A Community Currency Based on Storytelling

Five of the seven denominations of the paper currency. (Photo via The Bronx Free Press)

Frances Negrón-Muntaner, a filmmaker and professor of Caribbean Literature and Politics at Columbia University, and Sarabel Santos Negrón (not related), a multi-disciplinary artist and educator, have created Valor y Cambio, a “part community currency, part storytelling, and part social transformation” project set to start this month in their native Puerto Rico, reports The Bronx Free Press’ Sherry Mazzocchi.

The project had its genesis when Negron-Muntaner started researching the topic of unpayable debt. When countries’ economies go south and national currencies lose value, residents create ways of storing value for goods and services in alternative or community currencies.

Santos Negrón and Negrón-Muntaner designed a paper-based community currency that also has a dual story-telling component. People get bills, or pesos, from a re-vamped ATM machine by telling a story. The bills can be used at participating businesses. Currently, 40 businesses in towns across Puerto Rico offer discounts in exchange for the bills. Recently, even more businesses have expressed interest in the project.

The currency has seven denominations with each bill containing a historical figure and a QR code that takes people to a website on the individual.

Go to The Bronx Free Press to find out some of the figures on the bills, as well as the how Puerto Rico’s debt crisis factored into the creation of the project.

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