Social currency

Waterboro Reporter

Waterboro Reporter

The photo above was provided by the owner/publisher of the newspaper for which I work. The Waterboro Reporter is a locally-owned, weekly community paper that pays me for the articles I write–many about sustainability, local farmers and business people, local non-profit organization, school news, town government and activist groups. The Reporter is, I believe, an important part of the “local circle.” It is a free-to-read newspaper, with printing costs and content (read: writers like me!) costs covered only by advertising dollars, not readers.

I love the idea of currency circulating from one local business to the next local business via paychecks and purchases. This is the essence of a local economy. It also creates a type of social currency: measured only in goodwill and reciprocity.

Here is a real example: Last month, the Reporter sold advertising space to local businesses and printed up some ads that readers were sure to notice as they read the content of the paper. Then the Reporter collected the advertising money from those businesses. Last week, the Reporter sent me a check for my articles. I cashed my check on Saturday and went immediately to the Newfield Farmer’s Market–where I bought close to $25 worth of stuff. Now, if the market then took out an advertisement in the following week’s paper, the local economic circle would be complete! The money would just continue circulating–maybe going to out to a local antique store or the local supermarket–but eventually, hopefully, coming right back around and around and around.

THIS cycle is exactly what I’ve been writing about/advocating for the past four years!

Over the course of a year, with money earned from my writing gig, I’ve bought local maple syrup, a Community Supported Agriculture membership from a local farmer, and an order for a year’s worth of beef from a Limerick neighbor. I’ve shopped at the local supermarket and had countless lunches at local restaurants like the Clipper Merchant Tea House and the Peppermill. I’ve donated money to charitable causes (guess where I went on Saturday afternoon, after the market? The Limerick Historical Society penny auction.)I’ve bought incense,books, toys and other interesting stuff at local gift shops. My love for Plummer’s Hardware and the Limerick Supermarket is well-known.

Much of this I’ve documented here on Localista and shared with my facebook friends and my email list, which is also free publicity for the local businesses I love. In turn, these businesses provide me with excellent customer service and great products.

The money I spend comes from a locally owned paper whose only income–I will stress this again–is advertising. This is a newspaper that has been amazing to publish all the stories I’ve written with a sustainability slant, promoting the kind of “buy local” philosophy I hold dear. The Reporter doesn’t “sell” newspaper coverage. It covers stories we think are interesting and important whether or not an ad is purchased; however, think about that local cycle a minute. Now think some more…

Readers, please shop locally, and if you shop at one of our advertisers, let them know you saw their ad in the paper. Supporting each other, in a local economy, is the foundation of freedom from corporate control. Be part of the circle!

6 responses to “Social currency

  1. I read of communities where they printed their own local “currency” to encourage keeping the monies local. It was just a way, really, of keeping track of bartering within the communities. I thought it was a great idea. I think the IRS shut it down, as they couldn’t figure out how to enforce getting their cut.

    • I am part of a sustainability group that is organizing a local system for exchanging services, i.e. local currency using a system called It is interesting and many communities are starting up their own exchanges.

  2. It’s great that newspaper is doing well enough to pay you. I worked for a weekly back in the 70’s running the newspaper press. Selling advertising was the hardest job. If you can get people to shop locally, that’s the key that basically holds the community together. The revenue stays at home and everyone benefits.

    • I enjoy the writing work, especially features of people who are doing artsy or community work. Creating a vibrant, self-sustaining local economy is the ultimate security measure.

  3. I’ve been supporting our local garden centers lately. That might make a nice piece for one of your articles. Do you have one nearby? Aidan and I are having a great time creating our own herb garden and this week- the veggie garden begins!

    • That is sooo great, Mary Ann! I will make sure to look at your facebook page for updated photos of the gardens. I am sloooowwly getting my garden boxes filled in. Kinda behind this year for some reason. Garden centers = good idea. I bought some seedlings from the farmer’s market farmers and some from a local farm/greenhouse. Have plans to hit another one this week for the remainder and to plant seeds I have left over from my Johnny’s order last year. I had so many left over I couldn’t see ordering new. Will plant extra seeds in case of lower germination a year later. Will be interesting.

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