Time Banks

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Time Banks = concept and organization

For the concept, see our entry on Time Banking


URL = http://www.timebanks.org/ URL = http://www.comunitats.org/ http://www.comunitats.com


1. Transit:

"Time banking is a values-based mechanism for reciprocal service-exchange that focuses on the contributions everyone can make to meeting needs within a local community. The value of all services in time banking is equal. The unit of exchange and account is simply the hours spent giving or receiving service. Time banks can provide for many individual and community needs to be met without recourse to money, markets or state welfare arrangements. Through the exchange mechanism time banks also build social relationships and networks that strengthen communities and they provide individuals with opportunities to work, develop, and achieve recognition and reward for contributions made. Since time banks are largely independent of mainstream systems, they are less vulnerable to volatility in these, such as price inflation, financial crisis, recession or austerity. This gives time banking its potential to be a dependable complementary source of economic and social wellbeing and security. From roots in Japan and the US, time banking has spread to all continents. This case study explores the transnational time banking network organization, hOurworld, and local manifestations of time banking in the UK and Spain." (http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/resource-hub/time-banks)

2. Judith D. Schwartz:

"Time Dollars, now used in settings as varied as small towns, retirement homes, schools, and prisons, respond to conventional currency’s limited capacity to measure worth. “Dollars don’t measure value very well,” says David Boyle, a Fellow at the New Economics Foundation in the United Kingdom. They are good, he says, at measuring “the instantaneous value of Microsoft or currencies on the international exchange. But not the value of, say, a local shop, or of me if I’m very old or young. I might have skills, but not those that are conventionally marketable.”

Time Dollars were developed in 1980 by law professor Edgar Cahn, who lamented that crucial work to improve people’s lives—such as child and elder care—is much needed but little valued. He saw that many who could do these tasks were idle and felt useless. To get people economically engaged, Cahn proposed a system where people earn credit according to the number of hours they work. These Time Dollars can then be “cashed in” for services, like yard work, tutoring, etc.

Not only does Time Banking promote social justice by connecting people, promoting reciprocity, and improving neighborhoods—it has also proved quite versatile: People have exchanged Time Dollars for wool spinning, “rune making,” and having a baby delivered by a midwife. And there’s always an ample supply since no community is going to run out of hours.

TimeBanks USA offers a start-up kit that includes instructions and software for starting a Time Bank anywhere. Rose-Marie Pelletier is working on launching a Time Bank in her town of Pownal, Vermont, an economically diverse rural community of 3,500. At a town meeting, Pelletier looked at the listings of delinquent taxes over recent years and saw that they had increased geometrically. She’s a math teacher, and the numbers spoke to her; she saw the extent to which people were hurting. “People want to help each other—when we know how to do it,” she says. “I see Time Banking as a way of building community, one hour at a time.” (http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=3504)

3. Mira Luna:

"Timebanks USA, a system of over 120 timebanks in the US and many other countries, was developed by activist lawyer Edgar Cahn as a way to help the underprivileged and underserved help each other through an organized system of reciprocity. Official Timebanks purchase software that provides a ready-made, standardized directory and accounting system of individuals, and sometimes nonprofits or government agencies, that are willing to provide services to their communities and receive help in return. Timebank coordinators help create matches between people who need things and others who can help meet those needs locally and enter completed transactions into the system. No money is involved and everyone’s hour is equal in this system, which is one of the features that enabled Timebanks to receive an official IRS income tax exemption declaration so people on disability, social security, unemployment and other government benefits can participate without penalty. The egalitarian nature of the system ensures that people will be able to purchase the services that they need without toiling endlessly for high priced services like in the market economy. People can also trade goods with the stipulation that their price be based on the amount of time involved in producing the goods and not their market value. Timebanks’ most successful application has been to provide a means for at-risk youth who have gone to court to do service for their community." (http://trustcurrency.blogspot.com/2009/11/time-exchanges-share-your-life-energy.html)


"(Q) Approximately how many new Time Banks are in operation here in the U.S.?

(Chris) There are TimeBanks within the TimeBanks' network and then there are TimeBanks for whatever reason don't choose to be formally a part of the network, they don't choose to be affiliate I believe there are about 140 TimeBanks within the network and outside of the network, we obviously can't have a certain knowledge but we think up to 20 more.

(Q) Is the following sentence a true statement? TimeBanks differ from barter systems and LETS because there is no commercial exchange or pricing medium. An hour of your time, is simply an hour of time. The rate for that hour does not change from city to city. Can you please explain this a bit further?

(Edgar) TimeBanks as a community currency was designed to take express exception to the definition of value that market price sets. Price in the market is set by supply and demand, so as a thing is more scarce it's more valuable relative to demand and if it's abundant it's cheap and I realized that what that meant was that every fundamental capacity that defines us as human beings and enabled our species to survive and evolve was worthless in that pricing system. If we were going to start to value the kinds of things that human being need to do for each other, to build community, to raise children, to make democracy work, to fight for social justice we were going to have to find a way of honoring with value the work that was essential to promoting fundamental values.

In the context within which we work it [TimeBanking] sends a message of respect & equality that is a fundamental statement that will particularly will reveal across lines of race, and class or age or people who have been devalued. You can talk the rhetoric of saying I value but what Time Banking does is it says "oh you're real about that aren't you". That is a very important message when dealing with teenagers, when dealing with the elderly, when dealing with people who have been disabled. It really honors who they are and the essence of who they are." (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/152048)

More Information

  1. Report by the New Economics Foundation: the New Wealth of Time

On Time Banking

  1. A Time Banking Video is accessible from the main page.
  2. Time-based Currencies
  3. http://clients.squareeye.com/uploads/compass/documents/CTP43StephensTimebanking.pdf

On Time Dollars