Community Time Banks Continue Expansion
The Boston area
has several community time banks: The Lynn Time Bank, incorporated
in 2004, has more than 300 members. The Cape Ann Time Bank, founded
last year, has 120. The nascent Time Trade Circle in Cambridge, with
50 members, expects to ramp up this month when a full-time intern
comes on board. They join a network of 140 time banks established
over the past two decades in the U.S. and abroad.
A time bank is
where people donate their services and receive credit for the time,
which can then be �spent� for other member services. The brainchild
of University of the District of Columbia law professor Edgar Cahn,
they offer a twist on the age-old interdependence of tight-knit
communities as an antidote to the isolation that can plague modern
life. He estimates a time bank opens every week, thanks in part to
software that eases the arranging and recording of transactions.
In Maine, the
decade-old Portland Time Bank has 750 active members, mostly
lower-income, who last year engaged in more than 25,000
transactions, including medical care at a health center that accepts
time dollars. The District of Columbia�s Time Dollar Youth Court
allows first-time offenders charged with minor infractions to sit on
youth juries to earn time dollars to ��buy�� refurbished computers.
In Texas, members of a time bank planted a community garden.
monetary economy, which values a doctor�s time more than a day-care
worker�s, in time banks the lawyer�s hour equals the same time
dollar as the laborer�s. Unlike a barter economy of traded favors �
the auto mechanic tunes up the car of the plumber who then fixes the
mechanic�s leaky sink � time bank members pay it forward.
traditional bank, time banks regularly schedule social events and,
in more diverse communities, build bridges across racial and ethnic
divides. For example, the Lynn Time Bank is an outgrowth of a
support group for parents of children with mental retardation and
other developmental delays, and the Cambridge group is an outgrowth
of one for parents of children with mental illness.
offer people of limited means a way to ��purchase�� conveniences �
even luxuries � usually reserved for the more affluent. Lynn Time
Bank members can find entertainment from a mime, help organizing
closets, assistance with grocery shopping, pet sitting, and rides to
Some see time
banks as a way to help the elderly stay in their homes, with younger
residents, for instance, offering home repair and snow shoveling and
older residents offering themselves as surrogate grandparents. The
first time bank in Massachusetts, founded in 1987 at Kit Clark
Senior Services in Dorchester, was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation to help the elderly.
Dr. Edgar S.
Cahn is creator of Time Dollars and the founder of TimeBanks USA, as
well as the co-founder of the National Legal Services Program and
the Antioch School of Law. He is the author of No More Throw Away
People: The Co-Production Imperative, Time Dollars,
Our Brother's Keeper: The Indian in White America, and Hunger
philosophy is five-pointed: Every individual is an asset, some work
is beyond price, helping works better as a two-way street, we need
each other, and every human being matters.
information on time banks go to