Most of the time when I go out and spend money in the community I use the dollar, well a debit card not actual cash. Today though I was able to try an alternate currency, granted a small relatively unknown alternate currency- The Durango Dollar (these are a gift card that can only be used at business that have opted in) they are sold by the Chamber of Commerce.
Over all my experience with the Durango Dollar was generic, it wasn’t different than using a gift card. Which isn’t a bad thing, but didn’t really grab my imagination the way some of the other local currencies have.
http://www.ithacahours.com/ is probably the best known local currency in the country (hey if I’m wrong let me know). The idea is that these dollars can only be used in their region, meaning that they are never lost to taxes or to foreign (here foreign meaning anything outside of Ithaca!) businesses. Now there are a few things needed to have a successful local currency (some of which are true of all currencies), you need to have an excepted value of your currency, you have to have a market for them (so places to spend them), and places to earn them. In this case Ithaca hours are related to labor, 10 Ithaca hours are equal to 1 hour of basic work. These hours can be bought, sold and used at a number of businesses in town. (I’ll touch on TimeBanks later this month, I belong to one as well).
The Plenty is probably my favorite local currency, not that I’ve had a chance to use it, but that I really admire (in some ways) one of the people who helped start it. http://theplenty.org/about Plus their art is better than the US dollar, which is part of the legal stuff about running an alternate currency. Their dollars are on par with the US dollar. Their website is full of help, I can’t say the same about the Durango Dollar….