Thursday, 25 August 2011

Weaving a Timebank a thread at a time

What is Timebanking?
Time Banking is a way of trading skills in a community. It uses time, rather than money, as the measurement tool. Members of a Time Bank share their skills with other members within the community and are given time credits for the work they do. With the credits they gain, each member can ‘buy' someone else's time, and get the service they need.
With Time Banking everybody's time is equal, no matter what type of work is done. 1 = 1. If you give one hour's work, you receive one hour time credit. If another member does one hour's work for you, they are paid one hour time credit. Every person is equally valued.
Time Banking adds a richness to Time Bankers' lives. As a concept it brings ‘wealth', in the form of friendship, caring for one another, having our needs met from within our own community and getting help with things we can't do.

Lyttelton has had a Timebank for 5 years now, having grown in this time to 400 members. Below some reflections on the role of TB in Lyttelton, illustrated by July's Timebank activities:

Imagine that every Time Bank transaction is a visible thread connecting two people.
All around Lyttelton threads are being spun by people cooking dinner for each other because someone in the family is sick or by driving each other to health care appointments.
One Lytteltonian is sitting in his garage fixing a broken gazebo. 
A family with young children have gone for a fun afternoon to learn how to jazz up their clothes by felting designs on them.  
A couple of women have rolled up their sleeves to dig through all the bags and boxes of garage sale items donated, to get the space ready for the next sale.
Slowly a fine lace work of threads is hovering over Lyttelton, connecting not only neighbours, but also people in different parts of Lyttelton. After every Time Bank trade two strangers have become two trading-buddies, another bit of community building has happened.

 In the weeks and days leading up to the Festival of Lights, Time Bankers hunker down to plan the event, liaise with stall holders, get permits, posters, entertainers organised, cook up soups and  juices for sale. On the night dozens of Time Bankers turn up to collect rubbish, manage the road blocks, organise the masked parade, work fundraising stalls, paint faces of children and float candle wishes for Lyttelton. In only one night, the threads of Time Bank connection have multiplied into a gauzy spider web, spanning more and more of Lyttelton, even ensnaring some Christchurch people.

 The next day it's back to normal in the Lyttelton Timebank office. Telephone calls and emails pour in from individuals and groups who want to start a Time Bank in their corner of New Zealand. Leaflets and emails get send with information, hours are spent on the phone listening, advising and encouraging people in Upper Hutt, Rangitikai, Kapiti Coast, Levin and other places. Those Time Bank threads shoot out of the phone, connecting people across the islands.

Next an invitation to a Time Bank Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, USA,  drops into the computer-inbox. Every two years a four day World Time Bank Conference takes place in August. Sixty Time Banks from across America, from Chile to Canada, Israel to Taiwan, Spain to New Zealand are invited. On offer are workshops on a wide variety of subjects : 'Time Banks and faith-based organisations', 'Research and data evaluation in Time Banking', 'Youth Court and mentoring for success'. Ideas from Time Banks around the world will be discussed and aired. I like the new initiative from a London Time Bank: Time Bankers get vetted and trained to become 'commuter tutors' to teach skills to other timebankers during the many hours a London resident spends on the train travelling to and away from work. Over a hundred people have already enrolled in the program!
                                          Timebank collage activity on Lyttelton London Street: 'Joy'

We hope that by the time the next Timebank Conference comes around some timebankers from New Zealand will be able to attend. But for now more threads have been catapulted right across the globe.

written by Bettina Evans.
This article has appeared in similar format in the July edition of the Akaroa MAil 

1 comment:

  1. Your Timebank has been such a source of inspiration and support for us in New Brighton; it is an incredible community building tool.

    Just now, New Brighton Timebank, alongside New Brighton Project, is organising The Big Brighton Barter- for more details on where to swap tools, toys and clothes visit our website

    Thanks again for all your help!