• Noel Williams

TimeBank Examples and How They Work


Early timebank examples date back to the 19th century when the concept of earning time instead of currency first came to light. Fast forward into the millennium and the concept of timebanking is still growing but now with the help of modern technology.


With the internet connecting us socially on various platforms such as websites, social media, email, and even free to sign up and operate SaaS systems such as the Nomos timebanking tool are bringing timebanking online. Not only are online tools helping to modernize as well as finetune the concept, timebank communities and the popularity of timebanking itself are growing.

In the 19th century, various socialist thinkers – like Karl Marx and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – began advocating alternative forms of value for services, including labour-time based currencies.


However, it wasn’t until the 80s when Edgar Cahn, a law professor and anti-poverty activist in America, coined the term “timebank”. It was at this time in timebanking history that adoption of the timebank concept took place. However, the ‘mass adoption’ of the concept is only just beginning to take place as we increasingly rely on and make use of digital online mediums.


By using free timebanking SaaS tools and websites to share time as a community currency via timebank groups, managing how people earn time credits is becoming much easier thanks to these paperless solutions. People can log time using an online timebank system and the person they performed tasks for can confirm the job is complete – a concept we will cover in this guide!


Timebanking Explained in Brief


Simply put, it is a trading system where the medium of exchange is ‘time’ instead of ‘currency’ or any other ‘store of value’. People provide services for each other to earn extra labor-time units, which get updated to their accounts in the timebank community.


When a member of a timebank takes one hour performing a task for another member, they get rewarded with an hour of time in return which effectively means people earn credits for every hour of service performed through their timebank community.


It is a similar concept to more specific groups such as popular babysitting social programs where parents and young people earn verbally agreed time credits by taking care of each other’s kids; only the range of services within a timebanking community is far more diverse.


Activities we can use as time bank examples include running errands, taking care of the elderly, gardening, and home repairs, private taxi services, among others. Moreover, all the services involved have the same worth creating an element of social justice. An hour of work from a technician, for instance, is worth just as much as an hour of a lawyer’s services regardless of what they would usually get paid in dollars.


Another prominent characteristic of timebanks is that services are done tit-for-tat. Anyone within the same time bank can perform and receive services from anyone else in the circle which is why some people refer to timebanking as the use of social capital.


For some people, using timebanking frees up more surplus cash within their household to then buy goods and services not available within their timebank community. While a key benefit of timebanking is also that it builds community spirit as neighbors help each other by swapping time credits.


Find out more from our ‘The Timebanking Definition Explained for Beginners’ blog here.


Timebanking Literature and Resources


Although timebanking has been around for quite some time up to this point, it is still a relatively new concept to most people. As mass adoption of the timebanking concept is yet to kick-off, unfortunately, extension of this is that there few books on the subject.


That said, there is a growing number of websites, blogs, social media accounts and other online resources with an array of time bank examples in action. However, for those that prefer reading books, the lack of formal literature is something that does timebanking communities around the world a disservice.


Therefore, we have a blog where you can find existing books on timebanking which is a small collection of books that brilliantly cover the theory in detail as well as gives examples of timebanking communities.


Online and Computer-Based Time Bank Examples


Slowly but surely, existing timebanks are moving to a new rise in free to use web-based SaaS platforms that can neatly keep track of the services offered and needed by community members.


These systems are additionally capable of tracking time credits earned in the same way a bank account keeps tabs on dollars and cents. While there are different platforms out there, Timebanks.org boasts a software program known as ‘Community Weaver 3’ that performs all of the above and more.


Within platforms like Community Weaver 3, members can create unique, individual profiles that can belong to one or many timebanks. Through these profiles, other members can request services from each other; they can even instant message to find out more specific information, such as availability or any other fine-tuned details about the project.


The biggest factor making this particular software so attractive is the fact that a one-time startup fee ($79) and bi-annual fees (for every additional year) is all that it takes for a timebank to receive hosting, maintenance, and tech support. The lowest bi-annual fee for a timebank is $30, but the highest is $1,200.

The exact price paid depends upon the total number of timebank community members. In other words, you do not have to be overly tech-savvy in order to operate a web-based timebank platform.


Nomos is a smartphone-based application and web platform that creates local timebank communities virtually everywhere. Often, people think of timebanking communities as being tied to a specific town or city, and in a lot of cases that is true. With Nomos, timebankers from different locations can connect in one place, providing services, experiences, and more.


Targeted Timebanking Communities


While the above section describes the general framework for web-based timebanking, these tend to be general examples that cover a wide range of services and activities. More recently, we are seeing timebank communities (and sometimes communities within larger timebanks) that exist to serve a single purpose or set of purposes.


In the United States, for example, the Parent Support Network of Rhode Island is designed specifically to aid parents of children with psychological disorders such as schizophrenia. Time credits are earned within this system by providing various means of support, from physical, to emotional, and everything in between.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the court system has been experimenting with using timebanking to help both the community at large and the juvenile criminal offenders that live there. Rather than sentence juveniles to jail time, house arrest, and/or subjecting them to fines, the TimeBank Youth Court puts offenders to use in their community.


Now, rather than sitting in a juvenile detention facility, these kids are still living at home and also performing service within their community. Since 2008, more than 600 juveniles were referred to the TimeBank Youth Court rather than receive criminal citations that remain on arrest records, sometimes beyond the age of 18. During the 2018/2019 school year alone, more juvenile offenders were referred to the TimeBank Youth Court than received citations.


This is a perfect example of how timebanks can actively benefit all members of the community, even turning potentially negative outcomes into objectively positive ones.


Existing Timebanks in Smaller Communities


In larger population centers, it comes as no surprise that timebanking communities can not only exist but thrive.


What might be surprising is that smaller towns can sustain fully functioning timebanking communities as well. Timebanks USA are arguably the most prominent while the UK and other European countries are also picking up and putting the concept into action. At first communities in cities were the easiest places to make a timebank community work, but today smaller towns are now introducing the concept.


In Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, for example, there is a town with just over 16,000 people, however, they have had a timebank community since 2004. The group recently moved from the home of one of its members into its own, private space, but it operates an online platform as well.


With more than 700 members, Phoenixville is a lucky town. The reality is that many other small towns do not have a timebanking presence that even resembles that of the Philadelphia suburb. Through apps like Nomos though, the future is bright. Nomos can help jumpstart grassroots timebanks in communities where they might not otherwise exist.


Start Your Timebank Community or Join Timebank Communities Using Nomos


The Nomos timebank SaaS platfrom is a free app that helps you start your own timebank community. All you need to do is sign up and verify your email address and you are free to become the pironeer of your own timebank helping to drive social justice and enhance community spirit in your area.


Your timebank will become available on our app so likeminded people in your locality can easily connect with you and start earning and swapping time credits. Plus, you can find other timebank organizations near you. Maybe someone on our app is already running a timebank or you could even suggest to your local timebanking community to connect on the Nomos app to grow an existing community.


Remember this is a totally free timebank application designed by people like you that truly believe in the concept of timebanking and want to drive the concept into mass adoption so we can all benefit from this amazing community driven and productive life changing model.


Sources:

  1. https://timebanks.org/get-started/community-weaver/

  2. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_time_bank_solution

  3. https://madison.com/ct/news/local/education/more-madison-students-referred-to-youth-court-than-received-citations-in-2018-19-school-year/article_1da7a72a-0c0d-5fea-95e7-233f4344cd3e.html

  4. https://www.inquirer.com/life/time-banks-phoenixville-neighbors-volunteer-exchanges-edgar-cahn-20200118.html


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