BerkShares: Bringing Business Back to the Community


Richard Moore

Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2006 18:43:44 -0500
Subject: Bringing Business Back to the Community
From: "E. F. Schumacher Society" <•••@••.•••>

Just ten weeks after BerkShares made their debut on the streets and 
in the cash registers of southern Berkshire County, Massachusetts, 
trade in this model local currency has been brisk. BerkShares Inc., 
the organization sponsoring the project, estimates that 333,000 
BerkShares have already been purchased from the four participating 
banks. Much of that has already gone into the hands of the 188 
participating local merchants and service providers, who, in turn, 
have spent the currency at other participating local businesses.

BerkShares are issued in five denominations: 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, and 
50s. They are beautifully produced bills that celebrate local heroes, 
landscapes, and the work of local artists. They are designed by John 
Isaacs of John Isaacs Design and printed at Excelsior Printing using 
special security paper from Crane and Co.-all businesses located in 
the Berkshire region.

But BerkShares are even more powerful than they are beautiful. Every 
BerkShare spent helps keep community assets from leaving the 
Berkshires for far-off places. Every BerkShare spent means more money 
in the hands of Berkshire businesses. And as the BerkShares keep 
circulating, the effect is cumulative.

An estimated 3,000 people have been using BerkShares on a regular 
basis for food, movie tickets, clothing, books, music, and a variety 
of services from legal advice to landscaping, from car repair to 
carpentry. The BerkShares project has given them a powerful impetus 
to shop locally whenever possible.

In an age of global commerce and internet shopping, BerkShares Inc. 
has found a powerful way to strengthen the local economy of its home 
region. It has reformed the way many Berkshire business owners and 
residents of the think about their local economy. It has helped 
educate the Berkshire community on why shopping locally matters. And, 
most importantly, it has set in motion a revolution that can make the 
Berkshires not only a beautiful and wholesome place to live, but one 
where locally owned businesses thrive, and where economic 
self-sufficiency can be nurtured as an alternate model to the 
nameless, faceless global economy.

BerkShares Inc. is cosponsored by the E. F. Schumacher Society and 
the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. For more information, 
please call 413/528-1737, or visit

A gallery of photographs by Berkshire photographer Jason Houston, 
documenting the history of BerkShares, can also be viewed at the 
BerkShares website.

Susan Witt, Peter Tiso, Christopher Lindstrom, and Michael Gordon
E. F. Schumacher Society
140 Jug End Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230 USA

Board of Directors: Jessica Brackman, Starling Childs, Merrian 
Fuller, Hildegarde Hannum, Eric Harris-Braun, Constance Packard, 
Joseph Stanislaw, Ganson Taggart, Nancy Jack Todd, and Charles 
Turner. Board of Founders: Ian Baldwin, David Ehrenfeld, Satish 
Kumar, John McClaughry, and Kirkpatrick Sale.

Advisory Board: Tanya Berry, Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, Lisa Byers, Olivia

Dreier, Hazel Henderson, Wes Jackson, Amory Lovins, John McKnight, 
David Orr, Michael Shuman, Cathrine Sneed, Lewis Solomon, John Todd, 
Greg Watson, and Arthur Zajonc.

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