UPDATE: USA Today's reporting on local currencies gives the impression that this is a NEW phenomenon born from the recession. Rather, many of these programs have existed for some time. The organization that runs BerkShares, told Huffington Post that it has been producing currency since 2006, well before the financial crisis dominated headlines. Ithaca Hours have been in production since 1991. Despite the fact that these currencies have existed - a point USA Today should update - there is a growing interest in currency production for communities hit by the recession. New currencies, like the Detroit Cheers are coming into play.
Read the article from USA Today on local currencies.
A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.
Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.
Do you know of other local currencies that have been circulated in response to the recession? Are you part of a community that has been using local currencies? Is there more of an interest in your local currency now more than ever? If so, send photos of your local money to firstname.lastname@example.org an explanation of who started the currency and how successful it has been. If you regularly spend your local currency, tell us how it has affected your purchasing habits and your local businesses.
Keep reading for more info on local currencies: The Detroit News expands on the movement, with an article on its local currency, "Detroit Cheers," which was re-born from the Depression era push to create currencies.
A Detroit trio of small-business owners are reviving the idea, following an emerging national trend. The businesses are creating a currency called Detroit Cheers, and more than a dozen city merchants have already agreed to accept it as real money. "The world is just now reeling from economic chaos; in Detroit, that's how we always roll," said Jerry Belanger, 49, a backer of the currency, as he watched the initial run of Cheers bills roll off the presses last week....
Detroit Cheers joins an estimated 75 local currency systems that have sprung up recently in the U.S., said Michael Shuman, author of "The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition."
Below is a slideshow of some of the local currencies out there:
If you want to know more about how a local currency works, check out the fact sheet on BerkShares, a currency that is now being used in Massachusetts. Below is an excerpt on how the money helps the economy there:
How do BerkShares benefit the local economy?
Everyone benefits from using BerkShares. Consumers benefit from receving a 10% discount on purchases. Businesses benefit from increased patronage. Local non-profit organizations can also benefit by purchasing BerkShares at the 5% discount rate and selling them at full face value to their supporters.
It will take citizens working in their own communities, region by region, to create the kind of systemic change that will lead to sustainable economic practices--practices that foster ecologically responsible production of goods and a more equitable distribution of wealth. Local currencies are a tool to bring about such change. BerkShares are about building community while building the local economy.