This week for The Guardian, Geoff Mulgan described how the increased use of community currencies could help to better address local needs. Mulgan describes the aim of community currencies as connecting “different kinds of supply – of time, work or things – to otherwise unmet demands or needs.” He points to a number of examples – from new currencies used during economic contractions in Argentina in the 2000s and Greece more recently to the UK’s Spice Time Credits. Spice Time Credits, which can be spent on a “range of community, cultural and leisure activities locally,” are in use by over 1,000 organizational partners, who exchange the credits for volunteering time.
Mulgan goes on to describe the potential of expanding the scale of community currencies:
“Community currencies matter because they address head on what is perhaps the worst feature of the mainstream economy: that it treats as valueless people who obviously have use and value. At a macro scale that failure translates into millions left unemployed or underemployed. At a micro scale it means that many communities simultaneously have unmet needs and underused capacities. We sometimes think of citizenship as being about votes and rights. But it’s also about what we give, and about being recognised for what we can contribute not just what we take. SpiceCommunity currencies help to remind us of the reciprocity that always holds communities together. The potential now is to take these models to a greater scale – to make them part of everyday life. Making that happen will depend on many new partners in civil society, local government and the health service. But I hope that national government and policy can play their part too in achieving the kinds of system change described in this document.”