Think local, spend local – currency that is


Looking for an answer to US economic recovery?

Many local communities believe that they have found a small solution. Ever heard of the BerkShare, the Ithaca Hour, the Pittsboro Plenty, or the Phoenix Bux? They are “complementary” currencies developed in the Berkshires (western Massachusetts); Ithaca, New York; Pittsboro, North Carolina; and Phoenix, Arizona, to name a few. There are nearly 100 US communities experimenting with local or alternative currency, also known as scrip. It’s real and it’s legal – as long as it doesn’t look like the US dollar and no coins are pressed.

Why develop local currency?

  • Belief that the use of a national, single-system currency creates economic, social, and environmental problems;
  • Belief that local currencies improve and strengthen regional communities economically, socially and politically;
  • Belief that decentralized money would shift power back to the communities, reducing the power of national government.

Some history:

  • Scrip proliferated in America during the great depression.
  • The Ithaca Hour is the oldest and largest local currency system in the United States still in operation. It was started by Paul Glover. On October 19, 1991, the first Hour was used to buy a samosa.
  • The BerkShare launched in September 2006 and is used at approximately 400 local businesses.
  • The Phoenix Bux token launched on July 4, 2009

Critics object that most local currency experiments quickly fail. The most successful ones never displace local use of national currency. Also, enthusiasts sometimes adopt a hard-line attitude, “If you’re not with us, you’re dead to us.”  So much for community.

Don’t like the US Dollar and its implications, go ahead – create a local currency. Naming anyone? The New York City Apple? The Philadelphia Yo?

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