Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas is hoping to inject some stable currency into the London’s local economy with the introduction of her S.COOP coins that have been handed out to retailers who run stalls at the Petticoat Lane Market. As purchases are made, the coins are given out with a customer’s change, subtly introducing them into the economy. These coins can then be redeemed for a single scoop of ice cream at Monochrome, a pop-up ice cream parlor being operated by the artist. In addition to its various shades of white-tinged flavors, the shop also serves up a history lesson around cooperative currency, an alternative monetary system instituted by English collectives that date back to the 1900′s.
In these hyper-localized economies, tokens were given to members that made purchases – typically food – on behalf of the community. In essence, these tokens represented stake in the success of the cooperative as a whole and paid actual dividends – a radical concept when we consider the massive government bailouts being parsed out to failing corporations that don’t seem to be benefitting anyone but the companies themselves. Whether or not this model could actually function in today’s society, it’s interesting to imagine how businesses and the cities built up around them – automakers and Detroit for example – might look under this closed-loop system.
[image via cowbite on flickr]