Residents explore launching local currency

University Heights Depression-era $10 note. Many municipatlites issued and circulated their own local "scrip" to stimulate business and employment

“This would meet many of our needs!” That was the sentiment of one of 30-plus attendees at a meeting to discuss community currency and exchange systems in the Heights. The Jan. 20 meeting, sponsored by FutureHeights and the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, addressed how a local complementary currency could help both area residents and small businesses who may be short on dollars but plentiful in goods, services or time. A community currency is a tool to facilitate exchanges of goods or services that otherwise wouldn’t take place.

A presentation outlined the history and nature of money, limits and problems of the dollar-based economy, benefits of a complementary “money” system, and several models of community currency and exchange systems, such as barter, the HOURS and BerkShare forms of paper currencies, and the Time Bank and Local Economic Trading Systems (LETS) forms of mutual credit systems.

Printed and circulated local scrip or currencies existed in hundreds of communities - 29 in Ohio alone - during the Great Depression. They were used to stimulate business, employment and trading. These scrips were issued by municipalities, school boards and, in some cases, businesses.

The group agreed to take three to six months to publicly explore launching a complementary local currency system. The next meeting, open to anyone interested, will take place Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Activity Center of the Lee Road Library, 2345 Lee Road.

Greg Coleridge is director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee.

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 2:12 PM, 01.23.2010