Five years ago we all gushed and oohed over how the Internet had shrunk the world, bringingMoscow as close as Massachusetts. In reaction against growing globalism we now cebrate the local: we buy carrots from nearby farms, and the greenest among us buy furnishings made from local materials. Could the new localism lead to local currencies, as well?
Douglas Ruskoff, author of Life Inc.,a condemnation of corporate culture published in June, advocates the use of local currencies as a way of preventing national companies from sapping value from neighborhoods without reciprocating. “… if you start using alternative currency for your entertainment activities, you are supporting your community rather than having your resources drained to Hollywood or some DVD manufacturer or liquor distributor,” he told Flavorpill. By way of inspiration, Flavorpill posted a handful of its favorite notes, including the Cook Island dollars shown above.
There is apparently no law forbidding the use of alternative currencies. The Ithaca Hours (above) has been used by more than 500 businesses in Ithaca, N.Y., since 1991.
Brooklyn may be the next to come up with its own currency. Last month, seven artists calling themselves the Brooklyn Torch Project put out a call for graphics to be used in a new paper currency that would provide “Brooklynites with a tangible medium of exchange that will circulate and support the resident community.” According to The New York Daily News the group has received designs that would replace the traditional presidential portrait with a kielbasa, a mustache, a woman holding a finger to her lips, an ice cream cone and a man with lightning bolts shooting out of his eyes. No word on when a final selection will be made. In the meantime, Daily Intel nominated the above design featuring Brooklyn writer Jonathan Safran Foer.
As Alison Arieff pointed out last month in her blog for The New York Times, good design brings clarity out of confusion. Given the chaos of our financial lives, the troubled national currency, which assumed its basic form in the Great Depression, is ripe for reworking. A brand consultant named Richard Smith held an online competition for a redesign the summer. The submissions can be seen here. The winning design, by Kyle R. Thompson, is above.