Community Way Local Currency

Uncategorized  Tagged , , November 2nd, 2010

What if a currency had caring for the community built right into its structure?  What if, by design, a currency were based on generosity rather than greed?

Meet the Community Way!  This is the invention of Michael Linton who designed the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) over 30 years ago.

Michael and his friends, Ernie Yacub and Pieter Vorster came to Nelson to demonstrate this model to us this past Saturday, October 30th.  It’s tricky to wrap your mind around, but worth the mental exertion.

First, businesses donate Community Way currency to a local charity.  $1,000 per employee is the recommended amount.  As soon as the business does this, it qualifies to receive a federal tax deduction, which it receives from the charity.  This act of giving is shown as a debit in the account of the business and a credit in the account of the local charity.  No hard cash is given by the business, just a promise to honour Community Way currency as a portion of the purchase price of the goods or services that it sells to its customers.

Second, the local charity calls the Community Way administrator to report the transaction and to ask for the actual currency.  When members of the public make a donation to the charity, they’re asked if they would prefer a tax receipt OR the same amount of money in Community Way dollars.  This way the charity receives Canadian dollars and the donor doesn’t lose spending power.  In effect, a person, who exchanges Canadian dollars for Community Way dollars, gets to spend the same dollar twice.  Once to support a charity and once to purchase goods with Community Way dollars.

Members of the public now go to local businesses who have donated currency and can pay a percentage of the price of goods or services sold in Community Way dollars. The percentage is determined by the business.  The business knows that the Community Way dollars will be spent in the community, and members of the public get to support local charities without loss of spending power.  If their employees consent, local businesses can pay their employees partly in Community Way dollars, give bonuses in the local currency, and make, exchange or sell more Community Way dollars.

Since these dollars are only good in Kootenay communities, they stay in the community, increase everyone’s spending power, encourage charitable giving and stimulate participating businesses. So far, Fernie and Kimberley are also looking seriously at creating their own local currencies, and we’re all discussing how we can link our systems together.

We plan to roll this new currency out in January, 2011, and hope you will join us, whether you’re a business, non-profit, charity or citizen.  We have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Transition Nelson gratefully acknowledges the financial contributions of Columbia Basin Trust and other private donors who helped to fund this event.

621 Responses to “Community Way Local Currency”

  1.   ernie yacub Says:

    great explanation, i hope you film your next live pitch, we need more gender balance ;)

  2.   Diana van Eyk Says:

    Thanks, Ernie.

    We’ll see what we can do. We’re going to ad lib something this evening for the green drinks crowd.

  3.   Pieter Vorster Says:

    Hey Diana,

    outstanding breakdown of the process of cw$. I’ve shared this through multitple other mediums and hope that more and more people take interest and initiative, as you have.

    Keep ‘em coming!

  4.   Steven Cain Says:

    Interesting. You definitely need to watch all three videos. It’s a step beyond Barter Bucks, and as long as the honoring takes place, I can see how it could grow over time. Nicely put together Diana.

  5.   Diana van Eyk Says:

    Thanks, Steve, for the comment and for the video embed help. It’s actually a lot different from the old Barter Bucks system. And you’re right about the need to watch all three videos. It seems to take some doing to really wrap your head around how this works, but it really is impressive when you get it.

  6.   Diana van Eyk Says:

    Thanks so much Pieter! Glad I got it right — hearing that from you is very reassuring. Great to meet you, and thanks for helping us to grasp the idea so well.

  7.   Bonnie Baker Says:

    I agree we need gender parity, and also that we must emphasize that the community needs to buy in and we need to know who will be running the website and issueing the community way dollars.But as a member of several cash strapped non-profit organization, I am very interested in this model.

  8.   ernie yacub Says:

    hi bonnie, cw$ are issued by businesses in the form of donations to community orgs, done simply as account to account transfers in the cw system.

    for example, a small business with a couple of staff would donate cw$3000 to orgs of their choice – the business account opens at -3000 and the org accounts +3000. NB the business pays NO canadian dollars to participate.

  9.   grass fed meat Says:

    Who wills the end wills the means.


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