19 Apr 2007
The Totnes Pound – going well and considering its evolution.
Last Sunday’s Observer magazine mentioned the Totnes Pound in an article called How Green Can Your Money Be? by Lucy Siegle, as part of the Ethical Living section. The Totnes Pound pilot is going very well, they are still out there changing hands, most shops getting asked for them more often than they are actually able to give them out in change. As I wrote here when we launched it, we put 300 notes into circulation, and the pilot runs until June 1st. At that point we will interview the various shops that took them and collect the data from the notes in terms of how many times they changed hands. This will be formulated into a report that we will publish, at **Transition Culture** among other places. It should be a really useful piece of research.
We have also formed a Totnes Pound group as part of Transition Town Totnes which is exploring how an enlarged scheme might work. We are drawing a lot of inspiration from the Berkshares scheme and also from the Salt Spring Dollar currency. We have got hold of sets of both, and they are an amazing tool to put in peoples’ hands to just see their eyes light up with the possibility of it all. It is all about telling new stories about money and how we relate to it, and printed currencies are great for that. As far as I can tell, the only printed currency in the UK is the Ekos in Findhorn, anybody out there know of any others?
One of the big questions we are exploring, other than whether it is legal or not (!), is whether printed currencies are the best way of issuing local money. I went in the local mobile phone shop and asked them what proportion of their turnover is cash and how much is electronic, she told me that almost all of their their income is electronic, they only have a cash float of £50 and it is hardly ever dipped into. On the other hand, some other shops have a much higher turnover of cash, food shops in particular. The key question is what is the best way to be of most use to the local business community. So everything is up for discussion, and one of the things we have found most useful is the Community Currency Guide by Bernard Lietaer and Gwendolyn Hallsmith, which is a workbook what takes you through the process of designing a currency. It is well worth a read. I will keep you up to date with our thinking process and any interesting lines of enquiry.