Avainsana-arkisto: In English

Northern European Solidarity Economy Meeting

Let’s join our SE forces in the North!

Northern European Solidarity Economy Meeting

21-22 April, Helsinki, Finland

As the struggles about the commons and against an ecological catastrophe intensify, we are in the need for more joint networks based on solidarity, emancipatory learning and nondiscriminatory participation.

Finland’s commons.fi and the solidarity economy network together with RIPESS Europe (Intercontinental network for the promotion of social solidarity economy) invite activists, defenders of the commons, grassroots organisations and networks to come and join a Northern solidarity economy network meeting to initiate cooperation in the field of commons, grassroots and solidarity action around bottom-up, grassroots economies, common strategies to advocate for another economy.

What to expect:

  • Inspiring ideas
  • Great people
  • Discovering experiences from other places
  • Interacting about efforts in Finland on advocating the envisioning of SE and the Commons
  • A possibility to try a lovely sauna and locally sourced food
  • Planning a future for a network (as a part of RIPESS Europe)

During the weekend, we will organise an event at the Finnish Social Forum, networking meetings and thematic session(s) around solidarity economy and the commons.

Let’s create a network of solidarity economy actors in the North of Europe! It all starts with us. Therefore, we are looking for the people and organisations that are committed to taking steps towards a better, more equal economy and society, protecting the commons and sharing their knowledge in a collective process.

As a host collective having limited resources, we are not able to host a big group of people, so please send an introduction of yourself to commons.fi[at]gmail.com. We will be in touch with you soon to let you know more about the details and the support that is available for participation.

If you have a background organisation that can support your participation financially or if you are able to cover the costs of your own trip, please, mention this, so we might me able to host more people. There is an option for solidarity accommodation for some of the attendees.

The working language of the weekend is going to be English. If you have special needs or requirements that we should take into account, please let us know.

Another Economy is Here and Possible!

European Commons Assembly

by Sunna Kovanen & Ruby van der Wekken

Spring 2016 a Berlin-based Commonsnetwork, among others, called some 30 practitioners and researchers of commons all over Europe to meet for the first time and to build European-wide cooperation. The meeting took place on May 2016 at an organic farm in Villarceaux, some 40km outside of Paris. The next step was to call up a meeting of 120 Commoners all over Europe 15-17th November in Brussels and at the European Parliament, to strengthen the transnational movement for commons both at the grassroots as well as at the heights of international policy. Here is the report of our travels.

Building the knowledge from the nodes into action at the core

A first activity of the European Commons Assembly starting from the Villarceaux meetings in which also Ruby participated, was to amend a Call for the process, which is now hosted on the website of the commons assembly and open for signatures (Welcome to sign on!).

The objective was to bring together a trans-local coalition of action groups and processes of commoning in different spheres and to build a bottom-up movement to support commons-enforcing policies.Villarceaux.jpg

Over the following months, the assembly grew in numbers on its e-list and online working space whilst the organisatory team was also discussing with the European Parliament intergroup on public services and common goods, founded on 2015 and chaired by Marisa Mattias (Left bloque, Portugal). This led to the calling together of a larger network-meeting for all the practitioners in the field of commons their invitation to meet and discuss with to the European Parliament.

To collect the experiences of the current pressing challenges in the local level, we were asked to draft policy proposals online, before ever having worked together or met each other live. Sunna was working with policy on welfare services and social protection, Ruby started up on Currency as a commons, and we were both involved with a group on Solidarity economy & the Commons, which merged finally with other proposals into a paper on territorial commons.

For someone coming to the themes mainly from studies and activism, the policy drafting process was a really empowering experience of co-work beyond major differences in age, status or professional background. As a result we gained over 25 policy proposals with strong overlaps. Many had contributed things that they anyway worked with, but did not have the time or experience to adapt their work to the work of others or to existing EU-policies.

This shows how massive resource of knowledge and support we could have for the local actions, but that it needs also a lot of work to bring it all coherent usefully together. Finally 10 proposals were finalized, from which three dealing with energy, territories (including land & food), as well as democracy were presented at the parliament.

mapping

Before heading to the Parliament Ruby participated in a session on mapping, giving rise to its own host of questions. Different mapping initiatives and their objectives were shared, as also we did with our envisioning of wanting to map solidarity economy actors and promote further cooperation between solidarity economy actors and a strengthening of our  commons and commoning. TransforMap on which also we map, will be sharing soon a manifesto for the mapping of the commons for us to comment on. Sunna, on the other hand, met with her group on social protection, and got once again convinced on the importance of general welfare policies and social rights for flourishing of active local production.

Supporting the local commons in the shadows of the institutions

commonsasemb1

The first evening’s meeting took place in northern Brussels, more prominent from the news on police actions than postcards. Walking past impressive skyscrapers and small retailers from all corners of earth we reached one of the old industrial buildings, now used by Zinneke, a parade celebrating the cultural mix in Brussels once a year, and in other times a space for neighbourhood activities.

We got to meet at the “dance floor”, in the basement of Zinneke, and enjoyed the contrast of the location to the coming meetings within the EU and sensed some kind of pride of the colourful self-organization in these leftover areas of industrial era.

We heard from local initiatives, Commons Josaphat and Community Land Trust Brussels, promoting the public ownership and collaborative planning of urban space. The following discussion was maybe the most inspiring one of the whole meeting, as people with very diverse backgrounds and experiences  threw out their advices and contacts to the Brussels group to support them in their local political campaign and asked critical questions.

Is the governance or the ownership of a commons the most important  for commoning? Or is perhaps access even more important than ownership? Or do we want to actually come to real legal forms for the Commons? In addition it was commented that the whole categorization into Right and Left, practitioners and theorists, or the framing between different commons (public or civil society or yet something else), as thinking and speaking in categories produces the modern mindset we want to challenge.

In the everyday life of the network there is surely no need to define one “most important” identifying border or practise, because both ownership and governance, both institutional and grassroots processes are running forth simultaneously. What defines and fixes the element that makes commoning to rise or fall, is the concrete political conflict. For example in the case of Commons Josaphat in Brussels and Aikapankki´s tax case at home, there will be neither access to the resource nor chance to learn better governance models,  if legal structure prevents the commons from working.

DIEM25.jpg

Political (party) action Encounter with local Diem 25

The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), is a Pan-European political movement launched in 2015 by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, wanting to reform the EU’s existing institutions to become a union of people governed by consent. Local Diem25 activists explained that Diem25 must not be too much seen as a new kid on the block – it is part of a longer process, which has build up a momentum to claim that the system is bankrupt.  They told also that Diem25 is working on a pan European agenda, which would also include a European charter on the commons. Participants discussed, whether  the  commons discussion could perhaps be a better tool for advocating the objectives of the movement than DIEM´s current emphasis on democracy & transparency.

A recurring point coming up in the discussion with DIEM25, as also on other instances, was the current perceived rise in Fascism, and the question, if commons & commoning can stand against Fascism and appeal also to the people that voted for “Trump“. For some any future for Europe lies beyond political parties, beyond state nationalism and market fundamentalism – and one slogan heard was “We need to make the commons great again” However, some days after the meetings, the discussion still went on whether it makes sense to use such slogans of imperial domination and primitive logic as the opponent.

ep

European Commons Assembly at the European Parliament

It was challenging, naturally, to step into the european parliament straight on with our diverging views, before having determined what do we actually stand for. Alone the hierarchical and formal seating and the heaviness of the institution brought feelings of frustration for many, but going in was the only way to reach the MEPs in the first place.

At the end, however, some real debate arose as well, as the MEPs present at the session spoke on the ”European agenda for collaborative economy”, which had come out in June 2016, as part of the Digital Single Market strategy. One participant voiced out strong criticism of  the emphasis on  centralised platforms in the policy framework  which pays attention neither to democratic participation, social issues nor ecological concerns. This criticism highlights the importance of combining the values of solidarity economy with the policy work for commoning.

According to the  MEPs they are trying to introduce amendments on common goods into legislation, and that they would wish to create a regular channel to reach the field, to monitor and to introduce commons-favouring policies step by step. One proposed communication opportunity was www.commonseurope.eu; and in addition ECA was suggested to define certain focal points which could have an effect on the institutional work. Some participants commented critically, though, that it is not the objective of the ECA to put forward some experts, but that it is exactly the assembly process which should brought to the forefront

zinneke

Content & structure of the ECA process

There was good energy in Zinneke cellar dance floor room the morning after the EP parliament session. The debrief following the session at the EP brought up, that some really wanted to further the policy work and for instance address the Common Agricultural Policy, which mentions nothing on the Commons. Others then again said, they wished to concentrate on the exchange of practices at the local level instead. The general agreement was that both practises will continue.

The Assembly broke out into different working groups, as for instance around financing the Commons where Ruby joined. It already had its first debate regarding the need for redistribution of money or/and alternative financial system creation. Another working group was on communications, whilst Sunna joined the large table on the organisation of the actual Assembly process itself, which will cover at least the exchange of information and support between different localities. The working groups will be continuing on the ECA’s working space (for now) on Loomio.

Besides the assembly process continuing on-line, important is of course the question of the next milestone, as it will not be at the European Parliament. One idea was to awake a big buzz via a huge commons festival, It was great to hear of the different suggestions already made for the next ECA : at the Tate modern, Madrid November 2017, RIPESS SE annual meeting possibly in Athens and so on.. At least there is a lot of positive energy and futures to enliven if such a cultural event would take place.

In these times such meetings with inspiring people and learning from long-standing but creative, value-based and positive examples gives a great bunch of energy to go on the work at home. Welcome to join! Commons.fi at any of the upcoming commons assembly meetings (follow the website and facebook group).

Ethical and practical steps to community economies

taking

Liisa Horelli, Aalto University. Liisa is working with the commoning of gendered urban planning within a network of female planners in Europe.

Reframing the economy as a space for ethical action and decision-making is the compelling argument that J.K. Gibson-Graham and her team make at the beginning of their book Taking Back the Economy, an ethical guide for transforming our communities. Their aim is to direct people´s activities toward a more sustainable, equitable and just economy.

Economy is not seen in the traditional way as a machine to be obeyed, but as a set of diverse day-to-day processes and practices, which can be modified and consequently changed. Economy is described, like Hazel Henderson´s layered cake in the 1980´s, as an iceberg. It comprises, above the waterline, mainstream economic accounts that are visible, such as wage labour producing for a market in a capitalist firm. Below the waterline are a variety of activities that are indispensable for our daily life and well-being, such as participating in unpaid community activities or taking care of children and the household. The iceberg, besides being the symbol of diverse economies and its varying characteristics, can be used as a tool for making an inventory of the diverse economic activities that exist in the community or region.

The ethics of community economy is tied to the core questions: How do we survive well? How do we distribute surplus? How do we encounter others as we seek to survive well? What do we consume? How do we care for our commons? And, how do we invest for the future? The answer is that it is urgent to take back work, business, markets, property and finance. Each theme has been dealt with in a specific chapter with a systematic methodology, by first defining and describing the problem in context, after which tools for solutions are provided with examples from different parts of the world.

Taking back the work, surviving well

Work is what we do for a living. Thus, the key concern for community economy is to survive well individually, collectively and in terms of the planet. The authors argue that a mix of Paid work, Alternatively paid (self-employed, cooperative, in-kind) and Unpaid work can enhance the attainment of balanced well-being. The different types of well-being – material, occupational, social, community and physical – can be monitored and analyzed by a variety of tools. For example, the 24-hour clock, the well-being score-card or the balance scale indicate the proportion of time that is spent on different activities (paid work, recreation, volunteering, care etc.), with varying degrees of satisfaction. Decisions can then be made, whether to increase or decrease work or to downshift it. In addition, individual and national ecological footprints enable the monitoring of the impact of work on the planet.

Take back the business, distributing surplus

Business is about problem-solving at a profit. Businesses are organizations in which goods and services are produced and exchanged. Because many businesses cause global inequity and the new wealth is not geared towards planetary well-being, the community economy has an eye on who makes decisions about the production and distribution of the wealth. The key concern is the survival – surplus (left over, etra) nexus. How is surplus produced, who owns it and who decides how it can be used for the benefit of people and the planet? These questions can be analyzed by special tools. A prime example is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (MCC), which is a network of worker–owned coops in Spain, with an annual increase in job creation and educational programs.

The tools for taking back the business involve the encouragement of a wide range of enterprise types, especially those that enhance the collective and environmental well-being. In addition to the Capitalist firm, there are Alternative capitalist (socially responsible and green firms, state-run enterprises) and Noncapitalist ones (cooperatives, social enterprises, self-employed business). The surplus can be claimed as private, collective or social wealth. For example, the Homebody Industries in Los Angeles, whose core business is “gang rehab”, is producing social wealth which is composed of surplus value (keeping the youngsters out of misfit, even jail) and social surplus (services for young people). The authors list several collective actions how to distribute surplus, such as participatory forms of enterprize, worker-owned coops, ethical negotiations within capitalism, collective support for the self-employed etc.

Take back the market, encountering others

Markets are seen as the ideal system for coordinating complex transactions between producers and consumers. However, the price does not tell us about the working conditions of, for example, the children or adolescents involved in the production. The markets are just one way to connect with others to obtain things that we cannot produce ourselves. Therefore, it is a key concern for community economy to encounter (distant) others in the process of surviving well together on this earth. This means that ethics cannot be erased from the market.

The authors provide many tools, such as the Ethical shopper´s checklist, for the analysis of the transactions, which disclose the cost, utility, sensory response and connections with people and the planet. There are a variety of ways to transact goods and services, such as the Capitalist market, Alternative markets (fair and direct trade, reciprocal exchange, alternative currency, local trading systems etc.) and Nonmarkets (household flows, gift giving, gleaning etc.). Markets in which the well-being of others have been built in the encounter, can be supported by fair-trade networks, local campaigns, ethical consumer guides, coops and by bringing gleaning to the 21st century.

Take back property, commoning

Property refers to all the things we own and use in order to survive well. Private property is seen as the founding stone of democracies, as well as that of economy. Although private property provides a sense of security, it also means exclusion, by keeping people out. Thus, the authors describe diverse types of properties that comprise Private, Alternative private (state-owned, tenanted, customary, community-managed) and Open access property (atmosphere, water, ocean, ecosystem services).

The key concern of community economy deals with the commons, which cut across the different types of properties. A commons is a property, a practice or a knowledge that is shared by a community. Our survival depends on different kinds of commons: biophysical (sun light, air, rocks), cultural (language, religion, art), social (health, education, administration) and knowledge (indigenous, scientific, technological). Consequently, without a commons, there is no community and vice versa. This means that a loss of commons is a loss of community and consequent well-being, like the shutting of a village school.

The management of the commons requires that access to property must be widely shared, its use negotiated by a community, its benefits distributed to the community and beyond, and the care and responsibility for the property performed by the community members. The tools comprise identity kits that help to analyze the characteristics of different kinds of commons which enhance the individual and collective management and the practice of commoning (producing and reproducing resources) with an ethic of care. Commoning can take place with any type of property. The tragedy of the commons (Hardin,1968), such as the declining atmosphere, is an example of a globally unmanaged commons. The Commons yardstick helps to imagine and connect with seven generations forward, for example in the case of the Creative commons, open-source software Linux. Other tools for commoning comprise protecting open and accessible spaces in urban areas, human genes, new frontiers in space, commoning abandoned private land, collective private housing, as ell as natural and intellectual resources.

Take back finance. Investing in futures.

The term finance variously refers to money, savings, investment, taxation, risk management and financial instruments. The sector operates more like a giant casino than the society´s guardian of wealth. Therefore, the finance has to be reclaimed as an enabler of futures, not as an end in itself. Investing in futures means taking action now so that the descendants can survive as well or better than we. There are many forms of investments, not just money, in community economy. The diverse finances comprise, in addition to Mainstream market finance, Alternative market finance (state banks, credit unions, microfinance, friendly societies, community-based financial institutions, crowdfunding) and Nonmarket finance (sweat equity, community-supported business, rotating credit funds, family lending, donations, interest-free loans).

In community economy, the monetary and nonmonetary investments are both transparent and directed toward a better and more sustainable future. Investment stocktaking is a key concern. The pertinent question are: how is the wealth pooled, safeguarded and dispersed to worthwhile ends, and what is the social return that can be shared in a transparent and ethical manner. The tools comprise a method to tap the social return on investment (SROI) and even a CEROI, Community economy return on investment. Thus, the “growth” can be targeted at vital commons and ethical exchange relations that ensure quality of life. The CEROI can be seen as increased well-being, smaller ecological footprints, augmented ethical trade and as an expansion of the commons. Additional tools are Do-it-yourself finance, supporting community finance institutions, promoting ethical investments and redirecting government revenues toward life-sustaining activities.

Conclusions

The authors have painted an interesting picture with concrete examples of what is ment by the economy as a space of negotiated interdependence around everyday life practices. Although the authors do not define diverse economies as part of the broad class of sharing economy, their examples, such as the Mondragon coop, which emerge as spaces of opportunities and hope, represent participatory, peer-to-peer, civic and solidarity economies. Nevertheless, the book lacks a final chapter that would tie the different themes together from the perspective of the local community. There is no account of how the chosen themes together contribute to the transforming of our communities (cf. the subtitle of the book). In addition to economic activities, community development requires dealing with other structural issues that are the substance of expanded urban planning. This does not mean that planners, developers, activists and gender researchers would not benefit from the book, on the contrary, its message about diverse economies as a source of possibilities and hope is seminal. It is urgent that the themes of ´Taking back the economy` will be studied from a holistic perspective in different local communities, all over the world. This will hopefully lead to a new book.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. , Cameron, J. & Healy, S. (2013)Take back the economy. An ethical guide for transforming our communities. London: University of Minneapolis Press.

Invitation to join the map and network of Solidarity Economy in Finland

Let’s make another kind of economy visible. Join the solidarity economy map by answering a questionnaire (so far only in Finnish).

Those who are  interested can get involved in building and strengthening the solidarity economy network in Finland. During the fall of 2016 we are looking for interested people in doing interviews with the actors which are joining our solidarity economy map (see below). The aim is to advance cooperation between solidarity economy actors, among other things, and in this way to enlarge the space for another kind of economy.

Follow our newest events via

What is solidarity economy and what does the network do?

Solidarity economy consists of activities and processes that aim at a more just, equitable, sustainable, and democratic economy. It builds alternatives to mainstream economy and the pursuit for privatised profit. In practice, solidarity economy appears as time banks, exchange circles, volunteer work, social enterprises, eco-villages, cooperatives, subsistence farming, and much more. It is not important where the exact limits of solidarity economy lie but the emphasis in this process is on the diverse endeavours towards a better, more equal, and just economy.

The Finnish solidarity economy network has operated for a few years in making examples and visions of building alternative economies more visible. It strives to provide answers to the multiple problems of our time. The web of solidarity economy develops each day and all of us are actors in this web.

In the mapping, different actors working on alternative economy are brought together and made visible. Central idea is to show the democratic principles in practice. This means that the focus is on economic activities, that challenge profit-making, competition and consumerism and implement principles of justice, diversity, equality, democracy, sustainability, and autonomy.

The responses to the questionnaire will be used to gather a user-friendly online map as a part of the global TransforMap mapping process.

The information is gathered to OpenStreetMap that can be characterised as the Wikipedia of maps. The information can be used to different map applications and the Finnish actors on the map will thus become a part of a worldwide network. The mapping is meant to facilitate cooperation between actors and enable the expansion of good practices. The process started in the Finnish Social Forum in Helsinki in 2015 and is now moving forward. Join us!

The solidarity economy network would also want to work towards common political demands.

Demonetization and communisation

 demon
Vaihtoehtoinen talousjärjestelmä ja raha  -keskustelusarjan kolmas osa käsitteli demonetisaatiota ja  kommunisaatiota. Tällä kertaa ei etsitty vaihtoehtoista rahaa vaan vaihtoehtoa rahalle. Tilaisuudessa jakaannuttiin lyhyen yleisen keskustelun jälkeen pohtimaan käytännön mahdollisuuksia tarkemmin neljässä pienryhmässä.
Väen väki: kaiken kommonisaation kannoilla -julkaisu/alusta/arkisto esiteltiin lyhyesti. Luotiin katsaus sen keväällä alkavaan julkaisuohjelmaan sekä sen kommunismikäsitykseen kaiken kommunisaationa: uutena yhteiselle ja yhteisöille perustuvana elämänmuotona ilman rahaa, omaisuutta ja valtiota. Keskustelusarjaamme kytkeytyvä ja puheena ollut Marxin radikaaliin luentaan perustuva perusteellisempi rahan, vaihdon ja arvon kritiikki näistä kategorioista ihmisen ja tämän suhteet myrkyttävinä välittäjinä ilmestyy julkaisun sivuilla. Tästä rahakritiikistä, Väen väki -julkaisuun kirjoittamisesta ja ennen kaikkea kommunisaatioon yleisemmin kytkeytyvästä tekemisestä kiinnostuneiden toivotaan ottavan yhteyttä.
Keskusteluun ruoantuotannosta kommuunin kontekstissa osallistui ihmisiä eri lähtökohdista. Monilla oli jo käytännön kokemuksia erilaisista yhteisöistä ja puutarhanviljelystä. Keskustelussa pyrittiin ymmärtämään yhteisöllistä ruoantuotantoa/-hankintaa kapitalistisen kategorioiden ja yhteiskunnan kritiikkinä: viljelyä palkkatyöriippuvuudesta vapauttavana toimintana, sadon jakamisen kysymyksen ulottuvuuksia, ja viljely-yhteisön yhteyksistä muihin tuotannollisiin prosesseihin sekä yleisempään yhteiskunnalliseen muutokseen ja kamppailuun. Keskustelu tulee jatkumaan esimerkiksi kirjallisessakin muodossa, mutta ennen kaikkea käytännöllisenä prosessina eräällä lähistön kasvimaalla. Uudet ihmiset ovat tervetulleita mukaan. Kevään ensimmäinen kokoontuminen on Makamikilla 20.2 klo 18.
Kolmannessa pienryhmässä keskusteltiin jakamisen mahdollistavasta digitaalisesta ohjelmistosta ja erityisemmin Jaetaan-sivustosta tämän ohjelman tilana. Jaetaan-sivustoa hahmoteltiin kaikille helposti lähestyttäväksi: ei kirjautumisia eikä ideologisia keskusteluja. Teknisen kehittämisen osalta totesimme, että haluamme etsiä sopivan avoimen lähdekoodin ohjelman ja muokata sitä halutunlaiseksi. Kävimme läpi mahdollisia sivuston väärinkäyttöön liittyviä haasteita, jotka eivät vaikuttaneet ylitsepääsemättömiltä. Uusille tekijöille on tilaa ja tilausta. Osaavien tekijöiden löytyminen nopeuttaa sivuston valmistumista, joskin muutenkin ohjelma kehittyy vähitellen. Jaetaan-sivusto (jonka alustavaa hahmotelmaa linkin takana http://www.jaetaan-sivusto.net/ ) haluaa koota myös yleisemmin pääkaupunkiseudulla tapahtuvaa rahatonta ja vaihdannatonta toimintaa yhteen paikkaan helposti löydettäväksi. Keskustelun tarkemmat muistiinpanot ja jatkokeskustelun paikka löytyy Jaetaan-foorumilta. http://jaetaan-yhteiso.luofoorumi.com/f7-jaetaan-sivuston-kehittaminen
Neljännessä pienryhmässä oli tarkoitus jutella Jaetaan-juhlista, mutta keskustelu jakamisohjelmasta ja Jaetaan-sivustosta jatkui aiottua pidempään. Jaetaan-juhlat on alkoholivapaa K18 tapahtuma, jossa sisäänpääsy, tarjoilu, ohjelma ja kaikki muu on ilmaista ja kaikkien kesken jaettua. https://www.facebook.com/events/1564126590543950/ Jaetaan-juhlat on järjestetty nyt seitsemän kertaa. Kävijämäärät ovat nousseet tasaisesti alun muutamasta kymmenestä viime kerran yli sataan kävijään illan aikana. Myös media on ollut kiinnostunut poikkeuksellisesta tapahtumasta.  Konsepti on vapaa levitettäväksi. Se voi olla sisällöltään mitä tahansa: koko perheen tapahtuma tai K18 tanssibileet, iso festivaali tai pieni muutaman kymmenen ihmisen tapahtuma.
The Alternative financial system and money  -discussion series continued with the third section: demonetization and  communisation. This time the search was not for an alternative form of  money but an alternative for money. The session consisted of four subdiscussions and some general discussion.
Väen väki: for commonization of everything journal/magazine/platform/archive presented itself shortly. It introduced its publishing program starting later this spring and its conception of communism as communisation of everything – a new mode of common life as moneyless, propertyless and stateless communal relations between people. A more in depth critique of money, exhange and value influenced by radical Marxist approach to value as the venomous mediator between people and also related to themes of this discussion and discussion series will appear on the pages of the journal so stay tuned. People interested in Väen väki, discussing or writing about radical money critiqe or continue the general struggle for communisation should get in touch.
The discussion about the perspectives of food production in the context of a commune gathered some people with different backgrounds. Some had already practical experiences or other knowledge of different types communities and gardening. The approach of the discussion was to understand commune and communal food production as something struggling against capitalist categories and society: gardening as a challenge on wage labour dependence, questions of sharing the vegetables of the garden, and connecting the gardening community to other productive processes and wider societal transformation. The discussion will be continued in writing and most importantly as a practical gardening process not far from the place we gathered. People interested are encouraged to get in touch.
In the third group we discussed digital sharing program under development – Jaetaan-sivusto (Share-site) (some draft here http://www.jaetaan-sivusto.net/ ). We thought the site should be easy to approach – no registeration needed, no ideological discussion there. . From technical side we thought best way to proceed is to find an open source program and shape it to the site’s needs. We talked about misuse possibilities of the program and didn’t find too serious problems. There is room for new people with skills in the development group although the process will evolve slowly but surely also with people already involved. More details of the discussion in Jaetaan-foorum. http://jaetaan-yhteiso.luofoorumi.com/f7-jaetaan-sivuston-kehittaminen
In the fourth group we were supposed to talk about Jaetaan-juhlat (Share-party) but discussion about the site went on. In short, Share-party is an alcohol-free event with 18 years agelimit and where everything cost nothing. Entrance, drinks, snacks, the program and everything is something that someone wants to share with other people without a demad of of payment. https://www.facebook.com/events/1564126590543950/ The event has been arrangend for seven times now and the amount of visitors has rised from twenty to more than one hunderd. Also media had been interested in this exceptional party. Share-party is a free concept to spread and organize. It can be family event, K18 dance party, big festival, a small event for twenty people ore something else.

* Introduction to Demonetization and communisation

The discussion about the alternatives for our current socially and ecologically destructive form of money should not be limited to ideas on alternative forms of money and currencies. If we understand money as an alienated social relation, a mediator which replaces the real human communities with atomized individuals and as something which will always tie us down to the diabolic logic of exchange and commodity/value production, we understand the need for finding an alternative for money in all its forms.

Instead of the more conservative state (or central bank) reform models the most interesting discussions about money reforms are connected to locality and communities and even ideas about money as a commons. This is understandable as it is obvious that the money we use is the very method that separates (even antagonizes) us and our activities from others living around us and is everything but controlled in common. But as Gilles Dauve puts it: ”The community disappeared on the day when its (former) members became interested in each other only to exchange. — With the birth of exchange in the community, labour is no longer the realization of needs by the collectivity, but the means to obtain from others the satisfaction of one’s needs.” There is no need – or even possibility – to exchange from what is already controlled in common.

The total critique of exchange and its practical form, demonetization, only takes us halfway through though. As the reproduction of human beings is a social affair – unless we want to change only the form of our isolation and continue the bourgoisie logic of every person for himself – it is not enough to withdraw from money relations. It is a question of replacing money relations with communities of different kind which are able to take part and control in common the reproduction of the material and cultural dimensions of the life of human beings without money (exchange and value).

Communisation, a revolutionary commu/onist method (and a theoretical discussion field about the possibilities of revolution in which for example Gilles Dauve, Jacques Camatte, Theorie Communiste and Invisible committee have taken part) has been addressing this problematic for some time now. The concept builds on the tradition of the most radical, and always marginalized, currents of the working class movement (Amadeo Bordigas ideas on communism in Italy, KAPD movement and Anton Pannekoek in Germany, the Situationists in France, insurrectionary anarchism etc) but its roots go way deeper in the history of human kind than capitalism and its opponents and it has already outgrown the obvious limits of the classical workers movement and its historical failure.

Troploin collective puts communisation in a nutshell:
“The idea is fairly simple, but simplicity is often one of the most difficult goals to achieve. It means that a revolution is only communist if it changes all social relationships into communist relationships, and this can only be done if the process starts in the very early days of the revolutionary upheaval. Money, wage-labour, the enterprise as a separate unit and a value-accumulating pole, work-time as cut off from the rest of our life, production for value, private property, State agencies as mediators of social life and conflicts, the separation between learning and doing, the quest for maximum and fastest circulation of everything, all of these have to be done away with, and not just be run by collectives or turned over to public ownership: they have to be replaced by communal, moneyless, profitless, stateless, forms of life. The process will take time to be completed, but it will start at the beginning of the revolution, which will not create the preconditions of communism: it will create communism.”

Currency as a Commons

currency_bannerAnother Financial system & Money for Finland

Discussion series

Report of the third discussion : Currency as a commons.

The title of the event “Currency as a Commons” turned the focus of this evening to the different proposals taking back the (financial) economy. Parallel to banks and financial markets, these are collaborative credit systems, based on voluntary collaboration, which can be serving autonomous networks and solidarity economy building. Alternatives discussed in this meeting included collaborative credit systems, the promise of Blockchains, complementary currency philosophy, design, and local implementation.

This session was hosted by Ruby van der Wekken, Mikko Laamanen, Joonas Pekkanen from D-CENT and Kristian Wahlbeck from the Finnish Association for Mental Health. In his short welcome, Kristian discussed the history of the Lapinlahti hospital, which is now going through a transition from a mental institution to a place for collaborative work, social entrepreneurship, and mental wellbeing. This third discussion session included four presentations on blockchain technology and the Robin Hood co-operative, D-Cent project and experimentation in Finland (and at Lapinlahden Lähde), on solidarity economy building through timebanking, and the development of local / complementary currencies in Europe. A main question for all was how does the particular initiative/development contribute to other economy building.

Pekko Koskinen: Robin Hood co-op and beyond

The Robin Hood Cooperative (http://www.robinhoodcoop.org) started as a parasyte algorithm tracking all investments in the NY exchange, and copying good investment behaviour, opening as such investments to regular people who otherwise would be excluded. Robin Hood Coop has been using the profits created for commons related projects.

Pekko (Robinhood co-op, Reality Research Centre) described these workings as Robin Hood 1.0. Bitcoin has been a first generation blockchain experience creating a trust network of numbers, a functioning currency without any need to build trust by multiple layers of (international) governance. 2nd generation blockchain currencies do not only build trust levels, but are small programs,which allow for more building than just transfers. So for instance ownership of land can be tracked, and similar trust levels as currently offered by governments can be built. The blockchain 2.0 generation create as such new economic interactions. Today we are mostly limited to buying and selling, and are largely cut off of from the forming of other kinds of economic relations for example as in equity structures, shared ownership. The baby steps toward new economic structures are seen in crowdfunding, like kickstarter. Kickstarter is a company, and what kickstarter offers is rather simple. There is a buy and sell transaction and added are 2 conditions. But what’s currently been developed are programs with more building blocks.  What if this development is made open source P2P? Then we come to a very different economy.

With this the whole idea of economy comes to change. And it is important to start taking a hold of this. For the main question then becomes, who will make the change, and how it will work. Will it be the banks which are already creating their own blockchains? or will it be smaller units which have other ideological background.

http://bambuser.com/v/6037608 (event and Pekko’s starts from 20:00 min)

Marco Sachy: D-Cent project process

Marco Sachy’s works in the D-CENT project, http://dcentproject.eu/, which includes designing local currencies.  D-CENT then developed Freecoin, a set of tools to let people run reward schemes that are transparent and auditable to other organisations. The domains of innovation that Freecoin offers is that community members can decide on the systemic features of the currency system they use, with the social proof of work, which is the proof that members have abided to previously agreed- upon ‘rules of the game’ in order to be rewarded. Timebank is good example of social currency, with the members having abided to previously agreed upon rules of the game. And secondly, D-cent digital social currency pilots are experiences in reputation management, distributed trust management systems. D-CENT came to Helsinki in the spring of 2014 to map the alternative currencies situation.

For the Finnish context, D-CENT created Multapaakku, which incorporates the idea of social proof-of-work. The currency is a means for the monitoring of amounts of work, as in a cooperative where different quantities of work are performed. It includes giving power to the worker to remunerate himself after his work. The idea is currently to test the system, a peer-to-peer transaction management for the common good in which everybody is able to monitor. Being a blockchain-based complementary currency gives it an element of resilience: if the system is down it is still works.

See Marco’s slides

See also dyndy.net for Marco’s hactivist writings.

Ruby van der Wekken: Timebanking and solidarity economy building, the case for a timetax.

Ruby told of Helsinki Timebanks development of which she has been an active member since its inception in 2009, and in these six years more than 24.000 tovi’s have been exchanged. Helsinki Timebank is part of/runs on the Community Exchange Systems (CES), which hosts today some 780 groups in 80 countries, and which all can intertrade.

Solidarity economy envisioning and methodology has been inspirational to the development of the timebank, putting upfront that economy is ‘nothing else’ but the way we organise daily life. If then putting on right lenses, we can see around us different economic actors which have other values than monetary profit upfront, and whose motive is the social reproduction of life. By increasingly using them and linking these economic activities (as through a complementary currency as aikapankki) we can be further growing another economy, and in this process further our commons and the commoning around them. The time currency itself then, is not a commodity, but a token in a ‘credit commons’ that allows people to exchange services, earning and spending credits. The process of defining the principles and the rules of the credit currency itself a process of commoning. This envisioning has been accompanying the timebank’s  intensive development process determining its values and principles, and through which it came to define itself as  “Helsinki Timebank’s objective is to support mutual assistance between people, and through this strengthen communal culture. Helsinki Timebank strengthens a social and ecological just local economy, in which everyone is of equal value and has equal participation possibilities.”

Current taxation guidelines according to which taxation is to be payed on professional services received in a timebank has been hindering the development and thus realisation of the potential of the timebank. There is a need to settle the role in society for a timebank, for any complementary currency for that matter. Helsinki timebank in response developed the idea of a timetax, which is already operating in the timebank. Building further on this, we could then imagine a public actor approved for membership joining a timebank, who would as such also become a recipient of timetax allocations. This is as such a process pointing to not a privatising but commonifying of the public. Ruby said to have come to understand that the idea of a timetax is besides an answer to the taxation issue, also in itself an interesting proposal. We all afterall work part of our time to pay taxation, why not (partly) do so directly in places and spaces we want to be present at. Can Helsinki city come to trust in this kind of peoples economy building, including its proposal for a timetax?

See Ruby’s slides

http://bambuser.com/v/6037735

Leander Bindewald: Current debates on complementary currencies

Leander Bindewald, formerly with the New Economic Foundation, is now doing his Ph.D. at the University of Cumbria on complementary currencies and discourses around money. As Leander pointed to, money as we know it, is just one kind of currency, mostly issued by commercial banks. There can be different currencies, a unit system facilitating collaboration within a community. As with a timebank, the question when designing a currency is what kind of human system do we want to build. Different answers will be given by different groups with different priorities, which via the different currencies can give rise to a pluralistic economy where these voices are heard.

A blockchain then does not bind to any particular form of currency, but offers a range of opportunities. One still then needs to decide what want/need to do. And to think if need blockchain, or if something simpler will do, like for instance the CES, or printing paper.

Then there are all kind of different design elements, like the governance of a system. When understand money is not god-given, these issues become open questions.  Important are also the experiences we currently have. Many local currencies will pay tax in local currency, as its still worth doing so. It is when designing money which is based really on other values than economic value, that it raises questions. Leander saw the timetax as a creative answer, but for Leander, if a currency already contributes to the common good should there not instead be tax exemption (if taxation is about redistribution of gains by actors not contributing to the common good).

At the moment money is not telling anything usefull about what is happening our world. The more currencies we will come to be using, the better we will be getting at telling what is happening. There are a whole lot of great ideas with regards to currencies out there, unfortunately coming to an experiment with a currency is a very intensive long term process starting from the explaining of the idea, why people should use it, explain about money as we know it, get it functional and operational, so with regards to most ideas we will never get to know what they have to offer.

There was no time to discuss the 3rd International community currency conference held in October 2015, in Brasil where Leander participated, but here a link to all the papers there, http://socialcurrency.sciencesconf.org/

http://bambuser.com/v/6037773

Following the presentations, three groups were formed for the breakout discussions: 1) on blockchain-technology, 2) timebanking, and 3) the nature of a local currency in Lapinlahti.

Support from The Free University of Finland

 

STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FROM THE FREE UNIVERSITY OF FINLAND

The Free University of Finland (Vapaa Yliopisto) would like to express its solidarity with De Nieuwe Universiteit, Occupy LSE, Occupy UAL and similar activities in universities throughout the world.

We support the demands for free and universally accessible education, the defence of workers’ rights, the fight for genuine university democracy, divestment and liberation.

Our movement emerged last November in Helsinki as a network of people (staff & students) from both within and beyond the old universities with very similar concerns as yours. We experiment with practices of sharing, debating, protesting, learning, studying and teaching together. Our intention is to offer a long-term base for critical thought, para-academic work, participative research and equal encounter.

It is utterly concerning that the current university business model encourages collaboration with corrupt regimes and corporations in the crisis-bound pursuit of economic profit without any ethical or academic considerations. The idea of university has been taken hostage by actors who couldn’t care less about knowledge and inquiry – but it can be claimed back.

There have been many comparable moments of co-optation and corruption in the history of universities. This is the one that comes in our time.

We also believe that it is our responsibility to explore the possibilities for another university so that the future generations will have a place to question, learn, and grow.

We fully support your demands. Furthermore, we suggest that all these emerging academic liberation movements unite and join their efforts.

We stand together with you.

Vapaa yliopisto / The Free University of Finland – https://www.facebook.com/vapaayliopisto

Helsinki, 25.03.2015

More info: v.yliopisto@gmail.com

Stadin aikapankki viisi vuotta!

[[{”type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”2751″,”attributes”:{”alt”:”Aikapankki”,”class”:”media-image”,”style”:”width: 300px; margin: 5px; float: right; height: 152px;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”}}]]Stadin aikapankki täyttää tänään viisi vuotta! On viisi vuotta siitä, kun kansainväliselle paikallisrahojen ja aikapankkien verkkotorille Community Exchange Systems (CES) kirjattiin ensimmäinen tulokas Suomesta.

(English version below)

Taustalla oli epäonnistunut Kööpenhaminan ilmastokokous, jonka lannistamana pieni ryhmä ystävyksiä ryhtyi puuhaamaan konkreettista ja paikallista vaihtoehtoa. Näin päätettiin perustaa Kumpulan vaihtopiiri, joka puolen vuoden jälkeen muutti nimensä Stadin aikapankiksi. Yhden tunnin arvoksi tuli “tovi”. Vaan kuinkas sitten kävikään?

Viiden vuoden aikana aikapankkiin on rekisteröitynyt 3300 jäsentä, joista noin kolmas osa ovat vaihtaneet palveluita 22 000 tovin verran. Viidessä vuodessa on pohdittu aikapankin arvoperustaa ja luotu yhteinen “Stadin aikapankin ABC”. Tässä yhteydessä on sovittu aikapankin toimintaperiaatteista ja tovivaihtojen pelisäännöistä. Vuosien varrella aikapankin mahdollisuuksia on laajennettu myös niin, että mukaan on liittynyt ruokaosuuskuntia ja yhteisöjä. Lisäksi Aika parantaa -verkosto on yksi Stadin aikapankista versonut oksa, jonka ansiosta tovituki auttaa monia vaikeuksia kohdanneita ihmisiä.

Stadin aikapankkia voi kuvailla monin tavoin. Yksi on lähestyä sitä yhteisenä oppimisprosessina, joka on auttanut ymmärtämään, miten hieno väline aikapankki on kulttuurin muuttamisessa. Jokainen aikapankissa tehty vaihto vie kohti tasa-arvoisempaa ja vastavuoroisempaa kulttuuria ja eettisesti kestävämpää taloutta. Uintiopetus, kotisivujen suunnitteleminen, peltotyö ja pellon antimet, mehulingon lainaaminen tai vaikkapa huolia kuuntelevan ihmisen löytäminen ovat käytännön vastauksia ihmisten tarpeisiin.

Aikapankista saatu apu herättää myös kysymyksen siitä, eikö talous ole pohjimmiltaan juuri tätä: yhteiselämän organisoimista kestävien arvojen pohjalta. Eikö talous ole yksinkertaisesti sitä, että kaikki voivat saada ja antaa ilman, että talouden rattaat riistävät ihmisiä ja luontoa?

Valuutta vaihdonvälineenä ei ole koskaan neutraali. Kansallinen raha on velkasuhde, johon talouspolitiikka vaikuttaa monin tavoin. Stadin aikapankissa käytettävät tovit ovat “aikavaluuttaa” mutta ne eivät ole hyödykkeitä, vaan yhteistä (commons) – yhteisen vaurauden säilyttämistä vastuullisesti ja yhteisiin päätöksiin perustuen. Tovin arvona on, että kaikkien aika on samanarvoista.

Aikapankkien ja tovien mahdollisuudet ovat kiinnostaneet viiden vuoden aikana laajalti ja erilaiset tahot ovat esittäneet aikapankeista mielipiteitään esimerkiksi mediassa, yleisökeskusteluissa, kouluvierailuilla ja poliittisten päätösten areenoilla. Myös Helsingin kaupungin vuonna 2012 lanseeraama globaalin vastuun strategia on merkittävällä tavalla nostanut esille tarvetta kehittää edelleen aikapankkeja ja paikallistaloutta. Paikallisesta vaihtopiiristä onkin versonnut laajempi yhteiskunnallinen keskustelu siitä, minkälaista taloutta ja turvaverkkoja tarvitsemme ja mikä voisi olla vaihtoehtoisten valuuttojen rooli suomalaisessa yhteiskunnassa.

Viiteen vuoteen mahtuu myös takaiskuja. Aikapankkitoiminnan roolia kavennettiin viime marraskuussa julkaistussa vaihtotyötä koskevassa verottajan ohjeistuksessa harmillisella tavalla. Perusongelmaksi muodostui se, että vallitseva lainsäädäntö ja verohallinnon tulkinnat eivät voineet käsittää toveja arvona, jota ei voi rinnastaa euroihin. Ohjeistuksen mukaan kaikki ammattitaitoa tai koulutusta vaativat säännölliset vaihdot tulee ilmoittaa verotuksessa niin, että niiden arvo käännetään euroiksi. Tämä tuhoaa aikapankin tasa-arvoperiaatteen.

Stadin aikapankkilaiset ovat pyrkineet jatkamaan keskustelua “aikaverotuksesta” eli siitä, miten tovien avulla voitaisiin tukea monenlaisia julkisia toimijoita. Jos esimerkiksi kaupungin vanhusten palvelukeskus liittyisi Stadin aikapankkiin, jäsenistä voisi löytyä monenlaista harrastustoiminnan järjestäjää. Tai toviveron avulla voitaisiin perustaa erilaisia autonomisia luovia projekteja, jotka tuottavat sekä julkisen hallinnon että kaupunkilaisten mielestä tärkeitä palveluja tovien avulla.

Kansainväliset ilmastoneuvottelut eivät näytä vieläkään etenevän suotuisasti. Onneksi on yhä enemmän paikallisia aloitteita ja ihmisiä, jotka kyseenalaistavat markkinatalouden kyvyn ratkaista ekologiset ja sosiaaliset ongelmat. Onneksi myös Stadin aikapankilla on ollut viiden vuoden aikana lukuisia tukijoita, jotka ovat ensinnäkin liittyneet jäseniksi ja tehneet vaihtoja.

Kiitos kaikille rohkeille aikapankkilaisille! Kiitos myös kaikille aikapankkien ystäville, jotka ovat neuvoneet ja insiroineet meitä, esitelleet aikapankkia tilaisuuksissa, esiintyneet mediassa ja yrittäneet pitää lippua korkealla kaupungin- ja valtionhallinnossa! Yhdessä teemme maailman paremmaksi – tovi kerrallaan!

STAP-ryhmä

http://stadinaikapankki.wordpress.com/

***

 

Helsinki timebank 5 years!

 

[[{”type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”2756″,”attributes”:{”alt”:”Aikapankki”,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”147″,”style”:”width: 251px; height: 123px; margin: 5px; float: right;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”300″}}]]Helsinki timebank (Stadin aikapankki) is celebrating 5 years today! Its five years ago, that a first Finnish exchange group was created on the international local currency and timebank platform Community Exchange Systems (CES).

It was against the backdrop of yet another Climate Summit in Copenhagen failing to come up with real solutions, that a small group of neighbourhood friends made the decision to set up an alternative exchange system in their Kumpula neighbourhood in Helsinki. After half a year Kumpula exchange rink became Helsinki Timebank, the value of one hour became a “tovi” (a "moment" in Finnish) … and in these five years 3300 interested people registered onto Helsinki timebank, of which about one third exchanged services for some 21000 tovi’s.

In these five years the timebank's values were charted and Helsinki Timebank’s ABC was written down, in which the timebanks principles and rules of working were laid out. The possibilities of the timebank were enlargened by several actors as among other food cooperatives joining, whilst the timebanks workings also led to the development of the Time heals network which has been giving many a moment of ‘tovisupport’ to people encountering difficulties.

Helsinki timebank’s years have been and can be described in so many ways. One way is to say that Helsinki timebank has been a worthy collective learning process, which has led to appreciate how good a tool for cultural change the timebank is. Every exchange done in the timebanks leads towards a more equal and reciprocal culture and towards a more ethical and sustainable economy.  Swimming lessons, a listening ear, website building, working on the plot towards harvesting, and the borrowing of a juice presser – these are all practices full filling real needs.

Reviewing these activities done through the timebank brings up the question that is this not exactly what economy is about : the sum of the ways we organise life together. And should then not all of this economy be based on principles and values upholding (and not exploiting) people and nature?

A mode of exchange, a currency, is never neutral. A currencies (national) context, its design and developmental process will give rise to a political economy of the currency. The potential of Helsinki timebank’s (time) currency which is not a commodity but a commons co-governed and carried responsibility for by its users, has been put forward during public discussions, events, and school presentations to the general public, media and students, as well as in political and public sphere arenas. Also Helsinki city’s global responsibility strategy launched in 2012 has in a significant way raised the need to develop timebanking and the local economy. The experience of the local exchange rink has given rise to larger societal discussions regarding what kind of an economy we want, and regarding what the role of alternative currencies in Finnish society can be.

Some set-backs also in these five years. The space for timebanking's development and thus contribution in society was unfortunately shrunk last year, following the coming out of guidelines on timebanking and taxation. In those guidelines, a basic problem lies in the fact that the tax administration has failed to assess and interpret legally the timebank’s time credits as a value which is not comparable to euro’s. According to the guidelines all skilled work exchanged in the timebank is to be taxed in euro’s according to the supposed market value of the services received. This destroys the equality fundamental of the workings of Helsinki timebank.

Helsinki timebank has expressed its strong want to continue the discussion on timebanking and taxation – including an assessment of its (internal) timetax, which could be used to support many different forms of co-production (between timebankers and the city).  A time tax could also be used to start up all kinds of autonomous creative projects, services or goods that are deemed important by both the city and timebank members.

Five years later, the current climate discussions once again do not seem to be furthering real solutions in any way, with precursors pointing to an only strengthened ambiguous focus on markets as delivering. Fortunately however, there is a growing amount of local initiatives and people, which are questioning the capacity of markets to be delivering in social and ecological terms. Helsinki Timebank has had many supporters in these five years, which have joined as members and have been doing exchanges.

A big cheers to all of our involved members! And a warm thank you also to all the friends of our timebank! which have advised and inspired us, which have spoken on the potential of our timebank during different events and in the media, and which have carried its flag high in sessions of city and state governing bodies… Together we are taking steps in a good direction – one tovi at a time!

Helsinki timebank group

http://stadinaikapankki.wordpress.com/

Kuva: http://www.estrelladigital.es/media/estrelladigital/images/2014/09/12/2014091217090996168.jpg

Community Currencies Under the Loop

[[{”type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”2501″,”attributes”:{”alt”:”Money butterfly”,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”343″,”style”:”width: 250px; height: 179px; margin: 5px; float: right;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”480″}}]]The second Villarceaux Monetary Forum held in June 2014 invited discussions under the theme of  ”the challenge of scaling up” at Villarceaux bergerie, 27-29 June 2014. Wojtek Kalinowski (Veblen institute) explained the Veblen Institute as an organizing partner is interested in social and economic transition using social innovations, in the case of these meetings carrying a focus on complementary money. The theme of last years Villarceaux Monetary forum was democracy, whereas this year the theme of scaling up was central.

The forum wanted to look at the thematics from a transdisciplinary approach, and the meeting included as such participants from think tanks, historians, and anthropologists, coordinating practitioners and researchers. As a result, an international interdisciplinary association on complementary currencies is in the process of being set up. It aims at having its statutes voted upon at the end of 2015 in Brazil, during the next international conference on complementary currencies which will take place in October 2015, in Bahia, Brazil.

1. Scaling up – but in service of what?

The meetings started with a contribution by Celina Whitaker (CEDAL/Monnaies en débat), touching upon issues which remained central to the discussions, and started off with the question: Scaling up, in service of what? If the objective is paradigm change, then it is important to put this upfront.

How do we then see that Complementary currencies are ways to lead to transformation? For some complementary currencies are seen as something to fix the system. Other initiatives are putting their currency forward as a tool for transition; as a tool for leverage, to step up. As such systems like the time banking network in France ’l’Accorderie’ (see more below) sees itself as successful when not needed anymore.  Or are they seen as the key that is going to make for new social organisation? These functions can of course be overlapping.

To enlarge can also mean different things, Celina continued.  It can be referring to a larger size, geographically, or then in number of users. Or perhaps it refers more to adaption. Often it is said complementary currency systems can have an optimal size; small systems might want to be replicated. Or perhaps referred is to percolation, meaning the moving of ideas, so that our way of looking at things also transfers into other areas.

However Celina then asked, instead of talking about scale, how about addressing increasing desired impact? This goes beyond scaling up. As such objectives can be charted as changing behaviour, supporting local business, or democratising the public, in order to pinpoint where one stands.

(Managing) tension

Celina went over several tensions, which arise when scaling up.  A first major tension she defined as being one of quantity versus quality.  Of course an initiative wants to make sure it has an impact, and as can be heard there is the need to scale up, or “otherwise we die out.” But is there a want to grow at all cost?

Second major tension Celina identified was one of security. Recognition by authorities can have a big impact on circulation, but focus for a currency should be on trust. Recognition by authorities can be like the setting up of a trust procedure, but in this process trust is externalized, and becomes based on authority and technology. This can result in a loss. The result can be the developing of a pretty conventional system, which is not necessarily moving people to change.

Celina defined a third tension as being an issue of velocity and time. A currency process will want to gain visibility. On the other hand, real co-management of a currency takes a lot of time. Somehow a balance needs to be struck between quick time and slow time.  

Also this is a valid observation in the case of the development process of Helsinki Time bank. The time bank came to a writing down of its values and principles as happened over a process from fall 2011 to the spring of 2013, a necessarily as participatory as possible ‘slow time’ process. Before this it would not have been able to express itself for instance on taxation. It was some 3 months after the coming out of this Helsinki Time bank’s ABC of values and principles that tax officials announced on national TV news end May 2013 that tax authorities would be turning their attention towards time banking in Finland, and set out new guidelines. This announcement just before summer put a strain on the time bank for whom the coming to a more comprehensive position on taxation that would have been a logic next step of deliberation after its ABC, even if the issue in itself had of course been an issue accompanying the discussion around the time bank in Finland from the very beginning.

Finland has a large taxable income base, and the time bank also in response to the discussion on taxation developed its internal time tax going to ethical actors in the time bank already in 2012. In Sweden and Denmark for instance hardly any time banking activity has been developed due to taxation issues. When Finnish taxation authorities then presented a draft of their guidelines on time banking in August 2013, three weeks were given to the time bank (and other actors) to comment.

This kind of timeframe put a considerable “quick time” strain on the time bank to come to participatory, joint, written down opinion forming. Helsinki Time bank then managed to produce a position paper on the draft guidelines soon after they came out, produced a statement on the final version of the taxation guidelines, and drew up a paper in which restating its request for a euro taxation free time for Helsinki time bank in order to assess its potential to work towards the objective of a change towards more communal culture and ethical local economy building in the city, including also an assessment of the potential of its (internal) time tax, whilst identifying a host of issues and questions it needs to deal with.

A fourth tension Celina identifies as a supply and demand tension. Thoughts are usually that need a diversified supply, because then people will take part. But as soon as supply is the focus, are looking at things from a conventional system point of view. A mapping of needs can then be a much better starting point.

A last tension then is with regards to wanting to change the scale of the money. But when focusing on the goals, a currency is only a tool. And the question then is: scaling up of change, or of the money?

Celina suggested a tool question could be useful to manage these tensions. Every step taken, it is important to ask the question: what do we gain, what do we lose? Making a currency easier to use, might then also be losing out on something else.

2. Eusko (local currency), L’Accorderie (time bank), Solidarity economy and some conclusions from Greece

Two initiatives were introduced in the plenary of the meetings. Xabi Chamino, Eusko (www.euskalmoneta.org) introduced the chart of this largest of twenty-two local monies in France as a very important feature of this process. The local currency has 3.245 users, of which 2.700 local.  The Eusko is meant to be a tool for local development, for local economy and creation of jobs, and circulates 4 times more than the euro. As was referred to and pointed to several times during the meetings, the Eusko has a clear political nature, which it puts upfront:  to strengthen local Basque identity and development. It has also developed an elaborate participatory governance structure of the currency.

There were different time banks present at the meeting. A presentation happened by Zoé Renaut-Revoyre, the national coordinator of l’Accorderie (www.accorderie.fr), which originates from Quebec, 2002. L’Accorderie was brought to France by the Macif foundation, where it started in 2013. L’Accorderie defines its mission as being to struggle against poverty and social exclusion; to strengthen tissue between inhabitants and develop solidarity, and to promote mixing of the social, cultural, and intergenerational. To valorise all competence of everyone is core, and the agreement is also that no professional work, nor work related to health, is done through the time bank. To start an Accorderie group one needs a certain budget, location, and a salaried coordinating person in place.

Exchanges done were categorised in three groups: Individual exchanges; associative exchanges between individuals and l’Accorderie; and collective exchanges, like for example organic foods bought in gross, resold for Euro’s to members, but then also paid for in time credits for time used.

The time bank said in its presentation that with regards to scaling, challenge of this young time bank was that 43% of people do not exchange and as such want to promote their participation. The time bank thus wants to promote more diversity, and instead of the predominance of associative exchanges between accorderie and accordeurs (currently 30%), promote more individual exchange, and collective exchanges (currently 0%). 81,5% of the users said that through l’Accorderie could get services that otherwise not. 79,6% said the time bank was to valorise talents and 77,5% said it served to get new competence.

L’Accorderie presented thoughts on governance recognisable also from Helsinki Time banks development path. So the importance is to find out how can be as open as possible to all, and to promote that all can participate. Zoé expressed the governance process in itself as a laboratory, and coming with the challenge on making that sustainable, which was in this case associated with the concern around funding.  The Accorderie movement also has the commitment to spread l’Accorderie to other French speaking countries. Differences between existing groups can lie in whether or not working together with local authorities.

Juliana Braz, of the Nucleus for Solidarity Economy in Sao Paulo, Brasil, and who is currently coordinating a national project on platform formation for complementary currencies in Brazil, opened up on the experiences of Banco Palmas in Brazil and the context of Solidarity economy building.  Juliana told how in Brazil the neoliberal policies of the 90’s made the social movements of the 60-70’s thinking again on economic dimensions. Different solidarity economy initiatives sprung up like union recovered enterprises, and cooperative incubators. In 2000 Brazilian President Lula at the time put forward a new agenda to fight against poverty and established the national secretary for solidarity economy, SENAES. Banco Palmas was set up in 1998, and in 2002 the Palmas social currency. Since 2003 a process of replication has been ongoing, and today there are some 103 community development banks.

Main goal is territorial development, not the currency. Characteristics are that the initiative is based on previous community organisation, and carries as objectives economic democracy, access and control of financial instruments as well as self-management. Main goal as such is territorial development, not the currency.  The mapping of local consumption and production is a tool in this process.

Juliana explained how these developments have passed from being a local institution to a national institute. And in this quest for another model of development, public funding is given for initiatives now still for two years. Juliana furthermore told that in this phase, not more quantity is wanted, but quality. Wanted is to come to more solidarity financing on a national level through other financial solidarity economy actors.

Also Helsinki Time bank has been empowered and inspired in its development by Solidarity economy envisioning and methodology.  In particular by its pointing to the fact that economy is ‘simply’ a discussion for and of everyone as to how we organise life together; that around us are layers and instances of economic organising which are putting other values than monetary profit upfront, and that by increasingly acting through and linking of these instances like through a tool as a time bank, this other already existing economy can be growing. As Noel Longhurst (University of East Anglia, UK) noted at a summing up moment of the discussions, there are a host of grassroots innovations, or processes for instance around local organic food which are putting similar values upfront as is happening in the complementary currencies discussion.

There was also an interest to understand better the situation with regards to complementary currencies in Greece. Irene Sotiropoulou (independent researcher, Greece) started off by saying that  Movements against privation, environmental degradation, and unemployment are being suppressed in Greece, with Greek economy always having being described as being in crises.  Irene told there are no historical studies on multiple currencies or non-monetary transactions in Greece. There was one time bank in Greece in 2014, now Irene takes it some 40 schemes are working. Local city councils have been establishing more time banks, but they are not working, as people are suspicious towards them.

At large, Irene said there have been complementary currencies in Greece, which she said had see an ”implementation by the book”, but named a range of issues that influenced their level of success:

  • it is a necessity that public goods as health and education are secured
  • solidarity structures in Greece have been showing the limits of self-help ideology
  • the demolition of the welfare state means privatisation of social services
  • privatisation of the commons and public facilities brings burden to the poorest; in water & electricity schemes participation is undermined
  • land rights and homelessness; parallel currencies are not workable for people who are homeless
  • working conditions & collective rights
  • small enterprises & freelance producers are devastated by neoliberal policies
  • problem of value and prices; pegging complementary currency to the euro recreates same differential valuing

Irene referred to the euro as a currency applying aggressive capitalism in Europe, and the complementary currencies we create can then either be supporting the system, or make for emancipatory tools. Further in the meetings it was remarked that one cannot speak of national currencies in Europe.

The meetings split into three workshops held on the scaling up and development of timebanks, local currencies and the issue of recognition, which brought out different overlapping issues reported on in the below.

3. Promoting the use of local currencies

Promoting the use of local currencies, which are backed by national currencies. How to come to more users? Discussions put forward there is no magic solution. It takes time.

Political dimension. Interesting was the discussion on whether or not putting the political, values upfront is an encouragement or a deterring factor in the use of a complementary currency. The EUSCO is clearly a political project building up Basque regional and identity development, and this is put upfront. For the part of Helsinki Time bank, shared was in the meeting that in the beginning only the basic time banking values of everybodies time, work and needs being of equal worth upfront, and that it was discouraged at the time to talk more on values. However, it were practical experiences of a small selling rink of a larger cosmetic firm wanting to join the time bank which brought more evident the need to discuss values as to what kind of activities wanted to be supported through the time bank and its credits. So also Mark Burton (Bristol pound, UK) said that from the start Bristol pound has situated its project politically, and that this has definitely contributed to being widely used. Most experiences shared during the Villarceaux meetings seemed to point to the fact that it is important to keep the political nature of the project upfront, and be upfront about this.

Interestingly in the case of local currencies it was mentioned it is easier to find entrepreneurs to join the network, then individual users. As Tom Shahkli (Brixton pound, UK) put it, entrepreneurs are just asked to use currencies. A lot more is being asked from users. In a time bank however the issue seems to lie different. Economic actors like a cooperative joining the time bank will be opening up its working also to other people joining in the activities of the cooperative, which will bring own challenges.

Physical access. Discussed was whether making the currency somehow ending up in hands of people, and starting them unintentionally off in that way, would be beneficial. Eco-iris currency for instance gives out for free when starting out. Discussing this issue with Helsinki Time bank led to the discussion that in how far does this promote idea of time credits as commodities which one somehow needs to have in other to spend? Promoting that one can go into minus from the start, that this simply implies a commitment to the time bank to also give when one can, has felt to be a good way to go about it. 

The question was raised that bringing in routine with regard to usage of the local currency would be important to promote use of local currencies. Contradictory feelings will be surrounding the issue of putting the political upfront, access and creating routine, – nevertheless the meetings concluded pragmatism was overall not thought to be a wise way to approach the growing of the use of a local currency, being growing without meaning.

4. Valuing work in time: a full or partial alternative?

During the discussions the issue of Time banking and its valuing of time, of what is work, and what it is we remunerate in a time bank, was present.

One side of the discussion is for instance what activity it is we (start to) value with our time credits? It is a discussion, which also frequently has come up around Helsinki time bank, sometimes in the form of criticism of time banks supposedly monetising relations, which were not monetised before, like volunteering, or caring. As shared during the meetings, time credits in Helsinki time bank have felt to be a pedagogical tool enabling us to create relations based on different values. There where relations are good, there is absolutely no need to put a time bank on top of that. However time banking can be well put to use to address those relations which are not yet based on equality and, as in the case of Helsinki Time bank, any other values attached to the currency.  As such, it is of no significance whether we describe the activity as caring, volunteering, working, developing skills, or just an activity. Starting point can then be the fact that we all have 24 hours in a day, and the question can time banking be one tool enabling a more meaningful use of those hour

Another side of the discussion is then what kind of work is done in a Time bank, which typically is not taxed, and not considered to be taxed. As is common, Grazia Pratella (Banche del Tempo, Italy) told the timebank to be about giving ”value to valueless” work. In Italy a law has been adopted recognising advantages of time banking. Grazia also told of how there is an agreement on a local government level which gives certain infrastructure as a places, energy, telephone in exchange for certain services, and some 100 hours are exchanged in this way.  

The issue of no professional work being done is a core part of the agreement in l’Accorderie. However, coordinator Zoé also said that obviously a degree of flexibility was needed with regards to many people today practicing a variety of ”professions.”  Underlined was nevertheless that the ’valorising of skills’ was the baseline. Activities in l’Accorderie are also not meant to be in any way related to health. Both issues presents an interesting contrast to development in Helsinki time bank, also if take into consideration the development of the Aika Parantaa network (Time heals, www. Aikaparantaa.com), which also wants to address overprofessionalisation and the potential of co-production.

As Laurent Dombret (La Minuto, Belgium) told, in the Minuto time bank in Belgium, professionals and individuals take part. Agreement is that taxation will be paid when required. Also when products are required, idea is to pay in euros and time, making Minuto somewhat a hybrid model, which is to a certain extent also the case in Helsinki Time bank.

Also Lofti Kaabi (Special advisor for Tunisian Presidency on social innovation – Project Time Banking, Tunisia) speaking on the Time banking experience in Tunis attached to wider democratising local platform referred to the want for work and activity at large to be possible in time banking, in order to promote alternative. As part of a larger whole working towards local empowerment, time banks for instances are promoted in start up phase of cooperatives.

The latter experiences together with Helsinki Time bank put to the forefront a view on time banking as a more comprehensive tool in alternative building. Linked to this is then Bruno Théret (CNRS, université Paris Dauphine), reminded of a fundamental in the meetings, that time banking values human activity in contradiction to market values. Valorisation in hours is a profound countering of market vision.

With regards to whether or not time banking was for the present coordinators a case of complementarity or transformation, everyone agreed the latter was the objective.

5. Recognition

As Pepita Ould-Ahmed (Institute for Research and Development, France) brought up, seeking recognition for complementary currencies goes both ways. Authorities might recognise your project, but in that way you are also recognising (the) authority. And if a process feels to be requiring recognition, are you changing the project in any way, becoming more pragmatic?

Acknowledgement as such allowing for scaling up is connected to legal and institutional challenges, connected to goals, and ideas on transformation. Certain initiatives have been striving straight from their start of recognition by authorities, others are of a more spontaneous, open and experimental nature and feel autonomous development and dialogue is to determine what kind of recognition and how this in practice is worked out, is sought for.  Yet other initiatives want to keep a very low profile.

Leander Bindewald (New Economics Foundation, UK) explained on the project of Community Currencies in Action (www.communitycurrenciesinaction.eu), partnering in four countries.  Leander told the initiatives taking part in this project are described as being non for profit exchange systems, be they of a local money; time bank, or business to business character.  The project focuses on the issue of impact assessment. For the public sector to become interested in the currency, to will want to see if it works. Secondly the project focuses on legal compliance.

Susanna Martin Belmonte (Eurocat, Catalonia), told more of the process of development of Eurocat, which now for 1,5 year has been working on a social money for Catalonia.  The initiative has strived to want recognition from the start from authorities, discussions have been held for instance with trade unions. A coalition of supporting actors has as such been tried to set up.  The initiative is now inviting parliamentarians to open an account, and the concept includes that the currency can also be used to pay public taxes.  Susanna spoke of the importance to engage actors which one would expect to be interested from Green and Left, but which have been to engage in the discussion.

Pepita then asked the question – Why do we need recognition? Need to make a difference between legal recognition and legitimation, and to be aware of the power struggle also accompanying the processes. Authorities won’t be able to ignore the currency if it has a large volume, and the currency will then become legal. Pepita pointed to what also experiences with Helsinki Time bank brought to the forefront; different countries will carry of course different perceptions on the state, influencing with this the political economic narrative being built around any currency

Tom stressed the Brixton pound engaged from the beginning local authorities in the initiative. As such it is now possible to pay local taxes in Brixton pound, but the tax is then spent in sterling. Now they are trying to convert that situation. As Tom said, if can pay taxes in the complementary currency, that changes all.

Dominiqie Doré (SEL, France) told there are more then 500 LETS groups in France, of which 450 registered in a database, and 50 not wanting to be official. There have been two sides in SEL: One promoting business; the other social function. The network has annual meetings, but the groups have diverging approaches to different issues, and as such the network for instance does not even have one logo. Many consider it good to be like that, to stick with a low profile, and not stick ones nose in other groups’ businesses. Then again, other groups get costs funded from local authorities and actively ask for subsidies. Dominique referred to a current process ongoing around the creation of an”utilité social”- label for an association, and put forward that it would be important for actors to be participating in determining the criteria.

Xabin told that also in the case of the EUSKO, recognition was straight aay sought after, and the currency was launched in the town hall. Xabin told that for the moment the currency is understood as citizens currency and a level of partnership on a local level established. The bank of France has ruled the currency not to be seen as a means of interpayment, so for now all is ok. The currency as such is legal, but, as he said, should become increasingly legitimate and ’become part of the landscape’.

Carlos de Freitas (Palmas Institute Europe/FMDV/Monnaies en Débat) commented also on how direct strategies for aligned ”intelligent” recognition were important, pointing to the fact that timing and agenda in the process matters

Different institutions as such might be wanted to gain recognition of, and different dialogues will be necessary, with local authorities, central bank, State, users, academics…

Arguments speaking for the currency will be different in different dialogues:

  1. Interest free spending.
  2. Fiscal control not going to tax havens.
  3. Access liquidity.
  4. Not illegal. This was the argument used in the Bangla Pesa case, which proved itself to be working from a developmental perspective. WIR is another powerful example; international examples are important.
  5. Effective.
  6. Efficient.
  7. Established (not new) yet innovative.
  8. Defend values, democratic, social, ecological, local identity. Make currencies for the commons good. As Tom put it, normal money is a passive use. Local currency gives opportunity to exercise own value creation.
  9. Right to experiment with some flexibility, and to a certain threshold. Innovation debate.

In addition to this, Susanne put to the forefront can we see the right to the creation of other financial systems which work for people as a human right?

As monetary historian Atriz Beaubou Nanterre asked, can we draw the conclusion that scaling up calls increasingly for acknowledgment by authorities? Whilst perhaps also, that as size grown, the more general the currency process might find itself getting? (Is that so?)

Bruno brought up the issue of struggles between monies. Monies should be understood as institutions as well, they are not just a tool.

Complementary currencies, notably also time banks, have typically been associated as being something that is to be funded. Connected to this can be policies of Big Society building. During the meetings the challenge of funding and independence was addressed, as a funder will have an economic vision of how things should be. As such it was stressed it is important to develop own network. Discussions on funding during the meeting also touched upon how there can be struggles over funding between different processes.

In terms of what gains recognition, it was commented that public authorities invest in what provides access to all. Recognition comes not necessarily from numbers, but because did not collapse or because got partners.

6. Role of the State, citizens’ engagement, local creation and taxation

Discussions contrasted as Bruno brought up, the issue of authority vs. freedom, and a sliding scale was suggested regarding the protecting and furthering of our commons, with the Role of the State on the one end, and citizens engagement on the other. The matter as such was pointed out to be not being one of merely remedying what the State can’t do, but about creating locally. A time bank as such can be seen in a particular way as useful for citizens’ engagement, and the issue of coming to more collective authority.

An interesting reflection and proposal for a time tax is further presented in work done by Bruno as in the article “De la democratie formelle a la citoyennette participative. Réduction du temps de travail, fiscalité et monnaie-temps au secours de la démocratie participative” (Conférence au Collège Belgique, Bruxelles, novembre 2011). The article addresses the development of participatory democracy and sustainable development by way of a reduction of salaried working time (basically the time spent working to pay (a part of) taxes), and the reinvesting of this liberated time into socio-political activity, coming as such to a time tax. Activities as such done are here seen as a co-production of non-market services, but also activities that relate to study, deliberation, decision-making and political governance. In the articles referred is to how these activities of an individual, collective and associative nature can be seen as approximating activities done in a time bank, in which all hours done are of equal value, and as such mixing in with the democratic egalitarian principle of ”one man, one vote”.  

These thoughts resonate also with thoughts which have been an inspiration in the thinking around Helsinki Time bank and for instance the notion of a partner state as described by Michel Bauwens, referring to a state which guarantees the basics for all, but increasingly provides infrastructure for citizens to act, and as such enabling and supporting not a privatising, but a commonifying of the public. And Helsinki Time bank contested  the Finnish taxation guidelines on time banking which came out last year, which in short state that taxation is to be paid on all skilled work done in the time bank according to market value, and to instead wanting to promote a dialogue with authorities to via an euro taxation free time assess potential of time banking towards communal cultural change, and strengthening social and ecological economy, including an assessment of the potential of its (internal) time tax.

As came up, one could imagine in this discussion potential being augmented if conversion rates would be existing from local currencies into time currencies, as the CES platforms on which also Helsinki time bank operates, already enables.

The meetings at large felt to be an encouragement to the developmental process around Helsinki Timebank, and testified to a growing movement around complementary currencies in connection with paradigm change. At the end of the meetings, and much in continuation of the second ISS complementary currencies meetings in Holland, in June 2013, Jérome Blanc (University Lyon 2, France) shared that an international interdisciplinary association on complementary currencies is in the process of being set up, which aims at having its statutes voted upon at the end of 2015 in Brazil, during the next international conference on complementary currencies which will take place in October 2015, in Bahia, in cooperation with the federal university there.

Ruby van der Wekken

 

Kommentoi juttua keskustelufoorumilla!

 


 

Timebanking 2.0

[[{”type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”1121″,”attributes”:{”alt”:”Complementary Currency Systems”,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”286″,”style”:”width: 210px; height: 286px; margin: 5px; float: right;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”210″}}]]
Between 19-23.6.2013 The Second International Complementary Currency Conference took place in Hague, Holland.
 
These five days (two academic days, one policy makers day, 2 practitioner days), presented a great opportunity to hear from around the world different experiences with regards to different complementary and community currencies (LETS, timebanks, regional currencies, Barter, Brixton pond, Bristol pound, from countries as Argentina, Brasil, Canada, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Kenya, Korea, Japan, Spain, and the US).
 
Besides good learning and meeting up with wonderful people engaged in similar endeavours as we are with Timebanking in Finland, the conference created an awareness that in fact we can speak of a global movement focussing on currencies (money is only one form of currency, with the money as debt system as we know it), exchanges, relationships between people and nature.
 
As one conference participant put forward, this movements believes that the question to the answer of “What is the future of Community currencies?” is “Community”, and (whilst the ways to do so can be different) is looking together with other movements towards another possible world. Solidarity was also expressed with colleagues currently on trial and facing a jail sentence in Kenya for having been issuing Bangla- Pesa barter vouchers for local entrepreneurs in Mombasa, Kenya – see the petition initiated in Holland. As the petition reads, “Community and Complementary Currencies (CCCs) are recognized cooperative instruments, used globally by local groups, municipalities and NGOs for social, solidarity, economic and environmental goals.”
 
The conference was also a great opportunity to at last meet with Tim Jenkins, the developer of the Community Exchange Systems platform also Stadin Aikapankki (Helsinki Timebank) runs on, after 3,5 years of great cooperation. Tim, who has a remarkable personal history as an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, held a thorough talk at the conference on exchange systems historically, putting to the forefront what a small role in time ’money, as debt’ has had. CES is a mutual credit system, meaning that people trade with each other simply by keeping track of who does or gives what to whom. No money is required and this builds a circle of trust (read more for instance on CES pages or in this article).
 
With regards to Timebanking and taxes, in Holland I gained more confirmation that it is very important for us to keep up front what the potential of Timebanking is, and can be in the future: both with regards to its objective as set in Helsinki Timebank of enabling mutual assistance between people, and through this a strengthening of communal culture, as well as with regards to the strengthening of a social and ecological just local economy, in which everyone is of equal value and has equal participation possibilities.  We should thus be avoiding that the tax discussion will be leading to a definition of timebanking which only partly reflects our aspirations, and which risks limiting our possibility to use timebanking according to the total of those aspirations in the future. Also, what elsewhere has been happening is good to learn from and keep in mind.
 
Two further issues were in particular confirmed in Holland with regards to Aikapankki and taxation:
 
First of all, Timebanks should not be euro taxed. This we already know and firmly believe in, in Finland and in the rest of the world. This being said, different countries have come to different agreements around Timebanking, with the timebanks themselves having different ongoing discussions and negotiations around the issue. Whilst we generally are told that timebanks are not taxable in for instance the United States, this is not a 100% closed discussion as such. A timebank like the wonderful Dane County Timebank, has been developing a mutual aid network including also a feature as crowdfunding, which also in part is an answer to not all work being able to be done in the timebank.
 
Timebanks can also be defined by the proposal that after a certain amount of euro’s of exchange, timebank activity is taxable. This is forinstance the agreement in Holland. The plateau is set at 3.000 euro, and after that have to show that no professional work has been done. One hour work is set at 4,5 euro. Stadin Aikapankki has in its ABC , that aikapankki’s working cannot now nor ever be valued in money. Part of the reasoning behind that is that we do not want to be justifying social spending cuts. There are other reasons, like that it goes straight against the core of aikapankki’s principles.
 
In Britain there is tax exemption for timebanking defined as volunteers work, or charity. Timebanking can in Britain be attached to a generous amount of funding. I listened at the conference to researchers telling about the birth of a “social care industry” in Britain, which not necessarily works, not necessarily realises what people are wanting for, not necessarily is empowering, and which, rather contrary to the spirit of Timebanking, can lead to considerable competition for funds. So, whilst the starting point for sure has been good, the idea that timebankings potential can be better fulfilled via funded projects, not necessarily has turned out to be true. These considerations have also been present in the development of Stadin Aikapankki.
 
All these agreements and related issues are of course related to a countries history, state and laws. On a European level a lot is happening, and new laws are upcoming.
 
What I am perhaps mostly trying to convey with these examples, is that the conference brought to the forefront how world wide there is an ongoing search which acknowledges that new ways of doing things, a paradigm shift challenging notions of competition and scarcity is being explored with community currencies including also timebanking – as reflected among other in the discussions of the commons (see Commons.fi) and Solidarity economy building. And as has been commented to me also in Finland, we might just simply have to understand that existing laws will have to be changed – to be keeping up with reality, we could add.
 
Secondly, the potential of complementary community currencies is not strengthened by euro taxation, but by complementary taxes. This is an entire own field of discussion. For instance, at the conference I learned that the Brixton pound can have taxes payed in Brixton pounds, however – Brixton pound taxes are first of all exchanged by a clearing house company into Sterling pound. And that tax money will currently not be reverted back into Brixton pounds to be used in the local economy, due to the contract with the clearing house company, even if that is something Brixton pound movement would certainly want. This is something that is being worked on.
 
I also took the opportunity to talk more on the issue of Stadin Aikapankki’s internal Timetax , which was developed partly in response to the discussion on aikapankki and taxes, yet also, because of the potential it offers to through the timebank further develop the supporting and building together of common objectives.
 
It was interesting to hear from Bernard Lietaer on his proposal of the Civics in which citizens pay Civics as a local tax, which is earned by citizens working in different communal projects decided upon democratically, and which as such has resonating elements with Stadin Aikapankki’s ‘Tovivero’ in its democratising of the public sphere. Lietaer was of the opinion that initiatives like these are most worthy of being a given a trial period in a given location, in order to further assess and develop their potential.
 
Someone commented at the conference that a timetax could be significant for the whole timebank movement, taking timebanking to a next level – innovation if you like. This discussion ofcourse resonates with ideas of co-production and of as Michel Bauwens has described a partnering state, which supports co-production by providing civic infrastructure whilst guaranteeing the basics for all.
 
Finland’s welfare state’s history, the existing political willingness to be strengthening the cooperative economy, the statement issued in Helsinki’s Global Responsibility Strategy ”In light of social cohesion, citizens self-determination, and economic sustainability, the city will be exploring how it can support timebankin’s activities” acknowledging so well the different dimensions to the potential of a community currency as aikapankki – is keeping up faith that conditions in Finland are existing to allow for a progressive development of timebanking in Finnish society, both as an enabler of mutual assistance between people, as a strengthener of civil society, and as a strengthener of a social and ecological just local economy, which has important local, yet also global ramifications. 
 
This is what I hope for timebanking in Finland.
 
Ruby van der Wekken
 
The article is published earlier in the blog Aikaa pankistahttp://aikaapankista.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/timebanking-2-0/.
 

Mary Mellor’s slides on money now available!

Professori Mary Mellor esitelmöi 16.4.2013 Helsingin yliopistolla aiheesta Money as a Commons. Esitelmän slaidit ovat nyt jaossa!

Professor Mary Mellor gave a lecture Money as a Commons in the University of Helsinki 16th May 2013. The presentation is now available!

 

 
Lue myös Fifin juttu Mellorin vierailusta Pixelache-festivaaleilla: http://fifi.voima.fi/artikkeli/2013/toukokuu/taidefestivaalilla-puhutaan-rahasta-ja-feminismista

Katso alkuperäinen tapahtumailmoitus / See the original announcement: http://www.commons.fi/future-money-money-commons-helsinki-16th-may-2013

The Political Economy of the Commons @ Helsinki 25th May 2013

[[{”type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”876″,”attributes”:{”alt”:”Map of Science”,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”193″,”style”:”color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; width: 210px; height: 193px; margin: 5px; float: right;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”210″}}]]In the past two decades the commons has become a widely debated concept within various academic disciplines, such as environmental studies, social sciences, law and political economy. The commons has also become a central part of the vocabulary of contemporary social movements.

Seminar at the University of Helsinki on Saturday 25th May 2013

Department of Political and Economic Studies, Main Building, Room 3 (Fabianinkatu 33)

Download the program and abstracts as PDF

Program:

09:30–09:45 The Political Economy of the Commons – Opening of the Seminar
Tero Toivanen & Taavi Sundell

09:45–10:00 Common Greetings from Peru (via Skype)
Prof. Teivo Teivainen with Peruvian colleagues

10:00–10:45 Keynote: The Political Economy and Political Phenomenology of Living with Fossil Fuels
Prof. Tere Vadén (http://nuvatsia.terevaden.net/)

10:45–11:15 Beyond the Commons to Enclosure – Beyond Enclosure to the Heart of the Commons
Anthony McCann (http://wwww.anthonymaccann.com)

11:15–11:45 Understanding Cultural Commons
Sanna Marttila

11:45–12:15 Marx’s Theory on Value and Cognitive Capitalism
Paula Rauhala

12:15-13:00 Lunch

13:00–13:30 OSS 2.0 as a Microenclosure of Commons
Juho Lindman

13:30-14:00 Production, Decentralization and the Commons
Elina Turunen

14:00–14:30 Occupy life! Precarity, Basic Income and the Commons
Jukka Peltokoski

14:30–15:00 The Precarity of the Commons – Commons and Basic Income in the Age of Precarity
Mikko Jakonen

15:00- Ending Words for Fellow Commoners
Tero Toivanen

15:30 Get-together at Maailma kylässä festival in Kaisaniemi

FYI:

The Seminar will be broadcasted live via Bambuser: bambuser.com/channel/commons.fi

Download the program and abstracts as PDF

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/535851219789979

For more info please contact: Tero Toivanen, tero.toivanen@helsinki.fi, p. +358 44 5331750

For the Call for Papers of the Seminar see: http://www.commons.fi/cfp-political-economy-commons-helsinki-25th-may-2013

Picture: Political Economy Now! The struggle for alternative economics at the University of Sydneyhttp://purl.library.usyd.edu.au/sup/9781921364051