Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Time to make the dollars

Paul Glover assures us he is working on the next issue of Earth to Philly's favorite occasional newsletter (which has gottn a little too occasional, Mr. Glover!), Green Jobs Philly News. In the meantime, however, he's written an op-ed for today's Daily News detailing a plan to spur local jobs and clean up town by printing our own local currency in the form of "community credits."

Time to make the dollars

Paul Glover assures us he is working on the next issue of Earth to Philly's favorite occasional newsletter (which has gottn a little too occasional, Mr. Glover!), Green Jobs Philly News. In the meantime, however, he's written an op-ed for today's Daily News detailing a plan to spur local jobs and clean up town by printing our own local currency in the form of "community credits."

Sound crazy? Hear him out. Here's the piece:

Philly's do-it-yourself cash

PHILADELPHIA is rich enough to create thousands of jobs, revive our schools, fill the swimming pools, staff our libraries, build more free clinics, clean our rivers, fix the pipes, feed the hungry and reduce crime.
There's no budget problem. There's an imagination problem.

Many of us imagine that nothing can happen without money. But the squeeze is on: Every day there are fewer dollars for greater needs. As a result, Philadelphians ready to work are sitting idle, waiting for the dollars to employ them.

Look at our wasted talent: thousands of eager youths and experienced neighbors. With money enough, we could be busy insulating homes, manufacturing useful goods, growing food, healing, cleaning, playing. And look at our idle wealth: vacant factories and land, empty stores and offices.

Imagine sufficient money here to build decent lives for everyone. Wall Street and Washington won't create paychecks for all of us, yet Philadelphia can create exactly the money we need, for everyone willing to work, through reliable community currencies. When a large city depends on one kind of money, it's like depending on one kind of vehicle - cars only or one bridge. Community currencies aren't Monopoly money - they're anti-monopoly money.

Printing our own cash is all-American. During the Great Depression, 400 U.S. cities and towns issued scrip. More recently, in Ithaca, N.Y., thousands of residents and 500 businesses have traded millions of dollars of colorful local paper money featuring children, waterfalls and animals. Among Ithaca's traders are their medical center, the transit system, public library, landlords, grocers, bakers, plumbers, babysitters, farmers, movie theaters.

Interest-free loans are offered. Over in Great Barrington, Mass., millions of "Berkshares" are likewise traded to strengthen local businesses and connect residents to one another.

And they're legal if they don't look like Federal Reserve Notes. Here's how it works: The money is issued by a community group and distributed to members of the community, as a bonus for shopping in a local store, maybe $1 for every $10 spent. Consumers can then use the cash in other local business, or to help pay for work they want done. Businesses pay for work with the currency and sell services in them, and the money stays right there - meaning there's more "cash" in the community to be spent on things that are needed.

Our city of neighborhoods might prosper with KensingCash in Kensington, Southies in South Philly, Liberties in Northern Liberties.

And then when we connect with each other to trade regional cash that's properly managed, we'll more easily help each other. Consider Philadelphia's enthusiastic social networking: we connect face to face and online through professions, businesses, sports, schools, religions, hobbies. Such networks provide backing for community credits.

Although a million dollars' worth of community credits is a drop in the bucket for the regional economy, they're big drops in neighborhood buckets.

And they'll boost specific tasks. MediCash could connect us to medical services and fund free clinics. KidKash could fund youth and recreational services. Money issued through the School District would teach valuable lessons.

And citywide currencies can be donated to City Hall, if government agrees to accept them for part of our taxes.

These currencies are real money - backed by real people, real goods and real services. By contrast, dollars are funny money - no longer backed by gold, silver or commodities but by less than nothing - abandoned industry and $12 trillion in national debt.

Such credits foster neither heartless capitalism nor bleeding-heart socialism, but mutual enterprise. They celebrate enterprise that serves community and nature.

So how does this start?

We build regional money networks by employing energetic networkers. Just as dollars have armies promoting and troubleshooting their circulation, local credits need staff to catalog what the community is capable of, then promote balanced spending.

Crisis compels Philadelphia to declare independence, again. Philadelphians can unite to become the money and become the bank. We are the treasure - and we can be the treasury.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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