Desde América, con amor on Mon, 15 Apr 2002 07:16:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Banks of time and... also banks of money

We don’t talk about economic models but at least we
talk about time banks... which could be part of the
economic models.   :) 

Thanks for this interview Matthew.

Banks of time are generally a good practice when you
have an environment with less money than time and
people that don't know one each other. Then you create
the 'bank' which actually is nothing else than a
common point of trust plus a database of members,
skills offered, services requested and hours

This generally works quite well in poor (or not so
rich, or "community") urban environments in Western
developed societies. Because 

- PEOPLE HAVE TIME: There is no money but people out
of job, housewives, the elder, teens, disabled, etc
have time to offer, services needed and exchangeable
skills (you carry my heavy bags when I go shopping and
later on I'll teach you how to cook the best cakes in
town, sweaty).

- PEOPLE NEED TO TRUST: New people come to the
burrough, the younger leave to study elsewhere, ethnic
communities grow... Most of the people don't know each
other so asking someone for help looking after the
kids tonight is not so easy. A trust management system
is welcomed when a time bank starts working: everyone
trust the bank when they tell the 'don't worry honey,
this widow has five kids already grown up, she lives
alone since her husband died last year and she really
loves the kids; she is been participating in the time
bank one year now and parents just love her".

- PEOPLE WANTS TO SOCIALIZE: People is humble but
skilled, they don't talk each other in the streets but
they want to socialize. The natives would like to the
newcomers and vice versa, etc. For most people
involved in a bank of time the value of the amount of
hours 'saved' is less important than the value of
being able to socialize with the neighbours.

** First idea

This environment has similarities with certain online
environments. In certain online communities and online
projects people also have time (at least those
spending at the end of the year zillion hours chatting
with the Messenger), they need trust and likes to

Same similarities apply for certain
activist/independent/alternative environments (with
online activity or not). Same hypothetic
opportunities, same real problems.

For those communities, groups, etc, stuck in a stage
of development in which there is a very active
hardcore (quite exhausted) and a constellation of
people around interesting but not daring to (like the
rings of Saturn) maybe time banks have some good tips
to offer.

** Second idea

Banks of time are not so popular in not so Western and
not so economically developed areas. Why? Basically
because people have time and skills, but they also
generally know one each other and share trust (or know
already that they don't). Life is more attached to the
traditional community standards so social groups
generally are based on neigbourhoods, personal links,

But in this same areas banks of MONEY are more popular
than in Western developed societies. Well, not the
type of banks like the ones that have now your (my,
our) money and release full colored Visa cards.
Community banks, banks of the poor, volks sparkasse,
caja comunitaria, etc.

An example: 40 women from the same town in the state
of Sonora (México) go every week to the social club
and give to Graciela 5 pesos (say half dollar). 5
pesos a week is an amount of money that these people
can save. 

This makes 200 pesos every week (20 bucks). 10.400 a
year (1.040$). They have been doing this for 8 years,
that makes 540.800 (55.080$). A notable amount of
money in Sonora, belonging to 40 woman that own 13.520
pesos each (1.352).

Only this makes a difference in a place like Sonora.
Because banks are just for the elites and middle
classes, don't even expect to be received if you don't
have properties. And even in family with properties (a
piece of land) don't expect to be the owner if you're
a woman.

But a caja comunitaria in not made to save money.
First they need to produce food and more money to
live. And they use that money in the bank to lend
microcredits themselves. Small credits with an
interest which is lower than the ones set by the banks
and an interest that will revert increasing the
savings of the rest.

I'm a woman and I ask for 200 pesos to be returned in
the next four months: 50, 50, 50, and 50. With this
money I buy some pottery gross and I go everyday to
smaller towns to sell it. The first month I sell 50%
of the pottery and I get 200 (55 goes back to the
bank, I keep 145). The second month I sell the rest:
200 more. I can give back 55 to the bank and the I'll
have 290, or I can cancel the credit already paying
155 and I'll have 190. I also may put more money in my
account, etc.

OK, after some years saving your credits might not be
so small. In Sinaloa and Sonora you can see full
tortillerías (something like Mexican bakeries) in
which everything belongs to the group: property of the
building, machinery, corn flour, etc. 6-8 people are
working in rotating shifts of 4 hours (from their
"free time") and with the money they earn they are
paying the credit... so in one year they will be
owners of the whole thing.

Remember, the tale started putting 5 pesos every
Friday. And it’s real. I’ve eaten tortillas made by
emancipated women in a cooperative tortillería. There
are thousands of other examples in the World.

The second idea is that online communities/projects
and activist/alternative/etc environments also can get
some good lessons from these special banks of money.
By seeing them work you what a difference makes to
give XX$ for a specific project or to save XX$ on a
monthly basis. And also the difference of having the
100% of your money in a bank or redirect the 10-20% to
the 'bank of the poor' of the project you're involved.

If you have the time, count the people involved in
your project plus some friends and family, count 30$
par person every month and see the capacity of
investment you will have in 6 months. OK, now in one
year. OK, now in five year time. Amazing, isn't it? So
this is the money you would have saved if you would
have started putting some money together in April
1997.  :)

(remember: where were you in April 1997?)

Few months ago I made a couple of interviews in Sonora
and Sinaloa to two women that were developing these
community banks. The interviews are part of a wider
project called "From America, With Love" and this is
why the interviews have many other ingredients.

The platonic saver
Save your money along with the money from your
partners and you will feel more free (GRACIELA ROCHA
explains how)

All is about organizing ourselves
ROSA ISELA SERRANO prefers to use her energy for
creating instead of demanding

Hope you find it useful.

Quim Gil

>From Tapachula (Chiapas), With Love

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