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Off Blogs

As an alternative to a regular blog, (for which I am genetically unprepared), here is a collection of Guest Blogs, Articles and other pieces.

Crowd Funding Please follow this Link to read the guest blog I was invited to write for Co-operatives UK to promote their Innovation Prize and the International Year of Co-operatives. By telling the story of how we crowd funded my book, "Your Money Or your Life: Time for Both", we hope to inspire others to try out more hand made and home made solutions to social problems.

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TIME IN HAND

Barack Obama’s election campaign showed us just how much can be achieved when people are encouraged to believe in themselves, remember the slogan :

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.

As human beings we are hard wired to co-operate, we feel good when we do. We thrive on personal relationships and are social beings. For generations sensible people have always appreciated the value of giving, receiving and reciprocating - and of being hospitable toward strangers.
One of the most popular poems ever written is by Sam Walter Foss, who died in 1911, here is the final refrain: 

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by -
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I:
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man

In both the very best of times and in times of hardship or struggle our happiness and survival often depends on doing favours for others and on being able to ask for help in return. There are still plenty of open minded, warm hearted and even handed people living in every neighbourhood.
Further, each and every person, (whatever the size of their bank balance, their educational achievements, personality, age, abilities, race or religion), has a practical skill and some local knowledge, wants to feel useful and would be happy to care for others now and then.
If and when they share their time, their skills and local connections then each and every one of them should expect to receive practical support, recognition and encouragement in return.

Communities worked best when people pooled risk and helped neighbours out, as and when they could, knowing that when they did, others were more likely to be there for them. As these circles of mutual support expanded and people came to know each other better their quality of life was enhanced and they were motivated to do even more for others.
The world has now changed. Instant communication and an economic system based on unbridled growth shape our lives, but, the question is have people themselves really changed that much?
We are more prone to individualism and to being selfish. Some even believe that isolation and the weakening of the social fabric is a price worth paying for a more convenient, consumer lifestyle. I strongly disagree and believe that most of us would get a great deal out of finding a better balance between being a consumer and spending time as a social activist or a good neighbour. It’s also about time we reminded ourselves of a truth, so eloquently expressed by Annie Dillard –

There is no one but us.
There is no one to send
Nor a clean hand nor a pure heart
On the face of the earth, nor in the earth,
But only us.
A generation comforting ourselves
With the notion that we have come at an awkward time,
Yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures,
and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and uninvolved.
But there is no one but us.
There never has been.

In 1998, I set up Fair Shares, the first time bank in the UK. We put into circulation a local currency based on time - one hour equals one time credit. It was intended to be a more social, sustainable and ethical form of money, that rewarded acts of co-operation, caring and compassion as automatically as conventional money rewarded competition and greed. We have exceeded all expectations.
In 2011, a new time bank is opening somewhere in the country every week, over 250 have been set up so far, involving over 20,000 people who have between them now exchanged over 1,000,000 hours of care and support.
(Timebanking is also now thriving in 33 countries across the world)   

Relying on money to insulate ourselves from personal difficulties and social problems is a mistake, (except for the super rich in their gated compounds). It is worth noting that the oldest coin currency is a Sumerian bronze piece dating back to 3000 BC. This “shekel” was a symbol of a value of one bushel of wheat and was used as payment for sacred prostitution at the temple of Ishtar. Farmers brought their wheat to the temple and received in exchange shekel coins, entitling them to visit the temple prostitutes at the festival time. Money continues to prop up “prostitution”, in one form or another, to this very day. We can get people to do things for us with money without having to have a trusting or caring relationship. Money has colonised all aspects of our lives. Where once we turned to family, friends and neighbours we now turn to the yellow pages or go shopping.

My new book, “Your Money or Your Life: Time for Both” is an invitation to learn about new ways to enjoy a richer and happier life, about the different approaches that people are now using to break free from their dependency on money. See www.freedomfavours.com
The book spells out how to achieve a better balance between being a consumer and a citizen - neighbourhood by neighbourhood and hour by hour. A first critical step is to set up a local time bank to find out what those living around you care about enough to act on, what they have to offer and what it will take to get them to take a small risk and reach out to others.

Timebanking is fast becoming a global social movement and we have a set of values, or shared beliefs, which we ask people to sign up to:

 

 

A time bank provides communities with a safe, broad based social network that local people can rely on and trust. It acts as a letter of introduction for people who may have grown wary of each other and once in circulation the ‘time based local currency’ takes on a meaning of its own, every bit as real and useful as the cash in people’s pockets – time in hand.

Martin Simon – Founder of Timebanking in the UK

 

More Off Blogs

A Guest Blog for the Collaborative Consumption Hub on the power of ‘collaborative production’ to strengthen communities and bring about social change Here.

Article for community development magazine CD X on what Timebanking can do – see Here

The prospect of things to come – off blog about how ‘wellbeing’ is coming your way soon, maybe. – see Here

Timebanking and Social Capital - Article - see Here

Timebanking and Community Organising - Article - see Here

Timebanking and Community Empowerment - Extract of article - see Here

Timebanking and Social Care - Article about Interdependence - see Here

Timebanking for Baby Boomers - Booklet explaining timebanking for older people - see Bridge to Tomorrow

‘In Community’, practical lessons in supporting isolated people to be part of community (HSA Press) Text of chapter ‘One Good Turn….’  - see Here