The model for timebanks is the banking and spending of dollars, but instead the currency is time and labor. Hours are exchanged. One hour is one hour.
Many timebanks do use “time dollars” rather than “hours” but TakomaTime uses hours because measuring hours emphasizes the equality of time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. All skills are of equal value.
Why a timebank? We already volunteer
Many communities have a tradition of offering services when neighbors are in need and certainly Takoma Park does. Email discussion lists are robust and busy.
The difference is that a timebank goes much farther than “when in need”. TakomaTime is there not only in an emergency or unusual event; it is there all the time. Most of our needs are not emergencies.
Rejecting Noblesse Oblige
Charities take “extra” money from those who have it and distribute it to those who need it. They also decide who needs it and how much. They control the valuing of people by defining their needs. Charities for all the good they do, do not create wealth. They perpetuate the noblesse oblige expectations that the rich give and the poor take. The poor can only receive what the rich are willing to give. (Or give back to them but that is a different story.)
Building a Social Economy
A timebank is a system designed to maintain equality through reciprocity. It creates equal wealth based on the services that we all need on a daily basis. Our social wealth comes from each member giving to the other.
Timebanks build strong communities because they create strong social economies. Exchanges of skills and abilities become a daily practice. Exchanges build interdependence in a way that paying each other for services does not. In a capitalist economy, skills are valued unequally, contributing to income inequality.
Timebanks are one way to balance the scales and renew our sense of ourselves as equals by recognizing that our wealth is not based on dollars.