Ithaca Blog

Friday, January 09, 2009

Economic Relief and Health Care: Doing It Ourselves in Ithaca

Since 1991, Ithaca has had its own money, Ithaca Hours; and for the past decade, a community health organization, the Ithaca Health Alliance.

The Hours currency system started in response to a recession that left people living paycheck to paycheck, or not even so well. A group of Ithacans decided that if the problem was a shortage of money, why not just make more?

The result is a system that circulates over $100,000 worth of bona fide paper currency, creating jobs, stimulating business, and keeping wealth in the community.

With the economy much worse now than in 1991, there is a flood of interest in local currencies. Last month both Time and Newsweek ran prominent articles publicizing Hours and other local currencies.

The Hours website,, steadily receives about 1,000 visits a month - until lately. Last month the site received over 2,600 visits.

The Hours Board of Directors is busy answering all the inquiries from media and economists, and from other communities wanting to start their own systems.

The Board is looking to expand to meet the demands. The Board meets once a month, for no more than 90 minutes - so the work, while plentiful, is well-managed and not arduous. If you are interested in getting involved, at this particularly exciting time, please contact the Board president - yours truly - at, or at Small World Music, during business hours (256-0428); or through the Hours website.

Like Ithaca Hours, the Ithaca Health Alliance is a community organization tackling a major social issue: the lack of health care for many citizens.

The Health Alliance is holding an informational meeting on Friday, 30 January, at the Unitarian Church, from 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. The Alliance will be discussing its free Health Clinic; its Health Fund, which provides financial assistance for health care; and other projects.

Childcare will be provided at the meeting, and there will be door prizes. For more information about the IHA, see their website,

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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