Local News

Chapel Hill Activists Contemplate Local Currency

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

CHAPEL HILL — In several Triangle communities, people may soon have more than just U.S. currency in their pockets.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro thrive on small shops, especially on Franklin Street. But a group of citizen-activists believe they could do even better if they leave some room in their cash drawer for local currency.

For now, it is just an artist's dream, a dream of a world where people trust each other and can use local currency instead of, or in addition to, dollars.

"It's just an idea that kept circulating and everyone kept saying 'wouldn't it be great if we had a local currency,'" said Annisa Clark.

Clark is leading the charge for a local currency. She has designed a currency she calls "plentys."

Clark is a stay-at-home mom who has traded baby-sitting jobs for goods and services before. She believes that a local currency will generate new customers for local businesses.

"It has a real benefit for community-building, and for generating wealth in the community," said Clark.

Barry Sloban, who owns a paint-it-yourself ceramic shop, thinks it would work. He has had experience with barter exchanges, but not with a unique local currency.

"I think would work. It probably presents a book-keeping issue for the retailer, but I don't think it's a big one. I think it's a fine idea to try to keep the money in the community," said Sloban.

Local currency is legal as long as it is reported as income. Ithaca, N.Y., has had a local currency for 10 years, with millions of dollars in local trades.

"That's millions of dollars that has stayed in their community, instead of going out to chainstores, leaving their community, never to return," said Clark.

If the idea takes off, Clark believes that businesses and service providers throughout the Piedmont could trade in "plentys".