Community Currencies in Humboldt County in the 2000s

Petols: The Currency of the Mattole

In 2007, the maverick Petrolia resident Ken Young, a climate scientist and passionate marathon runner, took a bold step by investing a significant portion of his personal savings to establish the Petol.

He produced coins made of pure silver, aiming to enhance self-sufficiency in the Mattole valley. He produced six coins in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20, and a brass half-Petol. 

Humboldt Exchange Community Currency

An alternative social movement, the Humboldt Exchange Community Currency  was born in 2003 as a grassroots effort to form an alternative market and support people making a living while following their passions.

Well-known local artists including Joyce Jonte, Pamela Becker, Alan Sanborn and Duane Flatmo designed the artwork for the bills.

"Salmon are more than just our food source, they're more than just nutrients to the environment, they’re relatives."

"The salmon ceremony has been celebrated within the Northern California tribal region. And what it entails is the reproduction life and death of the salmon as they are naturally. And all the dance steps and intricate moves in the ceremony depict certain traditions that we want to keep alive, like being able to go from the materialistic world to the spiritual world and back."

Ruth Wortman, Cultural Coordinator, Womens' Group. Bear River - Salmon Ceremony
Ruth Wortman, Cultural Coordinator, Womens' Group. Bear River - Salmon Ceremony
Barry Brenard, Cultural Coordinator, Mens' Group. Bear River - Salmon Ceremony

The Humboldt Area Peoples Archive would like to thank the Bear River Band, the Mattole Salmon Group, the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau, Stacy Schaefer and Tim Metz for making this project possible.

In the early 70s, Southern Humboldt’s sole healthcare institution was the Southern Humboldt Community Hospital and Clinic. Many new settlers had a variety of complaints about their treatment at this facility. Of particular concern were the birthing methods required under hospital care. In 1974 a group of poor hippie women organized to establish a clinic that would serve their health needs after several episodes of poor treatment at the Garberville hospital. Soon they rented the back room of the Redway laundromat and by the mid 1980s they built the Redwoods Rural health Center that residents of the region know well. 

Local women explored the age-old practice of midwifery, natural childbirth and other alternative natal and pre-natal possibilities. In a community committed to natural and home birth whose population was largely in its childbearing years, the demand for midwives was high. 

This collection is on exhibit at the Southern Humboldt Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

Lily Aquarian with Journey Binah Aquarian 6:08am March 5, 1975.
Source: Humboldt Area Peoples Archive

Civil Liberties Monitoring Project

HAPA is giving access to its Civil Liberties Monitoring Project (CLMP, pronouned climp) collection. CLMP was founded in southern Humboldt County in 1983 as a nonprofit to monitor, document, advocate for & educate about civil liberties issues in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties. Its goal has been to encourage public awareness of constitutional rights and involvement of the whole community in preserving and protecting them.

Human Nature Theater

David Simpson and Jane Lapiner, both San Francisco Mime Troupe veterans, launched the theater group, Human Nature, out of Petrolia, which produced plays largely centered on issues of climate change, starting with Queen Salmon in 1990, a play exploring the ways that various parties share responsibility for the alarming decline in salmon populations.

David Simpson writes: “Human Nature is a touring theater company dedicated to addressing crucial societal issues related to environment and social equity through original theatrical productions. The company was launched with a major dance, Human Nature, from which we took our name.”

This collection is on exhibit at the Southern Humboldt Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

Wolf mask for "Wolf At The Door" a Human Theater production
Jane Lapiner and David Simpson - Press

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