Ithaca HOURS
Community Currency
since 1991
    This website is maintained by the founder of Ithaca HOURS.
The official website of the Ithaca HOURS board of directors is at
 Paul Glover consults for grassroots economic development as GreenPlanners.

HOUR Success Stories

success comes in all sizesAlthough we're told that only experts can understand economics, we find that the average person has a good sense of the subject, especially on the local level. Policy regarding our local currency was initially made by Barter Potluck participants, like these folks. And as their stories show, there's a lot of common sense leading us.

These are some of the 300 success stories published in HOUR Town.  I asked people, "how have you earned HOURS, how have you spent them, and what do you think of them?"

Annabel offers knitting lessons, mens' yogi underwear, and reflexology. She has bought food, plumbing and "little luxuries." She took a Hometown Money Starter Kit to Khabarovsk in Russia, near China. "I explained HOURS to villagers. They were passing around the HOURS and looking at the listings and nodding as my words were translated. They already do quite a bit of barter, and need to provide for each other the services the government used to, so they were interested. And they're looking at local cooperatives as an alternative to both socialism and capitalism.
---"HOURS are especially great with services, which are inherently local, and they stimulate local production of goods. We can't trust the dollar, now that it's so dependent on what happens in the sinking world economy."

Dan sells deli goods and his HOURS have bought baby supplies, Christmas presents, vegetables, chiropractic care, and more. He and his wife gave HOURS as a wedding present. "This is a good idea. All small businesses, especially grocers, see big businesses take their customers away by specialty marketing. HOURS are another way to remind shoppers to shop with local businesses, where they get more personal service and attention to detail.
---"With this system, money doesn't head north, south, east or west. It creates our own mini-economy."

Margaret has received HOURS as rent payment, for flea control and for phone calling. Her long list of purchases includes food, movies, engineering consulting, books and gifts. "I'd have to earn them four times faster to get all the things I'd like to.
---She notes, "Because HOURS can be used both for goods and services which are not always part of the formal economy and for retail and professional transactions, the local economy gets a boost every time HOURS are earned. That's what any money is all about-- facilitating exchanges among people."

Laura's pottery has earned HOURS that have bought food, and gardening consultation. "I like not having to be tied to the larger monetary system, that's owned by multinational corporations, which serves rich people rather than normal people. HOURS strengthen awareness of our community's skills and give us more control of the economy."

Dave has provided sailing lessons, teaches economics, and offers Melaleuca products. "Bartering and HOURS have several roles: bringing cottageindustries to the marketplace that are outside the dollar market, and breaking free of total dependence on the dollar."
---He explains that "on the one hand trade with other areas allows us to get what we can't produce here, but on the other hand total unfettered trade leads to job loss when factories close down.
---"I like the idea of balance: buying local increases jobs and earning capacity here, some of which can be used to import and export. And if we reduce our dependence on export indus-tries from 75% to 40%, then we increase the core of employ-ment which provides for local needs. That's more stable and more resiliant than depending so heavily on Cornell."

"Mary earned about 35 HOURS selling organic produce at the Farmer's Market. She bought roofing and computer programming. She'd like us to develop toward a non-monetary society like that described in Sonia Johnson's book Wildfire. "Money is a tool of patriarchy that dissociates us from one another and so contributes to the spiritual void." She says HOURS are "a starting point. They are better than federal currency by being local, and therefore seem safe."

Beth and Richard sell goat cheese, and have bought vegetables and baked goods. "I enjoy barter," says Richard. "HOURS cause people to consider whether they could get something locally, and we need as much action as we can get locally, to produce jobs and economic vitality."

Jim says that "During times of economic disparity, when big business gets big tax breaks and 'adventure' capitalists take money abroad, it's good to keep as much money in our community as we can. Local currency forces us to face the issue: why don't we have more local financing for local mortgages, and how much money does Cornell spend outside of Ithaca that they could spend here for food and other needs."

Elizabeth accepted 50 HOURS ($500) as part repayment of a loan she had made to GreenStar. "I've used HOURS for groceries, gifts, video rentals, movies, meals, books, pottery, chiropractic care, shoe repair, xerox copies, computer printer ribbons, a wrist rest, faxes, haircuts, pizza, theatre tickets, dance lessons and yoga lessons. I repaid a loan I owed with HOURS, too.
---"HOURS are running along just fine," she says. "We have a growing Ithaca HOUR community. We can see and feel that we're part of doing this. I don't feel that way about the national economy, which is so dependent on centralized, impersonal government and business that we've become alienated. HOURS show us that we don't need somebody far away to allow us to do things; we have the power here."

Richie has earned and spent many Days of HOURS received from video rentals. They've gone to shoe repair, books, housesitting, lawn mowing, hauling and other goods and services. "HOURS have become the driving force behind who I patronize at the Farmer's Market: I look for the tell-tale yellow sign that says 'We Accept Ithaca HOURS.'"
---A co-founder of the Ithaca Community Self-Reliance Center (1977-1988), Richie has long promoted shopping at locally-owned stores. "This keeps money in the community and that means economic prosperity. Why shop at Wegmans, which takes most profits out of town, when you can buy from so many locally-owned stores?" And, of course, "Why rent videos at Wegmans when you can rent from Video Ithaca and Collegetown Videos?"

Barbara sells and repairs shoes. She's spent HOURS for gifts and advertisements. "This is really starting to take off. I wouldn't have bought gifts where I did, except that I had HOURS. This money makes everybody more aware of what's available in the community. So it helps community development by keeping money local."

Ramsey has sold bagels for HOURS at Ithaca Bakery and bought landscaping, meals, printing, air conditioning consulting, eco-goods, eyeglasses, insulating window shades and groceries. "Right now I've spent all my HOURS. To get them faster, I've decided to accept a Quarter HOUR on weekdays for anything, as part purchase of $10 or more. And we'll take them at CTB Appetizers, too." HOURS are a regular part of his business income: "We count HOURS like taxable cash income and expense. There's a separate HOUR account in the computer. HOURS we spend personally we buy with dollars."
---He adds, "HOURS keep people in our community employed better than dollars that leave the community. Dollars that go to large corporations do not really trickle back down, they concentrate capital, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. We see America's inner cities becoming Third World countries as a result. What's better about HOURS is that since you can't bank them, you have to spend them to benefit, so you don't get that concentration of capital."

Bill taches jitterbug and swing dance for HOURS and spends them mainly for food and other small items. "HOURS make people think more about what money is. We think of money as an end in itself, but it's more of an exchange of energy and resources. Because HOURS are spent in a small trading area you really can see where they come from and where they go to. Dollars come and go so many different ways that their social meaning gets lost. We're making a big cultural change with HOURS, back to the community meaning of money, and we should be patient as it develops."

Amy sells food for HOURS and has paid a roofer and a computer programmer. "The skills listings help us support local people. I tend to rely on a friends network rather than a money system. I'd like us to develop a system of abundance, sharing and cooperation like that in the books Dreaming the Dark and Spiral Dance by Starfire.

William earns HOURS by restaurant work. "Local currency is a fantastic idea. The more we use HOURS the easier it gets. I like supporting local farmers and workers. We've created a national identity, and in the future it will be just as important to create local identities. It's economically and socially beneficial."

Tony sells stained glass at the Farmer's Market, and bought a meal with HOURS from his first sale. "I wish I could deal a lot more with HOURS: I'm going to put HOURS in any advertising I do. I even have an employee who will take them." He adds, "More people are asking about bartering for my work than usual. And there's tremendous interest in my classes."
---Of the national economy he says, "There are lots of jobs leaving the country that are never coming back. New jobs will mainly come from little companies like mine, with two employees, not from IBM. That means a healthier economy-- not all our eggs in one basket. And local businesses circulate money within the community better. Wal-Mart's profits go to Arkansas."

Alex earned many HOURS renting videos, and spent them for meals, food, computer services and "I have also had quite good success striking my own deals to pay people with Ithaca HOURS, even if they're not listed in Ithaca Money. As the number of people and businesses that accept HOURS has grown, I haven't had any trouble spending them.
---"Philosophically, I have agreed that it is good for the local economy for money (in the form of Ithaca HOURS) to circulate locally, stimulating local economic activity, rather than heading out of town as so often happens with regular USA currency that gets spent here. At the store, we took HOURS in the same way that we chose to accept four types of credit cards. It gave our customers yet another method by which to spend their money with us!"

Jennifer accepted HOURS for repayment of a loan, though she's not on the list. "It's a good idea to keep money local rather than spending it elsewhere. I can imagine getting to the time when we wouldn't have to ask people if they took HOURS-- we'd have an understanding that HOURS were a common part of life in Ithaca."

Rabbi Eli offers Hebrew lessons and Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons. "The barter list has been very useful. Recently I traded lessons for violin repair." He says that "HOURS are a very creative social support network, a good model for preserving kindness and compassion in the economy. They avoid the mass business focus and remind us that we're serving other human beings."

Daniel is director of CUSLAR (Cornell U.S.- Latin American Relations) which accepts HOURS for concerts, advertising in the CUSLAR Newsletter, at their Ithaca Festival pizza booth, and at rummage sales. They spend them for musicians to perform at their concerts, and for office purposes. "HOUR money has happily exceeded all my expectations. It's bound to grow-- it's an idea whose time has come. Regular money is dehumanizing and anti-community, sending wealth to big banks. With HOURS, we're bound together, showing how unique our town is and supporting each other. The wealth of the community stays here, more wealth is controlled locally, and that gives more democratic control over local issues.
---"This concept could be very valuable in a place like Cuba. Without barter, Cuba wouldn't exist today. Their central government is now willing to try anything. They're not so sure they have the answers, and are letting people analyze their own problems and come up with solutions."

David offers piano lessons for HOURS, especially improvisation, and distributes the Alternatives Federal Credit Union newsletter on his bicycle. He's bought massage and food. "Our economy is a runaway greed cyclone. Everybody is out to get as much as they can for doing as little as possible, instead of doing as much as we can and know we'll be rewarded for it." He rides his bicycle because "cars are one of the main ways that capital leaves our community, for car parts and fuel, but the pollution stays here. We should gradually improve public transit and bikeways." He adds, "HOURS stay in the community, producing a net gain."

Bill sells IBM-compatible computers and computer accessories for HOURS. "Where else but Ithaca can you swap chopping wood for computers?" He likes local trading because it strengthens the community: "Everybody here has a lot of capabilities and the barter list is a good way to wake up to it. Why should we depend on outside sources for things we could do for each other? As Benjamin Franklin said, 'We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." 

Dave is an economics professor who sells Melaleuca cleaning products for 100% HOURS, and buys gifts. He recently gave a lecture at Syracuse University about money (what it is, what it does). He introduced HOURS and explained that "the Barter Potluck has the power of government to issue money, by acting as a local version of the Federal Reserve Board. I told the class about the HOUR's benefits, like getting people to buy locally, thus multiplying the community money supply, and increasing the productive capacity of the community by getting people to wrack their brains to discover new abilities."

Lisa offers Russian lessons and has swapped child care for clothing repair. "The barter list displays so much local talent-- all these people who've come out of the woodwork. Local currency makes people more aware of local business, and fosters it."

Beth has shoveled snow, does child care, dog sitting, retail work, and makes dreamcatchers (a traditional folk weaving that catches good dreams) for HOURS. She gives HOURS as gifts, buys books, groceries, note cards and rubber stamps. "I tell a lot of people about our barter system. You meet people in Ithaca Money who are working for something better. It's helping us make a sustainable, bioregional economy."

John has earned a lot of HOURS by painting and carpentry. He spends them for groceries, organic veggies, gifts and credit union fees. He recommends that people needing his work call in advance, rather than at the last minute. Of the economy he says, "My feeling is that even if the economy is expanding, poverty is increasing and people's needs are not being met. At the same time, we can no longer keep consuming and ravaging the planet. We need to re-prioritize the economic system so we don't keep going further and further into a hole we can't get out of. "The best we can do is set an example here of a sustainable alternate economy. That's what HOURS encourage-- organize local food production, keeping money local, and keeping Wal-Mart out."

Patricia gives professional massage for HOURS. She uses them for food, meals, gifts and tips to musicians at the Farmer's Market. "I love to barter, I do it a lot. This system encourages us to be valued in terms of what the community needs, rather than what a distant market needs. We need to get past dollars."

Allen sells lumber and brings his portable lumbermill to local woodlots. He supplied lumber, for HOURS, to Recycle Ithaca's Bicycles for a wheel rack. "Ithaca Money is a real good idea. It once got me a big job-- several weeks of milling wood."

Laura's pottery has earned HOURS that have bought food, and gardening consultation. "I like not having to be tied to the larger monetary system, that's owned by multinational corporations, which serves rich people rather than normal people. HOURS strengthen awareness of our community's skills and give us more control of the economy."

Deborah has earned HOURS selling insulating window shades. She bought 'voice lessons for my daughter. It was a great Christmas present when dollars were scarce." She campaigns for energy-efficient housing. Her sign at the Farmer's Market says, 'Heat loss through windows in the U.S. annually is about equal to the output of the Alaska Pipeline.' She's impressed that 'this community is remarkably conscious of every efficiency, compared with other communities I've lived. But an awful lot of people aren't able to afford to insulate. They can't afford their heating bills either. A lot of folks keep their heat low. The big problem is rental housing. Landlords are not always willing to invest in energy-saving." Energy conservation is good economic development: "most insulating work uses local labor, the money recycles locally more times. Presently most fuel dollars go elsewhere." She says, "NYSEG and fuel oil companies don't yet take Ithaca HOURS, but I do!"

Walter sells wood-fired-oven bread at the Farmer's Market, and spends them for Christmas presents and food. "A few years ago I was making more money in fewer hours by cleaning businesses, but I wasn't satisfied. Now I'm making a product I feel good about -- organic biodynamically-grown bread and vegetables. Biodynamic means growing with the spiritual forces that stand behind the physical: trying to enliven the soil." He'd like to see more "equilibrium in the market: there's no reason anybody should earn fifty times more than somebody else. We should tax the rich, and raise the minimum wage."

David offers piano lessons for HOURS, especially improvisation, and distributes the Alternatives Federal Credit Union newsletter on his bicycle. He's bought massage and food. "Our economy is a runaway greed cyclone. Everybody is out to get as much as they can for doing as little as possible, instead of doing as much as we can and know we'll be rewarded for it." He rides his bicycle because "cars are one of the main ways that capital leaves our community, for car parts and fuel, but the pollution stays here. We should gradually improve public transit and bikeways." He adds, "HOURS stay in the community, producing a net gain."

Danny is an electrician who has used HOURS for upholstery, food, and restaurant meals. His wife, a musician, spent HOURS for publicity photos. "Spending money locally keeps it here for us, helping Ithaca rather than enriching multinational corporations. Half the things we buy come from California, Mexico and Japan, from corporations that rape the earth and pocket the profit. We need to think about the ways we live and products we consume."

Steve sells note cards and T-shirts for HOURS, most spent for meals and employees. He's intending to hire landscapers. "There are projects I've needed to do for years that HOURS prompt me to do." He says that "HOURS can really help promote bioregionalism. Local currency makes local self-sufficiency more possible. It helps protect our local environment and resource base so that economic activity doesn't damage the ecological base of the region."

Debbie offers tote bags, custom designed for groceries, diapers and so on. She bought Christmas presents and an herbal remedy. "We're enthusiastic about HOURS. We'll go through Ithaca Money and highlight what we want. We're confident we can spend them with no trouble. Since we're on a tight budget, it determines which restaurant we go to. It's great to connect our bioregion, to allow us to live as a giant group, buying local rather than having everything trucked in. We carry the paper around to show friends."

Maija recently joined, offering foot massage and furniture painting. HOURS are important to her because she's interested in sustainable development. "I've become aware of global economic order, and the need to foster the sense of community that's lacking in our country."

Michael provides alternate energy consulting, permaculture design, graphic design of bumper stickers, and has done phone calling for HOURS. He spends HOURS for meals, housecleaning, chiropractor and rent. "HOURS are the best thing to hit town since sliced bread. We're keeping the money system on a local level where it's supposed to be. We're creating a bioregional system, producing locally rather than enriching distant corporations by importing from tens of thousands of miles away. "Ithaca Money is a great way to meet wonderful people who really care about putting good quality work into their goods and services."

David does chimney sweeping and trucking, and he handcrafts fine canoes and paddles. He's spent HOURS mainly for food. " As a tradesman I like the idea of people trading things we make, rather than just earning dollars and buying stuff. These days we're all caught up with going really fast. Trading gives more value to handmade, over mass-produced goods. It puts more quality and personality back into commerce."

Melissa does illustrations and has spent HOURS for child care. "The symbols on our money are empowering: we lift up for appreciation Native Americans, African Americans, local landmarks, flora and fauna. HOURS help us feel at home about the land we live on."

George and Heidi sold about 25 Christmas trees for HOURS this season. Heidi says, "We like to encourage people to buy live potted trees, and HOURS users seem to be the more environmentalist, self-sufficient types who buy them, even though live trees cost a little more. We don't spray with pesticides, and may soon produce the only certified organic Christmas trees in the nation. The long-term effects of letting farms become pesticide dumps is bad for wildlife and water." They might rent a cottage with their HOURS.

Michael sold a bicycle for six HOURS at his garage sale. As director of Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD), he appreciates the potential of barter. "HOURS benefit the community by allowing goods and services to be sold which wouldn't otherwise, especially benefitting some of these experimental wholistic and sustainable industries."

Joe earns HOURS by selling his music tapes "Four Winds" & "Turtle Island Flute." "When I do Ithaca events I get HOURS and give them to my wife. I'm looking forward to getting a massage." He says, "HOURS are cool because they reflect my own philosophy that we need to localize our agriculture and economy, and take responsibility for our own lives. People have to shatter their 'mall mentality' and quit buying 'exciting' food and goods regardless of the effect these products have on the environment." He adds that "When our families, neighborhoods and towns develop economic alternatives to centralization, we learn to do more for ourselves and become more agile and powerful when dealing with catastrophe."

Neal sells organic food at the Farmer's Market and has spent HOURS for movies, bread, his son's play group, a calendar, and his house's food fund. "I'm really excited about HOURS and feel good about taking them. I always carry some in my pocket." He says he intends to hire farm help with HOURS this spring. As a farmer, he believes HOURS help support local agriculture. "Every community needs to grow as much local food as possible. It's absurd when more calories are used to transport food than the food contains." He adds, "I visit friends elsewhere and show them Ithaca's barter newspaper. I show them our money that says 'In Ithaca We Trust.' That's the bottom line, right?"