Alternative Currencies in Theory and Practice

The Ithaca Model Examined in Northern California

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Everyone asks how I happened upon my topic, whether they are local currency supporters, economists, or just normally-curious humans. For the record, it was a front-page article in the Los Angeles Times issue of 1 March 1999. It was talked about Mendocino SEED, a Northern California group that had just issued their own money. I reacted as most others later would when I would explain the concept to them: first with incredulity, and then with interest at the possibilities for making money without the regular eight-to-five job.

Sixteen months later I was bicycle-camping through Mendocino County with seventy pounds of gear, including camera, tape recorder, and laptop computer, to begin documenting this phenomenon. It's been a long process, and the results thus far are posted here. The project of understanding local currencies and their prospects for success will never be finished so long as men are unsatisfied with the world around them. Their continued efforts to reshape the world in which they live will require the involvement of the scholar and researcher as well as the activist, to record and comment on the progress, and in so doing to influence its direction.

Formatting Notes: Due to the document's length, each chapter is presented as a separate file. The text was originally formatted in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style. Due to differences between the printed page and the computer monitor, changes have been made in layout and appearance. Extraneous fancy graphics have been avoided in the interests of providing maximum value to those with lower-powered Internet connections. I welcome feedback on its design.

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