Govanhill currency project is set to share the wealth

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The People’s Bank of Govanhill is back in action as a southside artist explores how local currency can be used for a redistribution of wealth.

Ailie Rutherford appeared in The Extra earlier this year while completing a residency at Govanhill Baths. Included in her work was a booth exchanging sterling for Govanhill banknotes — with the exchange rate set at one hundredth of each person’s weekly income.

Now, the artist has extended the idea to southside businesses including Locavore, Bakery47, Milk Cafe and the Baths, allowing residents to buy from Ailie on set days and spend their local currency nearby.

Ailie told The Extra: “It was really a one-off at the Baths, but it got a really good response — and the same has now happened with independent businesses focused on social enterprise.

“Really, it’s a conversation about an appropriate model for local currency in Govanhill.

“A common criticism of models like the Brixton Pound in London is that it works very well in affluent communities, with people who have the money to spend a bit more to support independent businesses. That isn’t relevant to those who are struggling with money.

“What we’re trying in Govanhill isn’t a simple transaction — you have to talk about it a bit, and that leads onto ideas about the value of things, redistribution of wealth, and trying to find a model that would work for us.”

It’s only the second local currency scheme of its kind in Scotland — the other is in Findhorn, Moray — which may confuse potential shoppers.

But Ailie is on hand at Tramway on October 24, November 14 and 19 and dates to be confirmed in December to explain the scheme — and work out how much Govanhill notes will cost you, depending on your income.

She added: “So far, it levels out at about one pound to one note anyway, although some people are paying less and others are willing to pay more.

“It’s all done on an honesty basis, and I really think people are a lot less selfish than we’re told we are.”

For more on the project, visit ailierutherford.com/work/index.php/the-peoples-bank-of-govanhill or pop into Tramway on the dates above.