I went to School last Saturday

I went to School last Saturday and it was fun! The peer-learning festival was situated in an old hospital Lapinlahden sairaala (hospital) which was the first psychiatric hospital in Finland. A lovely spot despite the cultural connotation.

The School had openly invited teachers from different domains. For instance flamenco, longboarding, doing things wrong, creative writing, recycling, making boots, sketching, animal rights, time banking, Nietzsche’s relativism, Finnish folk dance, and practicing democracy. There were up to 200 lessons spread across the old hospital during the two days. Such an inspiration!

I took a flamenco class and attended a session about peer-building. That’s when a group of people plan a housing project by themselves for themselves and manage it. Of course, help should be brought from consultants who know the business. After the lessons I chilled out in the lovely autumn weather and enjoyed lunch. Such a perfect day!

Of course this event didn’t pop up by itself. The organisations making the event happen are Demos Helsinki, Sitra, Helsingin Juhlaviikot and Aalto University. Despite the fact that the practical set up was enabled by volunteers and facilitated, the content was up to the peer-teachers. I am impressed by the willingness of people to come and teach others with the stuff they find interesting.

There is so much power in peer activities. It creates such a warm atmosphere when people are ready to share what they know and help others. I wonder what I could teach the next time I go to School?

The power of Mölkky

I have taken a concrete step in my community activism. I have promised to host a weekly Mölkky game in our courtyard for neighbours in our housing company. To start it all fluently, I have to send my spouse to start the first game as I have a compulsory overlapping appointment. What a great Mölkky coordinator they got!

Despite my delay, I hope this weekly meeting will make it easier for us to get to know each other. Although I tend to think I suck in Mölkky, it is nice to do something with people I don’t know that well – yet..

It is funny that it might be even harder to make an effort to get to know new people when life is good as then we tend to be caught up with our daily routines and the usual, usually work-related, networks. Yet on a rainy day, we might not be able to reach out for support. It seems that my local community exchange service (CES) Stadin aikapankki has one solution: the Time Heals Network.

The Time Heals Network offers peer support through Stadin aikapankki. Through the network one can get trained support for dealing with difficult times. In practice, this means using the CES account units (tovi) to pay for the services (no money involved), and as time is mature, start to offer services through CES and gain units. Additionally, it is possible to benefit from services before generating surplus units through offering services.

I would love to introduce CES and the Time Heals Network to my housing company. I am rather sure there are persons in my community who would like the idea of exchanging services as well as benefit from temporary peer support. Maybe it is possible to lobby CES over Mölkky when I through the wooden pin aimlessly around the courtyard. Someone might gain units by teaching me some techniques.

I love CES

You recognise a good idea when you get to know one. Some of the details might be still a bit hazy but you love the idea all the same.

For personal and research interests, I joined my local Community Exchange System (CES) called Stadin aikapankki, freely translated “the time bank of Helsinki area”. CES is a great idea. I am still a beginner but I love it.

A quick introduction to community exchange systems met globally. They are based on the exchanges of services between members: private people and groups. Most importantly, no money is used. Instead, members have some sort of procedure to keep track on exchanged services and members’ exchange balance. The brilliant thing about CES is that my personal account enables changes between people I didn’t know before. Thus, I can provide member A with a service B and get a service D from a member E.

So far I received my account details and information about offered and needed services. I have also put out what I can offer. To my great delight I was contacted about a translation task and I have now received my first “payment” called tovi, as one hour of work equals to one tovi.

The hardest part for me has been to figure out what I could ask through my CES and use my tovi. So far I have added a request for help in the garden, as we have to turn the land for cultivation. Anyone who has dug clay ground hardened by the winter knows how it is: hard work and backache. Thus, help is appreciated.

One of the most interesting requests I noticed was written with three sentences: “I am building a house. I need an architect. A student is acceptable too.” I am very curious about this house project. What are the plans like? Seriously, could one get a house built nowadays with using only community exchange services?

Siberia calling

I have been thinking about what it would be like to live outside the system. It all started when we cancelled our newspaper order (in Finland you get newspapers delivered to your home every morning if you want). It’s not that I consider quitting the newspaper order as living outside the system. But it led into thinking the theme as I suddenly have had more time to read other publications. By the way, it is very entertaining to read two to three different types of newspapers/magazines side by side and compare how they analyse the world. Such fun!

The more alternative publications I have had a chance to read put emphasis on the quality of life, which is, according to some views, more probable outside the system. Or as the group of eco-villagers in Siberia consider, the only alternative after the inevitable destruction of civilisation as we know it. My friend pulled me back from my daydreams and asked how would I keep contact with my close relatives and friends from Siberia. If the Siberian eco-village generator is out of order, no Skype connections for this needy villager.

More than Skype connections I have been thinking about the ways to bring about change. Despite the harshness of Siberian winters and hotness of summers, it might be easier to escape the system and stop trying to change it. Overall, is it really needed that we abandon the current arrangement completely and start out fresh? Rather we could try to hold on to our goals in everyday interactions in order to live according to our values. However, if we stay it is tempting to give in.

My friend forgot one issue definitely postponing my eco-villager career in Siberia. My skills in Russian language are nonexistent. Siberia state of mind might be calling but please let it be in some language I understand.