World economies are crumbling, so maybe we should just scrap them completely and start over. That’s the idea behind Mexican artist Minerva Cueva’s S.COOP coins, which have been given to retailers in London’s Petticoat Lane Market. When customers receive change from a purchase in the market, they receive S.COOP coins that can be redeemed at Cueva’s Monochrome ice cream parlor.
Cueva’s S.COOP project fits with the ideals of the burgeoning Transition Town movement, which seeks to make communities completely self-sustaining. By providing money that can only be redeemed at physical stores, local currencies reduce our tendency to buy books on Amazon instead of walking to the local bookstore down the street (if any of those still exist).
Hyper-localized currencies have been popping up more and more as the economy gets weaker–not surprising since local currencies also gained popularity during the Great Depression. The Berkshires’ Berkshares currency is printed by five local Massachusetts banks, and 185,000 paper notes are already in circulation. California’s Humboldt County has distributed $130,000 in currency since 2005, and Canada’s Toronto Dollar moved $90,000 worth of currency in the past year.
The Transition movement, started four years ago by a British ecological designer, has gained followers around the world, and there are now 150 Transition Towns