In todayâ€™s world, once irrefutable economic concepts are being stretched and transformedÂ in new ways. Fundamental beliefs about the scarcity of resources, the basis of an industrialÂ economy, are being challenged by the emergence of information economies and sharingÂ economies. These economies are built on the foundation of abundance–abundance ofÂ creativity, ideas, collective intelligence, and information flow.
I recently joined the DC Timebank, which is an excellent example of a sharing economy.Â Timebanks aim to â€śnurture and expand a movement that promotes equality and builds caringÂ community economies through inclusive exchange of time and talent.â€ť Inherent in TimebankingÂ culture is the belief that we are all assets and we all have something to offer. Some of us speakÂ many languages, some of us are great musicians, others are web developers, painters, writers,Â athletes, take your pick. On the flip side, we all have needs and aspirations. My neighbor downÂ the street might want to become a great guitar player, another might want to learn Spanish, stillÂ another might need help moving heavy furniture, or need a ride to work.
Timebanks provide us with a unique platform to ask each other questions that we might notÂ otherwise. Timebankers are building new relationships and strengthening their communitiesÂ by discovering the answers to questions like â€śwhat can I learn from you that you want to teachÂ me?â€ť and â€śwhat can I offer you that you might need?â€ť. Weâ€™ll certainly never know if we donâ€™tÂ ask each other. But the real power of the Timebanking philosophy is that we donâ€™t end ourÂ conversation by asking, â€śhow can I help you?â€ť Instead, we are encouraged to ask â€śhow can weÂ help each other build the world we both will live in?â€ť. Notice the powerful replacement of theÂ words â€śyouâ€ť and â€śIâ€™ with â€śweâ€ť.
Timebanks reinforce the social fabric of communities by creating a culture of reciprocityÂ sharing, and mutuality. When I joined the DC Timebank, I listed three things that Iâ€™m able toÂ give to the community and three things I hope to receive from the community. Every time IÂ give an hour of my time for a guitar or photography lesson, I earn a â€śtime dollarâ€ť, which canÂ be redeemed for an hour of another Timebankerâ€™s time. The result is a world brimming withÂ opportunity. In this world, there are endless possibilities to give to and receive from a pool ofÂ inexhaustible communal resources. Iâ€™ve been meaning to learn how to cook a mean paella,Â build a chair with own hands, and develop an app in Drupal. Admittedly, Iâ€™ll need a pretty heftyÂ supply of time dollars in the bank to accomplish all that, but I suppose that just means I need toÂ line up lots of guitar lessons – any takers?
Timebanking replaces money as a primary unit of exchange with time. And isnâ€™t time theÂ quintessential currency anyhow–whatâ€™s more valuable than our time? It also produces importantÂ positive externalities, strengthening the resilience and solidarity of our local communities.Â As I mentioned in my last post, we live in volatile times. The continuing prospect ofÂ social, economic, and environmental crises is almost assured. Strong, networked, resilientÂ communities are best positioned to meet the challenges we face in future.
So, as youâ€™re thinking about the giving and receiving that comes along with holidays, I invite youÂ to join a Timebank near you. If you donâ€™t have one nearby, start one. Youâ€™ll be amazed by theÂ people you meet, the things you do, and the joy you feel.