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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BOOKS: Local Money by Peter North

Is it possible to have local money systems that would be credible to conventional business owners? That was my foremost question in reading Local Money. The answer is a very definite ‘yes’. This is an excellent book if you want to understand why local money is important for resilient communities and how it works in practice; it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to go ahead with innovative approaches to local money.

Part One of Local Money puts the case for local money and localised economies. Alternative money models are explained in Part Two. LETS (Local Exchange Trading Schemes), time banking, barter networks, regional and local currencies are assessed for their relative merits on a ‘scorecard’.

Part Three documents the experiences of introducing Transition currencies to date: Totnes, Lewes, Stroud and Brixton, which must be the most challenging of all in establishing local money in a global city. But it works! Lambeth, Brixton’s local council, accepts council tax and stallholders’ rents in Brixton Pounds – a national first. There’s also a useful step-by-step guide to starting and building a local currency.

Part Four: Towards Resilient Local Economies is a small section that’s big on inspiring ideas. Topics include local banks, with an example of Essex County Council teaming up with Santander to help small Essex businesses to prosper, and microfinance, including Norwich-based WEETU, which provides business support and loans to women setting up in business. The book concludes with some practical insights on how to make local money work locally. (Jane Chittenden/Core Group)