Time banking is a concept and a process that has been successful in hundreds of communities around the country and the world. It is a pattern of reciprocal service exchange that uses units of time as currency. The basic premise of time banking is simple: One hour of one person’s time is worth one hour of any other person’s time. Period. No matter what we do with that time, an hour is an hour.
[Time banking] is an example of an alternative monetary system… Time banking is primarily used to provide incentives and rewards for work such as mentoring children, caring for the elderly, being neighborly…which a pure market system devalues. Essentially, the “time” one spends providing these types of community services earns “time” that one can spend to receive services. As well as gaining credits, participating individuals, particularly those more used to being recipients in other parts of their lives, can potentially gain confidence, social contact and skills through giving to others. Communities therefore use time banking as a tool to forge stronger intra-community connections, a process known as “building social capital.” Time banking had its intellectual genesis in the U.S. in the early 1980s. …Today, 26 countries have active Time Banks.
For a more in-depth explanation of how a typical system works, check out Time Banking, A viable alternative to currency by Amanda Witman.
In addition to describing her own family’s experience with a local time bank, Witman lists a number of informative videos and links about time banking:
- Brattleboro Time Trade in Action
- Edgar Cahn explains time banking
- Good Morning America: time banks pay it forward
- Meg Mott on time trading and values
- NPR interview: Why time banking?
- Time banking is changing lives
There are at least three time banks in Maine and five in New Hampshire according to the Directory of TimeBanks. Not included on that website is the long-running and very successful Hour Exchange of Portland.
Is York ready for a time bank? Email info[at]yorkgoesgreen.org if you are interested in exploring the possibilities.