Following the 2008 economic crash, the need for innovative approaches to the economy has only grown larger. One such answer to that problem has been a strong resurgence in the use of "time banks," a service for service exchange that skips the middle man of financial currency while building community in the process, according to a special report published by Al Jazeera America Sunday.
Time banks are organizations where individuals come together to offer services, traditionally within their immediate community. In return for providing a service, individuals earn "time credits" based on hours donated, which can be redeemed from any other service provider in the system. The exchange of money is avoided all together and each service is treated equally.
Since the crash, over 300 time banks have popped up around the United States alone, "located everywhere from Appalachia to Oakland and run by institutions ranging from art galleries to retirement centers to hospitals," Al Jazeera reports.
“There’s a lot of unemployed folks and a lot of need, and if there was ever a time that this makes sense, it would be now,” Edgar Cahn, a 78-year-old former staffer in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and the founder of time banking, told Al Jazeera.
And in the digital age, time banking has been simplified and streamlined, enabling the idea and its implementation to be spread more easily around the world.
One such successful web-based time bank is the over 10,000-member Time Republik started by friends from Lugano, Switzerland. "One can look for someone to give oboe lessons over Skype or a neighbor to offer a ride to the airport," Al Jazeera reports.
Read the rest of the Al Jazeera report here.
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Another example of a recently established and very successful time bank is The Onion River Exchange—a 700-member time bank in Vermont whose members say the exchange of goods and services instead of money has strengthened their community. Watch this short documentary about it from Olivier Asselin: