The Great Lakes Commons project has embarked upon an ingenious campaign to reimagine money, value and water protection by issuing its own time-limited “Currency of Care.” The bills are not likely to be used for commercial transactions. In a way, that is the point – to spark a new conversation about money, value, community and the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Commons is inviting people to give a Currency of Care note as a thank-you to people who have done something to protect the Great Lakes in big or small ways. Or you can give notes to people as a request that they do something to protect the lakes in the future. Paul Baines, an organizer of the project, notes:
“Each note represents the act of giving gratitude or requesting action. Each note carries the most precious value: acts of thanks and care for the Great Lakes. Rather than based on dollars, the value of these notes is our collective agreement and intention to reward people for their water protection through past actions (saying ‘thanks’) or future actions (saying ‘please’). Because our current money systems only acknowledge economic utility and gain, our Great Lakes Commons currency needs a wildly different theory of value -- such as past/future actions for water care.”
More than 5,000 individually numbered bills have been distributed, all of them due to expire at end of year. Why the expiration date? Because “this currency is for sharing not saving,” the currency webpage explains. “The value of this currency comes through its use -- its current. The rules of today’s dollar system rationalize hoarding and controlling money to make more money. The needs of healthy people and living water are denied not because there isn’t enough money in the world, but because it makes ‘sense’ to accumulate/hoard more and to spend it otherwise.”