Locking in the Promise to Buy Local
by Claire Greene
Communities & Banking - Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Al Jazeera America - GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Whenever Alice Maggio opens her wallet, she never hesitates about how to pay. It’s always cash, and it’s rarely dollars.
“They’re beautiful,” she coos as she shows off the colored bills, which are unlike any other. “You can take pride in spending them.”
Maggio frowns on dollars, preferring something else, called a BerkShares. The currency is available only in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts.
American Booksellers Association - Sydney Jerrard - BerkShares, a local currency designed to foster a stronger community by keeping commerce local, launched in 2006 in western Massachusetts with more than one million BerkShares circulating through 100 area businesses in the first year. Almost seven years later, the program has grown to include more than 400 businesses in the state’s Berkshires region as well as some towns in New York and Connecticut, and more than four million BerkShares have flowed through participating businesses.
In These TImes - Julia Pergolini - The American idiom “Don’t take any wooden nickels!” predates the 1930s, but that era’s bank crises did lead to the actual use of wooden currency. When local banks failed or were inaccessible in the Pacific Northwest, some merchants and towns issued wooden money as a stopgap. The wooden nickels circulated as IOUs until the banks became accessible.
BerkShares held a party at the Lion's Den in Stockbridge where customers were highly encouraged to spend BerkShares for dinner or drinks. Entertainment was provided by the Easy Ridin' Papas. Community Television in the Southern Berkshires covered the event.
What Travel Writers Say - Kelsey Maki - During the Gilded Age (1870s – 1900), many of the wealthiest people in the US built summer cottages in Western Massachusetts’ Berkshire County. For this reason, the area was given the nickname of “Inland Newport.” And while both the Berkshires and Newport boast architectural moments to the excess of the age, the difference between these two towns lies in the rich artistic and literary heritage of Berkshire County.
The Guardian - Rachel Dixon - Vibrant Great Barrington is half-way between New York and Boston, making it a good small town break between big cities. It has a strong community feel, its own regional currency, BerkShares (berkshares.org), and local food champions such as Berkshire Grown (berkshiregrown.org). Allium restaurant (alliumberkshires.com) in the centre serves locally sourced food, and has a late-night cocktail bar. Smithsonian magazine recently named Great Barrington the best small town in America, for its museums, historic sites, gardens, orchestras and art galleries.
Northeast Public Radio - Dave Lucas - Before the U.S. Dollar was created in 1791, a variety of state-issued paper currencies and foreign coins comprised the US money supply. Fast forward to the 21st Century, where many modern communities are turning to "local currencies" as both a way to deal with tough economic times and boost local business. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
The Sacramento Star - Pamela Martineau - When a shop in Davis sells something, the merchant may just get bicycles and tomatoes for payment rather than Benjamin Franklins or George Washingtons.
Davis is one of a growing number of communities around the country that has adopted its own currency – a way to encourage residents to shop at local businesses, and to keep their money in town.
AlterNet.org - Gar Alperovitz - As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In 'New Economic Visions', a special five-part AlterNet series edited by Economics Editor Lynn Parramore in partnership with political economist Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, creative thinkers come together to explore the exciting ideas and projects that are shaping the philosophical and political vision of the movement that could take our economy back.