Can money be a way of doing good and building community? Apparently yes, when returned to its roots as a tool of direct exchange. The Community Exchange System (CES) is a new model of local economy and social service, in which neighbours trade their time for helping others click for source.
Today’s Helsingin Sanomat reported about a new exchange circle in Kumpula, a neighborhood of Helsinki. The circle’s idea is “a solidary way to trade” – a system of helping neighbors and getting something in return. Over a hundred active members are now exchanging favors, such as walking the dog, repairing clothes, bicycle maintenance or window cleaning. One hour of good work equals 10 “kumpennies”, the network’s virtual currency.
The Helsinki Community Exchange System was set up last November by five locals and has by now reached already 112 members. One of the founders, Ruby van der Vekken, explains that the idea is to understand money as a value of exchange, not a measure of property. Through the local exchange, economy becomes an activating and transparent factor that creates mutual benefits and social well-being. Neighbours also get to know each other better. Another member points out that when time is exchanged into time, all work becomes equal. And moreover, it feels good when someone asks for help that you can offer.
The mother organisation CES consists of 185 similar networks in 25 different countries, and even the local currencies are exchangeable abroad. Also many other corresponding systems, time banks and local economies are operating worldwide.