What are Regional/Local/Community Currencies?
Community currencies can take various forms, including physical currency, digital currency, and time banks. Physical currency is similar to traditional cash and can be used to purchase goods and services within the community. Digital currency is similar to traditional electronic money, but it is only accepted within the specific community or area where it was created. Time banks are systems where people can exchange skills and services with one another without using money.
One of the primary benefits of community currencies is that they encourage local economic activity. By creating a currency that can only be used within a specific community, businesses and consumers are encouraged to support each other and keep their money within the community. This can help to create a self-sustaining local economy and strengthen the sense of community.
Another benefit of community currencies is that they can promote social and environmental sustainability. Community currencies often have social and environmental goals built into their design, such as promoting local food production or reducing carbon emissions. By incentivizing behavior that is consistent with these goals, community currencies can help to create a more sustainable and equitable future.
Despite their benefits, community currencies face several challenges. One of the biggest challenges is scalability, as community currencies are often only accepted within a specific community or geographic area. Another challenge is the lack of government support, as community currencies are not backed by a government and do not have a fixed exchange rate with other currencies.
Community currencies can be described simply as special play money that is used just in someone's neighborhood or community. Imagine that you and your friends have a special type of play money that you use when you play together in your neighborhood. This special play money is like community currencies. Community currencies are a type of currency that is used only within a specific community or area. They are used as a way to support local businesses and encourage spending within the community. For example, a community currency might be used to buy goods or services from local shops or to pay for local services, like lawn care or pet-sitting. It's like having a special play money that you can use when you play with your friends in your neighborhood, but it's only for use in your community, not outside of it.
History of the Terms "Regional/Local/Community Currencies"
For centuries, the concept of alternative currencies utilized within specific communities or regions has been evident, with historical instances such as wartime scrip and community exchange networks like LETS systems. The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw increased attention to these concepts, with various terms like "local exchange trading systems," "community currencies," "alternative complementary currencies," and "regional currencies" being employed by different communities and organizations. The term "RLCCs" likely organically emerged within the movement advocating for these alternative currencies, facilitated by discussions in online forums, conferences, and publications. Its adoption reflects a collaborative effort within the community, with no single individual or organization definitively coining the term.
Ithaca Hours: Ithaca Hours is a local currency system that was established in 1991 in Ithaca, New York. The currency is designed to support the local economy by keeping money circulating within the community and promoting local trade. Businesses in Ithaca accept Ithaca Hours as payment for goods and services, and the currency can also be traded between individuals. The currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, and one Ithaca Hour is equal to one U.S. dollar. The currency is used by thousands of people in the Ithaca area and has helped to build a strong sense of community and support for local businesses.
BerkShares: BerkShares is a local currency system that was established in 2006 in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts. The currency is designed to support the local economy by promoting local trade and keeping money circulating within the community. BerkShares can be used at over 400 participating businesses in the Berkshires, and the currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, with one BerkShare equal to one U.S. dollar. BerkShares have become an important part of the local economy and have helped to support local businesses and build a sense of community.
Brixton Pound: The Brixton Pound is a local currency system that was established in 2009 in the London neighborhood of Brixton. The currency is designed to support the local economy by promoting local trade and keeping money circulating within the community. The Brixton Pound can be used at over 100 participating businesses in the Brixton area, and the currency is pegged to the British pound, with one Brixton Pound equal to one British pound. The currency has become an important part of the local economy and has helped to support local businesses and build a sense of community in the Brixton area.