Dr. Edgar S. Cahn is the founder of TimeBanks USA. He believes social justice matters, and his immense education and working to decrease hunger in America, and other new social frameworks is alive and well in the USA. He also created the National Legal Services Program among his many works in serving the disenfranchised people. His mission statement is: Strengthening communities through reciprocity. Each time bank individualizes the mission through various social services, changing systems, or helping underprivileged people. The services that a member wants to perform for another member are listed online (on the site for that bank).
The Time Dollar
How does one get "paid" for a service rendered? That's easy, in time dollars. The time one spends to get a service provided earns him that exact time as time dollars. Then, he can spend his time dollars having another member's service provided for him. Here's an example: I list my available services. Say one of them is raking leaves. Sally uses my service, and it takes me two hours to rake her lawn. I have just earned two time dollars to spend on a service I may need. Perhaps another member has offered some house cleaning, and I choose to spend my dollars on that. See how this equality of self-worth and time works? My time is equal to yours. It's a reciprocity circle that continues to grow. The time dollar provides giving and receiving in a non-threatening way. Not all people will reach out for help, or want to receive charity. This creates a time bank exchange with a time loan until the time dollars are spent!
The services, or works are typically those done as a volunteer. They can be; tutoring, driving, delivering, child care, cooking, sewing, ironing, yard work, painting, plumbing, yoga classes, and any number of odd jobs. Basically, time banking is a simple and powerful means of exchange that completes and furthers the mission statement. Doing for others, and then having others do for you, is really strengthening.
A time bank directory for USA TimeBanks is online. Not only does it list those available, but also those starting up. There are TimeBanks around the world, and even a starter kit for those folks wanting to begin one.
This is a social change movement worth considering, especially since our current economic practices are disintegrating. Time traders give what they want to and get what they need. The time dollar keeps us in abundance, not debt. The old model of create to sell may have to move over to a more fundamental give and receive model. If we get to the point that our current money model totally breaks, we will only have each other. Why not start redefining our assets now, and serve our interdependence in a caring cycle that enriches everyone? In other words, we can use this TimeBank way to pay it forward.