An Introduction to Timebanking
Timebanking creates circles of giving. Timebanking is a way of trading skills in a community. It facilitates the sharing of skills between its members, both individuals and organisations. Timebanking activity is measured by the time it takes to complete a piece of work. It's a kind of money, a complimentary currency. Timebanking builds on the magic of pay it forward.
Timecredits are used as payment, not money. You earn timecredits for the work you do, and then use those credits to 'buy' another member's time to get the services you need. Any member of the Timebank, not necessarily the member you helped. The member you kindly assisted may not have the skills that you need.
Everyone's Time is Equal - no matter what type of work is undertaken, one hour always equals one time credit. 1 = 1. It really is that simple.
Equally valued - we all have something to offer. Every person and Every skill is equally valued.
History -Timebanking was created in the 1980s by American Civil Rights lawyer and political activist, Edgar Cahn, to address social issues arising from inequality and alleviate social exclusion. He saw it as a new way to link untapped social capacity to unmet social needs and, in that way, for communities to come together to express their strengths within their boundaries.
The terms “timebanking” and timecredits were coined in the UK around 1999. Being more neutral, these became the preferred terms over Edgar’s original ‘time dollar’.
In the early 2000s timebanking reached Aotearoa, New Zealand with Lyttelton Timebank starting up leading the way. Kaitāia TimeBank started in 2009, merging with the neighbouring smaller Whangaroa and Far North Timebanks in 2019 to become Tai Tokerau Timebank. There are over 25 active Timebanks in NZ, from the Far North all the way down to Invergargill and over 350 world wide.
Here at Tai Tokerau Timebank, along with the majority of timebanks in Aotearoa, we use Timebank.org's software 'Community Weaver 3' to manage our timebank. We pay Timebanks.org per member to use this site.
Philosophy - Edgar Cahn noticed that successful Timebanks almost always work with some specific core values in place. In his book No More Throw-Away People, he listed four values. Later, he added a fifth. These have come to be widely shared as the five core values of timebanking – and most Timebanks strive to follow them. They are a strong starting point for successful timebanking.
Asset - Every one of us has something of value to share with someone else.
Redefining Work - There are some forms of work that money will not easily pay for, like building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, making democracy work, advancing social justice. Timecredits were designed to reward, recognize and honour that work.
Reciprocity - Helping that works as a two-way street empowers everyone involved – the receiver as well as the giver. The question: “How can I help you?” needs to change so we ask: “Will you help someone too?” Paying it forward ensures that, together, we help each other build the world we all will live in.
Social Networks - Helping each other, we reweave communities of support, strength & trust. Community is built by sinking roots, building trust, creating networks. By using timebanking, we can strengthen and support these activities.
Respect - Respect underlies freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and everything we value. Respect supplies the heart and soul of democracy. We strive to respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.
Tai Tokerau Timebank expresses these values as:
Timebanks Aotearoa is currently an informal group of Timebanks working together to share ideas and resources, provide peer support for coordinators, and try to generally improve the timebanking experience for all! We all totally understand the limits of the software we use, and how frustrating it can be - TA has managed to get two representatives on the international software development group to work towards some short term fixes, we're also looking at longer term plans to have our own Aotearoa platform that will also make exchanges between timebankers from other timebanks much simpler. This is of course a small country with a team of 5 million and 2 degrees of separation, so it is inevitable that we'd want to make the most of connections across the country through timebanking too! Plans are in place to get Timebanks Aotearoa set up as a legal entity during 2021 which is a step towards getting funding for this.
For an overview of what Tai Tokerau Timebank has been up to read our Annual Report Sept 2019 - August 2020 here