The Bank of Time and Time Banking

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The Bank of Time and Time Banking

By: Crane-Station Friday March 18, 2011 12:13 pm

While some of us started the day with a lot of money and others started with no money, we can all agree that we each started the day with the same amount of  ‘ time’ in our ‘bank.’  For those of us who do not have the money or resources to involve ourselves in other projects, can we be involved with social change through something like time banking? I do not know, but I am putting the idea up for discussion.

What is time banking?

Time banking is a social change movement that is not new. Several sites on the internet describe time banking:

“Time Banks Weave Community One Hour at a Time

For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you. It’s that simple. Yet it also has profound effects. Time Banks change neighborhoods and whole communities. Time Banking is a social change movement in 22 countries and six continents.”

Let’s say your lawn needs mowing. But someone else needs child care for a job interview. Or a meal delivered. Or a ride to the courthouse. Or maybe just an hour of company. You provide the ride, the hour, the ride, or the babysitting. You have an hour in the bank. You then withdraw that hour. And you get your lawn mowed.

To my way of thinking, time banking is so simple that it is pure genius, like most simple ideas are.

Wikipedia discusses time-based currency:

“Time Dollars

Main article: Time Banking

Time Dollars are created via mutual credit: Each transaction is recorded as a corresponding credit and debit in the accounts of the participants. In a Time Dollars system, or Time Bank, each participant’s time is valued equally, whether he/she is a novice or an extensively trained expert. Time Dollars thus recognize and encourage reciprocal community service, resist inflation without encouraging hoarding, and are in sufficient supply, which enables trade and cooperation among participants. It has been implemented in a wide variety of settings – rural Appalachia, urban St. Louis, in Youth Court, and in retirement communities, to name a few.[citation needed]

[edit] Time banks

Edgar Cahn came up with Time Dollars as “a new currency to provide a solution to massive cuts in government spending on social welfare. If there was not going to be enough of the old money to fix all the problems facing our country and our society”, Edgar argued, “Why not make a new kind of money to pay people for what needs to be done? Time Dollars value everyone’s contributions equally. One hour equals one service credit.”[citation needed] Cahn wrote two books, Our Brother’s Keeper and No More Throw-Away People.

The largest and most active Time Bank in the United States is the Dane County TimeBank in Madison, Wisconsin with over 1,000 members, a Youth Court and connections to Community Supported Agriculture. The Dane County TimeBank co-hosted “TimeBanking in Action,” the TimeBanking International Conference in 2007, and will be co-hosting the TimeBanking Conference, “Time For Justice, A Wealth of Opportunity” in June 2009. TimeBanks USA is the hub of a nationwide network of TimeBanks offering training and support to timebanks around the country. It developed Community Weaver software now widely used with over 11,000 participants. In the US there are now 101 TimeBanks listed on TimeBanking has spread to over 37 nations and six continents. In England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, TimeBanking has spread rapidly. In Wales there has been a particular focus on the development of ‘Agency Timebanks’ to engage local people as contributors to public service and community Agency Timebanking in Wales There are 116 in operation and another 87 under development; the government and national volunteer organizations have been particularly supportive. They are promoted as a tool in community regeneration.

[edit] Criticisms

Some criticisms of Time Banking have focused on the Time Dollar’s inadequacies as a form of currency and as a market information mechanism. Frank Fisher of MIT predicted in the 80s that such a currency “would lead to the kind of distortion of market forces which had crippled Russia’s economy.”[1] To this day, Time Banks in the U.S. must avoid setting any monetary worth on their Time Dollars, lest it become taxable income to the IRS.”

Here is the link to Wikipedia for more discussion:

What do you think of time banking? Could it go sideways? I need surgery and my surgeon needs a root canal…you see where I am going. In many ways I hope it does go sideways.

I have decided to craft a series of posts on various forms of bartering. With all of the cuts and no safety net we must get creative.

In the next post I will speak about yard trading as a variation of yard sales. My goal is to collect and share ideas and experiences.

And finally, here are some updates on dumpster diving:

-We have been successfully diving for food since mid-winter. We are beginning to watch our perishables.

-Granted, our sample size is small, but our direct observations of the trash indicate no economic upswing. People are dumping trash into public dumpsters because they cannot afford roll off service, now more than ever.

-Recycle center will dock you now if you leave the bulbs on Christmas lights, however, I do not think that is the case for all those little bitty ones.

-Competition for recycle is increasing, not decreasing. For example, we arrived at the car wash to get cans, and were met by a man. We thought he was there to dump trash. He thought we were there to dump trash. He wanted our cans. We wanted his cans. We both ended up laughing. He had been posted up at the car wash since 2 AM, collecting cans.

-Dumpster diving is becoming more mainstream. Almost a given that the dumpster we visit has already had company.

cross-posted at


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