1998 - a group of Calderdale people get together to discuss the creation of a complementary paper-based currency. The aim is to improve local economic and social condition. The group considers various options, including expanding the existing Calderdale LETs scheme (Local Exchange Trading scheme).
July 1999 - Ground Floor Project, a Hebden Bridge-based charity, agree to local support, subsequently expanding to the whole of Calderdale. The group is named 'Calderdale Green Currency'.
November 1999 - LETs states a wish to retain close links with the group.
December 1999 - the group set up as a separate voluntary organisation in order to release the local currency independently and to oversee distribution and marketing. Although small, it was felt that Hebden Bridge was well placed to be the initial starting point (a user network of 85% of LETs members already based in the Upper Valley).
March 2000 - Calderdale Community Foundation donates £500 towards the cost of the first print run. The task of redesigning the note is given to the in-house team who produced the current design. (see: Note design)
April 2000 - The scheme is launched with £3,000 worth of local currency printed (but not stamped) and £1,000 put into circulation. The scheme draws media attention from around the country and several local shops (most of whom were already struggling financially) agree to 'test-drive' the scheme.
January 2001 - Most of the original group had now left and the scheme is being run solely by volunteers and staff from one of the partner groups, The Ground Floor Project. The scheme has a regular trading magazine which it hand-delivered to every household in Hebden Bridge (the original launch town) but was starting to run into difficulties delivering it.
Joint barter markets (with Calderdale LETs) had started every three months and local currency was accepted for 50% of the cost of a variety of goods from the scheme's own shop and from the local community printshop. Although there was a great deal of interest in the scheme from local businesses, few were willing to use the currency without having a sterling exchange rate. Were the scheme to launch again, we would apply for grants to ensure that we could have a 1 favour = 1 pound sterling exchange rate set at regular intervals (say every six months initially) to encourage more business participation.
April 2001 - Two of the businesses that had been accepting local currency went bust and closed.
This was not due to participation in the scheme (in fact both agreed that local currency had been what had helped them to keep going so long) but their closure was used as a reason by other businesses to not participate. The scheme needed to grow beyond Hebden Bridge but with so few volunteers this failed to happen.
November 2001 - only two businesses, other than the barter market and printshop, were still accepting local currency, however we still had over £10,000 worth of trading going on in that year (with the 1,500 Favours still in circulation) and we had distributed over 3,000 LETs favours to community groups in the form of grants.
The cost of producing the trade paper meant that without business participation in the scheme, we could no longer afford to produce 3,000 copies every month and hand deliver. We set up delivery points with local shops but only a few would agree to distribute the paper as they didn't want the public thinking that they also accepted local currency.
January 2002 - We could no longer justify our trade paper and it was (reluctantly) retired, though our barter markets continued to be run.
December 2002 - The last Green Currency barter market was run.
April 2003 - Meetings were held to try and resusitate the scheme but reluctantly it was felt to be too little, too late and in November the scheme was closed.
What would we do differently?