BerkSharesHere in southwest Mass. there’s a new local currency issued by a nonprofit that’s been making a splash with recent stories in the NY Times and on ABC national news. There are 230 businesses accepting BerkShares already, and there are 140,000 in regular circulation.

The purpose of a local currency is to function on a local scale the same way that national currencies have functioned on a national scale — building the local economy by maximizing circulation of trade within a defined region. They were widely used early in the 1900s, but are now being recognized as a tool for sustainable economic development. The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, building stronger relationships and a greater affinity between the business community and the citizens of a particular place.

Local currencies are not intended to replace federal currency but to aid the goals of sustainability, as they strengthen the regional economy, favoring locally owned enterprises, local manufacturing, and local jobs, and reducing the region’s dependence on the global economy. And they’re at work all over the world. See the additional resources section to learn about more such currencies in KS, MI, CA, IN, NY, PA, VT, and more, plus Canada and Mexico.

What might our communities look like if we all were using such a locally responsive currency?

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