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7 Cities That Have Their Own Currencies

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Will there ever be a unified global currency? Bitcoins—a digital monetary exchange medium that’s been steadily rising in popularity—looked poised to become one. But after roughly $500 million’s worth vanished without a trace last week, many have questioned the virtual cash’s stability.

But some communities go to the opposite extreme by issuing their very own brand of money. From Detroit’s “Cheers” to Espinal’s “Tumin,” there are a handful of currencies around the world that you can only spend in a single town or city. Here are seven of the best-known examples.

1. Bristol, England

What’s the use of having dough that’s completely worthless in the next town over? According to proponents, localized currency is a great way to stimulate the local economy. “Of all the money spent in [Bristol], most of it leaves the city almost as soon as it’s spent. It goes up to the financial institutions and gets lost” says social entrepreneur Chris Sunderland. “What people can be sure of with Bristol pounds is that they’re circulating in the city and that’s where they’ll stay.”

A longtime denizen of the English city, Sunderland currently directs the Bristol Pound Community Interest Company. In 2012, his group began releasing specialized notes that could only be exchanged in the greater metropolitan area. Today, over 12,000 residents have set up their very own Bristol pound bank accounts. And should the whole system collapse, Suderland claims that its users won’t lose a penny. “[Early on,] we committed ourselves to backing every paper Bristol Pound with a pound sterling, which would be locked away in a trust account so that even if we went bankrupt, people’s money would still be safe.” 

2. Calgary, Alberta

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One thousand vendors, restaurants, and other businesses accept these multicolored bills, of which there are over $80,000-worth floating about Alberta’s largest city. They’ve been in circulation since 1995. 

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

You have to go out and help the city of brotherly love to get your hands on some “Equality Dollars.” Thanks to the Resources for Human Development (RHD) nonprofit program, which started the project in 1995, Philadelphians can volunteer at a few designated venues for which they’ll receive 25 of these unusual dollars per hour. Such earnings can then be spent at the 150 local businesses and RHD-run shops which accept the currency. “We have pegged it to the U.S. dollar at 80 cents on the dollar,” asserts CEO Bob Fishman. 

4. Espinal, Mexico

In 2010, a group of college students created the “tumin,” a local currency available exclusively in the Mexican municipality of Espinal. Considering it an unconstitutional act of “monetary rebellion,” the Bank of Mexico has attempted to sue the movement’s founders, though this ambiguous case doesn’t appear to be heading towards a definitive resolution anytime soon. 

5. Detroit, Michigan

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Printed in $3 denominations which feature the beloved “Spirit of Detroit” monument, "Cheers" are the fiscal brainchild of motor city business owners John Linardos, Tim Tharp, and Jerry Belanger. 

6. Volos, Greece

Facing a staggering 21 percent unemployment rate, the people of this seaside urban center decided to fight back by rallying behind the “TEMs system.” Unlike most of the other entries on this list, however, “Local Alternative Units” (known as ‘‘TEMs’’ in Greek) exist only in their digital form. Approximately equivalent to one euro apiece, each unit represents a good or service an individual can exchange rather than a physical lump of cash. Transactions are electronically recorded and, as the initiative’s web operator Christos Pappionannou explains, no one is permitted to gather more than 1200 TEMs or owe in excess of 300 to prevent “hoarding” and “debt,” respectively. 

7. Ithaca, New York

Since 1991, the home of Cornell University has sported another claim to fame that’s frequently made national headlines. That year saw the conception of “Ithaca Hours,” a regional currency that’s presently accepted at over 900 locations across the city. As an added plus, the vibrant bills are marked with everything from steam boats to spotted salamanders to liven up users’ wallets (and to prevent anyone from mistaking them for conventional dollars). 

BONUS: The Berkshires (Massachusetts)

“BerkShares” began as a “great economic experiment” in 2006. Nearly eight years later, this unique form of legal tender is still being utilized throughout the historic Berkshire region of western Massachusetts (and nowhere else), with the branch offices of five regional banks acting as official exchange centers. For those interested, one BerkShare is worth ninety-five “typical” American cents. 

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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