Community currency has a history that spans Victorian and Depression-era desperation. Essentially voucher systems or "complementary currency" would fill the void left when national currencies collapse or welfare systems fail, only to be outlawed again once the economy recovered. Today from Totnes to Lewes, Brixton to Bristol, local banknotes are now making a come-back. Not as a rival to sterling however, but as a potential driver of sustainable consumption.
It’s an odd boast for a new shop. But those who pop into the outlet just off Brixton’s high street for a few Portuguese custard tarts will be in – it is claimed – the only store in Britain that does not accept sterling.
The claim becomes clearer with context. The shop is the latest development in the Brixton pound project, the community currency that is operating over five years.
Local money schemes are one of the most immediate and tangible manifestations of Transition. But the voices that are rarely heard are those of the designers who create these beautiful objects. What's it like to be asked to create bank notes that capture the spirit of the place where you live? So we talked to Charlie Waterhouse of the Brixton Pound, Rick Lawrence of Samskara Design who created the new Totnes Pound notes, and Owen Davis, Art Director of the Bristol Pound.
In parts of the UK you’ll find shoppers shunning sterling in favour of local money. But how do you set up your own currency, and why is it even necessary?
The Brixton Pound has been the wad of choice for true Brixtonites since 2009. There’s around B£50,000 in circulation – in paper and electronic form – and you can buy them online or get them from various shops displaying the Brixton Pound sign. But what’s in this local currency for you? Here are five reasons we should celebrate these colourful notes:
It's one of a growing number of alternative local currencies in the UK and around the world - the question is whether it's here to stay.
B£ manager Tom Shakhli talks to BBC Scotland about setting up and running an alternative currency, dialogues with one of the founders of Glasgow's Govanhill Pound.
Here is an interesting case study of what happens when you introduce a parallel currency to compete against the monolithic fiat status quo.
One of the best ways for the general public to take power back is to develop alternative currencies — both local and global — that allow people to trade outside of the corporate-government banking systems and central bank notes.
In London, an interesting alternative currency bearing the face of pop singer David Bowie has recently come into circulation. According to Market Watch, the local currency is specialized for the Brixton community in southwest London. It is officially called the “Brixton Pound.”
UK Transition Town Notes of 2015 - Exeter, Brixton, Bristol (and Stonehouse) (International Bank Note Society Journal)
This year has been remarkable for Transition Town complementary currencies within the United Kingdon. The Exeter Pound is set to launch on September 1, 2015; the Brixton Pound celebrates its fifth anniversary with a design from an award winning artist; the city-wide Bristol Pound launched its second edition notes; and a new series of notes have been discovered for Stonehouse.
When the creators of the Brixton Pound emblazoned a banknote with David Bowie’s likeness, it sent a message: This currency is cool, alternative and — like the rock star — local.
The Brixton currency, which circulates in the neighborhood in southwest London, is only one of the alternatives to official money that have been springing up not only across the U.K., but all over the globe — there’s one in Massachusetts that’s been going for nine years. New schemes are arriving all the time: Next month, for example, Exeter in southwest England gets its own community cash.
Like most alternative money schemes, the Brixton Pound, or B£, centers on a small community shopping at local businesses. That means it’s intrinsically a reduction of choice. So why do people use it?
They say money is the root of all evil, but how can that be true when you’ve got Bowie or black radical activist and community organiser Olive Morris on the banknotes? The Brixton Pound in South London is just one of many examples worldwide of a community-run parallel currency that aims to support local businesses through increasing the money supply and encouraging people to spend in their neighbourhood. The Brixton project has grown steadily since its launch in 2009 and shown that a community can come together to participate in shaping the economy to meet its needs.
The Brixton Pound, a bespoke currency valid only in Brixton, celebrates its fifth birthday with a new design created by none other than the Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller. This is the capital's only local currency and the B£5 note has been revealed as psychedelic in style and political by nature!
Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller has created a new limited-edition banknote for the Brixton Pound, a currency that supports south London's local economy.
To mark five years since the currency's launch, the Brixton Pound recently unveiled a new special-edition of the B£5 designed by British artist Deller – who won the top Turner Prize in UK art in 2004.
The new note features a psychedelic graphic around an unidentifiable face on the front, accompanied by a quote from philosopher Karl Marx's book Capital on the back.
LONDON — Though paper money here typically bears the visage of Queen Elizabeth, the Brixton district of the city last month released a new 5-pound note designed by Jeremy Deller, an artist who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2004. It features a fuzzy, psychedelic image of an androgynous face surrounded by rainbow clouds and coruscating, swirling etchings. “I wanted something old-fashioned looking,” Mr. Deller said. “Something almost pre-currency.”
It’s the pockets of anti-capitalism; anti-austerity; anti-toffs-taking-us-all-for-a-fucking-ride remaining in London that give us hope for a future where people matter over pound. One ‘hood taking things literally is an area of London that holds a long-fractured history with the capital’s capitalist core. Brixton. A district with a history of sticking two fingers up to Westminster; positively and negatively.
The Brixton Pound launched in 2009 and is a locally used currency designed to stay in Brixton, and bolster the local economy. Rather than replacing Pound Sterling, the Brixton Pound works alongside it to support local trade and production.
To celebrate five years of the Brixton Pound, the capital's only local currency, the organisation commissioned artist Jeremy Deller to design a new B£5 note. The result is both psychedelic and political and continues to challenge more traditional approaches to banknote design...
A special edition £5 note designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller has been launched. But the psychedelic paper money can only be spent in Brixton.
The new Brixton £5 note has been introduced to celebrate the currency's fifth birthday. But the limited edition note, which incorporates a provocative message that reflects the B£’s aim of raising the conversation of how we understand, use and value money in this time of economic instability, will not replace that standard B£5 note that features British basketball star Luol Deng.
To celebrate its five year anniversary, the Brixton Pound (B£), a South-West London complementary currency scheme - an initiative which I am proud to have been part of in the past - has just issued a new special edition five B£ note.
Welcome to the latest episode of Londonist Out Loud, a podcast about London.
How do you go about setting up your own currency? N Quentin Woolf went to Brixton to meet Tom Shakhli and Max Wakefield, two of the people behind the Brixton Pound. Find out how to get it, spend it and even win a Brixton Bonus…
Brixton Pound’s Give & Take market stall in Windrush Square proved to be a popular attraction tonight, with lots of locals turning up to help themselves to the goods that had been donated earlier in the day.
The event coincided with the Brixton Pound’s fifth anniversary and launch of a new – and rather stylish –five pound note.
Scroll down to see some photos of today’s event, which goes on until 10pm.
Rush like the wind to Windrush Square for tonight’s unveiling of the new B£5 note. Like previous denominations, the Brixton note will feature the likeness of a local hero, and is the work of a Turner Prize-winning artist. Both design and designer will be revealed tonight.
The Brixton Pound (B£) has revealed a special edition paper B£5 note in celebration of the currency being five years old.
Designed by Turner Prize wining artist Jeremy Deller, the mind-melding design apparently, “adds a significant and provocative message that reflects our intention to raise the conversation of how we understand, use and value money in this time of economic instability and what we could aspire to in the future.”
The artist Jeremy Deller has designed a special edition paper B£5 in celebration of the currency being five years old. It is a local currency that is available as an alternative to the pound sterling. The notes are available in B£1, B£5, B£10 and B£20 denominations.
The emergence of peer-to-peer lending, fintech and new forms of currencies mean people and businesses can act on their dissatisfaction with the big banks
Brixton Pound launches new B£5 note with community picnic in Windrush Square, Wed 8 July 2015 (Brixton Buzz)
An event is going to be held in Windrush Square, Brixton on Weds 8th July to celebrate the fifth birthday of the Brixton Pound – and the release of a new special edition Brixton Pound 5 paper note.
Local currency Brixton Pound (B£) will soon be revealing their new five pound note. The special edition B£5 will be launched at Windrush Square on Wednesday July 8 from 5 to 10 pm.
The brand new Brixton Bonus is a monthly draw, open to all at £1 or B£1 a go, with a jackpot of B£1000. Max Wakefield, Brixton Bonus manager, explains how it works for both you and Brixton.
Brixton Pound launches the Brixton Bonus – a community lottery designed to boost grass-roots projects (Brixton Buzz)
A local lottery run by the Brixton Pound will be launching tomorrow, offering a top prize of B£1000, with revenues being used to support local social projects and businesses.
Launching on Tuesday 16th June, the Brixton Bonus will be the first regular prize draw to operate in a local currency, giving Brixtonites and Brixton regulars the chance to spend B£1000 into the local economy through the hundreds of businesses accepting B£s.
Revenue from the Bonus will be used to support local social projects and businesses through the ‘Brixton Fund’, a new local micro-grants scheme designed to provide an accessible funding avenue for grass-roots groups.
The Brixton Pound is launching a local monthly prize draw: the Brixton Bonus.
Every month the local lottery will give residents and Brixton regulars the chance to win £1000 in Brixton Pounds (B£), meaning the winnings will be put back into the local economy.
The Brixton Bonus opens to all members of the public for £1/B£1 an entry at midday on Tuesday June 16 via the Brixton Pound website.
Two weeks ago the The Brixton Pound Conference 2015 was daft enough to invite me to speak about designing the Brixton Pound. It was a fascinating day, especially hearing Nigel Dodd, author of The Social Life of Money and LSE professor talk about (amongst many things) money and magic.
There’s a nice storify of the day here, and below a(n ever-so-slightly) edited version of my speech.
It’s about time-travel, native birds and the immense power of not being dull.
April fools and fails: zero gravity London Eye pods, a sloth bar and piggyback taxi rides (Time Out)
Brixton Pound almost had us fooled with the news that John Major was the new face of their £5 notes. His Average-Joe-to-PM story made him a vaguely convincing candidate – although we heard more calls for his face to be printed on toilet paper than paper money.
Fools rating: 5/5
09.20 This one I do like.. John Major to become the face of the Brixton Pound
We bring together our pick of the best April Fools' Day jokes from community journalists around the UK.
Looking to wear your love of Brixton on your sleeve? You can now get your hands on these great Brixton Pound T-shirts.
They were created by Jude de Berker, one of the co-founders of The Turpentine, a Brixton-based creative hub, and inspired by the artwork used on paper B£s.
Local currencies keep money circulating within the local economy and support locally owned businesses. While printing your own money might seem like an improbable solution for most cities, a handful of communities have actually put it into practice.
Professor Nigel Dodd, Professor Keith Hart answer questions about the nature of money. Even as many people have less of it, there are more forms and systems of money, from local currencies and social lending to mobile money and Bitcoin.
Businesses across the London district of Brixton are to be equipped with Bluetooth beacons that will allow residents to make mobile payments using the Brixton Pound, a local currency designed to encourage consumers to spend their money in independent local businesses.
The new Brixton Pound mobile app, developed by startup Dingo, will be available for...
The Brixton Pound is getting its own app, tapping iBeacon technology to let shoppers make purchases in the local currency through their iPhones.
The Brixton Pound is getting its own app, tapping iBeacon technology to let shoppers make purchases in the local currency through their iPhones.
Somewhere in South London, an organic grocery store is accepting payment for goods in a currency that is not controlled by the Bank of England, and that is transmitted by text from a cellphone.
What may be surprising is that it’s not another trendy store cashing in on the bitcoin bump. Instead, it’s a Brixton shopkeeper taking the local currency.
Launched over four years ago by Transition Town Brixton, the Brixton Pound was set up to support Brixton businesses and encourage local trade and production. But is it working and making a difference? Or is just a novelty?
We ask some tough questions and get some good answers.
Simon Woolf is at TedX Brixton and shares how the pioneering Brixton Pound has helped to boost the local economy and restore a sense of community pride in the area.
Why is the city of Bristol printing its own money? Why have Brixton and Bath created their own energy companies? Why is the community of Totnes about to become the developer of an eight-acre site in the town? Why did people in Dunbar club together to start their own bakery? Before we can answer that, let's start with a simple enquiry. The findings are fascinating.
Whether it's because of the area's history of political radicalism and social disobedience or because the notes have David Bowie's face on them, I'm not sure, but the Brixton Pound has become arguably the most successful local currency in the UK.
I wanted to see what the heart of any community – the drug dealers – thought about their local currency
I headed to Brixton last year while investigating whether printing different money could be a solution to some of the UK’s financial woes. The answer, strangely, is yes: alternative currencies like WIR in Switzerland, as well as barter exchanges, have helped boost small businesses.
Coining It Creating your own currency used to be the stuff of children or dictators, but in times of economic crisis, alternative forms of money have a point, says Sophie McBain.
According to the Complementary Currency Resource Centre, there are 236 alternative or complementary currencies around the world, which run alongside mainstream fiat currencies.
We've already seen how residents of an earthquake-striken city can get heartily sick of politicians talking about resilience. But from resilience in a zombie apocalypse to the case for resilient design, it's important to note that there is a vast difference between political rhetoric around resilience—which tends to focus on floods, pandemics and terrorist threats—and the kind of fundamental rethink of our culture that many of us environmentalists are proposing.
In an excellent talk for BBC Radio 4 Transition Town founder Rob Hopkins (who we'll be hosting a live chat with next week) explains what Resilience 2.0 might look like. Bravely, given this is radio, he even uses a Brixton Pound (above) as a prop:
The London neighborhood of Brixton has had its own local currency for some time, the Brixton Pound (B£). Now Brixton has the distinction of launching the world's first local e-currency (B£e).The Brixton Pound website explains how it works (as the video above demonstrates):
David Bowie, in his Aladdin Sane guise, is featured on the new local currency you can only use in the Brixton district of South London. Known as the Brixton Pound, or the B£, the first round of the notes were issued in 2009.
This new series of B£ notes pays tribute to Bowie; Black Cultural Archives founder Len Garrison; Chicago Bull Luol Deng and brave WWII spy Violette Szabo.
The Brixton Pound has just celebrated its first year in circulation. But the local currency, whose notes carry the faces of famous former residents of this corner of south London, including artist Vincent van Gogh and Trinidadian author CLR James, is only legal tender for another 12 months. The £200,000 worth of notes printed last year – of which just B£30,000 are in circulation – are valid until September 2011.
I've always found the assertion that all environmentalists are socialist a little hard to swallow. I know plenty of conservatives who love the natural world and abhor waste. And I know plenty of radical greens whose anti-authoritarian, DIY streak puts them in direct conflict with any "big government" solutions from the traditional left. This very debate is flourishing right now over in the UK, with the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition Government backing a campaign called Big Society. It's a campaign that clearly hopes to engage the Transition movement and other grassroots citizen efforts—and it's got many people talking about what the real role of government should be.
One of the major stakes for cities is the maintaining of a commercial activity in situ. For both economic and ecological reasons. Tomorrow sustainable cities will offer the possibility to shop in their centers, moreover on a bike! In order to reach that goal, Brixton, in the southern area of London, explores the idea of local currency and has been striking its "Brixton Pound" since September 2009.
Yesterday we looked at Al Jazeera's report on Transition Town Totnes—offering a vision of how small towns are tackling climate change and peak oil through community involvement. But how does the Transition model relate to the city? On the one hand, urban density and great mass transit make city living green. On the other hand, almost everything is trucked in, so where does that leave the concept of resilience?A group of activists have been exploring how diverse urban communities can build resilience and reduce emissions. From the relatively uncontroversial notion of supporting local business, through to the rather radical concept of creating a car free borough, these folks are certainly considering a whole range of solutions.
From the beginning, alternative currencies have been central to the Transition Movement. But just as the Transition Movement itself has to stay relevant - so too local currencies need to find wide circulation and broad community acceptance to have any real impact on how money is spent. So the turnout at the launch of the Brixton Pound - the UK's first complementary currency specific to an urban neighbourhood - is an awesome sign of how important these initiatives are in tough times. Their choice of design, however, may leave some people feeling left out. The Brixton Pound is billed as a currency that "sticks to Brixton" with the usual arguments of facilitating the local economy, building community, and supporting independent businesses. So far, so good.
An area of London now has its own currency. Will the Brixton pound really boost trade and bring the people together?
Brixtonites were out in force to cheer in the new notes at the Lambeth Town Hall on Thursday. Local businesses supporting the initiative – there are over 70 of them – were present alongside interested locals.
David Boyle, expert in co-ops, talks about the Brixton Pound.
“Every time we invest in this money and take it out of our pockets, to exchange it for something, we are shaping our futures."
Can printing your own cash actually help revive a struggling economy? That's just what traders in one London shopping district are hoping for, as they begin accepting a new local currency.
Short on cash? Then why not make your own. There's no law against it, so long as you don't try to pass it off as sterling.
The Brixton Pound (B£), a local currency for independent traders in Brixton is launching in the Town Hall this Thursday 17th September from 7pm. The B£ will support independent businesses by encouraging residents to shop there, knowing that there money is more likely to circulate locally than leak out of Brixton to shareholders in the city, global supply chains or national contracts. Research shows that only about 15-20p of every pounds spent in a chain store stays in the local economy.
Affiliated Brixton businesses are offering special discounts to residents paying for goods and services with B£s.
You can find out more and join the B£ 1000 club by signing up at our website here: www.brixtonpound.org and receive information about the scheme and special offers from businesses.
Not long to go now before the launch of the Brixton Pound. This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that an urban district has launched its own currency. It is a bold experiment, and like all the best bold experiments, it starts with a party; September 17th, 7.30pm, Lambeth Town Hall. There is expected to be huge demand for this historic event, so you need to book in advance. Personally speaking, I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I’ll be speaking at the launch, along with David Boyle of nef, and Derrick Anderson (Chief Executive of Lambeth Council). As a taster, here is an excellent article about the Brixton Pound by Josh Ryan-Collins, from the latest edition of Fourth World Review.
This is only going to be a small post, I think or at least I hope so. But my attention has been drawn to some very interesting news for the local economy. Ok, so it’s not really local but nearby. A 25 minute bus ride, give me that at least?
It seems like Brixton will be getting a boost for its thriving little economy in the way of its own currency.
Rock legend David Bowie and comedian Chris Morris are among the faces that could grace the notes of a local currency being launched in Lambeth to boost trade.
The former Lambeth residents are on a shortlist of famous names that could grace the "Brixton Pound” currency, being launched on September 17.
Later this year, you will have the opportunity to help local businesses in the Brixton area keep money in the community rather than watching it “leak” out to national and international chain retailers. In September, Brixton will launch the Brixton Pound (B£), which is a currency that does not replace, but rather blends in with regular British currency. The difference is, every British Pound spent at a local Brixton business stays in the community. These businesses may offer special rewards for Brixton pound users, such as preferred customer cards.
Money is on everybody's mind at the moment. But could the way we think about it soon be challenged?
Brixton, South London is famous for its street life, nightlife and all too often, its crime.
Soon it might become known for something else too.
September 2009 will see the launch of the Brixton Pound, making it the third place in the country to have its own local currency
As Britain faces up to its worst post-war slump, it seems no one is immune. In the first of a three-part series on the recession and the world that will emerge from its ashes, Mick Brown visits Chester and Totnes to see how the shops on the front line are fighting the crunch – in very different ways
The Transition Town (TT) movement is a network of loosely-affiliated grass-roots groups, dedicated to making their immediate environment sustainable and through this steeling society for the challenges presented by the twin threats of climate change and the end of the abundance of cheap oil.
The Brixton Pound (B£) is a local currency launching in September 2009. This is a practical way for local people to vote with our wallets for a strong and diverse Brixton economy. It will be a complementary currency, working alongside (not replacing) pounds sterling, for use by independent local businesses and individuals trading within Brixton.
Transition Town Brixton to launch the Brixton Pound in September 2009 (Sustainable Haringey Network)
In September 2009, Transition Town Brixton (TTB) will launch the Brixton Pound: a local currency which can be spent only with local Brixton businesses.
The Brixton Pound will make money work for Brixton by supporting smaller shops and traders who are under threat from the recession and larger chains. Money spent with independent shops circulates within the local economy up to three times longer than when it's spent with national chains, research by the New Economics Foundation has shown.
The Brixton Pound will encourage people to think about where their money is going and commit to spending a proportion of it locally. It will help to maintain the diversity and uniqueness of Brixton's shops and market, build pride in Brixton, and establish a more resilient, connected community in troubled economic times. On the environmental front, TTB will support local businesses in sourcing more goods and services locally, reducing their carbon footprint.
A Brixton Pound will be worth £1 sterling and can be exchanged for sterling at issuing points. The Brixton Pound already has support from Lambeth Savings and Credit Union, a financial cooperative owned by its Lambeth based members.