Sunday, June 26, 2011
Time Bank Idaho
I recently signed up to become a member of Timebank Idaho. This is a non profit organization that facilitates barter arrangements to mutually benefit its members.
One of the basic premises of Time Bank Idaho is that everyone's time is valued equally. You give an hour. You get an hour. It's that simple. The strength of the program is built on people developing relationships and empowering communities to find non-cash solutions to their needs.
For example, one lady baked an elaborate birthday cake for a kid's party. That took her 3 hours. In exchange she tapped into the available hours of a family law attorney who was a member to get her legal needs met.
Somebody might spend their giving time running errands or driving some older person to doctor appointments. In exchange they might receive the services of good car mechanic or house painter or massage therapist or language instruction.
The basic premise is that we all have needs. We all have skills and abilities that can benefit others. Time Bank Idaho provides the coordination so that we can help one another. The person who I teach how to garden may not have anything I need. But maybe the person I help will have EXACTLY the skills someone else I've never met needs and THAT person may have the skills I need.
In theory it sounds like a fantastic way of bringing people together. It remains to be seen how well this will work out for me. But I'm definitely intrigued by the premise and ready to give it a try. From time to time I'll post some of my experiences to track how it's going.
Time Bank USA, the parent organization, has been going for nearly 20 years and there are various Time Banks set up in 22 countries. Time Bank Idaho is just beginning to get off the ground. I'm interested in helping this idea to take root and grow here in Boise.
I am incredibly intrigued by the rather radical notion that everyone's time be valued equally.
In the sociology courses I teach I spend a lot of time discussing social stratification, the ways in which societies rank the comparative levels of prestige, power, and wealth that are given to various individuals. Age, gender, race, body size, and education level are just some of the factors that determine how "important" or "valuable" someone's time is in our culture.
But does it really make sense to say time of the man who picks up my garbage each week is less valuable that that of the guy who compiled my tax return??
I'm looking forward to learning more about Time Bank Idaho and the people who choose to become affiliated with it. MAYBE I'll find a cool new way to meet some of my needs without costing me any of my limited discretionary dollars. Or MAYBE I'll find a way to change the way I and others view the value of ourselves and everyone around us, whether they happen to be members or not.
Because really, no matter how much money you have (or don't have), or how many books you've read (or have not read) or how much influence you may have in the world...we ALL need each other in this big, crazy world. That's an idea I believe I can take to the bank. The Time Bank, that is.