What are Ithaca HOURS?
The Ithaca HOUR is a local currency issued and used in Ithaca, NY. It is designed to encourage patronage from local businesses in Ithaca and surrounding communities and to prevent that money from leaving the local economy. The value of one HOUR is set at $10 and is a time-based monetary system where one hour of work equals another hour of work. There are over $100,000 of Ithaca HOURS in circulation.
The United States government does not support it, and Ithaca businesses are under no obligation to accept it.
Key points to remember
- The Ithaca HOUR is a local time-based currency system established in Ithaca, NY in 1991.
- The project aims to encourage local economic growth by keeping the currency within the community.
- An HOUR of Ithaca is valued at $10 and is generally recommended to be used as payment for one hour of work, although the rate is negotiable.
Understanding the Hours of Ithaca
In 1991, Paul Glover launched the new Ithaca currency and set the value of an HOUR at $10. This new value was the approximate average hourly wage in Ithaca at the time. Glover hoped the HOURS project would keep money in the local economy and avoid the social and economic costs he associated with the increasingly globalized financial system. Glover promoted the HOURS aggressively, and by the end of 1991, about 20 local businesses had pledged to accept the new currency. This number grew to hundreds during the 1990s.
Since then, dozens of American communities have followed Ithaca’s example and introduced local currencies designed to promote local businesses and limit the movement of that currency to a particular locality. In most cases, local currencies are meant to run alongside the US dollar. Like social media today, these currencies benefit from the network effectas more people and businesses use the system, the benefits they can derive from it increase.
Ithaca hours of operation and online payments
The HOURS system relied more fundamentally on the evangelism of its founder, who worked full time to educate residents and business owners about the uses of HOURS.
The rise of electronic payment systems, along with Glover’s departure from Ithaca, contributed to a steady decline in the use of HOURS in the early 2000s. Efforts to revive the currency have yet to take hold . An organization known as Ithacash had attempted to introduce a local currency to the internet called “Ithaca Dollars”. This currency was not issued in physical form. Ithacash operated an online marketplace where users could transact in Ithaca or US dollars. However, the project’s website is no longer operational and its Twitter presence has not been updated since 2017.