Did Tamworth Miss A Golden Opportunity?
Is There Still A Potential Opportunity?
By Grasshopper Media: http://grasshoppermedia.ca
Grasshopper Media had the occasion to meet Tom J. Kennedy in the spring of 2009 when he attended one of the video showings that was being hosted at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was not long into our initial conversation when Tom talked about his passion - the usuryfree community currency movement in general and the Tamworth Hours project in particular.
Shortly thereafter, Grasshopper Media did a search on the internet for “Tamworth Hours” and the “usuryfree community currency movement” and found an abundance of information that Grasshopper Media had never before been exposed to.
During 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Grasshopper Media spent much time and energy reading and reviewing information about the growing and evolving usuryfree community currency movement. Grasshopper Media interviewed Tom J. Kennedy on more than one occasion. What follows is a summary of the interaction between Tom J. Kennedy and Grasshopper Media.
Imagine this: You walk into a local retail store in the rural village of Tamworth located in eastern Ontario to purchase items for yourself, your family and your business and you see a sign “Tamworth Hours Accepted here.” Your purchased items total $100.00 and this particular business accepts 75% federal cash and 25% of any usuryfree community currency. You have Tamworth Hours in your wallet alongside your paper notes of federal cash (Canadian dollars). Do a search at any search engine for Tamworth Hours and you can view the series of paper notes referred to as “Tamworth Hours.”
The business owner willingly accepts Tamworth Hours in an amount equivalent to $25.00 (Canadian funds) and remaining 75% ($75.00) in any form of Canadian currency - cash, cheque, money order, debit card or credit card. You leave this store excited that you have been able to negotiate a purchase using a combination of usuryfree community currency and usury-based, debt money commonly referred to as Canadian dollars.
You tell other members of your family, your friends, your neighbours, and your working colleagues and they also make a commitment to change the way they spend their money by shopping locally with the businesses that accept Tamworth Hours instead of continuing to drive to the 401 corridor to shop with the giant trans-national retail corporations.
Other businesses in the village of Tamworth begin to post signs that read “Tamworth Hours Accepted here” with the enthusiastic, participating merchants agreeing to accept a percentage of Tamworth Hours for the purchase of products and/or services. As a consequence, a village that was in economic decline begins to flourish as we progress into this 21st Century.
That’s the dream imagined by Tom J. Kennedy, founder of the Tamworth Hours project that was launched on November 13th, 2004. Kennedy learned about the usuryfree community currency movement when he met John “The Engineer” Turmel in the early 1980’s. He quickly grasped the importance and significance of people in local communities learning how to create and spend their own usuryfree community currency.
Since the early 1980’s, Kennedy has been saying that the launch of a usuryfree community currency - preferably a usuryfree time currency - should be one of the highest priorities of any community.
Kennedy explains: “I still receive emails and telephone calls from people in cyberspace asking me for an update on the success of the Tamworth Hours project. One individual recently contacted me after she had telephoned the Stone Mills municipal office asking for information about the Tamworth Hours project. Whoever answered the telephone at the Stone Mills municipal office responded by saying that she did not know anything about the Tamworth Hours project.”
Perhaps the time is right for a detailed report about the Tamworth Hours project and that is why Grasshopper Media decided to publish this interview.
Years passed as Kennedy continued his full-time, teaching career as an elementary school teacher while spending much of his non-teaching time researching the flaws in our conventional economic system of usury-based, debt money and promoting the usuryfree community currency movement as a worthy complement to our diminishing amounts of federal cash. In 2000, Kennedy terminated his teaching career and re-directed his time, finances and energies to promoting the usuryfree community currency movement full time while acting as a usuryfree, resource consultant for those individuals and/or communties that were ready and willing to learn ‘what they didn’t know they didn’t know.’
It is commonly agreed that heightened concerns over the ongoing downturn in the local and global economies that are currently malfunctioning because of the usury-based, debt money system usually opens the door for people to research and explore new possibilities with the evolving usuryfree community currency movement. According to Kennedy, usury is the killer machine and its evil and immoral effects keep debtors financially enslaved for generation after generation.
Kennedy explains: “The advantage of creating and spending your own usuryfree community currency is that people will be motivated to shop locally. By using a usuryfree community currency as a complement with their diminishing amounts of federal cash, people can use the federal cash that they are not needing for their regular purchases to pay off their loans and/or mortgages of usury-based, debt money, thereby paying less usury to the bankers.
The key element of any community currency is that they are usuryfree, that is ‘free of interest’ - which ought to be correclty called ‘usury.’ This simply means that no usury is exacted from any account holder with a negative balance and no usury is paid to any account holder with a positive balance.
I always recommend that participating time-traders view the two part video series created by Paul Grignon titled ‘Money As Debt’ which can now be viewed from google video. Simply do a search for ‘Money As Debt’ at any search engine and take time to view the video. You will learn lots about economics that formal education neglects to teach.”
Kennedy claims that he would have liked to witness the community of Tamworth becoming a leading Canadian model for a usuryfree time currency in a similar fashion that Ithaca, New York has become the much-talked-about working model of a usuryfree time currency in the United States. http://www.ithacahours.org Kennedy believes that Canadians can be just as smart as Americans and that whatever the community of Ithaca can do, any community in Canada can do - maybe even better.
Why Tamworth and why Tamworth Hours? These are two questions that were commonly asked of Tom J. Kennedy when he was planning the launch of Tamworth Hours earlier in 2004. Kennedy answers: “I was born and raised in the rural area of Sheffield Township which includes the villages of Erinsville and Tamworth. I noticed that Tamworth had been experiencing economic decline with the growth of the giant trans-national retail corporations along the 401 corridor (Kingston, Napanee and Belleville) during the 1990’s and early in the 21st Century. When I asked local consumers why Tamworth was in economic decline, they commonly responded that it was because consumers are driving to the 401 corridor to shop at the big box stores in an effort to save a few pennies. I then suggested to them that if local businesses and local consumers supported the Tamworth Hours project, it might be the motivating factor to lure consumers to shop locally again, thereby re-building the spirit of local community.
I have not-so-fond memories of the skeptic and conservative business owners who listened to my pitch about Tamworth Hours and then told me to come back and talk with them after I had 500+ committed traders with their products and services listed on a database. I would commonly respond with a statement saying that we need your listing now to help us get to the 500+ listings. Indeed, a few enthusiatic supporters enroled and negotiated some trades. I was surprised at the number of residents living in the Tamworth area who admitted that they spend little or no money shopping at the local businesses, preferring instead to shop with the trans-national, retail corporations.
Some of my fondest memories were from the local farmers who quickly understood that the Tamworth Hours project was simply a barter and trading concept that helps to keep money circulating locally. The term ‘velocity of money’ is used to describe the rate at which money is exchanged from one transaction to another and since any usuryfree community currency is commonly traded locally, it meant that there is a higher velocity for a given quantity of Tamworth Hours since they could be used for many local transactions.
I remember one farmer answering “Yes” when I asked him if he would accept a small portion of Tamworth Hours from the Stone Mills Municipality for any contracts that he might negotiate with the municipal office.”
Kennedy continues: “Since I had recently retired from my teaching career of 34 years in Ottawa, Ontario, I had moved back to Tamworth to once again experience rural living as a contrast to urban living. I had been introduced to the LETS (Local Employment Trading System) in the early 1980’s while living in Ottawa and I had been a student of the usuryfree community currency movement for over 20 years by 2004. My associates in the usuryfree community currency movement encouraged me to launch a usuryfree community currency in Tamworth by saying that ‘teamwork would make my dream work’ especially in the local community around Tamworth and Erinsville where the Kennedy family was well known and respected for at least four generations.
I chose Tamworth Hours as the optimal model of a usuryfree time currency because the visionaries in the movement had explained that in the future, given the ease of modern technolpgy, we could be trading time locally and globally since one hour is measured with sixty minutes everywhere on planet earth. Additionally, it was explained to me that all commerce has its roots in these industries: farming, fishing, forestry and mining, and that each of these industries relies on labour to bring their respective products and services to the consumer market. Since labour is commonly assessed and paid as an hourly wage, a usuryfree time currency seems to be the natural unit of measure to keep track of trades. And a universal usuryfree time currency would eventually eliminate the need for exchange rates for travellers and when we purchase products and/or services from other countries.”
Some people inquire: “Why even bother to launch a usuryfree community currency in any community?” “In this 21st Century, we are witnessing the economic decline, especially in those small towns and villages in rural Canada that were thriving in the mid-20th Century,” Kennedy explains. “It was and still is our intention to motivate consumers to spend their money locally and thereby help to re-build the spirit of community that somehow disappeared in the latter years of the 20th century.”
Indeed, the implementation of a usuryfree community currency has been touted as an economic lifeboat for small to medium-sized communities all over the world since Michael Linton launched the first LETSystem in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in British Columbia in the early 1980’s. Since that time, the concept of we-the-people creating and spending our own usuryfree community currency has been growing and evolving with the advent and evolution of modern technology.
Are there any historic examples of successful usuryfree community currency projects? Kennedy answers: “Kissimmee, Florida launched a similar economic lifeboat during the 1930’s. By renewing the spirit of community and trading simple IOU’s locally, the community of Kissimmee, Florida survived the Depression far better than many other communities that did not launch an economic lifeboat. The article “The Kinder, Gentler Depression in Kissimmee, Florida” explains in more detail how the community of Kissimmee survived the 1930’s Depression.”
What is the status of the Tamworth Hours project eight years later? Kennedy responds: “Unfortunately, the Tamworth Hours project sputtered for a while and then it stalled. Initially, various local businesses and a number of local consumers supported the idea and helped to build the dream having a usuryfree community currency become the catalyst to bring prosperity back to Tamworth.
In the summer of 2004, I borrowed a friend’s digital camera and travelled around the community of Tamworth snapping pictures of local businesses and noteworthy landscapes. Then I contracted with a young entrepreneur from Ottawa, Ontario with competent computer and graphic arts skills to create the front and back of the paper notes of Tamworth Hours.
I was aware that the Family Life Foundation, a duly registered charitable organization in Toronto, Ontario, has a mandate to support family and community projects. So I engaged the Family Life Foundation which agreed to accept donations and issue receipts to those who donated money. In turn, the Family Life Foundation funded the design and initial printing of the paper notes designated as Tamworth Hours.
I continue to dedicate much time and energy as a volunteer with the Family Life Foundation since it supports the usuryfree community currency movement in general. In particular, the Family Life Foundation also supports events to celebrate UsuryFree Day and week each year during the week of November 13th to 19th. Readers are invited to read and respond to this funding appeal letter “Funding Request To Expedite Local and Global Usury Relief” which is posted at this website:
Then I found an innovative printing company ‘Dots and Pixels’ that had the technology to imprint some security devices in each paper note, so I contracted with them to print the first issue of Tamworth Hours.
Beginning in 2004 and continuing until 2008, a series of video showing were hosted at the office of the Tamworth Hours project to inform people of the truth about modern money creation, the problems associated with the design flaw of usury and the solutions as offered by the usuryfree community currency movement. Such videos as “Money As Debt,” “Money Who Creates it? Who Conrols It?,” “The Money Masters,” “Ithaca Hours,” “Calgary Dollars” etc. were viewed and followed by invigorating discussion groups.
By the fall of 2006, many businesses located far beyond the borders of the village of Tamworth were accepting Tamworth Hours. I can recall shopping in Bancroft, Ontario in December 2006 and buying Christmas gifts for 50% federal cash and 50% Tamworth Hours. I also recall spending Tamworth Hours in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Killaloe, Kingston, Trenton and at some smaller communties in between.
Trades and exchanges were negotiated among local entrepreneurs who were enthusiastic about bartering and supporting local community. Local and national newspapers and magazines, such as the Napanee Guide, the Napanee Beaver, the Shield, the Kingston Eye Opener, the Dream, the Canadian Money Saver, the Landowner Magazine and the Toronto Street News published well-researched articles to inform readers so that the local community would be aware of the Tamworth Hours project. Most of the published articles provided the telephone number and the email address of the local office for the Tamworth Hours project. It is noteworthy, that the local office for Tamworth Hours did not receive even one phone call nor one email as a result of all the quality, coverage by the local print media.
The Kingston Eye Opener and the Dream requested me to write articles for their respective publications whereby I would inform readers about the usuryfree community currency movement and the Tamworth Hours project. I am sincerely grateful to each of these business owners for their enthusiasm and support.
Burke’s Printing in Napanee printed 500+ copies of each edition of ‘The Tamworth Times’ a sporadically published newsletter with listings of the offers and requests of the participating time-traders as well as contemporary and relevant articles about (a) problems directly and/or indirectly caused by the function of usury as an evil and immoral element on our orthodox economic system of debt money and (b) solutions as offered by the usuryfree community currency movement. It is noteworthy that Burke’s Printing accepted Tamworth Hours as partial payment for the printing service.
Information was shared with the incumbent Reeve and Councillors in 2004 and again with the newly elected Councillors in 2006 encouraging the municipality to take a leadership role in promoting the Tamworth Hours project to help expand its scope as a worthy alternative in the current, chaotic, economic times. One of the documents, ‘The Innovative Proposal’ that was shared with the municipal councillors was published in the Kingston Eye Opener in January 2007.
In the article titled “The Innovative Proposal,” it was explained to the Reeve and Councillors of Stone Mills Township, that a small percentage of Tamworth Hours could be accepted as fees for local services as well as partial payment from residents and business owners who pay annual property taxes. It was explained that Tamworth Hours could be re-cycled by paying a similar percentage of them to municipal employees and local contractors, thereby increasing the ‘velocity’ of Tamworth Hours.
There was no response from either Municipal Council about the information that I shared with them. Readers can read ‘The Innovative Proposal’ by doing a search for: ‘the innovative proposal for municipalities” at any search engine.’ Perhaps the new Stone Mills Council that was elected on October 25th, 2010 will take action to support the re-birth of the Tamworth Hours project.”
According to Kennedy, one of the highlights of the Tamworth Hours project was the celebration of the First Annual UsuryFree Day in 2005 (November 13th) and UsuryFree Week (Nov. 13th to 19th). The celebration to launch UsuryFree Day and Week was in honour of the first anniversay of the Tamworth Hours project. Advertising and news stories were provided in various local print and electronic media before the event.
Kennedy elaborates on that first UsuryFree Day. “On November 13th, 2005, the first UsuryFree Day, workshops were held in the local library and a special event was celebrated in the Tamworth Legion Hall with a Randy Hillier (who was since elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding -Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington) as the guest speaker.
Later in the evening, live entertainment was provided by a Leigh Bursey from Brockville, Ontario, Canada with his musical band called Mantra. By the way, Leigh Bursey is now a youthful Councillor in Brockville, Ontario. He was elected in the muncipal election of 2010. I am encouraging Leigh to take a leadership role in promoting the usuryfree community currency movement in the Brockville area - now that he is elected as a Councillor.”
Has UsuryFree Day and Week continued since 2005? Kennedy answers: “UsuryFree Day is celebrated each year on November 13th. The week from November 13th to 19th is designated as UsuryFree Week. Now in 2012, the Eighth Annual UsuryFree Day and week will be celebrated from November 13th to 19th with workshops, seminars and special events at various locations all over the world. The focus on UsuryFree Day and Week is (a) on the problems attributed to the design flaw of usury as the killer machine that keeps debtors in financial slavery, generation after generation and (b) the optimal solution as offered by the usuryfree community currency movement. For more information about UsuryFree Day and Week simply do a search at any search engine.”
What are some memorable trades that you negotiated with Tamworth Hours? Kennedy smiles and says: “I remember St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, 2006 when myself and some family members and friends enjoyed Steamwhistle draft at the Phoenix Tavern in Marlbank, Ontario where as a special offer for that day, the owner accepted 33% Tamworth Hours for a 12 ounce glass of beer. We paid a one twelfth Tamworth Hour and ($1.00) and $2.00 federal cash for each glass of draft beer. I recall a comment from a local farmer on that day when he said: “Tom, if you can get the public to spend Tamworth Hours for beer and bread, you will have scored the masses.”
At Philoxia, another popular business in Marlbank, I purchased bees wax candles and paid 25% Tamworth Hours and 75% federal cash. And at Windmill Sausage in Trenton I often purchased different varieties of quality sausage made from local farm meats and paid 30% Tamworth Hours and 70% federal cash.
I also worked for a local farmer and accepted 100% Tamworth Hours as payment for my labour. That same farmer accepted 100% Tamworth Hours when I purchased vegetables from his garden. This is a direct example of bartering and simply using Tamworth Hours as a way of keeping score of any trades.
One Sunday morning I gifted Tamworth Hours to the offertory collection at the Church of the Assumption in Erinsville, Ontario. A few days later Fr. Brent Brennan, the local pastor stopped by at the office in Tamworth to spend the Tamworth Hours. I was not there on that particular day, so I am not sure how he spent those Tamworth Hours.
Another noteworthy event was when Valdy, the folk singer who lives on Salt Spring Island came the play his music at the Lakeview Tavern in Erinsville, Ontario on September 1st, 2005. I attended that event and he sang Happy Birthday for me that evening. When I talked with him later in the evening, he told me that he had purchased a copy of the newsletter, Tamworth Times at the Beaver Lake Variety Store earlier that afternoon. He complemented me on the launch of Tamworth Hours as he was fully aware of the usuryfree community currency movement since there are Salt Spring Dollars being used for trades on Salt Spring Island, in British Columbia, Canada. Readers can view Salt Spring Island dollars at this website:
Kennedy glows when he talks of his experience with inter-trading with Tamworth Hours and NDG Barter Bucks from Montreal, Quebec: “I have another good memory of travelling to Montreal with two friends who were active traders with Tamworth Hours. Since I was an active member of the NDG Barter Group in Montreal, I paid for our accommodations with my NDG Barter Bucks and each of my two friends reimbursed me by paying me an equivalent amount of Tamworth Hours to cover their share of the accommodations expenses. By these transactions, we proved that any person from one community can be the connecting link to another community that also has participants trading with a usuryfree community currency. That particular transaction proved that inter-trading is possible and it confirms that ‘accommodations’ is the optimal commodity for trading with people in other communties.”
Kennedy explains: “After that weekend, my friends from Tamworth scanned the Directory of “offers” from the NDG Barter Group in Montreal as I was able to purchase any items that they wanted. I simply would pay the NDG Barter group with my NDG Barter Bucks and they would pay me with an equivalent amount of Tamworth Hours.”
Being a supporter of the SDI (Self Directed Income) industry, Kennedy relates one unfortunate memory of mis-understanding: “Over the years, I have recognized the power and potential of twinning the SDI industry and the usuryfree community currency movement. I always encourage usuryfree creatives to enrol with one or more SDI opportunties so that they can have access to products and/or services at wholesale prices. I then encourage them to offer these selected products and/or services for sale agreeing to accept a percentage of usuryfree community currency in combination with a percentage of federal cash - always being sure to request a sufficient amount of federal cash to cover any wholesale costs. Most SDI entrepreneurs quickly understand the mutual benefits of such negotiated transactions.
I enrolled as a distributor with the Melaleuca SDI opportunity to have access to their popular lines of chemical-free, cleaning products. I created a website presence for Melaleuca products and I offered them for sale agreeing to accept 30% Tamworth Hours and 70% federal cash. In 2005, I received a letter from the corporate office of the Melaleuca company advising me that my website was “out of compliance with Melaleuca’s policies and guidelines.” http://www.cyberclass.net/melaleuca.htm I did sell a few Melaleuca products for a combination of Tamworth Hours and federal cash before my distributorship was terminated. Apparently, Melaleuca executives did not take the time to understand the power and potential of introducing a usuryfree community currency to boost annual sales. I am still searching for a leading SDI company that will fully embrace the concept of implementing a usuryfree community currency within their sales and marketing structure.”
Kennedy continues: “I will always remember the senior citizen at a local euchre game at St. Patrick’s Hall in Erinsville saying to me that ‘Tamworth Hours are just like Canadian Tire Money because any business can accept them and spend them.’ Though excited to know that some people were fully supportive, I was ultimately dismayed that not enough people between the ages of 13 and 91 recognized the power and potential of the Tamworth Hours project. So, after dedicating four years of time, energy and finances to the Tamworth Hours project, in the fall of 2008, I decided to shelve the innitiative as an idea slightly ahead of its time.
Apparently, the economic pain of Tamworthians was not severe enough to motivate the numbers required to make the project a success. Coincidentally, in September of 2008, I received notice from my landlord in Tamworth that my rental residence at 6687 Wheeler St. - which doubled as an office for the Tamworth Hours project - was destined for demolition in preparation for a new construction project. In the fall of 2008, I moved back to Ottawa, Ontario where I continue my research as a resource consultant for the usuryfree community currency movement and an active usuryfree creative.
I now share information and resources with the 5000+ friends on Facebook where I can be found as ‘Tommy UsuryFree Kennedy’ and on Twitter where I am listed as ‘usuryfree.’ I also have a page for The UsuryFree Network at Facebook, just do a search for it and there is another group for UsuryFree Creatives at the social networking community called ‘Ning.’ http://usuryfreecreatives.ning.com
I have also created twin blogs - The SDI Eye Opener http://sdi-usuryfree.blogspot.com where I share information about the SDI industry and how SDI entrepreneurs can implement ideas and concepts from the usuryfree community currency movement and the more popular blog is The UsuryFree Eye Opener http://usuryfree.blogspot.com where I regularly post information relevant to the faltering economic system of conventional, usury-based, debt money as well as updated information about the usuryfree community currency movement. I am currently setting up a website for UsuryFree Living at this url: http://www.usuryfreeliving.net ”
As Kennedy recalls the Tamworth Hours project, his voice reveals his disappointment as he ponders that Tamworth could have become the well-respected leader in the usuryfree community currency movement in Canada. Kennedy comments: “If the Tamworth Hours project had been embraced by all of the local businesses, the local politicians and the residents who live in the area, its tried and proven model would have made Tamworth the poster-town for the usuryfree community currency movement in Canada. By this time, eight years later, other communities would have been beating a path to the doors of the successful and prosperous merchants in Tamworth asking them: ‘What are you doing and how are you doing it?’ Additionally, the municipality of Stone Mills could be offering marketing kits for sale (accepting a percentage of federal cash and community currency) to raise revenues for ongoing community projects.”
Would have, could have, should have - BUT it did not yet happen in Tamworth. Will Tamworth still come forth and capitalize on this golden opportunity or will it be another community somewhere in rural (or urban) Canada that comes forth, takes a leadership role, launches a usuryfree community currency, and become the poster-town for the usuryfree community currency movement in Canada?
In contrast to what has happened with Tamworth Hours, readers are invited to read what’s been happening with “Ithaca Hours” by reviewing this article “Creating Community Economics with Local Currency” at Paul Glover’s (the founder of Ithaca Hours) website: http://www.paulglover.org/hourintro.html
More recently, Wayne Walton had taken a leadership role to launch a usuryfree time currency called Mountain Hours in Summit County, Colorado. Learn more about Mountain Hours at this website: http://www.mountainhours.com
For information and resources about the usuryfree community currency movement readers are invited to contact: The UsuryFree Network, P. O. Box 9333, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 3V1 Tel: 1.888. NOUSURY Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: It is the understanding of Grasshopper Media that the community of Tamworth now has a website: http://www.tamworth.ca Grasshopper Media recommends that a copy of any feedback - comments, inquiries etc. be forwarded to the email address for the Tamworth website: email@example.com Perhaps at some future date, there will be sufficient interest to re-launch the Tamworth Hours project with the full support of the local community.
Grasshopper Media: http://grasshoppermedia.ca
Email address for Grasshopper Media: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Economic Forecast from Grasshopper Media: “Expect to experience the reality of usuryfree living with a sprinkle of peace, prosperity and abundance for everyone living on planet earth.”
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