• Noel Williams

How Timebanks Improve Social Justice


Timebanking may be a completely new concept for many people, so it might be equally new to understand that timebanking looks to achieve far more than to simply offer an alternative to the current global economic model. Inherent within timebanking is the goal of social justice; a world where everyone’s inputs are valued equally. By treating everyone equally, timebanking does much more than enrich the lives of those participating, it enriches entire communities and breeds a type of social justice that can only currently be dreamed of.


The following will touch briefly upon just a few of the ways in which timebanks benefit society both as a whole and the individuals that comprise it.


Striving for Social Justice

Within modern society, the most marginalized people remain marginalized because societal norms tell us that they bring less to the table than people with more means. Besides the fact that the poorest and most marginalized people are some of the hardest workers, it is a fallacy to say that they do not bring value to the societies within which they live. Timebanks do away with so-called conventional thought in that they value the input of everyone equally. In a true timebank society, the landscaper who spends an hour beautifying someone’s property is bringing just as much to the table as the dietician who offers one hour of consultation service.


According to timebanking.org, this type of system can help not only the marginalized among us, but everyone, achieve a greater sense of self-worth and belonging. Rather than define someone according to their religion, or race, or socioeconomic class, timebanking defines a person by what they are willing to do for their community. Timebanking may not be able to eliminate racism or other forms of hatred, but it can do a lot in the way of undoing prejudices that we might not even be aware of. Once people begin to see all other members of their community as equals, the collective sense of self-worth and happiness will inevitably rise.


Stepping In Where Government Steps Out


In an ideal world, the governments of the world would provide for every last need of their citizenry. In reality however, we know all too well that this is far from the case, and that in many instances governments are curtailing social programs as a means of ‘saving money’. Slowly but surely, many of those safety nets that once looked out for and cared for the public good are being stripped away. With an ever-increasing need for social work being coupled with the absence of funding for it, the families that build the foundation of communities will begin to crumble. One of the first timebanks that was created in Japan in the 1970s stepped up to the front lines to address the ever-aging population and lack of care that existed for them. This is just one example of how timebanks have filled in the gap when government was nowhere to be found.


Another perfect example of this took place in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, which struck Florida in 1992. At that time, Southern Miami was home to one of the world’s largest timebank, and its members not only advised incoming aid teams on where to go to provide the most immediate help, they also provided help themselves in the form of clothing donation, food donations, and more. In 1993 alone, members earned more than 150,000 time credits through providing aid to hurricane victims, many of which were their neighbors.


Timebanking as A Budgetary Device


Timebanking can help families remain within their budget by providing services that can be paid for in time credits rather than traditional dollars. Childcare is growing in price all the time and many families simply cannot afford it. Services ranging from after school sitting, to carpooling, and so much more can be provided by many timebanks and can help families save dollars and cents that might be needed for other vital items and services (that may not be attainable through your timebank).


Plus, by connecting with other members of your community, you can foster new relationships and potentially friendships as well. As it relates to childcare specifically, many parents will jump at the opportunity to introduce their children to new friends.


Though you are limited to only the services offered by the timebank within your community, there are countless other examples of individuals and families turning to timebanks as a means of relieving some budgetary stress. Social justice is an inherent goal of timebanking, and the timebanking app Nomos makes being a part of timebanking as easy as possible. Whether you would like to start your own timebank, join a pre-existing one, or are simply interested in learning more about timebanking in general, Nomos is an all-inclusive platform where you will find all of this and more.


Sources:

  1. Timebanks as a tool for social innovation

  2. What is Timebanking?

  3. The Time Bank Solution

  4. Time Banking Explained - How to Trade Services With Time-Based Currency

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