The Reciprocity Economy: a stimulus program in the form of local currency

Continually evolving and updating since 2018: current version May 19, 2021

Local Integrated Food and Time Slips (LIFTS) is a voucher-style stimulus program designed to address the root of the poverty crisis. Gleaning from the last 200 years of complementary currency innovation, LIFTS allows aid to those experiencing crisis and disadvantage, while incentivizing engagement of local organizations. Many traditional vouchers are single use, issued to a recipient, used to procure services or goods, then redeemed for Federal Reserve notes; LIFTS differs from this, in that it continues to circulate once issued and each transaction is considered an additional donation. LIFTS is modeled to address Northeast Indiana’s socioeconomic needs, but designed to be modified for any region’s unique monetary elements and demographics.

United Way statistics show that 1 in 5 Allen County households are unable to support a 21st century lifestyle, yet are above the poverty line and ineligible for government assistance; existing without financial stability. Local attempts to navigate this phenomenon remain ineffective, due to lack of adequate transportation, time or appropriate finances. Nutritional food, routine healthcare, quality childcare, and programs such as financial literacy education, are all sacrificed to make ends meet; a disproportionate amount of these households are minority populations who were set up for this experience by our country’s history of redlining and systemic prejudice.

The LIFTS program introduces new opportunities to improve standards of living for all participants in the community and bolsters existing programs tailored to local issues. With LIFTS acting as a supplemental resource, participants are able to close the gap of accessibility to aid programs, while simultaneously being supported on a path of workforce reintegration. Businesses ready to contribute to stabilizing the region gain dedicated employees, and in all cases, LIFTS provides specific resources needed to improve the quality of life for friends, families and neighbors.