Bartering a basket of fish for a wool blanket is as old as time itself, but such trading has its limits. In 2013, Chris Hewitt helped to “re-vision” money, by co-creating a new community currency called the Hudson Valley Current, with a value of $1 per Current. The community-based organization supports local businesses and nonprofit entities by keeping money local and recycling the wealth within the local economy, rather than letting all the wealth flow out.
Community currency is a form of money issued at the community level, for use at local participating businesses. The theory behind community curren- cies is to encourage spending at local businesses, as opposed to chains or “big box” stores.
Chris had already started Country Wisdom News magazine (now Livelihood), but he realized he needed to reconsider things. He attended Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network’s first Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp in 2015, held at Marist College. There he met GCSEN Founder and President Mike Caslin, who is now treasurer of the Current board. Mike inspired Chris to merge the operations of the magazine with the Current, and encouraged him to continue on the path of “4 P” bottom lines—for People, Planet, Profit and Place. Chris says, “The GCSEN Boot Camp helped me to fast-track and re-analyze my thinking about my businesses. It was a great experience. I learned (and re-learned) a ton, and I still collaborate with the folks from that Boot Camp. It’s a great network.”
Today, the Current has over 350 members: local businesses, nonprofits and professionals who exchange Currents for products and services. Chris likes to remind people that, “Currents are a complimentary currency. They don’t replace the dollar, which is based on the volatile national economy. Currents are based on the good faith of the participants in the community, guaranteeing that our wealth stays local.” In keeping with this, Chris also started the Satisfy Hunger Campaign in the Hudson Valley, utilizing Currents to purchase locally grown and manufactured food products to feed those in need. It’s a full plate, but what would you expect from a successful Social Entrepreneur?
–Chris Hewitt, Hudson Valley Current To learn more or to sign up, visit hudsonvalleycurrent.org