“For in this ideal place money would no longer be the sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than that of material wealth and social standing. There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole…”the mother, ‘a dream’, 1954
How to run a society without money? This challenge has been tackled time and time again in Auroville through different projects. The Free Store is one example of a cashless service, and it works brilliantly. ALOT or Auroville Library of Things was another venture, aimed at creating a library of objects that could be borrowed and returned once not used anymore. The Financial Service accounts allow for Aurovilians to travel cashless in Auroville, but we are still a jump away from being a society without money. The Aura project is one such venture to bring Auroville closer to it’s moneyless ideal.
From Scarcity to Abundance
In 2019, the Aura project was started in Auroville through a collaboration with a Korean Institute called Science Walden. This project aimed at redefining our concept of wealth, and shifting our perspective, from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
The idea was to create a circular economy structure, where underutilized resources could be recirculated around the community to instill a sense of abundance.
The team then set out to figure out what underutilized resources Auroville had to offer that could create a circular flow of wealth. After research and surveys, they came to the conclusion that the three most underutilized resources in Auroville were skills, spaces and objects. So now, how can these resources be recirculated around the community so everyone can have access to them? Auroville is lucky enough to have residents with many different skill sets, and many offer their services to the community for free. However, this is usually through word-of-mouth, and that means that a lot of people never have access to the offerings that Auroville provides – volunteers and newcomers especially. The idea of the Aura is to create an online platform for people to offer their time, skills or objects.
Offering and What It Can Mean for the Community
What can you offer on this platform? Anything! The beauty of the concept of an offering is that it can encompass a wide variety of things. People can offer their space for workshops, offer garden tools, or a cooking class. Workshops were held in Auroville to explore the concept of skills and how an offering doesn’t have to be something grand – it can be something as simple as delivering groceries to the elderly! It’s up to you and what you can offer. You can post an offer, but you can also post a need which someone in the community might be able to help you with.
The Aura Currency
But how would people give a value to their offering? One hour of massage is not the same as one hour of tree pruning, after all. This gave birth to the Aura, a digital currency that can be used on the platform, with no link to actual money. It exists solely on the Aura App.
An interesting addition to this App is that there’s a daily endowment of Aura received by every user. This was done to make sure everybody had access to what is offered on the app. But every day, you also have to share 3 of your Aura with other users on the platform. Your daily Aura depreciates in value, so it urges people to lose the concept of hoarding their Aura. You also receive Aura for the offerings that you put on the platform, but the Aura you receive from your offerings doesn’t depreciate.
The aim of the Aura App is to create a network of people within Auroville that can (and want) to help each other, aiding the circulation of resources around Auroville. The Aura is still a fledgling in Auroville, but with more people choosing to use this platform, the exchange of skills and community interaction increases every day, so that we can all enjoy the abundance that Auroville has to offer.
Would you like to know more about Aura? Follow their Instagram page here.