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Name: Paul Glover

What he does: Makes money–literally

LATEST TRIUMPH: Helped 18 cities mint their own currencies

In 1991, struggling graphics designer Paul Glover of Ithaca, N.Y., played out every working Joe’s fantasy: He made his own money. Now, half a million dollars of his money has changed hands, and 18 cities are nurturing similar homegrown plans.

Glover’s idea was simple enough: Community members can earn locally printed money by performing a service or providing a good. The dollar-sized Ithaca HOURS, worth $10 apiece to represent the hourly wage in Tompkins County, can be traded for goods and services. Most importantly, money can’t leave the community by way of chain stores, such as Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

What started as a barter experiment between Glover and about 90 friends has grown to include 250 businesses and nearly 1,500 participants who support the self-sustaining project. While Ithaca has relatively low unemployment, many residents find work seasonally and for little money, creating a high rate of working poor.

“We’re in a depression,” says Margaret McCasland. Her daycare program accepts HOURS, and she says the currency provides flexible work opportunities during rough times. A while back, she advertised what services she could offer from home (mending clothes, tutoring) through the project’s newspaper, Ithaca Money. Eventually, it helped her save enough to start her daycare program.

Glover’s idea is catching on. Communities in 13 other states have designed their own monetary systems with local flair (Ka’u, Hawaii, uses Pineapple Dollars). Glover says he hopes for more local currencies, with rules that “benefit people, rather than banks and corporate elites.”

For more information, write Paul Glover at P.O. Box 6578, Ithaca, NY 14851.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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