Ecos are alternative currency units. Instead of a Krown, Ruble or Pound Steerling we have developed the Eco. But unlike all other currencies, they have very special exchange rates based on fairness instead of on the international money market.
Different countries have different access to wealth, often not for very positive reasons. Why should the average restaurant working in one country have one standard of living, while someone doing basically the same work in the country next door has a signifcantly lower standard (completely ignoring that some countries are too poor to have many restaurants in the first place). Most people say, "Well, this is just the way things are, and we can not do anything about it." Nonsense.
The Eco system is used by people who think this is fundamentally unfair and want to do something about it. It is an alternative currency exhange rate system which changes the buying power of someone working in Warsaw, Poland for an hour to become closer to the buying power as someone working in Berlin, Germany for an hour, when they use Eco Rates. The calculations of these eco Rates are a bit complicated (if you want more informaion about this ask Roel and of course they can not be perfect, but EYFA and other groups have been using them for almost ten years and it has made it possible for many east Europeans to participate in events which would have otherwise been financially impossible for them to be involved with. What it comes down to is the people from rich countries pay a bit more so the people from poorer countries can pay much less. That seems fair.
The way this works is at events where Ecos are accepted, you change your money for these small eco coins and then pay for things in Ecos. Or if an organization supports the Eco Rate System, then you just send them money from your country, converted using the Eco Rates. For example, if you live in the Czech Republic and you want to pay for a Fingerbook, you would send 5 Ecos (which is 30 Czech Krowns) to the Fingerbook Propaganda Project and if you lived in Germany you would also send 5 Ecos, it would be equal to 5 DM. Out in the nasty real world someone would point out that 30 Krowns is less than 2 DM, we simply ignore these people.
Below is the current set of Eco Rates. For western countries, the Eco is about currency market equivalent to 1 German Mark. For countries in the east it is much more complex. Eco rates have not yet been calcualted for poorer countries outside of Europe.
Absolutely. The Eco Rate system depends on trust amongst the people who are involded in it. An example of cheating will help you to understand it. Say you are at a party where there is a bar which is charging Eco Rates. If you are from the Netherlands and your friend is from Russia, you could give her a couple of Dutch Guilders and she could by your beers for her Ruble rate Ecos, which would make it cheaper for you and cheaper for her - everyone wins, right? Wrong. The people who are selling the beer know that they are vulnerable to this kind of cheating. But they open themselves up to it because they think it is important to make the event financially accessible to people from poorer countries. Obviously if there is a lot of cheating they will stop doing this and the idea will just die. If you want to steal from someone, why don't you do it from someone who is not trying to do good things and trust in people.
EYFA stands for European Youth For Action. It is a network of people working on projects to make the world a better place. Issues range from sustainable living, to protecting forests, to alternative local economies, to electronic mail, to problems of traffic.
The second most clever thing that EYFA does (after promoting and maintaining the Eco Rates System) is organize Ecotopia each year. This summer ecological action camp is our attempt to live the dream, where a sustainable, culturally rich and fun lifestyle inspires and energizes activists and organizers from across Europe and around the world. For more information, look at the Ecotopia pages of EYFA.
The Post Address for the EYFA International Office is:
Post Box 12345
7000 XX Amsterdam
if you have more questions about EFYA write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or have a look on EYFA's WebSite: http://www.antenna.nl/eyfa/