Is the local currency an idea whose time has come – or rather, has come back? In the Berkshires of Massachusetts, a local currency called Berkshares is being buoyed up by the current economic crisis, and receiving a lot of enquiries from other communities interested in replicating its success:
Since the currency’s launch two years ago, five local banks have printed more than 2 million paper notes. About 185,000 are currently in circulation, according to Susan Witt, a Berkshare co-founder.
It’s in no way ready to replace regular money just yet, but it seems to work well as a supplementary system during hard times. The problem is the admin – there’s a lot of work involved for what is usually a small volunteer organisation, which is why the Toronto Dollar is moving to an electronic version to simplify the management procedures.
As the strength of the nation-state concept atrophies, will we see an increase in local communities making their economies more sustainable and autonomous? Given the rising cost of transportation for both people and goods, it doesn’t seem too implausible.