Keep it local, keep it real!

 

 

As society becomes increasingly cynical about the benefits of economic globalisation, seeing it as a get-rich scheme for a tiny amount at the top of the tree at the expense of the masses, many are turning towards traditional ideas of community and localism. There’s particularly been a shift in mentality amongst the younger generation, as I have touched on before.

Well, as it becomes more and more apparent that this recession is not simply a minor blip that will simply solve itself if we all get out there and start spending some of our hard earned cash on various superfluous items, some UK cities are focusing on keeping it local rather than putting their cash into the pockets of faceless, tax-avoiding international companies (hello! We all know who you are!)

So Bristol, which for all those who don’t know is a large city in the south-west of England, decided to take things a step further and introduce their own currency: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19627592

This currency cannot be used outside of the city, hence keeping trade local, creating jobs, services and loyal customers. We’ve yet to see the real results of this experiment, but it’s an important step to localising economies and creating a strong, binding sense of community.

In fact, let’s take it a step further and imagine that ‘money’ as a currency is replaced by something tangible, a skill, a favour for example (a la pre-industrial societies.) For example, I exchange my language skills for my neighbour’s hairdressing skills – no coins exchanging hands, a simple swapping of talents to help each other out.

That’s just one way of doing things – of course money for now doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere (for a while, at least!) The idea is that the power, the sustainability of communities is put back into our hands. Self-actualisation, on a mass scale. I’ve heard figures that suggest that when we buy local for example, up to two thirds of all money spent stays within the community, helping neighbourhoods grow.

And we’re all probably halfway there already. Think about it – your local restaurant – you may recommend your friends to go there. Or perhaps you helped out a neighbour by distributing her leaflets for her own small business amongst your friends and family? Maybe you shared a car with a neighbour to get your children to school? Perhaps someone in your community found you a place to stay when you were new to the area? Have a think – there are probably many examples.

The point is that the little things we do, mindlessly every day, have a bigger power, a bigger potential. It’s simply a case of realising this and building the ties that bind us to each other to create tight-knit communities which support each other in the tough times, so storms such as this current global hurricane can be weathered more easily.

Community is the new society

 

Ever since Margaret Thatcher claimed “There is no such thing as society” in the 1980s, the pursuit of materialistic goals and individualistic achievements at all cost has been viewed as a laudable aim in the UK.

A generation was raised to believe that “success” meant money, stuff and more stuff - acquisitiveness at the expense of personal relationships and neighbourly values.  Unquestioned by mainstream society and spurred on by the “greed is good” mantra, inspired by media images of power women wearing shoulder pads and yuppies quaffing champagne whilst watching their bank balances swell, the nation seemed hypnotised by cold, hard cash.

Twenty years and a serious reality check later, such values couldn’t be further out of fashion.

Ever since 2008, all of us in Britain (along with other western countries) have been slowly waking up from what seems to have been an extremely pleasurable dream. Rubbing our eyes, we’ve walked out into cold piercing daylight, only to realise that the dream was in fact a nightmare in disguise.

For many, this recession that seems no signs of going away quickly, has inspired a welcome shift in terms of the mood and mentality of the nation. Although fiscally tough, a whole new generation has been inspired by what were previously deemed as “old-fashioned” values of community spirit, cooperation and prizing relationships before personal aggrandisement .

Gone are the days when graduates focused on careers which were demanding, time-consuming and high-earning. Generation Y (those born between the late seventies and the early noughties) are instead prizing altruism, flexibility and ethical values above cash and status from the companies they work for.

Community spirit is seen as a key part of this new shift in values. Working together to create a better environment, be it globally, at home or in their immediate area  is now a priority for young people. As a neighbourhood network for you to connect with and reach out to your local community, Skillendar is proud to be part of this zeitgeist. We believe community cooperation is a key part of basic human interaction which is why we devised the unique calendar based skill search that helps you find the availability of people in your neighbourhood who are open to share their time or provide a service.

The future will be built by communities working in tangent, by pulling together in times of emergency, by prioritising a return to basic ideals. Whatever happens with the economy (and it can only get better- we hope) if your neighbourhood remains strong and interactive, helping each other and swapping skills and time, trust, security and ultimately happiness can be built.

This is our vision and we hope you’ll be part of it.

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