On Thursday afternoon I was on board a train, heading for the small English town of Totnes, south of Exeter, in Devon. Ah train travel… if only I could ride more trains. I think it is the best form of long distance transport. Space, quiet, the English countryside domed by a blue sky full of fluffy white clouds outside the window, and the feeling that you are happily en route.
Totnes is a small town of eight thousand people, and is reputedly the classic English hippy country town. Like many old country towns in Britain, the streets are just wide enough for a horse and cart, and in 2007 when they are full of cars, you feel a bit hemmed in. Totnes is trying to powerdown, to ween itself of oil. But bikes are dangerous on the very narrow country lanes that wind between the hedges – I and my friend Cliona hitched a ride back to her place outside the town, and as we rode along I saw a cyclist almost fall into the hedge, trying to ride so close to the edge of the road to avoid our car coming up from behind .
The Totnes Pound: a good idea. You can buy one of these things for 95 pence, and use it to buy stuff in many of the shops in Totnes. The great thing about local currencies like this one is that the money of the people of Totnes will stay in Totnes, instead of heading off to London or Paris or Sydney or wherever. If the money stays in Totnes then the local community benefits. There are over a couple of thousand local currencies now in existence around the world. I hope there are more and more.