What are alternative/local/complementary currencies and how can we make them happen

Session I: 11:00-12:30

Convener: Adam King

Convener email: king@cs.fairfield.edu

Adam King
Zaac Chavez
Meg Rudne
Terry Halwes
Kimberly Breed
Bernard Brennen
Laine Harris
Randy Domina
Greg Catalano

Our working group had great spirit and many ideas. We quickly realized that we could go on with this topic for months and we hope to do so. However, we ended up focusing on the first part of our question. We talked about the concepts and issues behind currencies. We decided to continue today in a session III where we will address more practical issues regarding starting currencies in our community. In this document we will cover some of the major points that were raised. (great big thanks to Meg for taking great notes during the meeting).

Discussion and Recommendations

1) How does the topic relate to our question du jour
It is impossible to discuss our failing economy without addressing the monetary system. Money is the primary medium in our society for making decisions on what we do. It is imperative for us top rethink the centralized, scarce, non-democratic, and unfair system that is in place. Local currencies and democratic currencies will insure that WE THE PEOPLE get what WE WANT. Not what THEY apparently want (wars, disparity between rich and poor, people in debtor’s prison, etc..) Go people!

2) Description of our discussion

We talked a lot about the nature of money. Here are some of the questions and concepts that came up.

- What gives money value?

- People think the US dollar has value, although it has no inherent value

- How do we use money — is it working for us (no!)

- How can we take it back — bring it under democratic control?

- How can we keep money within our community & strengthen our local economy

- Our current federal monetary system is unfair, undemocratic, and destroying communities.

- None of us have enough money. Why not? Why is money so scarce?

- Our current monetary system has gotten us this far, however, it is no longer sustainable.

- How can we transition to a new form of money?

- Money can be viewed as a conversation. What are we trying to say?

- What is the difference between positive interest and negative interest (demurrage).

- Different rules lead to different outcomes. For example, demurrage leads to rapid circulation.

- How do the issues of geographical location and proximity play into how our money works

- How do we generate the possibility of more free exchange

- How does it help to think of money as an information system, where the value comes from US and the agreements made between US. Ultimately, can wealth come from anywhere other than ourselves?

- How does the "growth imperative" drive our current economy and how can we use alternative currencies to combat this exponential growth that is not sustainable on a finite planet?

What are some alternative currencies?

- Let system (Michael Linton of Canada, Riegel and the valun system)

- Dollar can be used as a metric, exchange of units, no inflation

- There doesn’t have to be ONE money system: a diversity of monies with overlapping is the way to go!

Random Stuff

- Track what we have done for each other and the concept of debt disappears

- Can we expand our notion of wealth

- We have limited ideas of ways to use our money because it’s so scarce

- With our scarce money system, we have mimicked the use of commodities and commodity money. Money does not have to be scarce, it should be when & where it’s needed!

- Wealth is effort in exchange for value.

- Money is a conversation.

- How do you create & manage a conversation for wealth/currency, currency as means for exchange of time & distance, informed consumerism.

- we have to be willing to have this conversation, to address our concerns, as communities to decide what we value, what we want, and how we’re going to activate wealth that is inherent and latent in our community

- How do we stimulate the local economy by raising our consciousness about how we do business?

- Legal tender law: if you owe a debt, you are allowed to pay them with US dollars, however we can transact in an alternate system.

- Money economy is in serious jeopardy (book Limits to Growth), exponential functions are not sustainable in a finite world


Come up with a set of criteria for currency

Educate ourselves about currency (we’re ignorant about our monetary system)

Start a resource list: websites, groups, books to read

Network systems allow us to exchange things in other ways, set up system where we keep track of our exchanges

Talk to people who could help make it happen or start printing it,

Approach local credit unions & local banks

Have conversations, go to senior representatives

Ask if they would you like to print their own money?

Someone is going to do this here, it could be YOU

Now we have the internet:do we need to quantify value anymore, we can communicate qualitative information instead


1. Taxes
2. Build in ways of trying these currencies out and connecting about how it’s going. How do we allow these currencies to modify themselves on the fly or at an interval
3. What resources and infrastructure do we need? Money, legal advice, etc?
4. What are the steps for establishing local currency?
5. What is the community that wants to use this currency? (Localness may or may not)
6. How do we develop an economic system that isn’t going to be worth nothing after a crash
7. Will we be able to maintain our currency when the legal currency collapses?
8. How will we set the rules to set a situation of abundance instead of scarcity — one not based on debt.
9. How many currencies should we start with.
10. How can we make our currencies benefit the local transition economy?
12. When a local currency comes into being, how is it issued such that it has value?
3) Action Items
We decided to treat this session as primarily one of information gathering and idea exchange. We did plan to reconvene is some for or another in the third session to discuss more proactical and implementation oriented issues.

4) Links & Resources
Community Way: design involving businesses, people, & charities - currency
ShareHaven.org: Greater New Haven Time Share
Greg Catalano (Computer Programming) greg@it-all.com
more to come…

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