The recession has shown that money often lets people down. It's no wonder, then, that alternative currencies have seen a surge in popularity. "National currencies are crumbling because they're all in debt to nature, since modern human economies extract from nature faster than we replenish," said Paul Glover, founder of Ithaca Hours. "Local currencies are capable of reconnecting our economies to our planet.
When Paul Gloverfounded Ithaca Hours, a local currency in Ithaca, N.Y., more than 20 years ago, he didn't intend to start a movement. He just wanted to give people in the town a way to invest in their community and each other, even when they didn't have enough traditional dollars to do so.
"I saw that many Ithacans had skills and goods to offer, or wanted to start businesses, but that there were not enough dollars to meet these local needs," Glover told the E-Commerce Times. "So I realized that if we were going to have enough money, we'd have to print it ourselves."
He published a list of 90 "pioneer traders" and established the value of one Ithaca Hour as US$10. Within a few years, the system had thousands of traders -- among them 500 businesses, including a bank, a hospital, the public library, restaurants and movie theaters.
After eight years, Glover transferred the system to an elected board of directors. Today, Ithaca Hours remains one of the strongest and most well-known local currencies in the U.S., with more than $100,000 worth of Hours in circulation, and Glover argues that the need for such local systems is greater than ever.
"National currencies are crumbling because they're all in debt to nature, since modern human economies extract from nature faster than we replenish," said Glover. "Local currencies are capable of reconnecting our economies to our planet."