Blog by Jenny Grinlington
In the 1970's the Nimbin community decided that being prey to the capitalists was not their "scene".
In this video recorded in ABC Open's Age of Aquarius video Graham Irvine explains how they experimented with an alternative system.
Creating your own financial system felt perfectly natural for the hippy community. At the Aquarius Festival in 1973 organisers created their own currency for the event.
They were called Nimbin Dollars.
During the construction phase of the Festival, people would drive trucks to Brisbane to buy fruit and vegetables. The Nimbin dollars earned on-site would then be used to purchase the produce and services they needed.
Bucking the established system this way was later developed into the LETS scheme, (Local Energy Trading System), an international movement in the early 1980's. This "LETS" scheme was in use in Nimbin from 1992.
In this video Graham Irvine explains how he and the community of Nimbin took this initiative a step further.
Hearing Graham's story, I was reminded of my participation in the LETS scheme in Melbourne in the 1990's, and how damn sensible it seemed at the time.
However it does require a community of people, like-minded and prepared to work outside the norm.
For me, this story also evoked a nostalgia for a past that was less capitalist-focused, more people-oriented, and built on human energy exchange, not wealth accumulation.
This video is part of a special series created in the Age of Aquarius video booth where ABC Open North Coast and a crew of volunteers assisted the Nimbin community to record oral histories of the 1973 Aquarius Festival and its legacy.
Music: Cool Vibes by Kevin MacLeod. Royalty free. Sourced from SoundCloud.
B&W photos of 1973 Aquarius Festival at Nimbin by harryws20, Flickr. With thanks.