What is Time Banking? You know how you will trade favors with next door neighbours? Well, with a coordinator and using the internet, Time Banking expands this trading of favors to the whole community: the whole neighbourhood, or the whole town, or the whole village. Here is an example. Let's say you need someone to help you weed your garden. You contact the Time Bank Coordinator and place your request for help. The Coordinator sends out a notice to all the people in the community who are part of the Time Bank. Someone you may not even know very well sees your request, and contacts you about coming to help. If you are comfortable with the person, you say "Yes, come on over!" The person comes over and helps you. Let's say they spend 5 hours helping you weed your garden. Once he or she has finished, you contact the Time Bank Coordinator, or directly put 5 hours into your helper's Time Bank account. Now, this person has 5 hours he or she can use to get their own help from the community. Maybe this person needs help painting the house, or would like a massage, or wants to learn how to preserve food. They put their own request out to the community, and someone else helps them.
Basically, this is how it works. Great idea, yes?
I first saw it in action in Lyttelton, New Zealand, when I volunteered there after the big earthquake in February 2011. It destroyed the central city and displaced
thousands in the third largest city in New Zealand. I helped out in
Lyttelton, the neighbourhood which was the epicentre of the quake. A
joke going around at the time was "It's all Lyttelton's fault."
'boss' Jules Lee was the Lyttelton Time Bank coordinator. I saw first hand how
time banking strengthens a community, increases its resilience, and
makes a community a much more wonderful place to live.
Lyttelton had a time bank in place for 4 years prior to the earthquake.
Because of this, it was possible for the time bank coordinator to
quickly put people together who needed help. Jules knew who had space in
their home for displaced folks, who could help who with getting food,
water, and help cleaning up the mess of broken glass and tipped over
bookshelves and fallen chimneys and retaining walls, and on and on. And
the community was used to helping each other. They knew each other much
better than people in other communities know their neighbours, so it
was comfortable for them to go and help out. By the time the big
organisations showed up in Lyttelton, (Red Cross, Salvation Army,
Christchurch City Council), we had many of the critical problems sorted. By
From that experience, I am telling everyone who will
listen in the US about time banks, and encouraging communities wherever I
go to learn about them and set them up.
On this page you will find info and links to Time Banking around the world.
Here is the link to the Lyttelton time bank: http://www.lyttelton.net.nz/timebank
Time Banking Video: http://vimeo.com/28313090
Time Banking Resource: http://www.timedollar.org/
IRS statement on why time bank hours are NOT taxable: http://mketimeexchange.org/?page_id=42
New York times article: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/where-all-work-is-created-equal/