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Interview with The Gorge Local Currency Cooperative (GLCC) River HOURS

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River Hours is a vibrant community currency for the Columbia River Gorge area. Patterned after Ithaca Hours, member of this community feel their currency project has had a great deal of success in the years it has been in operation. Marketing for River Hours is primarily done through the Trade Publication which is in wide area distribution and printed 4 times a year.

This is my interview with the team from River Hours. Answering questions is Mr. Bruce Bolme, Rebecca Stonestreet and Scot Bergeron. All three are members of the steering committee. You can find more info on each person on their web site. http://www.riverhours.org/steeringCommittee.php

When did River Hours fist enter circulation?

Our first local currency was issued in the fall of 2004. A group of interested citizens in the surrounding communities of the Columbia Gorge held an organization meeting in mid 2003.  Weekly meetings for the next year created an all volunteer organization that produced a membership cooperative as a project of the Columbia Gorge Earth Center http://www.cgec.org.  We began selling one year memberships in July 2004 with a start date when the first trade directory was published.  Income from memberships provided the money to print the currency and first trade directory which was issued in May 2005.  Each trade directory issue lists the coop members, what they offer or are looking for, small display ads, and interesting articles generally related to local currency and the economy.  Coop memberships cost $40 per year.

I'm really curious to know the day to day products which can be purchased with River Hours. Can you list for us 10 products or services which are available each week that I would otherwise buy with national currency?

Auto repair and maintenance, basic handy-man services, counseling, food, adult medical care, web site design and development, music (three piece band), invasive weed removal, custom framing, hand woven textiles.  Please go to our website for a more extensive list of services and products.

Do you know any local businesses that pay their employees in River Hours (in full or partial)?

We do not know of any.

I've often read the classic description of a local currency, local trading system or scrip which goes something like this, "We have jobs that need doing and people qualified to do them, we are just missing the money."  In the case of local paper currency, this common description may have been a more appropriate idea back in the depression era. Today's Community Currency seems to mean more 'buy it local and keep the dollars circulating'.  Do you have any sort of programs which take a look at the community and asks, "if you are unemployed or underemployed and would like to work...come here and we can pay you in River Hours"?

We do not have such a program in place as of yet, but it is a great idea!  Come on out and implement it for us!  In other words, there are 8 of us on the GLCC Steering Committee, all volunteers, who have lives of their own.  We are still in a place of trying to educate people about local currency let alone getting programs out there like the one you suggested.

That being said, because of the national economy going down like it is and county governments in trouble, we might see a program like that in the near future.

From your web site, I find the Columbia Gorge Earth Center and the Gorge Local Currency Cooperative (GLCC). Can you tell us how your organization is structured? 

The GLCC is a volunteer organization that produces a membership cooperative.  We are not a 501(c)(3).  We have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Columbia Gorge Earth Center which does have its 501(c)(3) status. We are considered a "project" of the GCEC.

I read in your FAQ section about inflation or deflation. What events or local indicators would trigger the addition of more currency into circulation? 

More currency is issued into circulation when a new member joins RiverHOURS.  To join RiverHOURS, a member pays $40 FRN which pays for advertisement in the Trade Directory for a whole year.  We then issue that member 4 RiverHOURS.  When a member renews their membership, they again pay $40 for advertising in the Trade Directory and we issue them 3.0 RiverHOURS.  We have more than 80 current members and about $19 thousand of local currency in circulation.  Each one of the Steering Committee members in is contact with a member when it is time to renew.  We ask them then how things are going with using RiverHOURS to get a feel of how the RiverHOURS are circulating.

If I started a local currency modeled after River Hours, would my goal be to be provide jobs or would a good goal be to better utilize local resources through bartering? 

Local currencies do not have to have just one goal.  We would say that providing jobs and better utilizing local resources through bartering are just two goals of RiverHOURS. We have more goals than those two listed.

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I have a passion for alternative money solutions, digital currency and community currency. Currently I write for and edit DGCmagazine and Community Currency Magazine.

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