Ruby van der Wekken:
"Helsinki Timebank (Stadin Aikapankki, formerly known under the name of Kumpula vaihtopiiri) was established as part of the CES network in October 2009. Since then, more then 1400 people in Helsinki have joined this Timebank, and 28 timebanks have been established in other localities, in which services are exchanged among members on the basis of Time credits. One hour of whichever service performed is renumerated with the currency of the Timebank, in the case of Stadin Aikapankki one tovi. In 2011 alone, some 2200 tovi’s were exchanged in Stadin Aikapankki. These new Timebanks in Finland operate on a fully online international CES system. As such Stadin Aikapankki is locally rooted but globally interconnected in a network of community currencies. Examples of services traded are childcare, garden work assistance, bakings, language lessons, bookkeeping, computer program skills, handicraft lessons and assistance in the solving of problems."
Excerpted from a chapter, Timebanking and Solidarity economy, in the book: Towards Peer Production in Public Services
1. What is Helsinki Timebank?
Members of Helsinki Timebank exchange a diversity of services against time. The main guiding principle for each exchange is that everyone’s time, work and needs are of equal worth. In Helsinki Timebank one Tovi equals one hour of work.
Helsinki Timebank operates according to the internationally known Timebanking principles, and is part of the international Community Exchange Systems network (CES). Different local currency groups and timebanks from more then 50 countries belong to this network. Using the CES platform has to its advantage that members of Helsinki Timebank can trade with different timebanks and local currency groups in Finland and other countries.
Helsinki Timebank works operates Helsinki city region wide. The timebank is part of the Finnish network of timebanks which also use CES.
Helsinki Timebanks is open to everyone, and anyone can apply for membership. The timebank requires permission from parents for the participation of minors in the timebank. When joining Helsinki Timebank, one commits to observe the Tovi etiquette (see part 4.). Also different associations and organisations can be joining Helsinki Timebank, providing their workings are in support of the timebanks values and principles (see part 2.).
Helsinki Timebank is an unregistered, politically and religiously unaffiliated collective. The timebank’s members have agreed upon common values and principles, which are guiding its workings and describe its position and relation with regards to other actors in society.
2. Helsinki Timebank values and principles
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.
The workings of Helsinki Timebank are based on the following values and principles:
We are all equal, and every one of us has necessary contributions to make to community life. Everyone’s time is of equal worth. Service providers and users as such stand in an equal position towards each other in Helsinki Timebank.
Good actions circulate among all members of a community, not just between two people. In Helsinki Timebank, reciprocity means that we all give from our own time to the community, as well as that we receive help from the community according to our needs. The starting premise is that we all need each other and are allowed to ask for help.
Strengthening community ties is important between timebank members, yet also on a larger scale and in society at large. The workings of the timebank and the new forms of cooperation it gives rise to is supporting collective forms of organising in which everyone has the possibility to use its capacities for its own and for the common good.
● Ecological sustainability
Helsinki Timebank recognises the ecological boundaries of our planet, and wants to further the reduction of our environmental impacts. We therefore support ecologically sustainable and local production, the recycling of goods and sharing.
● Economic justice
In Helsinki Timebank wellbeing is being secured by a time based exchange tool (the Tovi), which supports economic relations based on solidarity. The significance of the flows of assistance and working together in Helsinki Timebank can not, and should not be, measured in money. Activities done in and supported by Helsinki Timebank do not carry profit making as a prime objective.
● Local and participatory culture
People know in their own localities in what manner living together serves indivual, communal and natures wellbeing. In an inclusive and participatory culture everyone has an equal opportunity to develop oneself and communal life, whilst respecting everyone’s diversity.
● Freedom of action and autonomy
The workings of Helsinki Timebank are based on the needs of its members and the community in which it operates at large, as well on voluntary participation. All of the timebanks workings are initiated and kept up by its members. Autonomy also stresses the independent position of Helsinki Timebank with regards to other actors in society.
● Cooperation and just decisionmaking procedures
Helsinki Timebank workings are based on cooperative forms of organising, which enhance common understanding. Also in the development of the timebank, the aim is to prevent conflict and increase mutual understanding. The objective is to provide everyone with an equal opportunity to participate in the development of the timebank.
3. Helsinki Timebank in practice
Helsinki Timebank does not use money, like euro’s. Helsinki Timebank works without external funding and predefined working plans. Main decisions concerning the timebank are made during its membership meetings and by way of membership votings.
The upkeep and development of Helsinki Timebank is coordinated by the Helsinki Timebank group, which is open to all members. Participating in the development work of and around the timebank is renumerated from the timebanks common pool Tovi’s according to the same principles as all work done in the timebank. Helsinki Timebank has a membership fee of one Tovi per year, which it collects on its common account. These fees are used to renumerate the upkeep and development work of the timebank. In addition the timebank has a 2% levy on all Tovi’s exchanged, both on the Tovi’s earned by the provider, as well as on the Tovi’s spent by the receiver of any service exchanged. This levy is distributed followingly : every member in Helsinki Timebank can her or himself choose to which organisation member in the timebank its levy is going , whenever he or she provides a services. The levy of the receiver of the service always automatically goes to the common account of the timebank, and is used for the defined purposes of that account.
In addition to the development work done around Helsinki Timebank, the Tovi’s collected on the common account are used to support timebank members in different ways. The common pool Tovi’s strengthens the possibilities of the timebank to exercise joint caring and responsibility, by which the timebank can also take care of those community members, which have less possibilities to take part in the timebank. In this manner Helsinki Timebank can be meeting the needs of members who can’t offer help and collect Tovi’s themselves. However, this support can not be extended in cases of a deficit of Tovi’s predominantly resulting from the acquirement of goods in the timebank.
The membership applications of organisations are approved during the two monthly held membership meetings. The membership application forms are shared with all Helsinki Timebank members before the membership meeting. In urgent cases, STAP group can be approving of preliminary membership, to be confirmed at the next membership.
In Helsinki Timebank, members can be asking help from others before they themselves have earned any Tovi’s. In order to encourage reciprocity in the timebank, the upper and lower limits of all accounts has been put at minus and plus 50 Tovis.
Individuals as well as all associations can resign from Helsinki Timebank at any time without any further justification. Their accounts can be closed upon their requests, if the account is not minus.
4. Helsinki Timebank Tovi-etiquette for good practices
Helsinki Timebank’s objective is to facilitate the exchange of services. Each member however carries responsibility for the agreements he or she makes, and Helsinki Timebank as such does not take responsibility for the agreements made between its members. Cooperation in Helsinki Timebank happens in openness, in ones own full name (unless specific circumstances require else) , and everyone carries own responsibility for own actions done. Exchanges happen between members, and Helsinki Timebank as a network does not lay down any strict regulations.
In order to enhance trust and the ease of taking part in Helsinki Timebank, we have nevertheless defined a Tovi-etiquette, which includes the following suggestions :
On the offering and requesting of services:
- Write the offer or request of services as clear and informatively possible - Remove outdated announcements as soon as possible - Keep only those offerings of services visible which you are able to give in the nearby future. - Offer those services which you feel capable of carrying out. - You have the right to deny the carrying out of a service in a particular case (eventhough you are offering the service.)
Agreeing on the details of an exchange :
- Answer any timebank message as soon as possible. Do confirm the receiving of the message, also then when you can not give the requested service, or when you don’t need the requested help anymore. - Agree beforehand as much as possible on all the details of the service to be performed. - Notify your exchange partner as soon as possible of any changes in the agreement. If your exchange partner does not notify, and does not show up for an agreed meeting, you are allowed to charge the agreed upon tovi’s. - If it is necessary, do get to know your exchange partner beforehand. - In principle do not count any tovis for any travels related to the exchange. However, if there is the need to do so, do agree on this beforehand (either in Tovi’s or euro’s). - Agree before any exchange, what possible additional costs will be reimbursed related to the exchange (materials, space, raw ingredients etc.). It is recommended to also reimburse those in Tovi’s, but this is a matter of agreement between the members exchanging.
Realising the exchange :
- Assist one another according to the best of our abilities - Respect one another, as a member of a network in which diversity is valued and understood. - Support a culture of openness, by agreeing on the amount of Tovi’s exchanged before or immediately after the exchange. - Take care of the goods borrowed from eachother.
Accounting of the services in CES :
- Charge for any service according to time spent. - Confirm the amount of time/tovi’s used during the exchange after the exchange, if this was not agreed upon beforehand.
After any exchange :
- Do take care of the charging of the exchange as soon as possible. - If there comes a disagreement about the result of any exchange, the involved members must try to come to a satisfactory solution of the issue between themselves. If this does not result in a solution of the situation, one can take contact with Helsinki Timebank group. - If you are happy with any exchange done, you can write a recommendation concerning your partner
Goods in Helsinki Timebank (we are returning to this issue during next membership meeting fall 2013) : - Goods and products made through Helsinki Timebank (like woolen socks, organic food..) are always exchanged in Tovi’s - Goods adds should be placed under the goods-category of the Timebank, to make it easier for people to find the services they need. - Determine the Tovi worth of any goods with moderation.
- During the fall 2013 membership meetings, we will continue our discussions at least about the following issues : goods in Helsinki Timebank, Identity and personal data in the timebank, and the organisation of the development work around Helsinki Timebank."