We’re pretty enthusiastic about alternative currencies at nef. We have a ‘funny money’ wall decorated with Berkshares, Totnes Pounds, Lewes Pounds and Time Bank dollars. Since these notes are only accepted by small local businesses, they keep money circulating in their respective local economies, rather than being leaked out out the area through chain stores. Local currencies help to create thriving communities, and help keep our high streets from turning into Clone Towns.
So we’re pleased to report that a new community currency will soon be circulating not far from nef headquarters. A few enterprising souls at Transition Town Brixton are introducing their very own pound this September, and have a new website to promote it. Members of nef‘s Connected Economies team have acted as advisors on the project and Lambeth Savings & Credit Union (LSCU), a financial co-operative that has been serving Lambeth since 2006, are holding the Brixton Pound’s sterling backing.
Stopping the spread of Clone Town syndrome is particularly crucial for Brixton. It has plenty of independent retailers, but these are under threat from aggressive chain store expansion. Tesco already has a huge superstore just off the High Street and a Tesco Metro on the road up to Kennington, and yet it still has plans for expansion in Brixton, draining more customers away from local businesses. Earlier this year, Brixton’s vibrant market only narrowly avoided being turned into a yet another dull shopping precinct. Thanks to campaigning by Friends of Brixton Market, the planning application from developers London and Associated Properties (LAP) was rejected. Initiatives like the Brixton Pound will help to make this victory secure.
If you live in Lambeth – or even if you don’t – and want to support the scheme, you can pledge to buy ten Brixton Pounds (B£10) when the scheme goes live in September. Or, if you’re a business owner in Brixton, you can pledge to accept the currency from your customers.
And while I’ve got the attention of all you South Londoners, why not join Project Dirt?