About 30 community activists also have participated in the planning stages of the Bay Bucks project. Among the leaders in this campaign are environmental consultant Chris Grobbel of Ball Environmental Associates, Bob Russell and Sally van Vleck of Neah-tah-wanta, and Bob Struthers, the general manager of Oryana Natural Food Co-op.
Our hopes are to see Bay Bucks flowing throughout the community by the fall, says Natasha Lapinski of the Leelanau Conservancy. We still have a lot of work to do before then. Most importantly, we are putting together a business information packet with instructions on exactly how a business would incorporate using the local scrip into their daily routine. This packet will also be an educational tool to outreach to businesses who have never even heard of the currency and to encourage participation.
WHY LOCAL CURRENCY?
Speaking to Northern Express for a November 13, 2003 story, Homegrown Money, Grobbel explained that a local currency is the missing piece that will tie together our regions agricultural, service, craft and retail sectors, along with environmental efforts such as the land conservancies.
Grobbel and Lapinksi co-hosted a seminar on local currencies at the October 16, 2003, Bioneers Conference at Northwestern Michigan College. Rounding out the tandem presentations was Rob McClure, who had experience creating a local currency in Madison, Wisconsin, one of 30 communities in America that has its own homegrown money.
The TACCI group identified over 100 Traverse area businesses that could benefit from using a regional currency. About a third of them were considered early adopters with a high level of community and political awareness.
We shop with conscience, said Sean Burns of Green Island, a Traverse City retailer. Burns feels that Bay Bucks will encourage people to support the regional economy, instead of exporting wealth. We as a family will use them to get services from local alternative healthcare, spirituality providers, and outfitters.
Burns store now gives discounts to members of Oryana and to shoppers whose credit cards reflect socially responsible investing. Burns said that Green Island will offer a discount to patrons who spend Bay Bucks.
SYMBOL OF POSSIBILITIES
Oryanas Bob Struthers is also enthusiastic. We cant wait! he said. A local currency will create an awareness of the local economy and become a symbol of the possibilities in local ties. Their newsletter has already announced that the store accepts Bay Bucks, even though none has been printed yet.
A team of students from Northwestern Michigan College designed the new money. This was a project for a class in visual communication taught by Caroline Schaefer. The design team, Brendan OBrien, Pauline Viall, and Thomas Loomis, researched the history of paper money and the currencies of small nations. They developed a thematic presentation blending agricultural, wildlife, and eco-systems.
Each of the four Bay Bucks notes (BB1, BB5, BB10, and BB20) features a local ecology landscape along with one plant and one animal representative of that environment. They also recommended printing techniques, security features, and elements to aid the visually impaired.
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.
LEGALIZE IT The next challenge for the TACCI group is to formalize their legal structure. According to Chris Grobbel, a not-for-profit corporation will oversee Bay Bucks. The board of directors will come from the local business community. Bob Russell is spearheading that aspect of the project, approaching accountants, attorneys, and other business leaders. Grobbel expects the first board of directors of this corporation to be in place by August. It is also expected that this first board will be replaced in staggered terms of office. However, most of the details are still undefined. We need to work out the features by consensus, Grobbel said.
To aid that process, Grobbel is attending a three-day workshop later this month, Local Currencies in the 21st Century, sponsored by the E. F. Schumacher Society. Also to help build consensus, TACCI is sponsoring area speaking engagements by Susan Witt, executive director of the E. F. Schumacher Society, later this summer. Between now and then, according to Lapinski, the TACCI group will add a part-time staffer, the Outreach and Project Coordinator.
The TACCI group expects Bay Bucks to circulate within the region from Petoskey south to Manistee and westward from Kalkaska. At a recent TACCI meeting, Sarna Salzman of SEEDS identified two parallel systems within that geography: the watersheds also outline the economic flows of labor and capital. She suggested Bread for Your Watershed as a motto for the Bay Bucks notes.