As of this summer, you can be broke in Santa Barbara, California, and still afford organic produce from the farmers’ market. You can be dollar-broke, that is—but if you have enough Santa Barbara Missions tokens jangling in your pocket, earned in exchange for helping out at a number of local nonprofits, you’ll be set.
SB Missions, a new local currency in Santa Barbara, began circulating in July, soon after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law repealing a section of the state’s corporation code that prohibited the issuance of currencies other than the dollar. Though SB Missions would have launched in July with or without that excision from the state constitution, the currency’s founder, Ben Werner, says the nod from regulators helps put the whole Missions economy at ease—which is likely to be, as in any economy, a boon for growth. And the same is likely to be true for California’s dozens of other active community currency systems.