“Banks of time” crowd out money
“Banks of time” crowd out money
While economists around the world are wondering if the second wave of the crisis will cover us, the townsfolk are coming up with their own ways to withstand possible perturbations in the economy. One of them is the spread of such a form of alternative economic relations as the “time bank”. Although they were invented in the USSR, the development of “time banks” was received in the USA and Great Britain.
The idea to use as a currency not some conventional pieces of paper and pieces of metal, but an intangible, but the only unit of time for the whole world – an hour, was first put forward in 1976 by the Soviet psychologist and engineer Vladlen Livshits. A year later, the world’s first “time bank” was created on the basis of the bakery in Kohtla-Järve. Employees of the enterprise were transferred to a flexible work schedule, one of the fundamental principles of their activity was active and mutual assistance to colleagues, and then to employees of other organizations – the local scientific research institutes of shale and thermal power plants. After the American journalist David Shipler got acquainted with the unusual production experience of Soviet bakers and stokers, the idea of Livshits was developed in the United States.
However, overseas “time banks” were not used in industrial relations, but as a tool to increase the effectiveness of volunteer organizations. The concept of a “time bank” became the basis for mutual aid societies, in which everyone helped others with what they can do, receiving in exchange what the others are competent from wallpapering to harp lessons. Doing something for others, a member of the “time bank” accumulated time for which he could buy those services that he needed. Thus, the “banks of time” contributed to the development of a new form of horizontal social ties.
Their distribution was served by the book of lawyer and public figure Edgar Kahn “There are no more disposable people.” With his direct participation, the first “time banks” were created in the United States in 1987 and the United Kingdom a year later. It was on Foggy Albion that this social concept gained the greatest popularity. In the United Kingdom, about 110 such mutual aid clubs are now successfully operating, bringing together several tens of thousands of people.
But at home, the idea of Vladlen Livshits after the collapse of the USSR turned out to be unclaimed. Indeed, the core of any such community, which is based on the goodwill of its participants, can only be mutual trust. But it was just him in the post-Soviet republics that there was an acute shortage. It took almost 20 years for the social fabric to begin to grow together, torn by the collapse of the communist empire. The first “time bank” in Russia appeared in 2006 in Nizhny Novgorod.
Yesterday, one of its founders, director of development of the Nizhny Novgorod volunteer service, Natalya Nikitina, held a seminar on Economics without Finance at Cloudwatcher’s Moscow laboratory of social innovation. She told the audience that the main task of such organizations is not just to make people more independent from the vicissitudes of the economy, the development of which they still can not have a significant impact, the main thing is, of course, the formation of grass-roots social ties, overcoming the disunity of people. At the same time, people who have become “customers” of “time banks” discover new opportunities for self-realization, learn something new and get a chance to feel useful to others.
Nevertheless, it was the financial and economic crisis of 2008 that served as the incentive for the development of “timebanking” in our country. Now, according to Natalia Nikitina, volunteer organizations in 12 Russian cities work on its basis. The main problem for their widespread distribution remains the lack of confidence of Russians in each other. That is why Natalya Nikitina considers the local organizations built on the neighborly principle, when all participants know each other well, the most promising and lasting form of functioning of the “time banks” in Russia.
This problem of lack of trust is not only a unique feature of our compatriots. For the same reason, the timebanking movement in Poland almost died out. Perhaps it acts as a reaction to the emasculated demonstrative socialization of the communist period, when a person was simply forced to put the interests of others above his own.
But at the very least, other forms of mutual assistance, of a higher level, are developing. Naturally, the World Wide Web provides the broadest opportunities for bringing people together who want to help others with their conditionally disinterested work. In RuNet, specialized sites together work successfully. ru, timebank. ru and others. And in Ukraine, the network has become a platform for an even more advanced association of local organizations – the regional exchange system Bank of Time, which includes not only local ones.