Tuesday, May 28, 2019

At Oryana Co-op I Took my Change in Bay Bucks

Over the weekend of May 18, we were in Traverse City. After shopping on Front Street, we went to Oryana Community Co-op to buy snacks. We were members when we lived in TC. And at that time, I worked with the Bay Bucks planning committee. So, I took my change in community currency. 
Early Stage Concepts
A local currency provides an economic “cul-de-sac” that keeps wealth within a community. Local money tends to stay close to home. This means that profits do not get exported via chain stores and multinational corporations. Instead, people buy and sell goods and services among themselves, with the currency being an accounting tool. About 30 towns have tried the experiment, some with more success than others. 
[Portions of this article first appeared in the Michigan State Numismatic Society MichMatist where it can be found online here]

Late Stage Concept
10BB Pre-Production Proof 
In the summer of 2003, I heard a radio interview on WIAA-FM, Interlochen, in which two Traverse City community activists, Chris Grobbel and Natasha Lapinski, explained their plans for a hometown money. They sounded competent and intelligent and the project was compelling to me as a numismatist. I tracked them down by asking around at the Oryana Natural Food Co-op. I interviewed them (and others) for an article that ran in the November 13, 2003 issue of Northern Express hereI wrote a follow-up article for the June 9, 2004 issue here. 

For me, the rewards were in managing the design team. I found three design students at Northwestern Michigan College. Brendan O’Brien, Pauline Viall, and Thomas Loomis launched a model company (OVL Design) and signed off on a Statement of Work. I gave them samples of world currencies, a copy of Standish’s The Art of Money and links to websites for the International Banknote Society and the Paper Money Collectors. 

20BB as Pre-Production Proof
Seeking a printer, I found Deep Wood Press and Chad Pastotnik. (There was another alternative but now I cannot find her name.) Chad did everything he could to help them with their insufficient production budget. We abandoned intaglio printing, hemp paper, die cut corners to facilitate telling by touch, and other craft elements. The final version does have a foil security appliqué. Each note was to carry its own motto: “Regional Community Currency” (BB1); “Traverse Area Community Currency” (BB5); “Bread for Your Watershed” (BB10); and “In Community We Trust” (BB20). Instead all of the backs say "Trustworthy Tools for Local Exchange."

Patty Fabian, a designer with Peninsula Partners in Traverse City, developed a set of proposed logos to support the imaging and branding of Bay Bucks in store windows, on bumper stickers, and on the notes themselves.
5BB (Face) and 1BB (Face and Back)

The final version of the series consists of four notes: BB1, BB5, BB10 and BB20. Each represents an eco-system: Dunes (Dune Lily and Piping Plover); Wetland (Morrell Mushroom and Ringtail Raccoon); Farm (Cherry Blossom and Barn Owl); and Forest (Lady Slipper and Whitetail Deer). The Petoskey Stone pattern supplied the border of all four faces.  

The planning committee identified about 100 local businesses that could benefit from participating in “Bay Bucks.”  About 30 of them were considered early adopters. Oryana Community Co-op was central to the success of Bay Bucks. Among the other participants was the State Theatre, home of the Traverse City Film Festival, a joint effort of Michael Moore and the Chamber of Commerce.

  • Bay Bucks here: http://www.baybucks.org
  • Launching Bay Bucks “Local Money Plan for Homegrown Currency has a Rich Past” Northern ExpressNovember 12, 2003, here.
  • “Passing the Bay Bucks: Local Currency Could Hit the Streets This Summer,” (Northern Express, 2004) here. 
  • Traverse Ticker (2018) “Yes, Traverse City Still has its own Currency” here.
  • Traverse Ticker (2019) “Could Bay Bucks go Digital?” here
  • “I Took My Change in Bay Bucks” on CoinTalk here.

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