Time Bank of the Rockies
[October 2020 | By Cathy Trujillo]
(Graphic, Kathryn R. Burke)
Ever wondered what it would be like to get a massage? Or to get an acupuncture treatment? What about letting someone else paint that living room, instead of doing it yourself? Want someone to bake a fancy cake for you – but don’t want to pay the fancy price? These are all things – along with many other things – that can be had without money, but through an exchange of time and talents, if you are a member of the Time Bank of the Rockies.
The Time Bank of the Rockies is one of approximately 500 Time Banks that exist in the US and there are many more scattered across more than 30 countries. The concept has been around for a very long time, but Edgar Cahn, considered to be one of the founders of the practice known as “time banking” began to experiment 35 years ago with a mode of exchange that lets people swap time and skill instead of money.
How does Time Bank Work?
The concept is quite simple. When you join a Time Bank, you agree to take part in a system that involves earning and spending time credits. When you spend an hour doing an activity that helps another member, you receive one time credit. When you need help with something that another member has the skill to do, you pay them with the time credits that you have accumulated. All hours are equal in value, so a lawyer member might agree to review a legal document for a member, and that hour is worth the same time credit as the hour earned by a member who mows a lawn for another member. Time credits cannot be converted into money and hold no monetary value, so the US Internal Revenue Service has ruled that they are not considered as taxable income. For members, earning a time credit embodies a kind of purchasing power, as well as conveying a sense that one’s work has value.
The types of services that can be exchanged are limited only by the number of skills or talents that the many members are willing to share. A common lament is, “But, I don’t have anything that I am good at.” You don’t have to be an expert – you just must be willing to help someone who needs it. Almost anyone can pull weeds, or give someone a ride, or clear a driveway of snow, etc.
Time Bank Core Values
- Value Everyone. A time bank should see all its members as assets. Everyone has something of value to share – even if it’s something that isn’t worth a lot in dollar terms.
- Redefine Work. The money economy defines “work” as a job that earns money. Time banks, by contrast, put a value on the kind of work that money can’t buy, such as creating art, rearing children, improving a neighborhood, or social activism. Time credits are a way to recognize and reward these hard jobs as real work.
- Reciprocity. Time exchanges must be a two-way street. Everyone involved needs to give, as well as receive. When some people only give and others only take, it creates an uneven relationship that can lead to resentment. Helping each other, by contrast, empowers everyone. Whenever members receive help, they need to think about how they can “pay it forward” by helping someone else. In this way, everyone can work together to build a better world.
- Social Networks. A good time bank is a web of mutual support. As members help each other out, they form stronger ties to each other. Over time, these ties develop into a net that helps hold the whole community together.
- Respect for Others. All members in a time bank need to treat each other with respect. People can differ in many ways, such as culture, faith, and political views, but these differences should never stop them from valuing each other. This mutual respect is essential for any group to be able to govern itself.
Partial list of “Offers” or Time Exchanges. Things that current members are willing to help with. What else can you think of, or what might you do to help someone?
Arts & Music
Art lessons – adults, children
Painting, oil, watercolor, pastel
Learning accounting software
Caregiving & Senior Care
Senior health counseling
Nursing home “window visits”
Art & craft projects
Go out to lunch or dinner
Play games or cards
Theater – live or movies
Watch a movie
Build new computer
Computer software lessons
Checking for viruses & malware
Purchasing a computer
Setup configure new computer
Website design or management
Crafts & Hobbies
Furniture design & Repair
Foreign language lessons
Garden and Yard
Yard & Garden work
Health and Wellness
Health & Wellness Therapies
Senior health counseling
Minor electrical issues
Moving & Hauling
Hair & skin care
Help with online shopping
(Illustration by Mike McQuade)
Article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review
“People engage in time banking—an alternative currency system in which hours of service take the place of money—in dozens of countries worldwide. For decades, it has been a relatively small-scale movement. But signs are emerging that it may be an idea whose time has come.”
Time Banking offers intrinsic rewards.
“A consequence of our fiscal monoculture is that we tend to value extrinsic rewards over intrinsic rewards. Earning money confers an external benefit in the form of purchasing power. … Intrinsic benefits derive from actions or relationships that have meaning in and of themselves.” (Like taking lower-paying job, because you like the work or the people you work with. Like volunteering to help others in need, supplement educational activities or promote cultural endeavors.)
“The time bank movement gives new life to a broad range of activities that produce intrinsic rewards. It provides a platform for generating a kind of wealth different from money and for recognizing critical work that markets based on money do not value.”
[Read full article here, which offers an outstanding explanation of time banking with detailed discussion. Co-author, Edgar S. Cahn, is the originator of time-banking, and founded Time Banks USA in 1995.]
Time Banks Covid Response
Hundreds of timebank communities across the United States and the world are working together in helping each other navigate this collective experience of change and loss while also setting the stage for a new economic paradigm centered on meeting needs through community engagement and collaboration based on our shared strengths. We encourage you to virtually reach out to your timebank communities, families, and friends while lowering the curve through physical distancing.
Stay safe and well, The TimeBanks USA family
Join Time Bank of the Rockies
Now, with the forced isolation from Covid, more than ever, we need to help one another, providing safe services and companionship. Time Banking offers both.
For more information about Time Banking with Time Bank of the Rockies, or to join, please see our website or call Executive Director, Cynthia Harwood at 970-209-6886 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.