F.A.Q. about the complementary currency Sordi

What is meant by " Sordi ", what is it?

"Sordi" is the common Calabrian word for "money". " Sordi " is the collective term, whereas one unit is called a "Sordu". Sordi are small clay disks of varying sizes which are individually hand-printed in relief on both sides with hand-crafted wood blocks. They are shaped and fired in Cittanova (in the District of Reggio Calabria) and are usually exchanged among the local population for local products and services. Thanks to its practical properties, the Sordu can be used as local currency even though it was originally intended as a craft item.

What is the value of the Sordu?

The Sordu was originally sold by the manufacturer in exchange for a locally available product or service at the same value of the corresponding coin of the nationally recognized currency (currently EUR ).
In some ways, the Sordu is similar to other forms of complementary local currency such as the Bavarian Chiemgauer or the Regio. Regarded as currency, the Sordu has not only a nominal value (through its exact equivalence with the euro), but also an inherent value in the work that lies behind each piece.

For what reasons have Sordi been created?

Once called Magna Grecia ("Great Greece"), modern Calabria has at least a three thousand year tradition in clay object production. Unchanged since the Greek Antiquity, many people today still work with clay, whether for bricks, small everyday objects, vessels or portable sculptures. Sordi were also originally intended as cheap souvenirs for many foreign visitors. It was only with the deepening of the economic crisis, with rising unemployment and poverty -spreading, and with it the crash of the local economy, that the idea arose that such coin-like objects perhaps could complement the lack of liquidity in the local market.

How do you get sordi?

You can get Sordi first and foremost in Cittanova and its surroundings, since they are produced and exchanged there. However, there is nothing to stop them being used outside this zone, as long as their intrinsic value is recognized by the exchange partners. Whoever comes to Cittanova and wants to receive Sordi should bring something in exchange for them, such as beer, expertise, manpower, euro coins ...the best case scenario would be to receive Sordi as refund/change at local shops.

Why is it important to support the local sordu-economy?

There is a certain imbalance between the economies of Central, Northern and Southern Europe. In the specific case of Italy, this is also felt on the national level, with most structures and infrastructures focused in the north of the country, which stimulate the economy, while the south lacks even basic local structures that are essential for a European society. For example there are no well-functioning employment agencies that could offer a realistic alternative to emigration for the countless disoriented unemployed. In particular Cittanova, and the greater area called the Piana di Gioia Tauro, is experiencing a bitter economic depression. Fewer and fewer families contain working professionals, increasingly less is spent, so many small businesses have had to close, and many service providers can no longer survive in the reduced local market. The general morale mirrors the economic situation: the population under 18 can hardly fathom the idea to train and work there, choosing rather, as is increasingly perceived as the ‘done thing’, to go in search of a better life in Rome, Milan, or abroad. There is a lack of perspective to build something successful locally. Nevertheless, the area is rich in natural resources: chestnut, beech and olive trees, fruit and vegetables, good spring water, cows and goats, potential for tourism, and much more. The introduction of the Sordu as a value object in addition to the ever-scarcely spent euro should help ensure that first the local population , and then the wider public, comes to understand how valuable and rich in resources is their home, and how much they could get out of it even just from local trade, rather than to emigrate.

What distinguishes the Sordi from known complementary currencies, such as the work ticket from Wörgl or the Chiemgauer?

Until now, nearly every newly-established complementary currency has presupposed a governeur, a mayor or an association, which give their notes (regardless of what they are made from) in exchange of legal currency, and the appointed head is recognized by the user-community as a trusted distributer. In the successful case of the Austrian "Schwundgeld" of Wörgl (1931-32), the Town Hall gave out work tickets instead of shillings in exchange for work carried out for city projects, their global value being never higher then the amount in shillings, which the city owned and kept deposited in the local Reiffeisenkasse. In contrast, the Sordi value-carriers are not machine-printed paper notes that have hardly any inherent value, but intrinsically valuable, durable objects. Although they are all stamped and shaped by the same wood blocks using the same working process, they are individually hand-made, so each piece is unique. There is no association that distributes the currency and controls their circulation. Anyone can produce Sordi, who is capable to. It is worth mentioning that the Sordu is not a demurrage-regulated currency, since it has neither a strategy in place to regulate the progressive value deflation, nor do the clay disks have an expiration date. While in most contemporary forms of complementary currency the worth of the local currency-notes is covered by the legal money demanded by the publisher (eg EUR ) in exchange for them, the coverage consists for the Sordu of the time, the knowledge and the work that lie behind its production.

So you can also accumulate Sordi, as is usual with money , as there isn't any regulated deflation of the coins’ value?

The best way to discourage those who might get the idea to amass Sordi with the goal of accumulating capital, instead of putting the Sordi back into circulation, is to emphasize that the Sordu is, after all, a commodity and not a currency. Within the local economy system there is no trusted spokesperson who could ever vouch for the fact that when one Sordu has the value of 1 euro, 3000 Sordi must therefore have the value of 3000 euros! For larger quantities, the Sordu behaves much more like a commodity than a currency. Quantity discount is not possible with conventional money...

Who benefits from Sordi?

Sordi benefits all those involved in the circulation of Sordi: the manufacturer works to produce the coins, which are then layed out in exchange for products or services needed. Those who receive Sordi can for their part exchange the coins with the equivalent value of products or services they need. The whole system benefits in that more local goods are in circulation. They are not bought from elsewhere through exchange with legal currency, itself being in turn borrowed from elsewhere (and it needing also to return elsewhere interest bearing) . All the materials necessary for the coins’ production are an existing local resource, as is the labour and technology. According to economists like Peter Schiff, these are the essentials for healthy economic growth.

Finally, is Sordi a form of currency at all?

Sordi is not a currency but a product that falls into the category of "Artisan and Crafts objects ". Whether under some circumstances they may also possess the properties of a currency, and then as a result be treated by the community as currency and not as commodity, is not imposed by anyone (at most recommanded) , but it resides essentially in the free will of each individual.

Created on ... Juni 02, 2013