Time Banking

So what is money but an abstract representation of misery, time spent doing things we’d all rather not be doing? How about an alternative? How about taking all of our hard earned capital away from the Wall Street types? Get ready for time banking.

With time banking, you get together with your local community members, friends and family and exchange hours rather than currency. Time Bank USA describes the concept succinctly:

“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.”

Time banking isn’t defined as barter, so you don’t have to pay taxes on services or goods exchanged. And time banking is egalitarian–everyone’s hours are valued equally–an hour of digging a ditch is the same as an hour of legal services, or acupunture or whatever.

Homegrown Evolution met our local Echo Park Time Bank organizers Lisa Gerstein and Autumn Rooney last night at a joint appearance we did at Materials & Applications. Gerstein and Rooney, related to the audience a number of success stories from the time bank, such as how one busy woman was able to keep her cat after the time bank found someone to administer daily shots while she is at work.

With our economy in a tailspin, Time Banking has great potential. If there isn’t a time bank in your area Time Bank USA has software and assistance to help you set up one.

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  1. I love your blog! So much useful information, and so coherently organized. I’m authoring a series of books on the “new” domesticity as it relates to the sustainable and local foods movement. My first two books, to be published by Sterling, are due in March 2010 and are on Raising Chickens and Canning & Preserving. I’ll keep coming back to your site to learn more about urban farming and look forward to checking out your book! Best to you both!

  2. any idea if there’s a similar service over here in Blighty (specifically, London)?

    …@ashley…is that yr real surname…?

  3. The folks in Ithaca NY have been doing a similar thing for close to 20 years now, pretty cool concept that I wish would catch on in a larger scale.

  4. I’ve been in 2 unrelated living/eating co-ops that use hours alone as an accounting method. I’d say it’s a fairly limited system.

    In every situation we were constantly adjusting and many people thought they were getting the short end of the deal.

    Tofu makers (an arduous job) got more credit for their hours, and administrators had long, sporadic hours (lots of phone calls), and therefore got less credit.

    I’ve been involved in consensus-based institutions for 18 years, and I’d say there is nothing worse than sitting through a 2-5 hour meeting about the value of work.

    completely democratic living is one extended parliamentary maneuver, and everyone feels bad afterwords.

    Seriously, money isn’t that bad a system.

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