As the financial system falters, some Greeks are turning to alternative currencies

What do you do when your country is thrown into financial chaos? After all, you still have your resources, your skills, and your neighbors. As cash is increasingly short supply, some Greeks are creating local currencies, and finding their social support system is stronger than they ever knew.

The Guardian is reporting on one such alternative currency, Tems, or Local Alternative Units. This particular network is 18 months old and 800 people strong, and still growing. And, according to founding member Maria Choupis, it's just one of roughly 15 such local currency networks around the country.

Tems isn't about accumulating wealth; you can't hold more than 1,200 units or owe more than 300. Instead, the system is about neighbors providing goods and services for one another. Many of the Tems members report that they enjoy using the alternative currency, and that it has helped them form more intimate social relationships with the people they interact with.

A nice feature of the currency is that, even if you don't possess a resource or a special skill, participants can bake cakes or provide babysitting services for their Tems. With so many fictional stories about how people will turn on one another in the event of a collapse, it's great to see a real-life example of folks who band together to make things work during tough times. It will be interesting to see if these alternative currencies continue to grow, or if they end up being a short-term solution.

Top photo by Images_of_Money.

Greece on the breadline: cashless currency takes off [The Guardian via reddit]