Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time Banking: Take Charge

Bob Ewing - The local employment rate hovers around 16 per cent. For many, the future looks bleak and because the provincial government is focused on bringing down a huge deficit, they cannot turn to the politicians for assistance. In fact, the cuts being made in the name of reducing the deficit are likely to result in more people being unemployed. So what do people do?

First, let us rethink the market place, and how we go about obtaining goods and services. There are alternatives to how we do business. For example, the proponents of timebanking present it as a means for people with little money to get what they requite.

“Timebanking is a means of exchange used to organize people and organizations around a purpose, where time is the principal currency.  For every hour participants ‘deposit’ in a timebank, perhaps by giving practical help and support to others, they are able to ‘withdraw’ equivalent support in time when they themselves are in need. In each case the participant decides what they can offer. Everyone’s time is equal, so one hour of my time is equal to one hour of your time, irrespective of whatever we choose to exchange.”

Timebanks are a means of exchange which is what money is. In our current system, the focus is on money; people, (those who can) get a job, get paid and then exchange the pay for what they need, food, housing, clothing, for example. Now with a timebank you change the means of exchange from money to good works based upon the skills and abilities people already have.

If you want to take a creative approach to solving some of the problems within your community or you simply need to put some bread on the table, you may want to start a timebank.

According to the California Federation of Time Banks, there are seven steps involved in setting up a time bank. The first is:

First thoughts:

What do you want to achieve with your Time Bank?
Who do you see joining?
Who can you ask for help and support?

Social activities can play an important rile in developing your time bank. Bring people together to enjoy a meal, it can be potluck, and have fun. Fun and food are great motivators.

The process of setting up a time bank has a positive side effect, one that is very similar to what happens when a community garden is begun: that is, strangers become friends. This takes place when people come together united in a cause and purpose, and this is what we need to transform our society from the mess it is in, to a sustainable system that thrives, a community were the people who do the work benefit.