The UsuryFree Eye Opener

The UsuryFree Eye Opener is the electronic arm of the UsuryFree Network. It seeks active usuryfree creatives to help advance our mission of creating a usuryfree lifestyle for everyone on this planet. Our motto is 'peace and plenty before 2020.' The UsuryFree Eye Opener publishes not only articles related to the problems associated with our orthodox, usury-based 1/(s-i) system but also to the solutions as offered by active usuryfree creatives - and much more for your re-education.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Community Currency – Trading Without Cash

By Ryan Moore

What if cash was not the only currency you could use? Businesses and individuals have been exchanging goods and services without the use of cash since the beginning of humanity. It’s the oldest way of doing business.

This points to a tool for community empowerment, which enables merchants and consumers to plant the seeds for an alternative economic future in their communities.

There are already thousands of local community currency systems operating worldwide.

Transition Ottawa has sparked a new initiative – the Ottawa Community Currency Network (OCCN).

Community currency is a way to complement our national currency, but it has no value anywhere outside the Ottawa area.

European community networks gave over five million euros to several foundations developing community currencies. Community resources have been used more effectively as a result.

One of the major challenges is bringing the public out of their comfort zone. The concept of an alternative currency has the potential to threaten a person’s worldview.

But the benefits of a community currency are vast, including social, economic, and environmental bonuses.

You cannot have political democracy without economic democracy. People are more overworked than they have been since the early 1900’s. Now that we are moving toward a knowledge-based economy, it’s important to learn more and work less.

This means having a voice when it comes to dealing with our own resources, and looking closely at the huge gaps of wealth and power both here and internationally.

One of the advisors to the Ottawa Community Currency Network, Tim Inkpen, says that focusing too much on building the proper infrastructure is detrimental to seeing OCCN succeed.

“We have a powerful dream of a sustainable Ottawa where individuals can meet their needs, communities are prosperous and resilient, the environment is respected and businesses make money by enhancing the quality of both the community and the environment,” Inkpen said in a recent speech.

“Now I would like you to take a moment to imagine what Ottawa would be like if this vision came true.” Said Inkpen. “Imagine the streets being quiet enough to hear yourself think; being able to safely swim in a pollution-free Ottawa River; going to sleep at night knowing that no matter what happens, you will always have enough to support you and your family; being able to eat affordable organic food every day.”

Increasing local trade builds stronger community currencies. People interact more with each other, form new connections and build stronger community networks.

Members post offers and want ads (much like online classifieds). Then members have the option of trading goods in person. Transactions are recorded to balance the agreed-upon amount.

Community currency has also been a useful initiative for local charities and community groups, who might not otherwise have adequate funding to meet their immediate needs.

People living below the poverty line can trade goods to improve their situation, rather than depending on others to provide.

Canadian Tire money is an example of a company that created local currency as an incentive for customer loyalty. It’s the same principle local, small and medium-sized enterprises can use to develop a stronger niche in their community.

Businesses can list their goods and services on the OCCN’s online.

Businesses and organizations can also employ more people, and accomplish more because they no longer have the typical economic restraints.

“Money should be simply a medium of exchange,” Inkpen said. “Yet, in our current system, it has become something much more. It is something that has value in and of itself, largely divorced from real goods and services. How? Thanks largely to the way modern money is created. Under the current system, all money is based on debt and interest on that debt. Without debt the entire existing monetary system would cease to exist. And thanks to interest on that debt, the debt keeps getting bigger and bigger, making ever increasing demands on people’s lives and on our environment.”

Today worldwide money is almost completely controlled by banks and currency traders. A strategy to avoid this is to invest in a local currency, which replaces debt with interest-free commitment, where the producers and consumers themselves define the value of money. This allows members to generate funds for projects they deem most important. Then, payment is made in the community currency.

For instance, if Sarah wanted her house painted and offered a bike as payment, Ken may be able to paint the house, but may not be interested in the bike. OCCN issues Sarah $100 in Bytowns (the community currency developed by OCCN) in order to pay Ken. This means Sarah is committed to return value to the community (without creating debt). In order to return this value, Sarah could rake Jane’s leaves for a week. If she chooses, Sarah could list her bike in the OCCN website classifieds.

To have this system operating requires contributions from many different people. The OCCN invited you to become part of this international movement. There are many volunteer positions available.

The OCCN also needs people to fill board positions. Please contact Tim Inkpen with any questions or concerns.

For information, visit the OCCN website: or email Tim Inkpen:

NOTE: Ryan Moore is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

NOTE: This article is originally published in the "Insider Section" of the April-June 2013 issue of “Peace and Environment News” (PEN) - Volume 28, Number 2, - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

NOTE: The “Peace and Environment Resource Centre” website:


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