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During the Great Depression, when banks were closed so they could be audited, over 400 currencies called SCRIP were used in the US to buy food and services. When the banks reopened, sometimes several months later, SCRIP was replaced with the federal currency. Since the beginning of the financial crisis a resurgence of interest in alternative money systems has led to many new initiatives.
The Ithaca Hours are the oldest printed paper currency in the US. Founded in 1991 by Paul Glover Hours have been in continuous use, their popularity rising and diminishing with fluctuations in the overall economy.
Each paper bill is a small piece of art and a commentary on the federal currency. At the top it says: IN ITHACA WE TRUST - rather than In God We Trust. The currency is issued for the town of Ithaca and the surrounding farms - which means that the money will benefit local exchanges and local jobs and can never go away as it does when we take dollars to WalMart.
I'm inviting you to re-visit with me one of the most important journeys I have taken as radio reporter, my 1995 visit to Ithaca. Paul Glover, who founded Ithaca Hours in 1991, is still doing community currency work. I spoke to him in February of 2014 to update the information in this program.