The Cascadia Hour Exchange has been up and running for about 18 years, but momentum has really started to pick up in the past year.
Based in Portland, the exchange recently started issuing currency in Brookings on the Oregon coast and plans to expand to several other nearby neighborhoods later this year.
The currency, called the CHE, is meant to facilitate bartering among locals. Modeled after Ithaca HOURS, CHEs come in 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, and 4-hour denominations, and each CHE equals 10 U.S. dollars.
With CHEs, members can negotiate prices for goods and services with other people or businesses that accept them. For example, you could offer your neighbor a CHE to walk your dog. Your neighbor could then use the CHE to pay a local landscaper for yard work. The exchange also holds an auction once a month where members can buy and sell items in CHE.
"We call it `better than barter,'" said co-founder John Poling. "With barter, you have to find someone who has what you want and you have to have what they want. With this, you can buy and sell whatever you want."
Members pay a $50 fee to become a member and they receive 5 CHEs upon joining. But new members can skip the fee by simply selling items at the local auction or by working for members and accepting payments in CHE.
Most participants work out of their homes, make homemade crafts, sell items in flea markets or are independent contractors, said Poling.
The bills feature sketches of Oregon scenery like mountains and ocean, and each bill states "In Each Other We Trust".
More communities turn to local currencies to stimulate their economies.
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