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Social Banking and the Commons

on Fri, 01/11/2013 - 21:28

The Swiss are known for their highly secretive banking services for the super-wealthy.  Who would have guessed that they would inaugurate a Summer School on Social Banking and the Commons

The Institute for Social Banking and the Alternative Bank Schweiz are hosting a week-long seminar in the Swiss Alps on “social banks” and how their practices can strengthen the commons.  As the Institute’s website explains, “The Summer School will be a live, working inquiry [that aims] to understand and develop pioneering, entrepreneurial practices and policies that enable the commons to flourish for shared gain.”  The Summer School is intended for up to 100 people who want to learn more about social banking and finance and how they can be used to support the commons.

Among the topics to be discussed:  the commons paradigm; indigenous commons; money and the commons; social banking; the financing of common businesses; and alternative currencies.  The sessions will feature bankers, academics and commoners from all over the world, including Jean-Pierre Caron of the French mutual finance society, La Nef ; Sion Brackenbury, a Wales consultant with Commons Vision who works with business models and the commons; and my colleague Silke Helfrich of Germany, cofounder of the Commons Strategies Group.

There are of course many fascinating new initiatives involving alternative currencies and innovative banking, but I have yet to encounter one that directly addresses the relationship between banking and the commons.  Here’s hoping that the Institute for Social Banking pushes this important line of inquiry many steps forward.

Re-posted from David Bollier's blog


Rev. Alia Aurami's picture


The Institute for Social Banking promotes a concept of finance and banking that specifically orients itself towards a perception of and responsibility for the development of both people and planet.

.......Our work intends to enable working independently and innovatively and to get engaged in socially oriented entrepreneurial ventures.


To me it's not so much the focus of the activity as the nature of a bank and its monetary practices that would constitute a meaningfully new paradigm. Is the bank a participant in the central banking system which creates money from thin air? Is it content to remain so? If so, then in my view, no amount of concern for people, planet, or socially-oriented anything can mitigate the fact that that is inherently fraudulent and harmful.....


That said, it's highly encouraging to see dialogue going on like this, new intersections of interest. Thanks for passing this along, George.