• Noel Williams

Timebanking During Covid-19


Covid-19, by this point, has undoubtedly impacted your life in one way or another. Though this global pandemic has shifted the way we live our day-to-day lives, it has created an opportunity for timebanking that we have never seen before. The following will explain what timebanking is as well as how timebanking can be successful during Covid-19.


Timebanking Explained


In short and in case you were not aware, timebanking is a way by which people can exchange services with time serving as the medium of exchange, not modern paper currencies. At its core, timebanking respects and values every participants’ time equally, meaning that an hour of car repair work is no more valuable than an hour spent teaching another community member a new language.

As timebank members perform tasks and accrue redeemable hours, they can then seek out and/or request services that they may need now or in the future. In other words, two timebank members do not need to make an equal exchange of services at the same exact time. For example, if Larry paints Sue’s house today and spends 10 hours doing so, Sue does not need to simultaneously perform a 10-hour task for Larry. In fact, Sue does not necessarily need to directly pay Larry back at all. By performing his painting task, Larry will have earned time that is able to be used with any other timebank member at his discretion, much like dollars earned from a day of work at a blue or white collar job.


Because the towns and cities we live in are growing increasingly diverse, timebanks are a unique way to capture the equally diverse skillsets of everyone and put them to use for the betterment of the entire community. What’s more, it values everyone’s time and expertise equally, breaking away from societal norms that tell us one person’s skills are unequivocally more valuable than those of another. This breeds a sense of inclusion that is essential to any thriving community.


While during normal times timebanking may include exchanges of in-person services, these unprecedented times have made many of those exchanges more difficult, if not impossible. This has opened the door for exchanges of services that abide by ‘social distancing’ measures and/or the exchange of service across digital platforms. We will now discuss some ideas for timebanking during Covid-19.


A Way to Maintain Community, Even if At a Distance


At the local level, there are all sorts of ways by which one can offer timebank services during Covid-19 that exemplify the true meaning of ‘community’. For many, the thought of leaving the house—even with a mask—is a daunting one, whether it be due to pre-existent immunocompromising conditions, or simply due to age. Timebankers can offer services such as the picking up of prescriptions or groceries as a means of fulfilling an immediate and necessary communal need. Seemingly menial tasks such as gardening or mowing grass can also make a huge difference in the lives of those in your community and really expand your timebanking portfolio.


The sewing and manufacturing of masks and other face-coverings is something a lot of people are doing to contribute to the fight against Covid-19. What if, instead of selling them for profit, a timebanker could offer the service of producing masks? This would address a public need in a way that benefits the greater good, rather than something that exploits a public health crisis to make a few dollars.


It may be difficult to envision what the world will be like once the shadow of Covid-19 dissipates, but there will undoubtedly be myriad timebanking opportunities then as well. For one, there will be a massive opportunity to help the elderly and others tend to yards, gardens, and any other housework that may have been neglected during the pandemic. Though many of us have been able to keep ourselves busy with different household chores, the elderly and immunocompromised within our communities might not have been able to do the same. From giving haircuts, to helping folks manage their personal finances, there is an endless stream of need that will be bursting from our communities once things finally return to normal.


Not only are the above just a few good, applicable timebanking ideas for the times we are currently living in and will be living in in the future, they offer an opportunity to introduce others to timebanking itself. If you know people who are eager to help those in their community but are not sure of how or who to help, timebanking during the Covid-19 pandemic may be the perfect solution.


Digital Timebanking for Those Stuck at Home


Covid-19 has left a majority of people who would otherwise be at their workplace from 9AM to 5PM at home with minimal work to do. In some cases, folks have been laid off or furloughed for the time-being with no sure indication of when a normal work schedule will return. For those who are digitally-inclined, online timebanking brings with it a world of possibilities.


Teachers are a particularly hard-hit subsect of the population, as many are left without work due to the

rest of the school year being canceled. Online tutoring services present teachers with a way to put their skills to use and bank time that can then be used for services that might be needed now or in the future.


What’s more, your tutoring sessions may provide other parents who are also dealing with the fallout from Covid-19 the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children are still being educated while schools are closed

What’s more, your tutoring sessions may provide other parents who are also dealing with the fallout from Covid-19 the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children are still being educated while schools are closed. Doctors across all medical fields who are currently unable to see patients in-person can offer digital consultations on timebank platforms. Fitness instructors are also able to offer workout sessions online, musicians who are unable to perform can teach music lessons, and the list goes on and on. In some cases, those who are shut-in and disconnected may simply need someone to talk to. By offering human-to-human interaction to those who may currently be deprived of it, you can truly make a positive impact for those in both your local and global communities.

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