Spotlight: The Bank of Real Solutions

New Zealand has felt the pinch of economic crisis much as other countries have done, and, with necessity the mother of invention, a small group of enterprising Kiwis have invested time in banking some real solutions.

Originating from a proposal at a national Transition Towns forum on Waiheke island in March 2009, the Bank of Real Solutions was brought to life as a collaborative partnership between Transition Towns and the Anew NZ Trust. The core aim of the Bank is to shine a spotlight on already existing working models that are being used to overcome economic, social and environmental challenges.

Unlike our dominant financial operating system, the Bank of Real Solutions takes a holistic approach, focusing on economic alternatives that make our households, neighbourhoods, regions – even nations – more resilient, vibrant, healthier, happier, and more connected.

The Bank of Real Solutions was placed in the context of economic crisis by co-founder Laurence Boomert in his recent appearance on Peak Moment TV alongside finance analyst Nicole Foss. In the first part, Boomert highlights some of the Bank’s success stories, explaining that “if we didn’t have crisis, we wouldn’t change”, as he details how his home town of Golden Bay made use of alternative currencies to keep educational programs going when these programs faced the chop due to government austerity measures. Boomert also addresses the question of how to cooperate and build a collaborative culture now – before the going gets really tough. Local currencies, barter cards and time banks are presented not only as effective alternatives in the face of financial collapse, but also as a means of empowering enterprise and innovation. Such alternatives enable people to share space, resources and time, while inspiring outside-the-box collaborations that enhance wellbeing and community connection.

Inspiration is abundant in the success stories of individuals and communities throughout New Zealand whose models are worth emulating. The resilience modeled takes the form of more conservative use of resources, reduction in financial overheads, restoration of ecosystems, job creation, and enhanced self-determination. There is no need to reinvent the wheel with off-the-shelf systems available for plug-and-play in the Bank of Real Solutions. With the trial-and-error stages already dealt with, models exhibited in the Bank of Real Solutions can be learnt from, replicated, and built upon by can-do people with creative determination to overcome their challenges.

Although the Bank of Real Solutions is based in New Zealand, and primarily focused on the small island nation, it is inevitable that its reach will extend, presenting the humble region as a local solutions hub for global problems.

One great incentive posed by the Bank of Real Solutions is the opportunity for each success story featured on the site to win $1,000 to help develop their project. Initiatives focused on real solutions are thus rewarded for their efforts in practical ways that enable greater reach and enhance success to help more people.

To learn more about The Bank of Real Solutions, visit their website at: www.realsolutions.org.nz

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