Why Do We Need Local Money?

Transition Network UK

[Foreword to the book ‘Local Money‘]

The power of holding your community’s own money.

September 2009, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton. On a beautiful evening with just the first hint of autumn in the air, hundreds of people are packed into the large room for the launch of the Brixton Pound. In the days running up to the launch, the media was full of stories about the currency; it even made the front page of the BBC website on the day. Alongside explanations of how it is intended to work and interviews with advocates were mainstream economists who, somewhat patronisingly, assured readers that this could never really work and that it was all tremendously naive and foolish. Clearly that was a sentiment that those gathered in the hall, and the 70 traders already keen to accept the notes, had chosen to overlook – or, more likely, would fervently disagree with. This event was both a celebration of the new currency and, perhaps most importantly, of Brixton itself.

Derrick Anderson, the Chief Executive of the local council, which had partly funded the initiative, told the audience that he would be using Brixton Pounds, that he hoped they would become ‘the currency of choice for Brixton’, and that he was delighted that this was a good news story about the area. When I spoke to him later, I explored with him how deep the commitment of the council to this new currency would actually run. Would it accept the currency in payment of Council Tax? Would it accept rent from stallholders in Brixton Pounds? The answer to both questions was yes: a national first.

At the end of the evening, the notes themselves were unveiled to rapturous applause. Each note featured a prominent Brixtonian, chosen via a community-wide ‘Vote the Note’ poll. They showed Vincent Van Gogh on the £20 note; C. L. R. James, a local historian, political theorist and cricket writer on the £10 note; Gaia theorist James Lovelock on the £5 note

Organic Seed Preservation

Certified Organic Bowl Gourd Seeds by Dave Smith


Organic Seed Alliance supports the ethical development and stewardship of the genetic resources of agricultural seed. We accomplish our goals through collaborative education, advisory services, and research programs with organic farmers and other seed professionals.

Seed is both our common cultural heritage and a living natural resource fundamental to the future sustainability of food production. Proper stewardship of our genetic resources necessitates not only its conservation, but careful management in a manner which allows seed to continually evolve with challenges of the environment, cultural practices of sustainable agriculture and the need to feed people. Through advocacy, collaborative education, advisory services, and research we work to restore and develop seed varieties for current needs while safeguarding invaluable genetic resources for future generations.


Education, Information, and Advocacy:
Educational opportunities, workshops, and publications aimed at increasing genetic conservation, and improving organic seed production, plant breeding for organic agriculture, and developing healthy seed systems.

Collaborative Research:
Research that develops healthy seed systems,

Who Owns Nature?

Certified Organic Mountain Blue Lupine Seeds by Dave Smith



Bottom line: …Patented gene technologies will not help small farmers survive climate change, but they will concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit public sector research and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds.

In the first half of the 20th century, seeds were overwhelmingly in the hands of farmers and public-sector plant breeders. In the decades since then, Gene Giants have used intellectual property laws to commodify the world seed supply – a strategy that aims to control plant germplasm and maximize profits by eliminating Farmers’ Rights.

Today, the proprietary seed market accounts for a staggering share of the world’s commercial seed supply. In less than three decades, a handful of multinational corporations have engineered a fast and furious corporate enclosure of the first link in the food chain.

According to Context Network, the proprietary seed market (that is, brand- name seed that is subject to exclusive monopoly – i.e., intellectual property), now accounts for 82% of the commercial seed market worldwide.

Genetic Modification Watch


Introduction to the GMWatch video collection

We’ve trawled the web in search of the best videos on GM and related issues. You’ve sent us your favorites, and together we’ve created a fascinating and informative collection. Please let us know anything we’ve missed.

We’ve divided the videos into categories (like Must-see, Agriculture, Corporations, Latin America) and created an Index of speakers, where you can check out who’s in the videos, and an Index of GM crops and foods.


This section contains some of the most compelling videos we’ve come across. They cover a wide variety of topics as we’ve cherry picked from all the different categories.

Among our absolute favourites is this extract from the film The Corporation about how Monsanto got Fox News to kill an investigative news report into its genetically engineered cattle hormone.

Another treat is hearing razor-sharp economist Dr Raj Patel put the case against globalized corporate agriculture, including GMOs, and its efforts to marginalise the planet-wide push for a more environmentally sensitive approach to food production (agroecology).


This section contains films that place GM in the wider context of corporate control of agriculture and food production and that show how farmers and consumers’ interests are being overridden.

Look out for The Future of Food, a groundbreaking documentary released in 2004, that distills the key regulatory, legal, ethical, environmental and consumer issues surrounding the troubling changes happening in the food system today… More here…

Stieg Larsson: Did All The Coffee Kill Him?


If you’re a latecomer to the Stieg Larsson phenomenon, here, briefly, is the deal: Larsson was a Swedish journalist who edited a magazine called Expo, which was devoted to exposing racist and extremist organizations in his nativeland. In his spare time, he worked on a trilogy of crime thrillers, delivering them to his Swedish publisher in 2004. In November of that year, a few months before the first of these novels came out, he died of a heart attack. He was only 50, and he never got to see his books become enormous best sellers — first in Sweden and then, in translation, all over the globe.

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is the third installment of the ­trilogy; its predecessors, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” have already sold a million copies combined in the United States and many times that abroad. All three books are centered on two ­principal characters: a fearless middle-aged journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, who publishes an Expo-like magazine called Millennium, and a slight, sullen, socially maladjusted, tech-savvy young goth named Lisbeth Salander, the “girl” of the books’ titles, who, in addition to her dragon tattoo, possesses extraordinary hacking abilities and a twisted, complicated past. Together, Blomkvist and Salander use their wiles and skills to take on corporate corruptos, government sleazes and sex criminals, not to mention these miscreants’ attendant hired goons…

More here
See also The Afterlife of Stieg Larsson

Brains, Bats, and Implanted Thoughts: The Perpetual Life of Philip K. Dick


The legacy of World War terminus has diminished in potency; those who could not survive the dust had passed into oblivion years ago, and the dust, weaker now and confronting the strong survivors, only deranged minds and genetic properties. Despite his lead codpiece, the dust — undoubtedly — filtered in and at him, brought him daily, so long as he failed to emigrate, its little load of befouling filth. So far, medical checkups taken monthly confirmed him as a regular: a man who could reproduce within tolerances set by law. Any month, however, the exam by the San Francisco Police Department doctors could reveal otherwise. Continually, new specials came into existence, created out of regulars by the omnipresent dust. The ads ran: “Emigrant or degenerate! The choice is yours!” Very true, Rick thought as he opened the gate to his little pasture and approached his electric sheep. But I can’t emigrate, he said to himself. Because of my job. — Philip K. Dick,  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Most people know Philip K. Dick for the story that inspired movies such as Blade Runner, a film that defined the language of latter day science fiction cinema and its extraordinary advances in special effects. After writing hundreds of stories, numerous novels, essays and screenplays, Dick joined those writers who turned aside from their work and made an eccentric public life their final art, though his work as a serious writer was never that far from serious readers’ attentions.

He died in 1982, broke, decrepit, most probably mentally ill… More here

After the Econolypse


Just about everyone I know is adjusting to downward mobility.

When remembering a family-owned grocery store in rural Virginia, a first image comes to mind, even though I did not actually witness it. This is my boss, a woman standing all of five feet tall, in the front parking lot after closing time in her “shooting stance” with her gun out. While counting the money for the night, she watched two young men pull up in a car and start removing various firearms from their trunk. Walking around from the side exit, she got the jump on them. What she then said (edited for sensitive eyes) was: “I don’t know what (censored) you’re doing, but I’m the only one licensed to have a gun on my (censored) property. If you try to use that gun, you might hit me. But I will kill you.”  They left.

The second image I have is of their grown son, my manager, calling all of the store employees in for a meeting one evening and yelling for an hour straight at us. Some of the kids working there were less than cordial to the customers. A partial transcript (also edited for language): “Look! This is my store! This is my livelihood! And you are not going to put me out of business because you can’t be (edited) polite to the customers! When they come in, say hello! Stop whatever the (edited) you are doing and go talk to them! Get to know their names and what they come here for! And, you know what, ask them how they’re doing! The only way we can beat the big grocery stores is if you get to know these people and treat them better than those stores do!”

So we did. We knew all the customers, their kids, what sort of beer they drank, and spent at least half our working hours chatting (or jawboning, if you’ll indulge me) with them.

Mendo Moola: Ukiah Businesses Create Local Money


Three local business are now creating and circulating our own local currency, Mendo Moola: Oco Time Japanese Cuisine, Mulligan Books, and Ukiah Brewing Company. The Mendo Moola Blog explains how and why a local currency works. Almost 20 other locally-owned businesses in Mendocino County, listed on the blog, accept and trade Mendo Moola as payment for goods and services; they include Local Flavor Bake House, Paula’s Hair Salon, Westside Renaissance Market, Mendocino Bounty, Mendocino Lavender Farm, Incognito Fun Store, and RespecTech.

Money connects buyers and sellers. Communities across the country and around the world are issuing local currencies, as they have for many years, to protect themselves against recessions, depressions, bank failures, tight money, credit crunches, risk aversion, hoarding, and leakage that dries up the money supply, kills jobs, and destroys local economies. The more money that is available to be used locally and kept circulating locally,the more jobs are created and the more a local community becomes prosperous and sustainable economically.

During the Great Depression, more than 5,000 local currencies helped keep Americans alive. Over the past two decades, over 2,500 local currencies have sprung up nationally.

Over the past 50 years, the expansion of national businesses into local domestic markets, and now the Internet, has diverted and redirected circulating money to centralized corporate coffers. ‘Leakage’ occurs when, every night, money spent that day in chain stores and franchises is sucked out of our community electronically to their headquarters elsewhere.

An Interview with Peter North, author of Local Money


In past recessions and depressions, a popular response from communities has been to create their own forms of money. How can local money help communities in times of hardship and cut as much carbon out of their economies as possible?

Pete North’s new book ‘Local Money: how to make it happen in your community’ will be formally launched at the 2010 Transition Network conference and will be available to order here at the end of this week.  The latest book in the Transition Books series, ‘Local Money’ is a comprehensive overview of local currencies, and how to plan and implement such a scheme.  It is written with Transition initiatives in mind, drawing from the experience of Transition currencies such as the Brixton Pound and the Lewes Pound, but it also tells the fascinating stories of other alternative currencies, including the story of how local money was a key element of how communities survived the Argentinian crash.  To celebrate the launch of the book, I interviewed Pete about the book, and about local currencies….

‘Local Money’ is about to be published… can you tell us, in a nutshell, what the book covers?

In a nutshell, the fruits of looking at local currencies over the past nearly 20 years distilled into 240 pages. I’ve tried to cover both the longer standing alternative currencies like LETS and Time Money and the newer kids on the block, transition currencies, in as much detail. I’ve also tried to give the reader an understanding of why money is in the form it is now, what is good about different forms of money, and how it could be improved.