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

The Hudson Valley Localist

by Chris Hewitt

At a New Economy conference in Boston last year, I heard someone say that we have a hard time talking about death, sex and money. We’ve come a long way with talking about sex and death, but we still don’t like talking about money. When’s the last time you asked someone how much money is in his or her bank account?

Well I’m about to open my books to you by telling you how many Currents have flowed through my account. A new feature on the Current website allows a member to see at a glance how many Currents have been earned and spent. Over the last two years my business account, Country Wisdom News, has earned 6,681~ and spent 7,043~ (a total of 13,724 dollars worth of exchanges).

How did I engage in that many Current transactions (you may ask)? I’ve embraced the Current in a way that has me always wanting to earn and spend more of them, so I always try to sign up new vendors that I use (instead of just looking at the existing 209 members). When I spend dollars, I ask if the store or contractor would accept Currents instead. And the Current staff (including me) can always help work with you and a vendor that you’d like to spend Currents with to sign them up and orient them to the system.

The primary way that Country Wisdom News earns Currents is through selling advertising in the newspaper, which any advertiser can pay 100% in Currents. We’ve also earned some Currents through subscription, t-shirt and event sales. The first Current loops that I set up (a Current loop is a circle of earning and spending Currents) were with CWN writers (Corn Cow, Rinchen, The Professional Wordsmith, Eberhardt Smith, and more). I earned Currents via advertising and spent them on paying writers. The next loop that I created was with my bookkeeper (Balanced Consulting), who accepts partial payment in Currents. Then when I needed to get the company car repaired, I created a loop with a local mechanic (Jenkinstown Motors).

I sometimes (but rarely) use CWN Currents on personal expenses. I prefer to use them on business expenses because then I lighten my tax burden as these expenses are tax write offs. But when I do use Currents for personal items, like food or a massage, it is considered an owner’s draw from the company, which is subject to income tax. Two examples are when I received a wonderful massage at Open Pathways to Health in New Paltz, and when I eat at the Big Cheese in Rosendale (although I now use pre-taxed Currents from my individual account when I eat there). What I love about these examples is that both companies advertise in CWN, so when they pay their ad bill each month, I know that at least some of my Currents are coming back to my business—this is referred to as the multiplier effect.

An individual account is different than a business account. My individual Current account is called Chris Fenichel-Hewitt. An individual account is for employees who get paid a partial salary payment in Currents. I receive 5% of my salary from the HV Current in Currents. An individual account can only be added to by an employer that is a Current member, and the Currents are pre-taxed. Unlike a business account, an individual account does not have an interest-free line of credit, which means individual accounts can’t go below zero—they can only earn above zero. Business accounts start out with a 300 Current line of credit, which we also refer to as a line of trust. Business owners who use a lot of Currents can request a larger line of trust.

These days, people are talking more about money. We’re wondering what it is, and where it comes from. It’s healthy for us to be talking about money. It allows us to share with each other about how we can be localists who are intimately involved in strengthening the local economy. Every ripple adds to the Current—together Current members have circulated more than 160,000 Currents since January 2014.