lessons, computer lessons and writing lessons. Restaurant
meals, bonsai plants and massages.
But first, I was going
to wait for someone to contact me, because I didn’t want to
risk being rejected when I contacted any of these people. After all,
I knew that I’d be willing to give my photographic services
without the need for cash. But how would they react if I asked them
to do something for me, before I’d actually done something for
But the phone
never rang. And nobody called by. So I waited and waited. And even
though the LETS group sent me a newsletter every month inviting me
to their LETS Get Togethers, where I could meet other LETS members
over a meal and drinks, I couldn’t get over my fear of rejection,
so I waited, and waited some more.
Eleven months later, I
was driving through the suburb where I knew there was a LETS event
taking place, so I decided to drop in, but just for 10 minutes or
so. I’d convinced myself that such a short visit wouldn’t
be long enough to make me feel uncomfortable, and seeing it was already
very late, I guessed it wouldn’t be going on for too much longer
So I entered through the
office building, and being a warm summer’s night, the LETS gathering
was taking place in the rear yard. And as soon as I got to the back
entrance, a short and stocky young guy, about 23, came right up to
me and shook my hand.
And he said, “Hi,
my name is George. If you want any heavy lifting done, any manual
labour, digging gardens, moving house, just call me and I’ll
come and help you.”
And he wouldn’t let
go. So I thought, maybe it’s my turn now.
So I said, “My name’s
James, and I’m a photographer.”
he said, then he started asking me all about it, and I immediately
Then he took me over to
meet some of the other members.
Keith who does bicycle repairs. And this is Mary who does baby-sitting.
And this is Sue who does sewing.”
And Sue said, “If
you’ve got any buttons missing from your shirts, or you want
anything shortened or taken in, then call me and I’ll do those
things for you.”
So in the space of a few minutes, I already felt like one of the family,
and was getting annoyed with myself for putting off meeting these
people for so long.
But then I said to George,
“How come there’s only 7 people here tonight? I thought
there were about 80 members in the group.”
And he said, “There
were probably another 7 people here earlier on, but you’re late.
It’s nearly 9.30 and we started at 7 o’clock. Some of
them had to leave early because they’re working tomorrow morning.
And others had to go home because they’ve only got baby-sitters
for a couple of hours.”
So just out of
curiosity I asked what those other people were offering.
And he said, “Joe
does rubbish removals. And Louise does cooking. And Peter does massage.”
I said, “I’d love a massage!”
said, “Peter’s the best guy to give you a massage, because
he teaches people how to do massage. I’m sure he’ll do
it for you if you ring him.”
And with that recommendation,
I rang Peter the next day, and Peter came over on the following Sunday
and gave me the best massage I’d ever had. Actually, it was
the first massage I’d ever had. But it was fantastic.
And I couldn’t help
thinking that, here I was, unemployed, and enjoying a massage, a luxury
which I had never experienced while I was working, because I could
never justify having to pay $60 cash to have it done. But through
LETS it was now possible.
realised that these were helpful people with Christian values. And
it was contagious.
Having seen how
willingly they offered their services to me, I immediately added several
other services to my list of offers. I added lawn mowing, painting
and rubbish removals. And rather than wait idly at home for the phone
to ring, this time I took the initiative to contact the members myself.
From now on, I thought,
I’d do whatever I could to help the LETS members get more of
what they wanted, because I’d experienced how good it felt for
someone to help me with my request, and I wanted the other members
to have that same amazing feeling.
So I gave and I gave, as
a Christian gives, without even thinking about what I would get back.
And yet, I got back so much more than anyone else in the group.
Then when I discovered
another LETS group much closer to my home, I immediately volunteered
to help them with their newsletter. This was only a very small LETS
group of 15 members, and they only had a single-page newsletter. I’d
seen how much better the newsletter was from the other LETS group,
so I wanted to design one as good as that, and maybe even better!
But I’d never designed
a newsletter before, so I was unsure about whether they would accept
me. Fortunately, they were thrilled with my offer, and agreed to teach
me how to do the job. They gave me a desk and computer to sit at,
and with their constant supervision, I produced their first 12-page
newsletter. In fact, I became so good at my new skill, that within
3 months I was earning cash from people outside of the LETS community.
I was designing
business cards and letterheads. Leaflets and 3-fold brochures.
All types of forms and newsletters. I was now a professional desktop
publisher, and no longer the unemployed photographer.
Over the years I’ve
launched into a few other careers with the help of LETS.
A few years ago I developed
an interest in web page design. And even though I tried desperately
to build my skills by learning on my own, it wasn’t until I
volunteered to take on the Web Site developer’s role for my
LETS group, that it all finally fell into place for me.
And 7 years ago I joined
a Toastmasters club to learn how to become a competent public speaker.
But it wasn’t until I began my international LETS tours that
my skills developed to a professional level.
And even though I’ve
been writing since I was 12, it was only through LETS that I found
the confidence to share my work openly, after taking writing classes
with a LETS member and publishing my stories in their newsletters.
So all in all, these LETS
experiences created a LETSaholic.
And if giving willingly
of my time and skills to people who seek my help is regarded as addictive,
then I’m proud to be a LETSaholic.
So I look at LETS
points as Christian Favours, not dollars. And I participate in LETS
trading with a Christian spirit, rather than being profit motivated.
And I accept LETS as the perfect way to improve my lifestyle, as a
supplement to my cash. And I’m grateful to LETS for giving me
the opportunity to learn, improve or perfect my skills.
And you are fortunate
that there is a LETS group in this area. It’s called LETS Niagara,
and they meet regularly in this very building. So you don’t
have to look very far to find them
LETS has been
a divine discovery for me. And it’s changed my life. I’m
sure it can do wonders for you too.
article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey
Taris web sites