A New Local Currency in Oakland: Oak Leaves

I’ve been wanting to start a new local currency in Oakland for a while now. I just need to get around to a few businesses who will accept the money, and a local bank or CU who will print up the money.

USAToday today reports on the number of local currencies being created around the US. The WSJ or NYTimes also reported on this a month or two ago. Ithaca Hours in New York have been around over a decade. Towns in Thailand are doing it.

Read about the benefits above at USAToday. You’ll find them obvious. So what do we name ours? Vote!

I’ve kept sarcastic names out of the running.

Local money may seem like monopoly money to you, but will keep more money in our local economy, which can only be a good thing – depression or not. All money is just magic anyway. Please leave naming suggestions in the comments or in the above poll.


11 responses to “A New Local Currency in Oakland: Oak Leaves

  1. This is a very cool concept—I hadn’t heard of it! (We actually had a somewhat similar concept for an entirely different reason in New Haven, CT years ago—local vouchers that could be given to people living on the streets that could then be used at specific stores for food purchases, but not for alcohol or cigarettes, etc.—that seemed to work quite nicely; people who wanted to give could do so with less worry about where money was going.)

    You might get in touch with OneCalifornia in DTO to see if they’d be interested in this idea—seems like it could be right up their alley. Oakland Unwrapped! is also under their wing now.

  2. I believe Berkeley has some kind of local currency / economy already. Have you heard of it?

  3. Yes, this is the BREAD currency. Read more-


    I hadn’t heard of it until you mentioned it though- thanks.

    Also in Napa Valley More examples from the last Great Depression:

    BerkShares, in Massachusetts:

    Photos of local currencies:

  4. what a very interesting idea; do you know of anybody who’s done this before, ie lessons learned, critical mass needed, etc?

  5. Um, I’m a little confused. Being from the Napa Valley (and never having heard of this as a Depression story), I was curious about the article at mickwinter.com. I’m sorry, that article discusses various local currencies in a historical context and asks whether this would be useful in Napa now. The closest to your summary is this quote: “Local Currency was common in this country during the Depression when banks failed…”

    I think your summary misrepresents that particular post.

    [Editor: I’ve updated that particular summary. Thanks.]

    That said, if all these other places are using local currency, I don’t see why Oakland shouldn’t. Personally, I like “Oak Leaves.”

  6. here is more on the plenty:

    * North Carolina Town Prints Own Currency to Support Local Business *

    We take a look at how one North Carolina town is trying to become more self-sufficient by moving toward being able to feed, fuel and finance itself. The town of Pittsboro houses the nation’s largest biodiesel cooperative, a food co-op, a farmers’ market and, most recently, its own currency, the Pittsboro Plenty. Pittsboro is one of a number of communities across the country printing their own money in an attempt to support local business.


  7. I vote for OakTrees and I’m hopeful this helps. That said, I’m all for anything that helps Oakland, but I’m dubious. When I was in Ithaca some years ago, I was curious to look for Ithaca dollars and asked around for them, and nobody I talked to had ever even seen one. Too easy to just use U.S. dollars, which people trust more. Currency is a big coordination game and it’s too easy to opt out. I have to say I’m surprised by the number of businesses apparently accepting Berkshares, but:

    – why would people ever decide to convert U.S. dollars to Oak trees (or whatever)?

    – what do people buy outside of Oakland that they would be more likely to buy *in* Oakland as a result of this currency? Isn’t the benefit of these currencies to stop value from flowing OUT of an area? And if times are hard already, will people spend money just becase it’s Oaktrees instead of US dollars? What will this accomplish that a spontaneous barter economy doesn’t?

    – hard figures – what percentage of the value of the Berkshires economy is in Berkshares? (or Berkeley Bread, or Ithaca dollars, or any other local currency) and what’s been the material benefit?

  8. Hello, I’ve thought about this alot and would be glad to help get this started by talking to local businesses. I have a book on different kind of currencies that I was going to read but I haven’t had time. I know at least three other groups that are working on local currencies, but none of them seem to have been very effective yet.
    Judith Katz

  9. another local currency article out recently, “seeds of change”


  10. Hi we have an online magazine devoted to local currency and exchange systems.

    Community Currency Magazine

    We’d love to hear more about your coming currency and offer you some greater exposure. It’s great hearing about the success of other communities and what worked for the different areas. Will you permit the exchange from USD to local currency through a local bank or credit union?

    Community Currency Magazine

  11. Humanist Hall would take some local currency as we did when BREAD was still around. One problem with BREAD was that it did not compete well in utility with US dollars. However, that was before a probable hyperinflation which may be about to destroy the dollar. If/when that hits, maybe a good name for local currency might be something like “real money” because the US dollar will be as meaningful as monopoly money.

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