"As of this summer, you can be broke in Santa Barbara, California, and still afford organic produce from the farmers’ market. You can be dollar-broke, that is—but if you have enough Santa Barbara Missions tokens jangling in your pocket, earned in exchange for helping out at a number of local nonprofits, you’ll be set."
" The converging interest in complementary currencies is thanks in large part to the problems wrought by the recession and growing income inequality. An increasing number of communities face the exact challenge alternative currencies are designed to address: a shortage of dollars and a dwindling number of ways to earn them, mixed with no diminishment in peoples’ practical skills within a community, or the number of hours in a day. Local currencies can offer a way to expand the assignment of economic value, so that activities like volunteering in a local garden, giving a neighbor a haircut, or reading to a homebound senior can help a person earn access to food and other basic needs, even if dollars never change hands.
Today, conditions are such that alternative currencies could be poised to proliferate, says Chris Tittle, director of organizational resilience at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, an Oakland-based nonprofit. He’s noting sprouting signs of a “new generation of currencies,” he says, which leverage technology and online networking.
“It’s a combination of economic necessity and technological innovation that’s driving this,” Tittle says."