Everyone has something of value to offer, and everyone has something they need or want. Timebanking looks at time as a unit of exchange, instead of cash. It's called time dollars, and they can be used for many things:
Accounting, cooking, gardening, rides to do errands, washing windows, fixing the sink, home maintenance, babysitting, internet help, and simple companionship. In other words, Timebanking can be used for almost anything.
It works like this: Bob fixes June's car, June bakes a cake for Steve, Steve mows Lydia's lawn, and Lydia teaches Bob to create a spreadsheet. Not a cent has changed hands; everyone exchanged One Hour of time. Any member can give to any other member, based on what is needed.
Everyone has something to give because Timebank considers everyone an asset. Every person can do something for another person, even when they think they have no marketable skills.
The world's first corollary of Timebanking was in Japan, starting in 1960. It's called Fureai Kuppu, a system still in use today. This system is based on helping other people, a relationship of warm and mutual assistance. Mostly to benefit the elderly, the system is taught starting in childhood. Volunteering is a big part of making sure the elderly are taking part in society, that the society is still inclusive. The hope is to give them the dignity to stay in their own homes a little bit longer, aided by volunteerism.
Japan's TimeBank for Seniors
Mrs. Yagi has dementia and lives a quiet life with her husband. But when the Okabes visit, she lights up. The Yagis and Okabes are members of the Nippon Active Life Club (NALC), a TimeBank. It works as a service exchange program.
Mr. Okabe gets one Timebank point (hour) for volunteering to visit the elderly. He uses this point to get a service volunteered by another member when he needs help. This other member then gets credit in his or her account.
Mr. Yagi uses his points in exchange for the Okabe's companionship. During their visits, Mr. Okabe learns from Mr. Yagi how to care for a spouse with dementia, because Mrs. Okabe has mild dementia too. Timebanking doesn't just provide care to an aging population, it encourages seniors to lead more meaningful lives through volunteering.
Could this system work in your community? The answer is yes.
* Timebanking: Volunteering Your Time In Your Community / The Feed, 2017
* Japan's TimeBank for Seniors / CNA Insider, 2017
by Beth Kaio