Lummi Islanders are pretty good about helping each other out on an ad hoc basis. Witness the recent flurry of activity to get the stranded across Hale’s passage or the effort by PLIC to organize ride sharing as the result of cars being stuck on the island. But the island population is big enough that we don’t know everyone and are uncertain of the varied talents of those we do know.
An idea that’s gaining steam around the country is Time Banks. It’s a formalized system of bartering time.
“At its most basic level, Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time dollar to spend on having someone doing something for you. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.”
“Each Time Bank has a website where you list what you would like to do for other members. You look up Time Bank services online or call a community coordinator to do it for you. You earn Time Dollars after each service you perform and then you get to spend it on whatever you want from the listings.”
Neighborhoods, churches, non-profits, social organizations have all used this tool to improve their local environment, inventory skills and formalize a means for reciprocal action.
It’s pretty simple in concept. You offer a service based on your skills. The interesting thing is there is no differentiation of value. One hour is worth one hour. One hour of tax planning has the same value as an hour of walking the dog. These services can be very basic: tutoring, transportation, yard mowing, house cleaning, proof reading, baby sitting,
cooking, decorating, gardening, fixing things. The list is probably endless. It’s volunteerism with a twist: you get something back. (hat tip to Lis M. for flagging the Time Bank Website)