San Francisco Magazine

“A Soft Pitch for Hard Cash”

Charles Russo, from San Francisco magazine, December 2010

In an era when seemingly every supermarket cashier asks whether you’d like to donate a dollar to a charitable cause, Richard Kirschman has come up with a non-guilt-inducing (and certainly less annoying) alternative. Kirschman, a retired building projects supervisor from West Marin, decided that the best way to generate new money was to, um, generate new money. With $10,000 from his own bank account, Kirschman created a $3 brass coin that people can buy from the Coastal Marin Fund, a clearinghouse for cash-strapped local nonprofits, and use as legitimate tender at more than 50 participating businesses, from Stinson Beach to Tomales. The fund donates $2 for each coin sold to charity-minded customers, or sells them as keepsakes to tourists and local collectors.

“I hope people will say, ‘You’re going to West Marin? Bring me back a coin,'” Kirschman explains. So far, the coins have generated about $16,000—and a Frank Capra-esque spirit of community around their mini-barter economy. “This coin brings people from West Marin together,” says Joanna Rosenfeld, the owner of Tomales Deli + Cafe. “Otherwise we’re all just isolated on our own little farms.”

So far, where to find, trade, and/or use West Marin currency for cash:

Contact us if you want to be one of them!

If you are a local non-profit (therefore a potential beneficiary of this program), please notify your members about what we are doing. We’re happy to provide images and information for your website.