Life around the world

Tuesday, 7 October, 2014 - 08:23

Is there an app for community spirit?

by AnneS

I have recently moved to Chartres, France to improve my French, and what better way to do so than to meet real, live French people? With this in mind, yesterday I joined an association called Chartres en Sel (Chartres in Salt) which is an association where you exchange an hour of your time and skills for an hour with other people. For giving your time, you are 'paid' in 'grains of salt', and with this 'salt', you can ask for an hour of someone else's time to teach you a skill. It's a type of 'time bank'. 
For example, there are people who offer language classes, cooking classes, gardening classes, sports classes, you name it! In fact, the aim of the association is not to make money, but to encourage community spirit and share your knowledge and talents with other people in your area, whom you may not have otherwise met.
So, this association got me thinking about community spirit and how it is somewhat lacking in modern day life. Nowadays, young people (me included!) spend a lot of time on social networks and forums without considering the fact that they are not very social at all. We are alone in front of our computer screens or mobile phones. 
In the past life was much more centred on the community, but for both practical and social reasons, this has changed a lot. From a practical point of view, these days we tend to go to the supermarket rather than going to individual shops because it takes less time and is seemingly much easier. However, the idea of having a local bakery, a local butcher or a greengrocer is still commonplace in France, much more so than in Great Britain. Although it does indeed take a bit longer, it is often a much friendlier experience. Today, everything has become so high speed, seemingly to make our lives 'easier', but I wonder if in doing so we are undervaluing community spirit?
I've noticed that in France, young people seem very much at ease communicating with people of all different ages. I think they seem much more confident in speaking to people from different generations than their English peers, in fact. Could this perhaps be because they are used to chatting with the local baker, rather than ignoring the anonymous cashier at the till and checking their phone instead? 
Language level

Do time banks, like the one Anne tells us about, exist in your country? What do you think of the idea of a time bank? Is there a good community spirit where you live?   

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