Our very own “weird little borderline utopia” here in Bernal Heights makes an appearance on the front page of today’s Los Angeles Times, in an article about the unique (and fabulous) Bernal Bucks local currency program.
The LAT article begins thus:
Coiled around a wind-swept hill near this city’s lively Mission District, Bernal Heights takes an almost cult-like pride in being insular.
With a butcher, grocer, bookstore and bakery, the neighborhood provides the basics. When you add to that some unique establishments — like an organic baby food outlet and a knife-sharpening venture offering classes in Japanese whetstone techniques — many residents say they rarely feel the urge to leave.
“It’s this weird little borderline utopia,” said Ken Shelf, 42, who runs a combination movie-rental and succulent store here. His home, business, favorite shops and kids’ school are all within a five-block radius.
Now, Bernal Heights is taking its experiment in localism one step further, adopting what is believed to be the country’s first “complementary currency” in the form of a debit card.
Designed by two neighborhood loyalists versed in technology and banking, the Bernal Bucks card allows residents to pay for their purchases while earning credits every time they swipe it at any of the two dozen area businesses that have signed on since June.
Accrued as frequent-flier miles are, the bucks can be printed as coupons and used toward future purchases. Cardholders also can donate their accrued “wealth” to neighborhood nonprofits.
Here’s a close-up of that front-page image. So glam!
Want to get your very own Bernal Bucks card? What are you waiting for???