Time Bank

September 23, 2014; Arizona Republic

A few days ago, I reported on some new alternative local currencies, a dynamic that emerges when the larger economy goes south. Historically related to this is the increased use of bartering, sometimes referred to as a time bank. I have also written about nonprofit-based bartering models before, and their use in Greece.

Central Village, an Arizona nonprofit, just opened one such time bank in the Phoenix area. Members, once screened, pay $60 per year (or $90 for a couple) which allows them to log on to the time bank system. There, they can make requests for service or respond to requests from others. Services may include everything from doing yard work to driving someone to the airport. No matter what you spend your time doing, it is a straight exchange in the time bank, but time credits can be loaned to others.

Pit Lucking, the group’s executive director, says, “Everybody has something that they can offer…That’s the glue that holds us together.”

The time bank not only can save cash, but it also facilitates relationships, which helps elderly and home-bound members. “It’s just a way of bringing the community in a very helpful way,” Lucking said. “And it supports community health.”

To learn more about how a time bank is established, readers can go to timebanks.org.—Ruth McCambridge