Community currency to benefit economically

An ambitious new "community currency" project hopes to benefit communities economically.

In less than two months, Community Dollars (C$) will hit the streets of select communities of the Columbia Basin.

C$ is a new currency program that will benefit communities by keeping a currency circulating in local businesses and organizations.

C$ first came from a spin-off conversation in the Transitions Nelson Group about a local currency. A committee was formed to see the project through, and has been in the works since late spring of 2010.

“It’s a currency that can circulate in a community,” said Billy Jones, member of the Community Currency Committee in Nelson. “A lot of the money that goes into a community goes out just as fast, when a community always needs money to stay and circulate.”

The ideology behind C$ comes from the Community Way, an exchange system developed by Michael Linton, who also developed LETS (Local Exchange Trading System), a system used around the world in various countries and communities.

C$ is exactly as it sounds; a community-specific currency is introduced to work in conjunction with the Canadian dollar.

Businesses can fund the organization with Canadian money for the community dollars, and agree to take back the money in certain percentages (a certain percentage of C$ is allotted for a product, for example).

“What it does is build resilience with the community,” said Jones. “Everybody wins, because it circulates and stays in the community. It stops a valve that flows on Canadian currency.”

The C$, which were designed by Robert Strutin, are available in increments of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. They will be available on April 22.

The bills depict an environmental scene on the front, with a native animal on the back.

“Our wealth comes from our land,” said Strutin about the inspiration for the bill designs. “We’re going after something vivid, attractive, and beautiful with the design. We want it to be something people want to have.”

Due to a growing demand for more information about C$, online and community-based sessions have been scheduled throughout March and April for those interested in participating, including those interested in getting their own community involved.

Workshops will be held in Kimberley, Fernie and Nelson starting on March 8.

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