Thursday, February 25, 2010

Towns Printing Their Own Currency

Towns like Lenox, MA, Ithaca, NY and Burlington, VT are issuing their own legal tender as a way of emphasizing that money needs to stay within a town’s borders.  In Lenox, residents are shopping for goods and services with what they call “Berkshares.” 
“It used to be I could trade you 10 of my chickens in return for your help building my fence, and no one thought anything about it,” says Andrew Webster, a project manager at Coldham & Hartman Architects and the primary organizer of the Public Forum. “Within cities like Lenox or Ithaca, this legal tender accomplishes the same thing – you just don’t have to walk around with ten chickens under your arm.”

      A chicken in every pot. Hold that thought because this thinking will be bring us back to 'the good old days' meaning growing our own food, fueling our own caves, and healing our own sick with back wood's remedies.  Vermont is in the process of closing the Yankee Power Plant by not renewing their lease for twenty more years.
I was under the impression that even this president was realizing that we need nuclear power plants as a source of future energy. Maybe we would be better suited to work with this one instead of just closing it and losing 600 more jobs!

Webster adds, “But, seriously, this has an important purpose.  Americans are sick of money leaving their communities. What does a big box store like Walmart give back to residents?   (jobs for one?)  The overwhelming majority of that money goes streaming into corporate coffers.  Lenox’s use of “Berkshares” ensures that commerce (and the benefits of commerce) stay local, and that our natural resources are not abused in order to bring goods and services into town from hundreds – if not thousands – of miles away.”
Perhaps you’re wondering, “isn’t against the law for an entity other than the US government to print legal tender?”  It’s not as cut and dried as you might think.


  1. Going this route is a slippery slope. First it's Berkshares. Next they go to armed militias to close the township borders. Ultimately, they start to closely resemble the Branch Davidian compound.

    'No man is an island' can be taken in many different contexts. To try and keep commerce within its town borders will just isolate this community and diminish the quality of life of their inhabitants.

  2. And we know who knocked on the door of the Branch Dividians

  3. This really isn't any different from the script that mine companies (and others) used to pay their employees. It was used in the company stores and other businesses around town.

    My Dad was paid in script in the late '50s when the local bank ran out of $10bills for the mine payroll. The company paid off in script that could be redeemed at the bank or through local businesses.

    There are plenty of historical precedents for this and I completely fail to see how this would turn anything into a wild-eyed militia.

  4. That's funny Fredd! People aren't stupid, they know you can't buy everything you need within a 30 mile radius of your home! There are no flat screen TVs or laptops build in my town. Community currency is a tool to bring more shoppers into local stores and not big chains like Wal-Mart. Local currency works alongside the national currency, it DOES NOT replace it or compete with the USD ! LOL. It's a tool to build a stronger local economy. Keep in mind one thing, Wal-Mart delivers all of its goods to its stores via trucks, if gas goes to $20 a gallon, where you going to shop? It's good to have some local production of essential items.

    It's really funny that more and more people who read about local currency for the first, in a quick Internet minute, seem to connect the dots on everything from tax evasion to cults, please learn more before jumping to conclusions. There are dozens of successful CCs in the US and Canada, not to mention the UK, Brazil etc.

    Mark Herpel
    editor Community Currency Magazine


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