What if Nova Scotia had a local currency

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I just received this awesome press release (see below) about iconic CSA farmer Robyn Van En and the local currency called "Berkshares" from the Schumacher Institute. Susan Witt, Executive Director, and Alice Maggio, Local Currency Program Director (awesome title right?), of the Schumacher Institute, both spoke at the Local Prosperity Conference in Annapolis Royal about sustainable models for local prosperous economies. In my opinion, these models are far more exciting and "with the times" than the models discussed in the One Nova Scotia Now or Never Report

At the Local Prosperity conference, Susan Witt talked about building a new prosperous and responsible economy without growth. She suggested that the Community Supported/Shared Agriculture CSA model should be expanded to create a new model called Community Supported Industry. While it's not a new idea to have community supported industry, building a community supported or shared economy today requires new branding, local first promotion strategies, and financial and regulatory structures (policy, investment, currency etc.) to make it work. Witt suggests that building a prosperous local economy starts with something very simple, "dusting off" the local business plans of successful small town businesses and kick-starting them with new branding and community investment. Witt says that in Massachussetts, their successful model for responsible local prosperity started with local promissory notes or bonds, the Community Supported/Shared Agriculture (CSA) model, and local currency (Bershares). Since Nova Scotia already has CSA Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIF's) and Crowdfunding as models for community investment, maybe it's time Nova Scotia gets its own local currency.

We've already seen examples of farmers market dollars (Wolfville Farmers Market), farm dollars (Wild Rose FarmTruro Dollars, Let's Antigonish....what if we had Blue Nose Dollars? (open to name suggestions :-) )

Sidebar: I would be happy to connect anyone who reads this article and is working on a re-localization strategy with Susan or Alice. There are other's in the province who have explored different local currency models, why not have them come a present to your local business or community association? 

The Awesome Press Release about the Berkshare Local Currency that inspired this post.

Dear Duncan Ebata,

Following the example set by BerkShares, Inc., the U.S. Treasury announced last Wednesday that a woman would appear on the 10-dollar bill beginning in 2020. The announcement comes nine years after BerkShares, Inc. issued BerkShares, a local currency that features a woman.
f268b23e-23d3-4dd5-8761-31e667d7c009.jpgRobyn Van En, who graces the front of the 10-BerkShare note, was the organic farmer who founded the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement in the United States and applied the CSA concept at her farm in South Egremont, Massachusetts, Indian Line Farm. In the 30 years since Indian Line Farm was founded, CSAs have become understood and adopted by thousands of communities around the world, but when Robyn Van En was pioneering the model in the mid-1980s, it was revolutionary.
Photo by Clemens Kalischer
In a CSA, a consumer pre-purchases a share of a farm’s production for the whole growing season. This gives the farmer access to much-needed capital at the beginning of the season and cuts down on marketing costs. It allows the customer to share the risk of farming and use their buying power to support the local food producers that they wish to see thrive.
Robyn Van En died tragically young in 1997, but her work lives on at Indian Line Farm, which continues to produce abundantly for residents of the Southern Berkshires. The land is now owned by the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires and leased on a 98-year basis to organic farmers Elizabeth Keen and Alexander Thorp, who own the farm business, the farm house, and all improvements on the land. The Nature Conservancy holds the conservation easement on the property. Learn more about this ownership arrangement on our website.
Photo by Jason Houston
BerkShares were issued by BerkShares, Inc. in September of 2006 in partnership with community banks and locally owned businesses. Because the currency was created to encourage and allow for community support of the Berkshire economy, its design celebrates the region’s landscape and the accomplishments of its people.
Van En takes her place on the 10-BerkShare note among four other figures from the Berkshire Region of Western Massachusetts who made their mark nationally in the realms of politics, culture, social change, and environmental activism. The 1-BerkShare note features a Stockbridge Mohican, representative of the first people of the region. The 5-BerkShare note boasts W.E.B. DuBois, the civil rights activist and founder of the NAACP, who grew up in Great Barrington. The 20-BerkShare note displays a portrait of Herman Melville, the writer and environmentalist. Norman Rockwell, beloved illustrator of 20th-century American life, appears on the 50 BerkShare note.

The back of each BerkShare note features the work of a different highly regarded contemporary artist living and working in the Berkshires. Observers frequently comment on the beauty of the bills. “What could be better than money that has history on the front and artwork on the back? I mean, really! They’re not only beautiful, but the idea is beautiful,” remarked Van Shields, executive director of the Berkshire Museum, in a recent interview. The paintings by Bart Elsbach, Morgan Bulkeley, Jr., Janet Rickus, Warner Friedman, and Joan Griswold and the woodcut by Michael McCurdy represent different aspects of life in the Berkshires, from the mountains to Main Street.

“What’s so nice about BerkShares is that they’re telling stories about the community through the currency,” said Beryl Jolly, executive director of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, an arts organization that accepts BerkShares.
The announcement that a woman will appear on the 10-dollar bill in 2020 comes on the heels of an online campaign to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the 20-dollar bill with the portrait of Harriet Tubman. Although Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew will ultimately decide whose portrait will appear on the 10-dollar bill, he has welcomed input from the American people about who they would like to see.
One community in Massachusetts has already chosen to put the heroes, the artwork, and the images that best represent their values on their currency. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Treasury’s next redesign of the dollar will follow suit!

Best wishes,

The Schumacher Center Staff


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