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Ithaca Hours

This post was written on Friday, October 28th, 2005 around 4 PM.
   I just heard about an independent money system in a New York town. In its committee's words, "Ithaca Hours is a local currency system that promotes local economic strength and community reliance that will support economic and social justice, ecology, community participation, and human aspirations." Basically, many local businesses have agreed to buy and sell using a special currency to keep the money from getting spent elsewhere. I know many Chambers of Commerce have local gift certificate programs, but this seems to be a notch above. Apparently there are even some local employers who are willing to pay partially in Ithaca currency.
   From the participant directory, it looks like the system has taken off mostly around a particular subculture: plenty of art stuff, organic foods and natural healing clinics. Not surprisingly, the Ithaca McDonald's isn't listed. But you could use the money to pay for piano or marimba lessons. This find is interesting to me because, even though there's not much of a paradigm shift from US Dollars, it seems to take a step back from cash- and credit-driven consumerism towards a small community-centered bartering system. But the underlying motive seems off. For starters, the money is labeled "In Ithica We Trust".
   (On a related note, could someone explain how increased local commerce supports human aspiration and all that other wonderful stuff? I don't mean the question sarcastically. I just haven't heard much about local economics.)
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