change the world

Some find answers to important social questions in a book. Others are inspired by the people they meet, the relationships they establish, and the work they do with others. We believe that public markets have the power to teach us how to create stronger, healthier communities and economies built on sustainable, regional development.

We can do better! Most public markets — be they tiny parking lot farmers markets or gigantic, historic public market halls — already manage to create win-win relations between producers and consumers. We believe that this should be the beginning of beautiful relationships, not the end unto itself.

Inspired by social entrepreneurism, mutual aid, and self-help, we seek ways to use the markets we develop as gateways for new relationships, new experiments, and as public spaces that inspire others. It is with this in mind that we have explored ways to introduce food stamps (electronic benefit transfer or EBT) into our Farmers Market along with credit and debit currencies via wooden tokens and wireless devices. Out of this effort to bridge the digital divide and to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to the food insecure, we have stumbled into the territory to forge a local currency for commerce and for philanthropy.

We call this system Crescent Fund, based on the traditional giving circles. Still in its infancy, Crescent Fund may prove to be replicable. At this stage, we hope at least that it will mobilize individuals in the Crescent City Farmers Market community to become engaged citizens. These and other ideas are central to our mission and our work.