Why local Cash can boost the Economy

Ann Lapenna always felt buoyed by a sense of belonging when she walked into the West End Food Co-op in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood. She would head to the kitchen, don an apron, then begin slicing carrots, chopping potatoes, and juicing lemons for the store’s freshly made soups and stews.

Lapenna was part of the Co-op Cred program, which matched individuals with work placements at the co-op and nearby community gardens. Instead of dollars, wages were paid in “cred” that could be redeemed for groceries at the store. Like Lapenna, most participants had low incomes and faced barriers to employment, so the program served a dual purpose: it offered meaningful work and facilitated access to healthy food.

While a nonprofit food co-op might alleviate environmental and health problems associated with the food system, its organic products were too expensive for many community members. Wanting the store to be more inclusive, the co-op’s founders and organizational partners hit on the idea of Co-op Cred, a complementary currency rooted in cooperative principles of volunteer labor.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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