Local town to create own currency

April 6, 2009 6:12:23 PM PDT
The global recession has many talking about staying local with their dollars.It's not traditional money --it's called "Plenty." And in this recession, a once failed community currency is ready for a colorful come back in Pittsboro.

"It's about circulation, or about how many times that dollar or plenty goes around town," said Lyle Estill with Piedmont BioFuels.

Estille, a Canadian, is one of the driving forces behind replacing the American greenback in Pittsboro with a local bill of trade.

"We are exploring a different way of being," Estill said.

For example, the food grown in Chatham County is more likely to be sold in Pittsboro and that transaction --made in Plenties-- will buy BioFuel, which accepts Plenties, also in Pittsboro. So the money, and commerce go around and around in Pittsboro, because really the Plenty can be spent mostly only in Pittsboro.

"You can only spend it around here, so we are mindful to our local connection to each other," Estill said. "So the beauty of the plenty is you can't spend it in China. It's got to stay here. And the more it stays here. The more it stays here, the more we will all be enriched."

The Plenty's slogan is not in "God We Trust", but "In Each Other We Trust".

But six years ago, the Plenty's first push fell flat. The Plenty faded from circulation last time, because they eventually ended up at stores which had to trade outside of Pittsboro. Organizers say they have fixed that by finding a bank to back the Plenty.

Capital Bank's Pittsboro branch has agreed to exchange the Plenty for dollars.

"The idea that you can trade your Plenties in for a Federal Reserve Note, at a bank, solves the circulatory problem," Estill said. "That is you can't get stuck with them anymore."

Every day shoppers are interested, as long as they can trade the Plenty for standard money if they want to.

"If the bank is willing to work with people on it, and the merchants are on board, it's a great advertising," Chatham County resident Cindy Dameron said.

Organizers say two dozen merchants are ready to accept Plenty when the revived currency starts trading in about a month.


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