Asheville Currency project seeks alternative money

One day soon, perhaps by next fall, you'll be able to walk into a store and make a purchase with cash that's unique to Asheville.

At least, that is, if the Asheville Currency Project has its way. The local group is researching ways to make a local tender work for the city and its businesses.

"We're still in the research and development phase; we're organizing," project spokesperson Amy Hamilton told Xpress. "If everything goes well, we can move forward to designing the currency and it might be out as soon as next fall."

Some of the benefits of local currencies, she said, include keeping trade within the community and encouraging the development of local businesses.

"It's a huge help with buying local, because those are the only businesses that will accept [local currency]," Hamilton said. "It's important to develop these alternatives, because the financial system we depend on is systemically unsustainable and local communities need to be resilient to the shocks it can create."

Currently, in addition to local volunteers, the project has three UNCA interns helping to gather data and research about how a local currency would work in Asheville. There are obstacles, she acknowledged, including ensuring that enough local businesses, of enough types, accept the currency.

"It's a problem, for example, if you have 50 businesses but they're all cafes," she said. "Where is the cafe going to spend that?"

But she notes that there are an estimated 4,000 local currencies worldwide — even though they are "all too often dismissed as a fringe project."

Asheville already has one version of local currency — the Local Exchange Trading System —where members provide goods or services that gets them credits that can be used with any other business or individual in the system. Hamilton says that the currency project and LETS are cooperating and if the project decides to push for a paper currency, will try to do so in a way that complements LETS.

The currency project is looking forward to the help of Thomas Greco, a local currency expert who will be giving a talk at Firestorm Cafe and Books on Sept. 29. Greco is an economist and author of several books on the topic. "He's a font of knowledge and information," Hamilton asserted. "He's got a lot of experience and can give a real boost around here."


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6 thoughts on “Asheville Currency project seeks alternative money

  1. John B

    Thank You David Forbes!!!!! Too long has the media ignored this issue. As folks wake up and realize it was Fed monetary policy that allowed the current crisis, local and private currencies will be looked at more and more as a viable alternatives.

  2. Patrick Beeson

    This may be common sense to a college student, but I hope they’re looking to “currency” used for buying games on services like Xbox Live and the Wii Marketplace. Those are thriving and consist of converting your cash to points or credits.

    Also, I believe Lawrence, KA tried this a while back. I’m not sure if the program is still in existence, but it seemed to be successful for some

  3. Jct: Make sure to link your $10 note to time like the Ithaca Hour $10 note. When local currencies are pegged to the Time Standard of Money (how many dollars/hour volunteer labor), Hours earned locally can be intertraded with other timebanks globally! In 1999, I paid for 39/40 nights in Europe with an IOU for a night back in Canada worth 5 Hours.
    U.N. Millennium Declaration UNILETS Resolution C6 to governments is for a time-based currency to restructure the global financial architecture.
    See my kingofthepaupers youtube channel

  4. Mark Herpel

    Local currency trading is very popular today and we think Asheville will have much success.

    I look forward to hearing more and writing about the new money in Community Currency Magazine.


  5. Robert Edward Johnson

    To read more about non-commodity non-fraudulent privately issued paper currencies, read about the real bills doctrine on the internet.

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