(Translations courtesy Philip H. Beard, Benoit Couture)


Here is a simple model that illustrates how a small effort can result in having cash available for citizen use in case of an emergency such as avian flu. This model can be adapted for use in many regions and a local currency strategy is recommended as part of every community's emergency preparedness plan. Historically1, 2, community currency has made the difference between hunger and health during hard times.

  • Towns print ten C$5 Notes (10 Five dollar Community Notes) for each person in the community.

  • Each C$5 note states that the town will accept it in payment for $5.50 in fees for services, and the notes cannot be redeemed until a future stated date.

  • Each community member can purchase up to $100 value (twenty) of these notes at their convenience, the money they pay is held in a common account, earning interest on these "loans" to the Town. The town can issue more if necessary.


  • The Town can't lose because the notes circulate for a stated period, generating earnings on the purchase price.

  • The citizens can't lose because they have a currency that will only circulate locally and so will be there and won't go away if the flu comes.

Of course, people don't have to redeem the local currency or wait for a crisis to use it - local currency is good for communities in good times too: It builds strong local marketplaces.

Adapting BIRDSHOT to Your Community

This page is posted at The ccLibrary . The most developed source for emergency local currency designs is the Complementary Currency Tsunami Relief Center. Many additional non-emergency models and resources are posted at the complementary currency listings at the ccLibrary. These are excellent resources - the best on the planet - and both continue to be developed. Complementary currency refers to a second currency that is designed to function complementarily with the normal currency, and it often requires that the normal currency guarantees its value. However, the tsunami relief effort has a healthy global marketplace to provide many types of aid, and global currency and a healthy global marketplace may rapidly go missing with a global pandemic, so bear this in mind as you design an emergency currency for your community. Specifically, don't make your local currency redeemable in national currency, because then people will redeem it, spend it, and the money will be gone. Local currency can only recirculate, and so local money creates a local marketplace. Please note that the BIRDSHOT model gives value to the local currency by discounting essential local goods and services.

If you visit the links above, you will soon find yourself asking, "Which of these plans is right for my community?" Your guiding principles should be:

  • Simplicity: Select the plans that you understand.
  • Expediency: Then choose the one that you can develop quickest and easiest.

    What else?

  • Conformity: If the global marketplace has deserted you, and so your jobs and access to global currency are indefinitely gone, you will need to have a local currency that will be acceptable to people in your community as quickly as possible. So design your currency such that it is as much like your national currency as possible: Give it a face value in dollars, for example, if the national currency is dollars. Don't try to copy the national currency exactly, have some obvious differences so that people don't think that you are counterfeiting, but try to give it the same basic look and feel if you can. Now is not the time to try to accomplish anything else with the currency than to make it easy to use.

    And what else?

  • Emergency: So what happens if the flu comes before your community agrees on an emergency preparedness currency design and is able to follow through and create it? Don't worry, many communities have faced this in the past, and there are solutions. Moreover, we are developing a communication network that will be there for you. Just remember that it is better to be prepared if you can be. One solution that is tried and true, is for a trusted member of your community (individual or group) to step forward and issue their own currency. To do this, they must sign their name on each note, promising to accept the note themselves in payment for the goods and services they themselves have to offer, even if that is only their own simple labor. Then they can spend the notes to hire people to do necessary work and to purchase products, and those who take them can in turn use them with others in the same way, for all will know that someone they trust stands behind them, and indeed the community will then stand behind them.

    And finally:

  • Generosity: For your local marketplace to work, it must be inclusive. So give your money, when you can, to those who say they have nothing to offer, so that they, in turn, can buy from you. You will soon discover that a new individual has joined your community, widening everyone's network of mutual support.


    Jim Wilkins, the Public Information Officer with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department in Lexington, Kentucky, US, posted this imagined story that illustrates how important it might become to have a plan for emergency currency:
    Field report - 1st wave of Avian Flu over, and more stories illustrating the uses of local currency are at The ccLibrary.

    If you want to participate in the design and implementation of this program, join the ELC working group by clicking the link below. If you'd like more help, write to the moderator of the group at the email address below.
    The information on this page is developed at the yahoo group, ELC: Emergency Local Currency, at

    Click here to join ELC

    Send comments and questions to (spam prevention: replace A by @ in the e-mail address before sending the message).