By summer of 2011, Asheville residents will use local paper currency to purchase a variety of good and services at businesses throughout the area.
That's the Asheville Currency Project's plan, anyway. The group unveiled its idea on Dec.4 at the BoBo gallery.
Local currency, according to its proponents, keeps more value in the community, remains more stable than official currency and allows its users to save their federal dollars for paying their rent and bills.
But, noted currency project representative Jim Barton, such a fiscal experiment has its own series of pitfalls.
"We investigated a lot of local currency from around the country," Barton said. "Local currency projects are usually disorganized, suffer from burnout and are dependent upon volunteers. That's why we're making detailed plans."
Those plans included signing up businesses by next summer and holding a contest to determine the design and name of Asheville's paper currency.
At the center of the currency project's plan is a reliance on local businesses. Those that sign on with the project, a nonprofit, would receive a "loan" of an amount of local currency based on their revenue. The business would use this currency to pay employees or make change for customers, who could then use it to pay for goods and services from anyone willing to accept it.
"There will be certain businesses issuing the money, but there will be a directory of hundreds of businesses you'll be able to spend the money at," Julie Schantz, one of the currency project's representatives, said.
The currency project may tie the value of Asheville's local currency to certain commodities in an effort to ensure its stability, but this proposal is still being debated.
After the presentation, audience members donned paper hats representing various businesses and customers, and mimed paying for everything from tacos to electrical work.
"One thing about this model is that the currency doesn't pool up: Every dollar that's put out there comes back," John Robinson, one of the currency project's directors, said.