Local Currencies Aren't Small Change

News from the Local Currencies in the 21st Century conference


| June 2004



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 earth.'

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 underway:

Ithaca Hours, Ithaca Health Fund, Whole Ithaca Stock Exchange