Local Currencies Aren't Small Change
News from the Local Currencies in the 21st Century conference
Most people don't think much about money beyond the fact that it
seems to leave their wallet quickly. This weekend, upwards of 300
top economic thinkers gathered to discuss how to make money into a
tool for social justice, community development, and economic and
environmental stability through the use of local currencies.
The Local Currencies in the 21st Century conference, put on by
the E. F. Schumacher Society, brought together 'a group of
extraordinary people who are re-inventing money,' said conference
organizer Chris Lindstrom. The reinvention is taking place in the
field of complimentary or local currencies that work at local and
regional scales to build sustainable communities.
As keynote speaker Margrit Kennedy -- who has written and
lectured extensively on the topic -- said, 'Money can be made to
serve rather than to rule, to be used -- rather than
profit-oriented -- and to create abundance, stability, and
sustainability.' She said that while 'money is one of the most
ingenious inventions of mankind' it has 'the potential to be the
most destructive or most creative.'
As speaker Christopher Bamford, editor in chief of SteinerBooks,
put it, money should 'empower people to care for each other and the
From Ithaca Hours to the Time Dollar to the Local Exchange
Trading System (LETS), dozens of local currency systems are already
being used throughout the world alongside a national currency. Many
attempts have been successful in changing the value and use of
money. Here are examples of some of the projects already
Ithaca Hours, Ithaca Health Fund, Whole Ithaca Stock
Paul Glover started Ithaca Hours -- denominated in hours of
labor -- in 1991, distributing the notes to local businesses
willing to accept them for goods and services. For instance, local
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms accept Hours for
produce, some doctors accept them for care, and some stores accept
Hours for goods.
Glover said, 'When I started Ithaca Hours I thought it would be
illegal but it wasn't. It's too bad, the supposed illegality was
part of the fun.'
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