ON community Currencies
A “community currency” is a type of money that is created and adopted autonomously by communities to meet their own needs for cooperation and exchange. It does not require the backing of the state, corporations, or other entities. Today, thousands of social currencies abound in many parts of the world, including Brazil, England, Spain, South Korea, and the United States. Although community currencies do not usually substitute national or dominant currencies, they can fulfill important financial functions and offer a way to build solidarity economies that are not based on profit.
In the era of virtual currency, such as BitCoin, the Valor y Cambio artists chose an “analogue” paper currency that can be passed hand-to-hand to promote community conversation and draw attention to the imaginative dimension of currency production. Unlike bills issued by the state, which are used to impose its authority through top-down forms of security, the locally produced pesos emphasize that security and authority truly originate in robust social relationships and acts of community solidarity. They facilitate and encourage the exchange of local skills, relationships, and knowledge in ways that benefit communities and regions.
In Japan, more than 600 systems of community currencies were implemented by 2003. This article gives a detailed analysis and history of these systems and offers a model for addressing social problems in Europe and the United States through a bottom-up, community-oriented economic system.
“Creating Wealth : Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies” by Gwendolyn Hallsmith and Bernard Lietaer
Hallsmith and Lietaer offer a guide to implementing social currencies.
“Financing for Development: A Monetary Issue in Which Money Has No Say” by Tristan Dissaux
The article examines how different forms of community currencies offer sustainable ways to financing national development, thus proposing an alternative to borrowing money from other countries, a tactic that creates an easily-exploitable relationship.
“Growing Green Money? Mapping Community Currencies for Sustainable Development” by Gill Seyfang and Noel Longhurst
Focusing on four types of community currencies—service credits, mutual exchange, local currencies and barter markets— this article explores community currencies across the world and how they inform environmental policy and sustainable development.
This study of Timebank social currency provides an in-depth investigation of the various social dynamics that are created in the social currency system.
“Social capital and community resilience” by Aldrich, D. P. & Meyer, M. A.
Aldrich and Meyer critique solely material approaches to disaster recovery and draws attention to the role of social capital in fostering collaboration and community resilience. It recommends community currencies as a means of revitalizing local economies after disaster.
Analyzing 20 different community currencies, Sobiecki discusses the strengths and weaknesses of different forms of social currency and highlights two systems were particularly impactful and long-lasting.
Nishibe traces the development of several community currencies that were implemented to ameliorate various economic, social, and cultural problems caused by globalization and deindustrialization in the modern capitalist economy.
cover photo credit: José Rosario