We CAN: Porirua's Cannons Creek gets its own wellbeing currency

A new currency is being trialled in Poriruas Cannons Creek aimed at improving community wellbeing.
The brainchild of not-for-profit organisation The Wellbeing Protocol, Cannon Coin (CAN) is being trialled in a six-week pilot programme developed in partnership with Wesley Community Action.

The pilot has seen local participants issued 50 CAN to spend on fruit and vegetables at the Hauora Kai Co-Op, use them to trade among themselves, or to put towards community initiatives they want to see realised, all using a digital wallet on their smartphone.

Ross Giblin/Stuff
The Wellbeing Protocol developer Benjamin Alder with the Cannon Coin app which allows Cannons Creek participants to trade, purchase items or put towards community initiatives.

Community liaison Lisa Tagaloa said one of the most attractive aspects of the project was that all the money remained in the Cannons Creek community.

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If we can keep having those personal interactions, as well as the shops and the big projects that the community fund, then thats exciting because the community get power over that. They get to say what happens to that money they do, not somebody else, Tagaloa said.

The app made it easier for people to keep track of their spending, a task more difficult when dealing solely with cash, she added. Almost 30 people had signed up, with the goal to attract 50 to the pilot programme.

At present, the co-op is the only organisation selling products using the CAN, however The Wellbeing Protocol developer Benjamin Alder hoped more local businesses would come on board to participate in the micro-economy.

The way we explain it to people is that if you take a note, and put it in your phone, its essentially the same thing. It enables people to transact. The app is like trading cash to other people ... its similar to online shopping. You click on the shop and the item and then click buy, Alder said.

Ross Giblin/Stuff
Lynda Pine, left and Ashleigh Crawshaw at Haoura Kai Co-Op at Wesley House after using the digital wallet to buy a fruit and vegetable box.

Because it is built on a digital platform, the concept will be able to be replicated to other places at little cost, with interest already being received from other Wellington communities, as well as Raglan.

The CAN economy is a reserve-backed economy, meaning that for each CAN minted, NZD$1 is held in a bank account. Anyone who donates to the project through its crowdfunding page will see the same value minted in CAN (for example, NZ$100 = CAN 100).

The unique part about the app is that people outside the community are able to donate to our crowdfunding campaign to stimulate the economy, to give the community more resource to fund wellbeing projects, Alder said.

A small group from the community will come together and award CANs from the community fund based on the most popular wellbeing projects. Those CANs can be used to make their projects come to life.

Tagaloa had a strong belief the pilot would be a success story for Cannons Creek, particularly because Wesley Community Action was involved and already knew everyone in the community.

Its taking the usual top-down model of government, social services and the community [which] creates a dependency cycle because of the way it works, to technology, social services and community where its about innovation and growing together, because each group works together.

Theres strength in that model already .... its exciting. Once you learn how to do it, you can see the potential in terms of what you can do with it. Its like the skys the limit, really, Tagaloa said.

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