A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Local Liz’s Field Notes

by Liz Harrington

After 20 years working in the court system, it was time for Tamara to enjoy life and give back to her community. Her kids had grown and she wanted to apply her skills to make a positive social impact In her home country Argentina, Tamara was a successful attorney. However, becoming a lawyer in the US is a complicated process, particularly for foreign nationals. So instead she found a career working in the legal system as an interpreter and translator.
Tamara knew these same skills could help local organizations become more inclusive. She wanted to write, something she has always loved to do, but hadn’t had the opportunity opportunity to do professionally. She also wanted to find creative work that could be combined with other interests. She just needed someone to hire her in order to make it start happening. Luckily that someone was a small Spanish speaking newspaper who reached to her looking for help. They offered to hire her as a writer, if she would accept payment in Currents. The paper had little funding and was taking Currents for ads, so they had Currents to spend and needed writing help. It would be her first introduction to our local currency and it would be her first paid writing job. This was the opportunity she was waiting for to make leap to the new world of making money while making meaning.
When struggling with profit margins, it is understandable that our business owners often ask individuals if they would be willing to donate, and/or discount the value of their services. However, a magical thing happens when we transact with each other at full value; we appreciate each others skills and talents more. When we compensate using a local currency, we also circulate four-times more income, resulting in an increase for everyone’s overall bottom line.
Having access to unused capital to pay our local talent for their work, not only helps the individual and the business owner, but it also helps secure our local/regional resilience. According to Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E.F. Schumacher Society, “While now we’re largely a service-providing nation, we’re still just a generation away from being a nation of producers. The question is: what economic framework will help us reclaim those skills and that potential.”
How is Tamara spending her Currents? She’s not sure, yet. She’s only been a member for few months but she expects she will pay herself, take more writing classes and possibly hire a business coach. By agreeing to take Currents for her work, she has found a foot in the door offer for new potential clients. Her sales pipeline is loaded with local nonprofits who if necessary, can apply for funding through HVC’s Heart of Gold initiative (which acts like a grant) helping nonprofits to pay for services that increase their ability to care for our community. When you hire a HVC member, you are investing in the potential of our people. You are also ensuring a stronger, more resilient community whose profits increase the more we care for each other.