The People's Stimulus
The amazing thing about this movement is that we are truly an interconnected web of organizations, communities and leaders who are innovating at the grassroots. And once in a while, an idea or a program will catch on....and then we start adopting it in new places. The 10% Shift spreading around the country is a good example, so is the transformative work happening in Hardwick, Vermont...and so is this amazing story that shows that good ideas, even from the most unlikely of places, are still good ideas and can make the world a better place.
Brewton, Alabama isn't really close to anything. It's a town of about 3,000 people, about 55 miles north of Pensecola, FL and an hour away from Mobile, AL. Brewton has strong ties to the timber industry and a few months ago, like many industries, they were being hit hard. Lots of folks in Brewton were losing their job, and at the Brewton Medical Center Pharmacy, the Local Independent pharmacy in town, employees were starting to talk. They were starting to ask who would be the first to go, would any of them have a job in a month????
Danny Cottrell, the owner of BMCP, saw this as a huge concern. He wanted his employees to know that, while things weren't great, they weren't "anything to be worried about" and that they weren't going anywhere. So he started thinking about what he could do to set their mind at ease.
Danny had been following, with concern, the Stimulus Package being put into action by the Federal Government. He decided to devise a "People's Stimulus". He would give a bonus to all of his employees: $300 to the part-timers and $700 to those who were full time. And he decided to give it to them all in cash....and all in $2 bills :D
He had two conditions for this money:
1. 15% had to go to someone who needed it more than they did
2. The rest of it had to be spent at businesses in Brewton, preferably the Local Independents in town.
Danny speaks in his interview about the mood in the room when he announced it. Danny, first of all, doesn't call meetings. So, when he called every employee together, they (naturally) thought they were going to be fired or layoffs would be announced...."some of 'em had made themselves sick" ahead of this discussion. When he announced his plan, the group was stunned. "They just sort of started looking at each other, and when the first one of 'em started cryin', they just pretty much all started cryin'...they had a nice little squall"
The story has started to spread, and what's so great about this is that it actually solves a huge problem (in my mind) around the idea of Local Currency. Printing, backing, distributing and administering local currency programs (like Berkshire Bucks) is a challenging task. But $2 bills are already printed and backed by the US Government....and they're available at any bank.
Today, I spoke to the Field Office of the Secret Service in Boston. I found out that it's legal to stamp currency. So, sometime in the near future our membership in Somerville will start to distribute $2 bills in Somerville, stamped with the words "BUY LOCAL". And it's all because a man in small town Alabama wanted to make sure his employees felt safe.
Welcome to the Local Movement...a group of people ready to experiment, to innovate and to learn from each others work.
Here's the amazing story told by the man him self, the $2 bill pharmacist, the creator of the People's Stimulus....lifelong Brewton Resident Danny Cottrell: