We are not poor!

We are not poor!

“Time/Store” at NAIM / Bureau Europa, Maastricht, 2011. Image courtesy of Stroom Den Haag.

We are not poor!
July 17, 2011

Stroom den Haag and NAIM / Bureau Europa are pleased to announce the opening of a new Time/Store in Maastricht, from July 17th though October 2, 2011.

All across Europe, we are suddenly being told that we are too poor to afford culture, but we are not poor. Many of us are artists, writers, curators, teachers, filmmakers, designers, and architects, and we have knowledge and skills. We can self-organize.

The dismantling of public funding for critical culture in the Netherlands in particular has made it urgent and necessary to develop new support structures if critical culture is to remain viable and vibrant. Alternative economies and other mutual aid systems may be one of the ways by which independent organizations and cultural producers may persevere.

Last May, Stroom Den Haag opened the Dutch branch of the e-flux Time/Bank, a platform and community for the cultural sector through which goods and services can be exchanged internationally by using time as a denomination of exchange. As cultural producers, we often do things without the use of money, and the Time/Bank is a tool to amplify this ability—based on the premise that everyone in the field of culture has something to contribute, and that it is possible to develop and sustain an alternative economy by connecting existing needs with unacknowledged abilities.

Time/Store follows the historic Cincinnati Time Store, opened by American anarchist Josiah Warren in 1827 as a three-year experiment in alternative economics. Warren’s idea was to develop an exchange system in which the value assigned to commodities would come as close as possible to the amount of human labor necessary to produce them. For example: 8 hours of a carpenter’s labor could be exchanged for eight to twelve pounds of corn. This system eventually led to the creation of time currency, and to contemporary time banking—an international alternative economic movement. We strongly feel that the Time/Bank and other mutual aid systems have the potential to become one of the ways in which an independent critical space can be reclaimed by those who produce it.

Stroom Den Haag, an independent foundation founded in 1989 and a centre for art and architecture, brought the Time/Bank to the Netherlands. The Dutch Time/Bank community is growing fast: this weekend a branch of the Time/Store will open at NAIM/ Bureau Europa in Maastrich. This launch is part of the exhibition “Re-Action! Sustainability through Social Innovation” organized by REcentre, a platform for sustainable design.

To join Time/Bank, please go to www.e-flux.com/timebank


“June 2011: How to Time/Bank”, Whitehot Magazine

Stroom, The Hague, Holland Time/Bank For half a year, I’ve been logging into my e-flux Time/Bank account, only to poke around for a minute before closing out. Like many, I’ve managed to form a versatile network of friends from which I can find couches to surf, shrewd editors, language coaches… Meaning, it has been hard for me to look beyond…

Stroom, The Hague, Holland


For half a year, I’ve been logging into my e-flux Time/Bank account, only to poke around for a minute before closing out. Like many, I’ve managed to form a versatile network of friends from which I can find couches to surf, shrewd editors, language coaches… Meaning, it has been hard for me to look beyond my flock to solicit or offer services on Time/Bank, a marketplace for such exchanges.

A few weeks ago, I went to The Hague for a talk about timebanking at Stroom, home to Time/Bank’s newest branch. Paul Glover, founder of Ithaca Hours – a model system for alternative economies and a relative triumph with about 5% local participation – explained how his plan to reduce dollar dependency has been working for twenty years. Basically, Paul worked his ass off to gain trust in the time-based currency and to diversify the goods and services available. Today, it is possible to buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or pay for a physical with the local tender. Such is the desired future of Time/Bank.

Like in Ithaca, Time/Bank has its own currency and offers real-time situations for its use. The project seeks to establish an alternative economy which gives the art world agency over itself and supplements, and eventually replaces, traditional sources of power associated with private or government capital. To get there, co-founders Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidolke are setting up local branches that normalize their big idea and get it into practice on a smaller scale.

Stroom is the perfect testing ground for site specific possibilities. Maaike Lauwaert, curator of the visual arts program, has committed one year to the Time/Bank. To get the hour notes moving, Maaike pays her volunteers in the currency. Web-based exchanges are also taking place. As people accumulate hours, they can cash in for notes that they can use in the shop or about town at arts organizations that accept the currency for entrance fees and products. Soon Stroom will be charging Hour notes as entrance fees to workshops and lectures, a pragmatic solution to the organization’s budget cuts. In addition, a multi-city network (The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht) is underway with plans for new branches and more Time/Bank-note-friendly locations.

Holland is a special case for this kind of enterprise. Its arts scene is tight knit and everyone is accountable. In this sense, although its network crosses several cities, this Time/Bank still has the small-town feeling that has made Ithaca’s program successful. Meanwhile, this is just one branch of a project with a global reach. Time/Bank’s big picture objective to connect a global arts community has to be supported online to thrive. When I told Maaike about my difficulty in getting involved on the website, she suggested that I take a minor leap of faith and extend the reaches of my network.

Some people feel a bit shy about what they can offer. To help give a boost to The Hague’s online participation, Maaike is organizing a Time/Bank matchmaking session this summer. For the rest of us, it’s time to get creative. Paul Glover attributes the success of Ithaca Hours to community creativity – the program grew both for and because of local initiators and entrepreneurs. In other words, participants invented or adapted needs in order to keep their alternative economy relevant and fresh. Here’s my solution: I’ve offered myself as a city-expert to Barcelona. For two Time/Bank hours I’ll make you a list of the best of the best.

—June 15, 2011

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