First Slow Food, Now Slow Money?

Minneapolis Star-Tribune - In the hills of the Berkshires in Massachusetts, residents are trading their dollar bills or George Washington coins for BerkShares, local currency designed by local artists that can only be used for transactions in face-to-face purchases at local stores.

Sure it’s slow and inconvenient. You have to go to a participating bank and exchange your money with BerkShares (although at a 10 percent discount meaning your money goes farther). And then you have to visit different stores to interact with real, live people!

But that’s the point– it’s a way to deliberately connect with folks that own local businesses and a way to make conscious decisions about how your money has the power to sustain the community where you live.

It’s easy to feel as if the little money you have to spend and save has no significance in this world. But the choices we make can help or harm. Think big box that puts a local store out of business and 401(k)s with investments in Sudan.

The bargain hunter in me is constantly battling with my community conscience. Cheap sometimes comes with a high cost.

This is the first time I’ve heard of local currency. Here’s a list of other local currencies besides BerkShares. Frankly, I’m surprised some Minnesota community hasn’t come up with a local currency. Just think: St. Anthony Park pennies or Grand Marais money.

How about State Fair Cents? Featuring that gopher with the seersucker suit? Or a corn dog? The Space Tower? Seed art?