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Name: Paul Glover

What he does: Makes money–literally

LATEST TRIUMPH: Helped 18 cities mint their own currencies

In 1991, struggling graphics designer Paul Glover of Ithaca, N.Y., played out every working Joe’s fantasy: He made his own money. Now, half a million dollars of his money has changed hands, and 18 cities are nurturing similar homegrown plans.

Glover’s idea was simple enough: Community members can earn locally printed money by performing a service or providing a good. The dollar-sized Ithaca HOURS, worth $10 apiece to represent the hourly wage in Tompkins County, can be traded for goods and services. Most importantly, money can’t leave the community by way of chain stores, such as Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

What started as a barter experiment between Glover and about 90 friends has grown to include 250 businesses and nearly 1,500 participants who support the self-sustaining project. While Ithaca has relatively low unemployment, many residents find work seasonally and for little money, creating a high rate of working poor.

“We’re in a depression,” says Margaret McCasland. Her daycare program accepts HOURS, and she says the currency provides flexible work opportunities during rough times. A while back, she advertised what services she could offer from home (mending clothes, tutoring) through the project’s newspaper, Ithaca Money. Eventually, it helped her save enough to start her daycare program.

Glover’s idea is catching on. Communities in 13 other states have designed their own monetary systems with local flair (Ka’u, Hawaii, uses Pineapple Dollars). Glover says he hopes for more local currencies, with rules that “benefit people, rather than banks and corporate elites.”

For more information, write Paul Glover at P.O. Box 6578, Ithaca, NY 14851.

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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