The Sun-rises on the Bristol Pound!

Steve Clarke, Director of the Bristol Pound, and Mary-Rose, Events Volunteer, at our stall in the sunshine

On the first weekend of June, £B8,000 (eight thousand Bristol Pounds) circulated the ‘Sunrise Festival’ in Somerset, giving thousands of people a positive experience with community currency.

It was back in December when the festival organisers approached us and planted the idea of taking the Bristol Pound (£B) to Sunrise. Having had the experience of running their own currency at ‘Sunrise- off grid’, they were keen to implement a similar experience into their larger festival. Immediately we could see the value of this partnership. Festivals were born out of peoples desire to explore an alternative way of living, a way of living that was run by values. Festivals provide a great space for like minded people to come and share ideas, experiences and form new groups. Playing on this, we could see that each Bristol Pound released into this environment, had the potential to plant an idea in peoples mind. A tool to make people think about money and the benefits of a community led economy. Over the weekend we were overjoyed to hear peoples positive reactions to the currency. Everywhere we went we caught glimpses of our beautiful £B1’s being admired by all. We met individuals from all different areas of the country, some keen to set up similar initiatives of their own. We also enjoyed meeting our members and other Bristolians, excited to take their cash home. sunrise logo As a team we bonded over Bristol Pound bought chai, chilli chocolate, hot tubs and ale (who said working was boring!) We danced to gypsy beats, samba bands and even tribal frog! A fantastic weekend of hard work and equal play, to celebrate how fantastic we all are!r festival. Immediately we could see the value of this partnership. Festivals were born out of peoples desire to explore an alternative way of living, a way of living that was run by values. Festivals provide a great space for like minded people to come and share ideas, experiences and form new groups. Playing on this, we could see that each Bristol Pound released into this environment, had the potential to plant an idea in peoples mind. A tool to make people think about money and the benefits of a community led economy.

The Rising Sun Pub at the Festival

With the Bristol Pound creeping up to its first birthday,we will be looking back on this memorable year and remembering these special moments that show us what Bristol has achieved. By partnering up with the regional festival, we were able to spread the word of the Bristol Pound even further than before. ‘Happy money’, ‘beautiful!’, ‘values and community’ are just some of the words that people use to describe the Bristol Pound. Community currencies are rewriting the story of money. A story which connects and builds relationships, which celebrates community diversity and where people work together to build and protect their environment. So thank you to the sun that really did bless us with its appearance for this years Sunrise Festival, to Dan and John, the two magical machines behind the weekend and to the thousands of people who swapped a £ for a £B and helped spread our story wider.

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The Bristol Pound Team!

Sarah Forrester- Wilson

Is Bristol the UK’s capital of social financial innovation?

Written by Francesca Wakefield

At a recent event in Oxford publically launching the idea of a new local currency for the renowned university-city, Tony Greenham from the New Economics Foundation described Bristol as the “capital for social financial innovation”.

Success for the Bristol Pound – at home and abroad

Just 9 months after the launch of the Bristol Pound, over £200,000 has now been converted from sterling into the new local currency. With over 1,000 user accounts it’s fair to say the Bristol Pound has been something of a success.

But it’s not just at home in Bristol that the local currency is proving popular. Over the last few months the Bristol Pound office has been inundated with queries from other cities across the UK not to mention international delegations of policy makers interested to find out how the Bristol Pound team did what they did – and did it so well.

An exciting shift towards local currencies

They’ve had so many enquires they’ve even got a spread sheet to keep track of all the people who’ve been in touch. Aside from being impressively organised, this also marks an exciting trend – across the UK and indeed around the world. After 5 long years of trying to fix our broken economies by tinkering around the edges, people are starting to get interested in changing the very basis of economic exchange. Its official – local currencies are in, and Bristol is way ahead of the curve.

Although not the first local currency in the UK, the Bristol Pound has definitely been one of the most successful, as well as being the first city-wide complimentary currency since the introduction of Sterling. There are rarely straightforward explanations to complex questions, and the reasons behind the quick success of the Bristol Pound are no exception. The factor of Bristol’s thriving and fiercely independent local culture can’t be ignored, but neither can the good planning, design and campaigning behind the Bristol Pound’s launch.

TXT2PAY makes the Bristol Pound a rare example of a local currency with an electronic payment system, giving it much better usability (and potential for expansion) for both customers and traders. In addition, the backing of the FSA regulated (and ever expanding) Bristol Credit Union has given the B£ a sound base of financial expertise and deposit security.

All eyes on Bristol…

Whatever the reason, it does indeed seem that “everybody is watching Bristol to see what happens”, as Bristol Pound director Ciaran Mundy remarked recently in a local radio interview.

What do you think, is Bristol the UK’s capital of social financial innovation? –and if so, why stop at the UK? Could Bristol become the global capital of financial innovation? There’s only one way to find out… get spending those Bristol Pounds!