The PLENTY  Currency Cooperative (PCC) promotes local commerce, environmental responsibility, self-reliance and neighborliness through the implementation and support of a local currency, the PLENTY (Piedmont Local EcoNomy Tender).

Heres how it works:   People have been using PLENTYs to buy goods and services in our neck of the woods since 2002.  Its completely legal; its taxed the same as dollars; its secure; and it is good for our local economy.

One of the measures of the health of an economy is its monetary circulation. That is, how many times a bill changes hands before it leaves town forever. Heres an example:

Lets say you spend a dollar with Chatham Wireless.  Thats a local Internet service provider.   They will use part of that dollar to pay their folks. They live here. Part of it may go to their bookkeeper. Part might go to an advertisement in our local media. They might use their money to get a massage, lunch at Angelinas Kitchen, or dinner at the General Store Cafe. Part of that dollar might go to buy groceries at Chatham Marketplace which will then buy produce from the local farmer, who will then go buy some Internet access from Chatham Wireless.

The longer that dollar stays in our community, the more enriched we become.

You can call up another company to get internet access if you like or buy food from far away places. But there is a good chance that your dollar (or most of it)  leaves our local economy immediately and doesnt stick around to participate in our economic life together.  The beauty of the PLENTY is that it never leaves our economy, because it cant.  It can only be used to support businesses in our region.  So, a dollar spent locally is great but a PLENTY spent locally is even better!

The PLENTY is backed by trust. Its actually the exact same thing backing Uncle Sams federal reserve notes. Better known as U.S. Dollars.

The only reason to accept a PLENTY is because you know what it is worth, and you are confident you can claim that value from it when you need it.  Capital Bank in Pittsboro is offering exchange services at a 1 to 1 ratio. 1 PLENTY = 1 Federal Reserve Note.

Simple. Beautiful. Legal. Easy.

By running PLENTYs through your wallet, spending them with those merchants that accept them, you are doing your bit to keep our local economy strong.  That said, the PLENTY is a supplemental currency, designed to be used alongside dollars.  Unfortunately, not  everything we need can be purchased from a PLENTY acceptor at the moment!

Emma Skurnick, illustrator, has given the PLENTY its unique look with images that honor some of the landmarks, wildlife and cultural attributes that are distinctive to the region. From the Chatham Rabbit to Sustainable Energy, Emma has captured the look and feel of the PLENTYs stomping grounds.

The new denominations make transactions at participating stores easy, they correspond directly with US dollars, $1=1P, $5=5P, etc.

NC Plenty Front

The PLENTY Front

NC Plenty One


NC Plenty Five


NC Plenty Ten


NC Plenty Twenty

The PLENTY Twenty

NC Plenty Fifty

The PLENTY Fifty

19 Responses to About the PLENTY

  1. Lets get a list of local businesses that accept plenties up! I would be on that list!


  2. Charles Prestia says:
    MAN! I remember the Plenty from years ago. Im glad its coming back! I wonder if Raleigh could ever get one started up- or if the Plenty has a wide enough reach.

  3. Kevin says:
    It would be better if the currency was backed by something with intrinsic value, like precious metals or some other commodity. I think the Liberty Dollar is the right way to go.

    Im just saying, one fiat currency vs. another..

  4. dimkick says:
    Is there a danger that this currency may be too easily replicated or forged by someone. Are there watermarks or ribbons inside the bills at all?

  5. kerry says:
    If the local currency costs .95 on the dollar then why isnt the 5% going to a fund to buy a hard currency to then back it. Instead of just trust? A local Fort Knox.

  6. BJ Lawson says:
    @Charles The PLENTY is intended to serve the Piedmont, which will include Raleigh and Wake County. Were starting the relaunch in Pittsboro/Chatham county and expect to grow the circulation in partnership with Capital Bank and others who will provide exchange services.

    @Kevin Were starting with a local currency that is backed and redeemable in Federal Reserve Notes, as thats the most familiar reference that most people have for money. As you note, though, the key issue is that a trustworthy currency must be backed by *something* of accepted value. Our bylaws allow us to release additional PLENTY flavors that are backed by other commodities, as well perhaps local biodiesel, agricultural commodities, or gold/silver. The defining characteristic of the PLENTY is that it is backed and redeemable in something, and thus we can grow the circulation as we create more wealth in the community.

    @dimkick The currency will feature a variety of security features including serialization, special inks, paper, and printing techniques.

    @kerry The discounted exchange rate doesnt represent profit for anyone. Its just an exchange rate that works in reverse on the way out. When a consumer buys a 10 PLENTYs for $9, they gain an extra 10% purchasing power with participating local merchants. In effect, merchants are giving their local customers a 10% off coupon. If the merchant ends up with more PLENTYs than it can spend, the merchant then converts extra PLENTYs back into dollars and receives $9 for every 10 PLENTYs.

    The trust is provided by the guarantee of full convertibility as noted above.

    The BerkShares currency followed this same model, and was able to gradually increase the exchange rate as the acceptance increased. BerkShares started at $0.90 per share, and now exchange at $0.95.

  7. flypaper says:
    It would be cool if students and schools could use local currency at school events like sports competitions (example: child buys a hotdog using local currency). This would teach kids valuable lessons about money in my opinion. At least they would have early exposure to more than one kind of currency.

  8. Scott G says:
    I love this idea. I wish more communities around the nation were producing a competing currency. The Liberty Dollar is burning a hole in my pocket as I speak!

  9. PaulM says:
    I think this is such a wonderful idea. Not only will it provide short-term benefits of encouraging local economics, but it will also provide a solid foundation for an alternative to the Federal Reserve Note if and when the FRN becomes obsolete.

    If you are skeptical about the need for community-based economics, or think this is just a fad, I highly recommend The Crash Course video series that outlines some of the trends we are going to be forced to adapt to over the next few decades (http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse). Our current path is economically and environmentally unsustainable, and is being driven primarily by a faulty monetary system that encourages speculation, excessive indebtedness, and over-consumption. We need truly free markets, and that starts with breaking away from the Federal Reserve money cartel one step at a time.

  10. Magnus says:
    BJ et al,

    I heard about the Plenty via Youtube coverage of BJs speech at the April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Party. I was at the event but so far back I couldnt tell who was speaking or what they were talking about. This is a good problem to have! Thanks to Youtube I got a front row seat the next day.

    My concern is that the Plenty isnt backed by anything that I feel I can trust. If the Plenty is backed by the Federal Reserve Note, then why shouldnt I just use the FRN directly? And if my interest in an alternative currency is my lack of faith in the FRN, then it stands to reason my faith in the Plenty will be tied to my faith in the FRN.

    So I suppose Im asking why the Plenty is not backed by durable goods of stable value, such as precious metals?


  11. BJ Lawson says:
    Magnus Regarding backing, see my response to @Kevin, above:


    The benefits of our local currency start with the fact that its redeemable in *something*. Initially FRNs, but over time, we can offer notes with other backing as well. Since our bylaws dont allow fractional reserves, the currency will build confidence based upon it being fully redeemable.

    The most obvious reason not to use a FRN versus a PLENTY is that the FRN is more likely to leave our local economy and end up in China, thus facilitating further debt enslavement by our government. The PLENTY circulates locally so when you spend it with a local merchant who creates value for you, that merchant will then try to spend it with someone else in our community.

    Every time a note changes hands in a voluntary transaction, its evidence that value has been created and our community is that much more wealthy and self-sufficient.

  12. Rob says:
    This seems like an excellent way to keep prosperity from leaving our local communities. Im wondering if a PLENTY cash card would be possible.

  13. Nicholas Kyriazi says:
    From what I can tell, the only advantage of a local currency is that it keeps wealth local. If that is your only intent, you have succeeded. I would be more interested, however, in seeing a national (and international) currency based on labor hours, like Ithaca Hours but with higher-skilled jobs earning more than lower-skilled jobs. One standard value unit (SVU) buys one hour of unskilled labor. A system like that would enable us to peacefully step away from the Federal Reserve System and all fiat currencies with their supply and value controlled by government. Such a currency is not able to be devalued by government through inflating the supply, diminishing the value.

  14. […] About the PLENTY The PLENTY FiftyThe PLENTY is a local currency. People have been using it to buy goods and services in our neck of the woods since 2002. It’s completely legal; it’s taxed the same as dollars; it’s   The PLENTY Fiftysecure; and it is good for our local economy.One of its advantages is that it can only be spent here at home. As far as we can tell, they do not yet accept the Plenty in Malaysia. Which means it circulates amongst ourselves. […]

  15. Heather says:
    trust is always the main component of the currency, but it would also be nice if it were backed by something else like food security or a good store of value related to the bioregion somehow. $USD may crash so they are not such a good backing.

  16. PLENTY says:
    Its true Heather, ultimately we would like to see the PLENTY backed by something of value created and stored here in our community. The Mendo Food Futures in CA are doing that. Backing the currency with USD is our starting point and were eager to see how it will involve into a completely local currency!

  17. PEMCowboy says:
    Local currencies will become a necessity as the private mis-managed and deceptive dollar continues its fall and as the private Federal Reserve continues to drive the families in this country into further debt with money created in thin air but collateralized on the backs of hard working Americans. I believe that backing any local currency with Federal Reserve Notes (dollars) will be very problematic. Is there not an opportunity to back this True currency with local assets funded by the currency. There is an amazing book entitled Binary Economics that discusses asset banked currency. However, in my opinion the book claims that the Federal Reserve should change the basis of the nations currency to be asset backed. I do not believe that, if the Federal Reserve truly served the interests of the people of this country it would not masquerade itself as a government agency. The deception of this institution is very real and proves to be the most important reason for the decline in the standard of living in the US. and other countries. For ours is not the only country being scammed.

    Everyone should get a copy and read this book independence from the Federal Reserve is just the first step to the communities of this country taking back our rights, liberties and freedoms.

    I welcome comments & suggestions

  18. Mike Vandenbos says:

    is the Plenty still an active local currency?

  19. Camille says:
    Yes it is! There are bills in circulation in Pittsboro, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Are you local?