Transition Town Media is hosting an evening event at the end of November to highlight local currencies and their effects on a local, thriving economy. Media is ripe for such a currency; the Timebank (a form of alternate currency) is thriving. A printed currency, one that can only be spent in local stores for locally made goods/services, can only help our surrounding areas thrive. A local currency puts a face and often a name and reputation behind the transactions that we so take for granted in our modern economic model. Now, we pay for things with cash, and think little as to where, when, and by whom the object was made. There is no gratitude exchanged, only the good or service itself. Payment for service rendered is also shorn from the act of thanking the person who provided the work; payment is enough. So often, not even a smile is exchanged, and the person providing the service or goods remains nameless.
Local currencies, of all shapes and sizes, makes an attempt to return our economic transactions to interactions, one to one, with real people — people who are our neighbors and quite possibly friends. In this way, value is added to the transaction, a value for which there is no real dollar equivalent. This type of value is often seen as the thing missing from an economy that is run by greed and opportunism. Where there is no face to an exchange — where money is exchanged in the “aether” of electronic banking or behind the vaulted doors of a corporation — there is no immediate face to the consequences of the greed, which is the lack of gratitude writ large. Is this not, in large measure, what the Occupy Wall Street protests are about?
Back to our local currency night… How do we restore gratitude to our economic transactions? Can we put a face to locally produced goods and services? Other communities have done it, and we are devoting a night to the enterprise. Nick Kacher, from the New Economics Institute, a institution that was instrumental in the formation of Berkshire Bucks in western Massachusetts, will be coming to our colloquium. We are also grateful to Paul Glover, the founder of Ithaca Hours, for his presence and experience. Both of these speakers will provide fresh and valuable insight into the whys and hows of implementing a local currency. We are also expecting attendees from several different local currency initiatives in the Philadelphia area. We will have snacks to share, books for sale, and conversation a plenty. Please come and add your voice to the discussion.