(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

Slow Money

Posted on: Sep. 7, 2010  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: General

Most of us are familiar with the idea that buying and eating locally grown food strengthens our local economies and is healthy for ourselves and the planet. Slow food movements are also a great inspiration for those who want to go local when it comes to money, too. Plenty of places around this country and the world are using local currency invented by community members, i.e. Slow Money. I list resources on my website under “resources.” In The Future of Money, Nobel-winning Belgian economist Bernard Lietaer cites local currency as the way to save a global economy on the brink. When we use local currencies we forge community connections. For instance, Ithaca, NY trades in Ithaca Hours, which means you can get an hour of plumbing for an hour of babysitting. For a comprehensive list of alternative currencies by state, visit the EF Shumacher Society’s site: (http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/local_currencies/currency_groups.html#local).

If you don’t find an alternative currency in your local area, you might consider starting one. Canada’s Michael Linton provides guidance for creating a Local Exchange Trading System, or LETS, at http://www.gmlets.u-net.com/. Explore options for joining a community that uses alternative international currency managed on the web at CES (http://www.community-exchange.org/).

The problem with alternative currencies is that if the token given is not perceived as money, there is a greater tendency to cheat or use them fraudulently.  Ironically, if you issued a token for being honest, it would encourage more dishonesty since being honest was removed from being a social convention to something being paid for.  It could then be rationalized that it is okay to be dishonest.  Now that is Boodle.

Whether Plenties or BerkShares, I’d love to hear from people who use alternative currencies what it’s like to do so. What are the joys and the pitfalls, if any? Why isn’t everybody doing it?

If you were going to make up a currency for your city or neighborhood or even family or group of friends, what would you call it? What would it look like?

One Comment

  • Samone says:

    I work as a resident assistant at a college and we’ve just launched a “talent-sharing” initiative in our residence hall. Students have sent in descriptions of skills they have to offer, and we’re hoping to get some sort of trade going- a piano lesson for a Swahili lesson, if you will. This isn’t much different from Ithaca time, but could really benefit neighborhoods as a whole. Cooperatives also come to mind.

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