Cornwall peaches art prints

Peaches Art Prints

Local currencies work a bit like gift vouchers. You visit the shops to buy them, then use them to support indie shops and businesses, receiving your change in sterling (coins or bank notes). As well as offering a way to support local communities, most present local currencies retain the charm of using ‘paper money’ but without the plastic and animal fat content of Bank of England notes.

Used for hundreds of years (the first local currency was bead money in Papua New Guinea), local currencies don’t affect inflation, as for every pound put into the community, another sterling pound is taken out. And modern visionary economics are not obsessed with inflation anyway, preferring to put ‘people before profits:

Women overwhelmingly carry the load of the economic chaos and social misery caused by thet present money system. In the new money system we abolish interest and inflation, thereby reducing the prices of all goods and services, as well as taxes by about 40%. The historic opportunity now is to present an interest-free economy as a third type of solution which is to be found neither in communism nor in capitalism, but transcends both. Margrit Kennedy

Local currencies exist in a few towns (namely Lewes that brought back a currency that was used hundreds of years ago) and Brixton (where a modern pay-by-text system lets people use local currencies to pay for goods by phone, at markets). England’s most successful currency was the Bristol Pound (even the mayor took his salary in it) but it alas did not last (and Exeter tried to launch a similar one, which lasted not very long at all).

Critics said local currencies were ‘economic insanity’ not seeming to realise that the point of a local currency is not really about ‘money’ but about supporting local communities against ‘big money and business’. But other local pounds (Stroud, Totnes, Lake District) have all gone to the wall, despite great fanfare on launch.

a local currency from a Canadian island

Local currencies for some reason have worked better abroad. New York State’s Ithaca Hours are thriving, as are Saltspring Dollars, beautifully illustrated paper notes for a ‘resilient island’ that supports local communities and have been thriving for years. Designed to the same dimensions as Canadian dollars, they are easily bundled in counting machines and feature advanced anti-counterfeiting techniques with nostalgic artist-designed prints.

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