The future of the Nelson area's community dollars will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday.

The future of Nelson area’s community dollars in doubt

The future of Columbia Community Dollars is reaching a fork in the road this Thursday at the organization’s annual general meeting.

The future of Columbia Community Dollars is reaching a fork in the road this Thursday at the organization’s annual general meeting.

“We’re at a choice point,” said Michael Sheely, executive director for the local currency. “It’s time to decide whether to keep going with this local economic development strategy, or retire this model of currency, and harvest our learning for the next strategy.”

Columbia Community Dollars is the second local currency experiment that the Nelson area has undertaken. Barter Bucks was a predecessor based on the Time Dollar model, made famous by the New York based Ithaca Hours, the oldest and largest local currency system in the United States.

“We took the learning from Barter Bucks and applied it to Community Dollars,” said Sheely. “Now we have some new learning to digest.”

Bradley Roulston, board chair for the Columbia Community Dollars Foundation, is no stranger to innovation.

“Nelson is an innovative and creative town, and innovation means risk. Innovators don’t fail, they learn and grow from experiences that don’t work out the way they hoped.”

The risk-takers, in this case, are a large group of community members involved with the currency from its inception.

“From concept development, to design, outreach, and management, community members have been involved every step of the way, investing their time and money in this project,” added Roulston. “Those people deserve a lot of credit for what they have given to this community.”

“We’ve had some unexpected road blocks in high places, and it’s going to take a new wave of volunteer energy to keep up the effort needed to sustain the currency,” added Sheely. “The way I see it, we either need a model that is more appealing to big business and local government, or we can wait for the next big economic crisis to hit and be ready to respond when the need arises.”

The Community Dollars AGM will take place on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Seed Studio, 607 Front St, second floor. Everyone is welcome. Comments and questions from community members will be addressed before a decision is made whether or not to dissolve the non-profit organization and retire the local currency.

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