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.