Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it's now leading us around. I think it's time to figure out where we want to go -- in my opinion toward sustainability and community -- and then design a money system that gets us there.
The origin of the word "community" comes from the Latin munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, among each other. So community literally means to give among each other. Therefore I define my community as a group of people who welcome and honor my gifts, and from whom I can reasonably expect to receive gifts in return.
--Bernard Lietaer in Beyond Greed & Scarcity
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Since attending a conference (in February 1999) called the Gathering I've been increasingly fascinated Learning about community currencies and how they can help all of us actively assist in the birth of a sustainable civilization. Everyone is urged to read David Korten's magnificent new book, The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism.-- ratitor
- New Money for Healthy Communities, by Thomas H. Greco, Jr. (1994)
COMPLETE BOOK - now includes all the original images
The pinnacle of power in today's world is the power to issue money. If that power can be democratized and focused in a direction which gives social and ecological concerns top priority, then there may yet be hope for saving the world.
This magnifcent book "takes the reader well beyond the rutted road of orthodox thinking, describing in detail the essential features of equitable and dynamic exchange systems, and shows how they can be set up by voluntary local associations. It describes both past and present examples of local currencies and exchange systems, including their strengths, limitations, and errors. It then proposes innovative ways of transforming exchange, using mechanisms which are democratic, humane, ecologically sound, sustainable, and implementable at the grass-roots level."
- Money Matters: Clean Slate - an article of consequence
by Boudewijn Wegerif, May 2001
In the hereon following article I imply that "there was a call on Judaism to establish a tradition of clean slate debt cancellations and land restitution, and on the followers of Jesus to see his remonstration against the moneychangers and merchants in this light." . . . I trust that you will be left asking after reading it, as I am after having written it: What does it mean for Judaism that it failed the call and for the followers of Jesus that they did not take it up? What does it mean for our humanity and the earth if we do not all of us now together, out of all belief systems, clean slate the economy?
- Community Currencies at a Crossroads
New Ways Forward, by Tim Cohen-Mitchell
New Village Journal, Issue 2 2000(ASCII text)
From time immemorial to the Middle Ages, from the Great Depression to the inflation-riddled 1970's, communities across the globe have put their ingenuity to work in designing their own monetary systems when existing ones falter or no longer serve their needs or values.
Today, community currencies are again on the move. With the marked shift toward economic globalization and the decline in community cohesion has come a new generation of monetary systems created not by central bankers but by communities.
- Alternative Currency,
Excerpts of a Conversation between David Icke and Jon Rappoport (ASCII text)
Meyer Amschel Rothschild, the man who founded the Rothschild empire, once said very memorably, "Give me control of a nation's currency and I care not who makes the laws." Control the currency and you control the country. And what we're talking about here is actually taking back control of the units of exchange. If we can't get control immediately of the units of exchange that are being used to manipulate us, then let's create our own and let's step out of this system as best we can.
- Creating Economic Democracy with Local Currency, by Paul Glover (ASCII text)
We Print Our Own Money in Ithaca, NY, because we've seen Federal dollars come to town, shake a few hands, then leave to buy rainforest lumber and fight wars. Ithaca's HOURS, by contrast, stay in our region to help us hire each other. While dollars make us increasingly dependent on multinational corporations and bankers, HOURS reinforce community trading and expand commerce which is more accountable to our concerns for ecology and social justice. . . .
As we discover new ways to provide for each other, we replace dependence on imports. Yet our greater self-reliance, rather than isolating Ithaca, gives us more potential to reach outward with ecological export industry. We can capitalize new businesses with loans of our own cash. HOUR loans are made without interest charges. . . .
We regard Ithaca's HOURS as real money, backed by real people, real time, real skills and tools. Dollars, by contrast, are funny money, backed no longer by gold or silver but by less than nothing- $5.6 trillion of national debt.
- Money versus Wealth, by David Korten, YES!, Spring 1997 (ASCII text)
Betting on financial bubbles is only one of the lucrative games that attract players to the global finance casino. There are as well opportunities to speculate on short-term price movements, buy and sell simultaneously in different markets to profit from minute price differences, and bet on derivatives contracts. While economists have become exceedingly facile in rationalizing how such activities actually benefit society, in truth they are more accurately described as forms of legal theft by which a clever few expropriate rights to the real wealth of society while contributing more to its depletion than to its creation.
. . . The truly monumental task will be to redesign the money system to make money the servant of the creation and protection of real wealth. Among other things, corrective measures will need to:
- make speculation unprofitable;
- limit the growth of financial bubbles;
- increase incentives for cooperation among people and communities;
- reward productive work and investment;
- create a just distribution of claims to real wealth;
- provide incentives for patient and locally rooted investment in real assets; and
- strengthen the social fabric of family and community.
- Beyond Greed & Scarcity,
Bernard Lietaer and Sarah van Gelder Dialogue, YES!, Spring 1997
My forecast is that local currencies will be a major tool for social design in the 21st century, if for no other reasons than employment. . . . Local currency creates work, and I make a distinction between work and jobs. A job is what you do for a living; work is what you do because you like to do it. I expect jobs to increasingly become obsolete, but there is still an almost infinite amount of fascinating work to be done. . . .
The majority of the local currencies I know about have been started for the purpose of creating employment, but there is a growing group of people who are starting local currencies specifically to create community. . . . There are lots of people who love gardening, but who can't make a living from it in the competitive world. If a gardener is unemployed, and I'm unemployed, in the normal economy we might both starve. However with complementary currencies, he can grow my salads, which I pay for in local currency earned by providing another service to someone else.
In Ithaca, "Hours" are accepted at the farmer's market; the farmers can use the local currency to hire someone to help with the harvest or to do some repairs. Some landlords accept Hours for rent, particularly if they don't have a mortgage that must be paid in scarce dollars.
When you have local currency, it quickly becomes clear what's local and what's not. K-Mart will accept dollars only; their suppliers are in Hong Kong or Singapore or Kansas City. But Ithaca's local supermarket accepts Hours as well as dollars. By using local currencies, you create a bias toward local sustainability.
- Community Currencies: A New Tool for the 21st Century,
by Bernard A. Lietaer(ASCII text)
The three most important concerns of our contemporaries in the developed nations are remarkably convergent--unemployment, the environment, and community breakdown--and there are strong indications that these same issues will remain on top of the agenda well into the next century. Emerging technologies promise to keep unemployment a major issue, even if all Western economies get out of recession. By 2010, China will introduce as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as the entire world does today. And community breakdown is one of the most systemic, deep, and complex societal trends of the past 30 years, with no signs of any reversal.
Precisely because we will have to live with these issues for the foreseeable future, only a long-term structural approach can successfully resolve these problems. Here I show how community currencies could contribute to tackling all three problems and also permit us to "retrofit" economic motivation to desirable human behavior.
- Local Money Strengthens Communities, by David Block
In Business, JULY/AUGUST 1998(ASCII text)
The resurgence of local money flies in the face of global trends such as the consolidation of national currencies into one unit in the European Union. "Europe is catching up to the U.S., where the monetary destinies of hundreds of millions are controlled by fewer and fewer authorities," notes Paul Glover, founder of Ithaca HOURS, the local currency of Ithaca, New York. "When decisions are made by people far away with different priorities, many local economies become vulnerable. Farmers in this country, for example, have long understood that money moves from rural areas to major money centers -- with deadly effect. Local and regional money can revive deflated, discarded economies, both rural and urban."
The standardized products generated by multinational production hurt local economics and reduce people's sense of connection with a community, says Witt. "So many of our goods now are cookie cutter goods," she explains. "We don't know the story behind them. We don't know what our money is doing -- it could be invested in wheelbarrows in Brazil or paper chips in North Carolina or a shoe factory in Taiwan using toxic materials and harming workers. When you buy a local product, chances are you know the person who made it. If it's a wooden table or chair, you might even recognize the forest it came from. There's a sense of wholeness, of connection."
- Printing Money, Making Change, The Promise Of Local Currencies,
by Susan Witt Orion Afield, autumn 1998 (ASCII text)
Eventually, a nonprofit issuer could untie the local scrip from the federal dollar, establishing a local backing such as cord-wood, or a basket of commodities -- corn, soy beans, and wheat, for instance -- as was done in Exeter, New Hampshire, in the 1970s. In such a scenario, currency would retain a constant local value related to a natural resource, making visible once again the connection between the health of the local economy and the health of the land.
Such ideas might have seemed utopian until just a few years ago, when the HOURS programs and other alternative currencies began to gather momentum. Today when local-currency activists get together, there is no mistaking the positive dynamic at work. The movement has all the energy, idealism, and mobility of young adulthood -- still experimenting to find the right form, not afraid to take risks, able to alter direction as needed, and determined to change the economic system to reflect deeply held social and environmental values.
- Learning about Community Currencies
from the 1999 March Equinox ratitor's Corner
gzip'd PDF and ASCII text formats also available
- "Getting back to a barter and trade economy,
Advocates gather in California to discuss ways to keep local money from seeping into global economy", Christian Science Monitor corporation, 2/26/99
Links to Further Reading
The mission of this site is to demystify money by presenting the best leading-edge ideas on monetary and non-monetary exchange. It is a resource devoted to the advancement of economic democracy, self-determination, and global harmony.
Econ-Lets Mail List
A highly recommended source of information as the most knowledgeable people all over the world are currently subscribed. For example see the thread about a LETS Opensource Software Project.
Money Movie: a digital projection
Money Movie is a 4.5 minute long (RealPlayer) digital film. It is the first of a series of three, and has been commissioned to promote the concept and usage of community currencies in inner city Manchester. The films have been commissioned by Manchester Permaculture, in association with Psychicbread digital film makers. Money Movie features footage of Hulme, and interviews (undertaken in Manchester) of Michael Linton and Thomas Greco, two of the worlds leading thinkers in the community currency field.
open money project
This includes a LETS-style operation in Japan as well as call for participation in a formulating and implementing an open money system.
Salt Spring Island Dollars
This community of just over 10,000 boasts a wide diversity of artists, poets, authors, musicians, actors, inspirational thinkers, activists, creative entrepreneurs and humanitarians. The Salt Spring Island Dollars Project helps to put local art, commerce and goodwill into circulation.
- Strohalm for a change
New Money Systems for a Sustainable Economy
- Valuable Local Currency System
- History of money
- PDF: Sustaining Cultural Vitality in a Globalizing World: The Balinese Example, by Bernard Lietaer and Stephen DeMeulenaere, International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 30 No. 9 2003.
- International Journal of Community Currency Research
- Towards an Economy in the Hands of the People: The Tianguis Tlaloc Local Currency System in Mexico, by Luis Lopezllera-Mendez & Stephen DeMeulenaere, Vol. 4 2000
- Reinventing the Market: Alternative Currencies and Community Development in Argentina, by Stephen DeMeulenaere, Vol. 4 2000
- People-Centered Development Forum :
- The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, by David Korten, 1999
- Seeing The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, a review of the book
- YES! A Journal of Positive Futures :
- Money--Print Your Own! : (Spring, 1997)
- Economics as if Life matters : (Spring, 1999)
- Transaction Net: How Currency Systems Work (a Money Map) :
- draft of The Future of Money: Beyond Greed and Scarcity, Bernard Lietaer
- A `Green' Convertible Currency, Bernard Lietaer
- Complementary Community Currency Systems and Local Exchange Networks
- Internet Currencies for Virtual Communities, Bernard Lietaer
- The Internet and the Future of Money, Howard Rheingold
- community currencies in '99
- E.F. Schumacher Society's Local Currencies pages:
- Local Currencies: Catalysts for Sustainable Regional Economies
- Local Currency Groups in the Americas
- Monques' Debt Money, ancient meme
Excellent resource/nexus compliments of the Humane World Community, Inc.
- Ithaca HOURs Online: Local Currency in the Service of Community
- Introduction: Creating Community Economics with Local Currency
- Ithaca HOURS Currency, "Local currency is a lot of fun, and it's legal"
- Hometown Money Book and Starter Kit
- Other Hours Cities - find one near you - LARGE compendium, irreplaceable!
- Hour Town Archive: Cover Stories :
- Taking Control of Health Costs, Text by Paul Glover/Artwork by Jim Houghton, 3/99
- Who Controls the Money? In Ithaca, You Do!, by Paul Glover, 2/99
- The Multiplier Effect of Local Currency, by Monica Hargraves, 12/98
- City Hall vs. Ithaca, by Paul Glover, 10/98
- Protecting Ithaca from Computer Chaos, by Paul Glover, 8/98
- Information on Ithaca HOURs is also available in Espanol (Spanish), Deutsch (German), Francais (French), Turkce (Turkish), Suomalainen (Finnish), Svenska (Swedish), Portuguese, Nihhon-go (Japanese), and Zhong-Wen (Chinese, 100k).
- and many more!
- COMMUNITY INFORMATION RESOURCE CENTER, Thomas Greco, Director
- Proper Management of the System Trading Account in Mutual Credit and Local Currency Systems, 6/98
- Improving Local Currencies, or How To Make a Good Thing Better, 2/98
- New Money: A Creative Opportunity for Business, 1997
- Creating Community Currencies
The Difference Between Money and Real Wealth
- Time Dollar
- Millennial Goods
Sustainable Products and Services for Home, Homestead and Industry
- Global Resource Bank, the people's bank of ecosystems.
A transparent clearinghouse for a sustainable global economy.
- Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition is doing GREAT work including acting as advocates for bank accountability and promoting its Democracy Watch throughout Canada
- barter.com seeks to establish a more equitable, universal commodity-based currency
- EcoTopia/Systems, a design strategy for the new millenium, building a sustainable future
- For-Giving, A Feminist Criticism of Exchange, by Genevieve Vaughan
- Alternative Tauschkreise (LETS-Systeme), Germanic countries