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Diversifying the Economy: TimeBanks USA

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What is healthy employment? Working in a department store for hours and hours to help the rich elite to make more money? Is it wise as a consummer to buy goods made by an enslaved child in China and being sold to you by an underpaid, overworked and impoverished cashier? Are you really supporting the girl ringing the cash register? Or are you helping to keep that young girl in poverty?
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What is money? How does it build community in this day and age of globalization?
How can we create, within our communities, a system in which peoples needs are met in an equitable fashion?
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These are the types of Question TimeBanks USA has been asking since it was founded in 1995. The mission of TimeBanks is t o nurture and expand a movement that promotes equality while building caring community economies through inclusive exchange of time and talent. The central office of TimeBanks work with TimeBanks leaders across the US and internationally to strengthen and rebuild community, and use TimeBanks to achieve wide-ranging goals such as social justice, bridges between diverse communities, and local ecological sustainability.
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The philosophy of Time Banks is that all people are assets.  In many ways, Time Banks help to reduce the impact of poverty by diversifying the economic system.  It does this by allowing people to count their time as dollars.  Thus, if you are passionate about landscapping and are good at it, you can offer your services for time dollars, which you can then trade for other services. The philosophy of Time Banks is that all people are assets, that all people have worth and have something to give.
 
According to TimeBanks USA, some work is beyond price. For example, a person who sits with an elder who exhibits signs of depression can earn time dollars for her time, and her helping to care for the elder.

As such, Time Bank declares that work has to be redefined to value whatever it takes to raise healthy children, build strong families, revitalize neighborhoods, make democracy work, advance social justice, and make the planet sustainable. That kind of work needs to be honored, recorded and rewarded.

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TimeBank believes in Reciprocity, that helping works better as a two-way street. According to the TimeBank website, The question we often ask: "How can I help you?" needs to change so that we ask: "How can we help each other build the world we both will live in?"

TimeBanks relies heavily on social networks. These are not internet networks where people don't have to deal with the skin to skin contact of daily life. No, this is real contact. Indeed, it is not beyond the task of a caring TimeBank member to perhaps change the underpants of an elder who has lost control of her bladder and bowels. Thus TimeBank states that we all need each other.

They also believe that networks are stronger than individuals. That people helping each other reweave communities build support, strength & trust. Resilient communities are built upon sinking roots, building trust, creating networks. Special relationships are built on commitment.

 Perhaps TimeBanks can help us cultivate the most basic of human desire: Longing to belong? Indeed, according to TimeBank USA, every human being matters.

Respect underlies freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and everything we value. Respect supplies the heart and soul of democracy. When respect is denied to anyone, we all are injured. We must respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.

TimeBanks is at the center of a dynamic movement to preserve families, rebuild communities, affect systemic change, and promote transformation around the world. They are committed to building a TimeBanks movement worldwide. Currently, there are over 300 TimeBanks around the world and in over 36 countries. By becoming a TimeBanks Network Affiliate a TimeBank will be connected to a learning community of TimeBanks worldwide. The Network works together to provide each other with ongoing information, tools, conference calls, online discussion groups, webinars, online and face to face training opportunities.

 TimeBanks USA recognizes that partnership and building relationships is critical to the success of TimeBanking. TimeBanks USA has been able to work with a number of TimeBanks, Foundations, state and local government, organizations and groups to establish timebanks and special projects focused on special populations including youth, family, elders, and communities. TimeBanks USA has a number of partnership activities that they are currently focused on. These include special projects and initiatives including implementing CareBanks model with Reach timebank in Vermont; youth court models; the Racial Justice Initiative; and finally the Homecomers Academy.
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To listen to an interview of Stacey Jacobson, the coordinator of Mid Maine's Time Bank, with Burl and Merry Hall, go to:
Burl
Lewiston/Auburn Area Permaculture and Transition Town

 

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Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News. He is author of "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature." As of this writing, Burl is planning to self-publish the book. Alongside his wife, Burl co-hosts an on line radio (more...)
 

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