Message from the DTA Director
Steve Wyler, Development Trusts Association
Recently I attended a conference on time-banking, arranged by the excellent time-banking agency Spice. It showcased a time bank run by one of our members, the Creation Development Trust in the Gawr Valley in South Wales. There, 740 residents, out of a population of 1,800, are time bank members, with transactions amounting to 22,000 hours over the last year. Time credit banknotes are in circulation, reducing the need to keep records. Altogether, 37 community groups are involved, 22 of which have sprung up as a result of the social networking engendered by this initiative.
This has set me thinking about how, in the coming months, we could help our members learn from this experience, and set up their own local versions. Also, I think we could pilot member-to-member timebanking across our network, making it easier to share skills and knowledge. If you have any experience or ideas on this it would be great to hear from you.
It’s intriguing that timebanking started off as an anarchist experiment. It was the founder of American libertarian anarchism, Josiah Warren, who set up the world’s first time store, as long ago as 1827, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Is there a streak of anarchism in our movement? Probably, in more than one way, the answer has to be yes. After all, it was, in part, anarchist thinkers and activists who laid the intellectual foundations for our view that there are alternatives, founded on mutual association, decentralisation, and localism, to big government and corporate capitalism. Indeed, Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid” argued in 1902 that co-operative principles were key factors in the evolution of the human species. What is extraordinary is that this strain of anarchist thinking seems to have infected parts of the Coalition Government. I wonder if they realise it?
Mutual association does however rely on the ability of all people, and not just the wealthy, to exercise their liberties and obtain redress against injustice. It is therefore disturbing that this government, which made such a good start on civil liberties, has published a legal aid Green Paper, which sets out plans to withdraw legal aid from all welfare benefits and employment cases, as well as from a big proportion of debt, housing and immigration cases. The Law Centres Federation and others have launched a campaign to oppose this – see http://www.justice-for-all.org.uk/
Finally, just to let you know that the £100m Transition Fund has just opened for business. It aims to help service delivery organisations at risk from spending cuts adapt to the changing environment. The deadline is 21 January and there are very specific eligibility criteria. You can find out more at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk – do contact any of our team if you would like to talk through a bid.