Kennedy explains: “I still receive emails and telephone calls from people in cyberspace asking me for an update on the success of the Tamworth Hours project. One individual recently contacted me after she had telephoned the Stone Mills municipal office asking for information about the Tamworth Hours project. Whoever answered the telephone at the Stone Mills municipal office responded by saying that she did not know anything about the Tamworth Hours project.”
Perhaps the time is right for a detailed report about the Tamworth Hours project and that is why Grasshopper Media decided to publish this interview.
Years passed as Kennedy continued his full-time, teaching career as an elementary school teacher while spending much of his non-teaching time researching the flaws in our conventional economic system of usury-based, debt money and promoting the usuryfree community currency movement as a worthy complement to our diminishing amounts of federal cash. In 2000, Kennedy terminated his teaching career and re-directed his time, finances and energies to promoting the usuryfree community currency movement full time while acting as a usuryfree, resource consultant for those individuals and/or communties that were ready and willing to learn ‘what they didn’t know they didn’t know.’
It is commonly agreed that heightened concerns over the ongoing downturn in the local and global economies that are currently malfunctioning because of the usury-based, debt money system usually opens the door for people to research and explore new possibilities with the evolving usuryfree community currency movement. According to Kennedy, usury is the killer machine and its evil and immoral effects keep debtors financially enslaved for generation after generation.
Kennedy explains: “The advantage of creating and spending your own usuryfree community currency is that people will be motivated to shop locally. By using a usuryfree community currency as a complement with their diminishing amounts of federal cash, people can use the federal cash that they are not needing for their regular purchases to pay off their loans and/or mortgages of usury-based, debt money, thereby paying less usury to the bankers.
The key element of any community currency is that they are usuryfree, that is ‘free of interest’ - which ought to be correclty called ‘usury.’ This simply means that no usury is exacted from any account holder with a negative balance and no usury is paid to any account holder with a positive balance.
I always recommend that participating time-traders view the two part video series created by Paul Grignon titled ‘Money As Debt’ which can now be viewed from google video. Simply do a search for ‘Money As Debt’ at any search engine and take time to view the video. You will learn lots about economics that formal education neglects to teach.”
Kennedy claims that he would have liked to witness the community of Tamworth becoming a leading Canadian model for a usuryfree time currency in a similar fashion that Ithaca, New York has become the much-talked-about working model of a usuryfree time currency in the United States. Ithaca Hours was launched in 1991. Kennedy believes that Canadians can be just as smart as Americans and that whatever the community of Ithaca can do, any community in Canada can do - maybe even better.
Why Tamworth and why Tamworth Hours? These are two questions that were commonly asked of Tom J. Kennedy when he was planning the launch of Tamworth Hours earlier in 2004. Kennedy answers: “I was born and raised in the rural area of Sheffield Township which includes the villages of Erinsville and Tamworth. I noticed that Tamworth had been experiencing economic decline with the growth of the giant trans-national retail corporations along the 401 corridor (Kingston, Napanee and Belleville) during the 1990’s and early in the 21st Century. When I asked local consumers why Tamworth was in economic decline, they commonly responded that it was because consumers are driving to the 401 corridor to shop at the big box stores in an effort to save a few pennies. I then suggested to them that if local businesses and local consumers supported the Tamworth Hours project, it might be the motivating factor to lure consumers to shop locally again, thereby re-building the spirit of local community.
I have not-so-fond memories of the skeptic and conservative business owners who listened to my pitch about Tamworth Hours and then told me to come back and talk with them after I had 500+ committed traders with their products and services listed on a database. I would commonly respond with a statement saying that we need your listing now to help us get to the 500+ listings. Indeed, a few enthusiatic supporters enroled and negotiated some trades. I was surprised at the number of residents living in the Tamworth area who admitted that they spend little or no money shopping at the local businesses, preferring instead to shop with the trans-national, retail corporations.
Some of my fondest memories were from the local farmers who quickly understood that the Tamworth Hours project was simply a barter and trading concept that helps to keep money circulating locally. The term ‘velocity of money’ is used to describe the rate at which money is exchanged from one transaction to another and since any usuryfree community currency is commonly traded locally, it meant that there is a higher velocity for a given quantity of Tamworth Hours since they could be used for many local transactions.
I remember one farmer answering “Yes” when I asked him if he would accept a small portion of Tamworth Hours from the Stone Mills Municipality for any contracts that he might negotiate with the municipal office.”
Kennedy continues: “Since I had recently retired from my teaching career of 34 years in Ottawa, Ontario, I had moved back to Tamworth to once again experience rural living as a contrast to urban living. I had been introduced to the LETS (Local Employment Trading System) in the early 1980’s while living in Ottawa and I had been a student of the usuryfree community currency movement for over 20 years by 2004. My associates in the usuryfree community currency movement encouraged me to launch a usuryfree community currency in Tamworth by saying that ‘teamwork would make my dream work’ especially in the local community around Tamworth and Erinsville where the Kennedy family was well known and respected for at least four generations.
I chose Tamworth Hours as the optimal model of a usuryfree time currency because the visionaries in the movement had explained that in the future, given the ease of modern technolpgy, we could be trading time locally and globally since one hour is measured with sixty minutes everywhere on planet earth. Additionally, it was explained to me that all commerce has its roots in these industries: farming, fishing, forestry and mining, and that each of these industries relies on labour to bring their respective products and services to the consumer market. Since labour is commonly assessed and paid as an hourly wage, a usuryfree time currency seems to be the natural unit of measure to keep track of trades. And a universal usuryfree time currency would eventually eliminate the need for exchange rates for travellers and when we purchase products and/or services from other countries.”
Some people inquire: “Why even bother to launch a usuryfree community currency in any community?” “In this 21st Century, we are witnessing the economic decline, especially in those small towns and villages in rural Canada that were thriving in the mid-20th Century,” Kennedy explains. “It was and still is our intention to motivate consumers to spend their money locally and thereby help to re-build the spirit of community that somehow disappeared in the latter years of the 20th century.”
Indeed, the implementation of a usuryfree community currency has been touted as an economic lifeboat for small to medium-sized communities all over the world since Michael Linton launched the first LETSystem in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in British Columbia in the early 1980’s. Since that time, the concept of we-the-people creating and spending our own usuryfree community currency has been growing and evolving with the advent and evolution of modern technology.
Are there any historic examples of successful usuryfree community currency projects? Kennedy answers: “Kissimmee, Florida launched a similar economic lifeboat during the 1930’s. By renewing the spirit of community and trading simple IOU’s locally, the community of Kissimmee, Florida survived the Depression far better than many other communities that did not launch an economic lifeboat. The article “The Kinder, Gentler Depression in Kissimmee, Florida” explains in more detail how the community of Kissimmee survived the 1930’s Depression.”
What is the status of the Tamworth Hours project eight years later? Kennedy responds: “Unfortunately, the Tamworth Hours project sputtered for a while and then it stalled. Initially, various local businesses and a number of local consumers supported the idea and helped to build the dream having a usuryfree community currency become the catalyst to bring prosperity back to Tamworth.
In the summer of 2004, I borrowed a friend’s digital camera and travelled around the community of Tamworth snapping pictures of local businesses and noteworthy landscapes. Then I contracted with a young entrepreneur from Ottawa, Ontario with competent computer and graphic arts skills to create the front and back of the paper notes of Tamworth Hours.
I was aware that the Family Life Foundation, a duly registered charitable organization in Toronto, Ontario, has a mandate to support family and community projects. So I engaged the Family Life Foundation which agreed to accept donations and issue receipts to those who donated money. In turn, the Family Life Foundation funded the design and initial printing of the paper notes designated as Tamworth Hours.
I continue to dedicate much time and energy as a volunteer with the Family Life Foundation since it supports the usuryfree community currency movement in general. In particular, the Family Life Foundation also supports events to celebrate UsuryFree Day and week each year during the week of November 13th to 19th. Readers are invited to read and respond to this funding appeal letter “Funding Request To Expedite Local and Global Usury Relief” which is posted at this website:
Then I found an innovative printing company ‘Dots and Pixels’ that had the technology to imprint some security devices in each paper note, so I contracted with them to print the first issue of Tamworth Hours.
Beginning in 2004 and continuing until 2008, a series of video showing were hosted at the office of the Tamworth Hours project to inform people of the truth about modern money creation, the problems associated with the design flaw of usury and the solutions as offered by the usuryfree community currency movement. Such videos as “Money As Debt,” “Money Who Creates it? Who Conrols It?,” “The Money Masters,” “Ithaca Hours,” “Calgary Dollars” etc. were viewed and followed by invigorating discussion groups.
By the fall of 2006, many businesses located far beyond the borders of the village of Tamworth were accepting Tamworth Hours. I can recall shopping in Bancroft, Ontario in December 2006 and buying Christmas gifts for 50% federal cash and 50% Tamworth Hours. I also recall spending Tamworth Hours in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Killaloe, Kingston, Trenton and at some smaller communties in between.
Trades and exchanges were negotiated among local entrepreneurs who were enthusiastic about bartering and supporting local community. Local and national newspapers and magazines, such as the Napanee Guide, the Napanee Beaver, the Shield, the Kingston Eye Opener, the Dream, the Canadian Money Saver, the Landowner Magazine and the Toronto Street News published well-researched articles to inform readers so that the local community would be aware of the Tamworth Hours project. Most of the published articles provided the telephone number and the email address of the local office for the Tamworth Hours project. It is noteworthy, that the local office for Tamworth Hours did not receive even one phone call nor one email as a result of all the quality, coverage by the local print media.
The Kingston Eye Opener and the Dream requested me to write articles for their respective publications whereby I would inform readers about the usuryfree community currency movement and the Tamworth Hours project. I am sincerely grateful to each of these business owners for their enthusiasm and support.
Burke’s Printing in Napanee printed 500+ copies of each edition of ‘The Tamworth Times’ a sporadically published newsletter with listings of the offers and requests of the participating time-traders as well as contemporary and relevant articles about (a) problems directly and/or indirectly caused by the function of usury as an evil and immoral element on our orthodox economic system of debt money and (b) solutions as offered by the usuryfree community currency movement. It is noteworthy that Burke’s Printing accepted Tamworth Hours as partial payment for the printing service.
Information was shared with the incumbent Reeve and Councillors in 2004 and again with the newly elected Councillors in 2006 encouraging the municipality to take a leadership role in promoting the Tamworth Hours project to help expand its scope as a worthy alternative in the current, chaotic, economic times. One of the documents, ‘The Innovative Proposal’ that was shared with the municipal councillors was published in the Kingston Eye Opener in January 2007.
In the article titled “The Innovative Proposal,” it was explained to the Reeve and Councillors of Stone Mills Township, that a small percentage of Tamworth Hours could be accepted as fees for local services as well as partial payment from residents and business owners who pay annual property taxes. It was explained that Tamworth Hours could be re-cycled by paying a similar percentage of them to municipal employees and local contractors, thereby increasing the ‘velocity’ of Tamworth Hours.
There was no response from either Municipal Council about the information that I shared with them. Readers can read ‘The Innovative Proposal’ by doing a search for: ‘the Innovative proposal for municipalities” at any search engine.’ Perhaps the new Stone Mills Council that was elected on October 25th, 2010 will take action to support the re-birth of the Tamworth Hours project.”
According to Kennedy, one of the highlights of the Tamworth Hours project was the celebration of the First Annual UsuryFree Day in 2005 (November 13th) and UsuryFree Week (Nov. 13th to 19th). The celebration to launch UsuryFree Day and Week was in honour of the first anniversay of the Tamworth Hours project. Advertising and news stories were provided in various local print and electronic media before the event.