TimeBank takes the old saying “time is money” literally, using time itself as an equalizing currency. Time Bank’s website says “TimeBanking is a way of giving and receiving to build supportive networks and strong communities. One hour helping another earns one TimeBank Hour (also called time credits, service credits or time dollars)”. It was designed in 1980 by Dr. Edgar Cahn and formed into a 501c3 in 1995.
TimeBank says a babysitter’s hour is just as valuable as a lawyer’s, giving validation to people who were previously under utilized and helping many who could not otherwise afford services. This kind of exchange builds good will and helps form strong bonds within the community.
Christine Gray, Dr. Cahn’s wife and CEO of TimeBank from 2009-2012 gives a list of 5 core principles behind TimeBank that give a good idea of what it is all about.
1 – Everyone has something to offer.
2 – The work of building community is real work.
3 – Reciprocity; Give & Receive.
4 – Community is stronger together.
5 – Every human being deserves respect.
Some time banks are used by neighbors to help neighbors, but some are very targeted and specialized like the Visiting Nurses Association’s time bank in New York, with 3,000 members who use time bank to supplement the work of visiting nurses.
In Rhode Island parents with children that have severe emotional disorders like bi-polar and autism use time bank to help other parents with children with similar needs. In the past the children were being sent into the juvenile system or foster homes, but this TimeBank has been so effective that it was written into Rhode Islands best practices on how to deal with children with severe emotional disorders and their families. It is now receiving federal funding to be taken around the country.
Even Diane Sawyer covered a TimeBank in her hometown of Kentucky, showing how time banking can be save people money while engaging and rewarding people for supporting each other.
Currently there are more than 300 TimeBanks all over the world, some with memberships in the thousands. The next step would be to link up time banks as a network, so that members can use services in other neighborhoods. In 2012 the National Science Foundation gave Penn State University close to one million dollars to create a mobile app for Community Weaver, the community-organizing database used by Time Banks, so in the near future using TimeBank could be as easy as making a phone call.
To check out time banks in your area, or to learn how to start a time bank check out: timebanks.org