(Ruby van der Wekken July 2010, on the basis of New Economics Foundation and the discussions within Stadin Aikapankki. Updated for membership numbers end March 2011.)
Stadin Aikapankki and Coproduction
Stadin Aikapankki history, what is Timebanking, Coproduction and Solidarity economy
Ruby van der Wekken, drawings Sanna Pellicioni
Stadin Aikapankki (formerly known under the name of Kumpula vaihtopiiri) was established in October 2009. Some 640 people in Helsinki have joined this Timebank (and 17 other timebanks have been established in other cities), in which services are exchanged among members on the basis of Time credits. One hour of whichever service performed is renumerated with the currency of Stadin Aikapankki, one tovi. The Timebank operates on a fully online system, as part of an international network called Community Exchange systems (CES). A such, Stadin Aikapankki is locally rooted but globally interconnected in a network of community currencies. Examples of services traded are childcare, garden work assistance, bakings, language lessons, handicraft lessons and assistance in the solving of problems. Welcome to join! Please see below for details.
During this time, both through the actual experiences gained with Stadin Aikapankki, as well as through reading on the experiences with Timebanking in particular in Great Britain and in the US, we have come to increasingly appreciate the valuable contribution Timebanking can play with regards to sustainable wellbeing in society.
Seeing people as assets and the values of reciprocity and equality are at the core of Timebanking. In principle everyone, including unemployed, elderly people, immigrants, and youth can gain great personal benefit from becoming a giving, and needed participant in the alternative economic space opened up by Timebanking. Timebanking importantly grows the core economy, which is described by the New Economics Foundation as our ability to care for and support each other and to engage in mutual and non materialistic exchanges and civic activity. Timebanking furthermore can give people more control over their lives, and can prevent needs arising (as it increases the resilience of individuals and communities). To bring just one example to the fore front of relevance also for Finnish society, we believe Timebanking importantly can play a positive role in combating fear, and xenophobic thought development, and in a very proactive manner promote reciprocal relations between immigrants and others. And so there are various issues, which can be positively addressed through the particular exchange tool with core values Timebanking is.
Timebanking enables what is called Coproduction, the theory based on the premise that people and societies flourish more when relations are built on reciprocity and equity. Timebanking can be fascilitating the coproduction of public services, as has been taken forward in Japan, the UK and in the US. Passive recipients are as such turned into coproducers. For instance, a particular urban area community might determine that in particular its youth citizens are an issue of focus. The city council department having the objectives of providing a greener urban environment, could then in consulation agree to engage youth in its activities and contribute to particular rewards which can be obtained via their earning of time credits as access to certain hours at a local sports hall. A local health centre can work in cooperation with a local timebank to improve the quality of life of those patients, which are diagnosed as suffering from mental health disorders related to isolation and marginalization.
Timebanking is then possible in the so called person to person approach (as in Stadin Aikapankki between people, but also organizations can enlist themselves), between persons and agency (a particular agency can set up its own Timebank to work towards common goals, as forinstance a school or a community centre), or from agency to agency (third sector organizations via Timebanking could pool together to share resources and skills).
We would like to stress here that we are referring to the use of Timebanking to effectuate a paradigm shift, in which any one involved would be truly a coproducer. Timebanking should not become a merely utilitarian public service agenda, aimed at reducing expenditure and at efficiency. Timebanking is about employing the existing skills and talents of citizens including that of caring, being a neighbour and citizen, to democratically and inclusively build up community and society. As NEF puts it, this entails the recognition that working in neighbourhoods is not just valuable in its own right, but a vital aspect underpinning the economy. Timebanking is furthermore enabling through its principle of the equity of work for participants to fullfill needs.
Timebanking is not a case of letting the state off the hook. The state, funders and local policy makers in fact are to play an enabling role by supporting the necessary promotion of Timebanks in localities, and by supporting the identification of common objectives and the coordination and network building among the different instance where Timebanking can be employed. Timebanking must however not become rigidly institutionalized and with this loose its energy.
We feel Timebanking can play a very positive role in Finnish society. There is no blue print as to how Timebanking could be used, the possibilities to make use of and realise its potential seem to us infinite and we seek therefore to promote the use of Timebanking among individuals and agencies in Finnish society.
Welcome to join Stadin Aikapankki!
Please send a message to ruby(at)nigd.org, or 050-4362171