A decade has passed since James Tarris published his book 'The LETSaholic Twist'.
So, where is the LETSholic now?
I caught up with Tarris at the beginning of this year to find out what he has been up to.
What are you up to these days?
On September 8  I arrived in Athens, Greece, the country of my birth.
After growing up in Australia, and spending the past 10 years in China, I finally decided to go back home and become a European. I look forward to getting my Greek ID card so I can roam freely throughout the European Union as a local. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic red-tape in Greece is unbelievably strict and, what I believed would be a routine 30-day procedure, has already taken 4 months, with another 3-4 months of drama expected ahead of me (if I’m lucky).
How did you come up with the term LETSaholic?
I wrote 'The LETSaholic Twist' after I completed my 400-Day LETS tour of the world. After being totally absorbed in LETS, and all things LETS, for such a long time, I could only describe my crazy journey as an addiction… much like that of an alcoholic or workaholic. So why not… a LETSaholic!
What inspired you to write a book and become an advocate for LETS on an international level?
In 2001, I was invited to be a speaker at the Victorian National LETS Convention. When I asked what topic the organisers wanted me to talk about, I was told that that was completely up to me.
Unfortunately, when I began my research of International LETS groups, I couldn’t find a website that had information, or links, to the hundreds of groups around the world. That’s what motivated me to create LETS-Linkup.com. Once the word got out about what I wanted LETS-Linkup to do, I got an immediate response, and the LETS groups listed grew very quickly from 20, to 100, to over 1500.
However, for me, LETS-Linkup became so much more than just an International LETS Directory. As I began to enter the various groups and their information, I quickly realised that every group seemed to have their own way of doing things. And this just made me want to know more about these LETS groups and their experiences.
So after the convention, from 2002-2004, I went on several International LETS tours. My approach was simple: I’ll come to visit your LETS group (at my expense), and share my experiences with you, if you can host me (offer food, accommodation, Internet access) for about a week. I gave my first presentation in Bristol, England, in August 2002, and polished that presentation over the next 2 years. Basically, The LETSaholic Twist is the presentation I gave to my LETS audiences during that time.
What are your thoughts about the future of LETS?
As long as people are struggling to make ends meet, LETS will always have a future in society. And what’s more, it’s been pleasantly reassuring to see many countries openly supporting LETS in their communities. The only thing I’d like to emphasize is that members should take ownership of their LETS groups and not rely on government support to make it operational (though they shouldn’t knock it back if it’s offered).
Lastly, what is in the future for you?
Well, I’ve had my “10-year stint” in China, and now I’m looking forward to getting to know my neighbours in Europe. I’m sure that LETS will be an ideal way to connect with these countries again. So, maybe another European LETS tour?
To find out more about James Tarris, check out his website: www.jamestaris.com.