Community currencies are local based exchanges, which do not replace but rather supplement the national currency system, designed to support local businesses and encourage local trade and production. The Brixton Pound, available to spend in over 250 local shops in the South London neighbourhood, is one such example of a local community currency flourishing.
The founders of the Brixton Pound wanted to do something to stop 80p of every £1 spent locally from leaking out of the area into the pockets of corporations, at the expense of small local traders. They printed a currency that would have the same value as the pound, but could only be traded in independent Brixton shops, where the shopkeeper would also have to spend it locally.
Brixton Pound was launched in 2009 as a physical paper-based currency and was followed two years later by the launch of the electronic B£ pay-by-text platform. The notes carry the faces of famous former residents of Brixton including David Bowie, artist Vincent van Gogh and Trinidadian author CLR James.
The B£ encourages people to think about where their money is going and commit to spending a proportion of it locally. On the environmental front, the B£ supports local businesses in sourcing more goods and services locally, reducing their carbon footprint.
Last year the Brixton Pound got its own cashpoint and opened the Brixton Pound Cafe, the first cafe in South London where all food and drink is served on a pay-what-you-feel basis. Brixton Pound Cafe works with a number of local organisations tackling food waste, and serve up food from local surplus.
The B£ is one of several community currencies that currently run in the UK, and was the first in an urban setting. Other community currencies operating in the UK include Bristol, Cardiff, Cornwall, Exeter, Kingston, Lewes, Liverpool, Plymouth, Stroud, Totnes, and Worcester.
There are a number of community currencies operating around the world. In the US, community currencies include San Francisco Bay Area’s Bay Bucks, New York’s Hudson Valley Current, and Arizona’s Arizona Dollars.
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com