Ithaca's Solution to Fed Funny Money: Don't Use It

(h.t. to Gabe F. for the heads up on this one)

Remember awhile back we talked about communities printing their own money? Well they're still doing it and frankly I love the idea. Federal Reserve Notes are sooooo 2007, especially since they are sliding by the day. Good riddance!

In Ithaca, NY, they're called "HOURS" and they are cleverly circumventing the minefield of continually-plunging FRNs. Awesome!

Via the Sustainability Institute:

I just got a thick envelope in the mail, and when I opened it, money fell out.

Four bills, to be exact, along with four newsletters. The bills are denominated in "Ithaca Hours." On one side they say IN ITHACA WE TRUST. The other side reads, "This note entitles the bearer to receive one (two, one-half, or whatever) hour labor or its negotiated value in goods or services."

The newsletter, which comes out six times a year, contains listings of 1200 individuals and businesses in Ithaca, New York, that will accept Ithaca Hours (called HOURS in Ithaca and henceforth here). Here are just a few of the things you can buy with HOURS: bookkeeping, bowling, bricklaying, building materials, bush-hogging, business consulting, cake decorating, calligraphy lessons, camera repair, candles, canoes, car repair, carpentry, childcare -- and that's just a few of the Bs and Cs.

Not only that, but Ithaca is learning a lesson in community - something entirely new to an America attached at the hip to our fake FRNs. This, kids, is a great thing.

"It has enriched my family's life and taught me the meaning of community," says one user. "Ithaca Money is wonderful," says another. "It hooks people up you wouldn't normally interact with." A man who makes drums and sells them for HOURS says, "They let my wife and me eat out more often, which is good for us parents. We get more time together." A piano teacher says, "HOURS are steadily building people's trust, especially as people learn that dollars are funny money, and inflationary. HOURS are something you can get a handle on."

So why all the damn doom and gloom? If we have learned anything from this mess, it is that America is far more creative and resilient than the last few years of ignorantly gorging ourselves on debt may make us appear. The ingenuity that has risen as a result of total economic meltdown never ceases to amaze me, and I'm proud of my fellow resourceful Americans for pulling this off.

Can't wait to see what else we come up with - suck it, FRNs!

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


Mark Herpel said...

Ah, community currency rocks! There are a lot of them out now and more on the way, print your own I say.
We have a magazine devoted to it Community Currency Magazine an there is rumored in SF "Milk Money" coming soon.



That's awesome, I'm all about the community currency thing. Really happy to see more barter going on as well... these are all great examples of communities and Americans taking their financial fates into their own hands. I mean it isn't much but it's a start!

Hope all's well with you, haven't heard from you in awhile! will check out the mag, didn't know you did that one as well...