Y2K Generates Interest in Local Currency Concept

Concern over how the banking industry will weather the Y2K
challenge has led some communities to think about adopting local
currencies and creating resource banks.

Jacqueline Miller of Partnerships for Change in San Francisco
said: ‘People are open to these concepts now. There is incredible
interest. We are very grateful for Y2K because we are getting a lot
of phone calls about Bay Area Bucks, Bay Area Benefits and our
Resource Exchange Bank.’

Attorney Andrew Michael, who heads Partnerships for Change,
talks to groups to explain how to set up systems that tap local
resources and use a local or regional currency to reward

‘Our Resource Exchange Bank is an inventory of people
resources,’ said Miller. ‘If things break down with Y2K, we do not
have to depend on the established system but can call upon

The movement to establish community currencies was under way
before Y2K became an issue of general concern. One group, Ithaca
HOURS in Ithaca, N.Y., began in 1991, and Partnerships for Change
started up in 1993.

According to proponents, local currencies allow communities to
control their economic growth by keeping capital, and decisions for
using that capital, local. The currencies value labor in terms of
time devoted to a task.

Under the Ithaca HOURS plan, each ‘hour’ is worth $10, the
average hourly wage in the area, and can only be spent locally.

Paul Glover, founder of Ithaca HOURS, has created a Y2K Team
plan outlining how a community can respond in a worst-case
scenario. This plan has been adopted by the Ithaca community Y2K
group, of which Ithaca HOURS is a part. ‘We are printing up extra
supplies of our Ithaca HOURS. This would be distributed in the case
of severe and prolonged financial disturbance,’ he said.

According to Glover there has been growing interest in the
Ithaca HOURS web site, and one man purchased $200 in HOURS to have
on hand in case there is a disturbance in the value or availability
of dollars. To help other groups, Ithaca HOURS has developed a
hometown currency starter kit and video, available for $40 by
writing to HOUR Town, Box 6578, Ithaca, NY 14851.

According to Lewis Solomon, a professor of business law at
George Washington University Law School, such currencies are legal
provided they follow certain guidelines.

‘Local currency in paper form is legal, but coinage would not
be. Also, paper cannot be valued at less than a dollar. A state,
county or city cannot issue paper currency. It has to be done by
groups or nonprofit groups,’ Solomon said. He noted that because
local currency is a taxable exchange, ‘You have federal and state
income tax consequences.’

Solomon sees the local currency movement as a way ‘to build
community in a meaningful way. This has taken on an added impetus
with people looking ahead to Y2K. It has become a reaction against

However, Solomon cautioned, ‘To do it properly and establish a
sustainable system, it takes organizational start-up time, so
people should start planning now if they are looking at Y2K.’

Carol Brouillet, a Palo Alto, Calif., community leader said Y2K
has given immediacy to the alternative currency movement.

‘We figured that the current economic system might collapse in
five or ten years — look at what has happened in Russia, Asia,
Brazil – but Y2K has given more time pressure to the deadline. It
is an enormous straw to be put on the camel’s back,’ Brouillet

Conferences Will Discuss Local Currencies

Local currencies and community exchange networks are generating
worldwide interest, as exemplified by three upcoming

One, entitled ‘Structure and Economics With a Vision: How to
Create New Social and Economic Systems for Our Villages,’ will be
held May 15-21, in Damanhur, Italy. The second, entitled ‘Barataria
Seminar on Community Exchange Networks,’ will take place May 27-28
at the Conference Centre Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg, The
Netherlands. For information on the Damanhur conference, contact
Gazza or Cristina, 10080 Baldissero C.se (TO), Italy,
+39-124-512205; e-mail:
dhvisit@damanhur.org; web
site: http://www.damanhur.org. For information
concerning the Barataria seminar, contact Edgar Kampers or Claire
Vreeburg, Oudegracht 42, 3511 AR Utrecht, +31-30-2-314-314; fax:
+31-30-2-343-986; e-mail:
vreeburg@strohalm.nl; web
site: www.barataria.org.

Meanwhile, organizers are gearing up for the 1999 Local Currency
Conference, planned for June 11-12 at the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520
Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. Main co-sponsors are the E.F.
Schumacher Society, Ithaca HOURS, Local Economic Trading Systems,
Time Dollar Institute, Valley Trade Commission, and Open-Air Market
Net. For further information or to register, call: 510-339-3801;
fax: 510-339-3803; web site is http://cencomfut.com.

Carol Brouillet, Palo Alto, Calif., 650-857-0927; fax:
650-857-0419; e-mail:
Jacqueline Miller, Partnerships for Change, San Francisco, Calif.,
415-922-1851; web site: http://www.reb.org. Paul Glover, Ithaca HOURS,
Ithaca, N.Y., 607-272-4330, e-mail:
hours@lightlink.com; web
site: www.lightlink.com/ithacahours. Professor Lewis
Solomon, George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.,
202-994-6753; fax: 202-994-9446; e-mail:


Dave Ratcliffe’s web site on local currencies:
//www.ratical.org/many_worlds/CC/. Ithaca Y2K
group web site: www.lightlink.com/y2k. Paul Glover’s Y2K Team
proposal: www.lightlink.com/2k/y2k-team.htm.

289 Fox Farm Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301. For further information,
please call 1-800-654-NEWS or e-mail

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