Last nights event at the Flow Factory couldn’t have gone better. Every seat was filled, every pillow was sat upon, and no one was in need of a place to sit. And of course, every belly was filled.

I was able to talk a bit about the mission and vision of the Flow Factory and hopefully get some minds opening up to the flow of abundance that is afforded us as the most sentient beings on the planet. Considering the number of people who later told me about classes they’d like to teach and services they’d like to offer, I think it worked.

We’ll be scheduling more events soon, starting with the Garden Brigade Plotting next Wednesday at 7pm. Keep your heart open and your mind alert for something that resonates with you, and come be a part of the process of abundance.

Things are coming along well at the Flow Factory. There is still a lot of clutter that I am trying to organize and find new homes for. One of my challenges is that I do not want to simply classify everything that we can’t find an immediate need for as garbage. We have a lot of things that can be useful to someone, it’s just a matter of finding out who that someone is and how to get them the stuff.

In the meantime, I’ve been organizing the stuff that we can use. By cutting down a bunch of pallets that were out back, I built a shelving unit that will soon serve as the “Ivy League Tool Share”program. Through this program, when a member of the community needs to use a circular caw, drill, sander, or other tool, they can simply come check it out and return it when they are finished. The program is designed to help the community make repairs, renovation, and restorations without having to incur the costs of buying all new tools.

As just one of the many projects we have in the works at the Flow Factory, the Ivy League Tool Share is about empowering the community to discover the true wealth available to us when we practice interdependence instead of proudly trudging through the battle to achieve independence. We believe that, while independence is much more powerful than dependence, to truly engage in abundance, we must realize that humankind is indeed a social species and open up to our highest power through the integration of interdependence.

If you are interested in helping us clear out some space by giving a home to some hardware or other household item, or if you just want a tour of the facility, please email me at, or just come on by the Flow Factory at 2035 Cornell Street.

For each event held at the Flow Factory, participants are invited to choose from a variety of currencies in order to more adequately meet their needs. While Federal Reserve Notes are welcome, and currently necessary in order to pay for utilities and rent, in order to more fully engage the wealth of the community, the Flow Factory also accepts Time Dollars, Growbucks, and barer arrangements for the majority of activities that it offers. By buiding upon these alternative currencies, we are able to manufacture a more holistic approach to economic health, appealing not only to the fiscal accountability of the Federal Reserve Note, but also to the civic responsibility of citizenship and participatory enjoyment of community.

Although the Federal Reserve Note can be utilized quite well to manage the limited resources of certain materials and public utilities, we believe that there is much greater wealth in an engaged community devoted to establishing systems of creativity, resilience, sustainability, and quality of life. In order to create a foundation upon which to build this wealth, the Flow Factory offers a variety of workshops, productions, classes, and opportunities for personal, career, and artistic growth. By offering a space of versatility and community engagement, our highest goal is to enhance the ability for Flow, defined both as the individual experience of optimal enjoyment through active purpose, and as the movement of currency which provides for healthy economic stimulation and progressive development.

Developed as a community third place, the Flow Factory encourages community members to develop a sense of ownership of the facility by participating in its operations by accepting Time Dollars or Growbucks for the services they offer. As teachers, inventors, performers, organizers, and artists, the members of our community are invited to share their gifts while simultaneously inspiring others to share theirs, opening up a deluge of untapped potential and a myriad of new possibilities for healthy economic growth. At the Flow Factory, we aim to open up new conduits for wealth development by fully realizing the wealth at our disposal.


As the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank, it has been a bit of a challenge to direct the operations while living the life of a nomad. Fortunately, the time bank is still growing thanks to the members who continue to envision a way of operating beyond the limitations of the current financial paradigm. Even more fortunate, now that I have found a place to hang my hat, the Common Wealth Time Bank will soon have an actual building through which it can operate more functionally.

Currently, we are in the process of cleaning up and redesigning the warehouse that has affectionately become known as The Flow Factory. Complete with rooftop gardens, a tool share program, workshop, fused glass kilns, and community meeting space, the Flow Factory will enable members of the time bank to meet more regularly and develop the connections necessary in order to truly allow for our abundance to flow.

Building upon the premise that a truly free market economic system should allow for more than one currency, the Flow Factory will still accept Federal Reserve Notes (after all, we do still have to keep the lights on), but will also accept Time Dollars, barter arrangements, and Growbucks, yet another alternative currency recently developed in Manatee county.

If you would like to get involved in the Flow Factory from the get go, please email me at to schedule a time to come find your flow.

At this point in time, time-banking is a viable alternative to the cash economy, but that does not mean that it is currently able to be a replacement. It opens up the doors for us to realize that there are other ways of developing economic value outside of the monetary system. The monetary system still serves a purpose, but as we realize its limitations in providing us with what we really want and need, we must direct our energies toward currencies that will. I think that the time bank is but an introduction to other currencies that we will develop as we seek ways to meet our needs, and the needs of the world, in more just, efficient, and sustainable ways.


Time dollars,¨ says Edgar Cahn, ¨tap the side of human nature that barely exists in economic thinking-the side that wants to help and be useful and simply feel good. In mobilizing this important resource, money is not very good.”


Money is good at accounting for limited resources, and used wisely and judiciously, it can really thrive at measuring scarcity. However, to measure the value that we can receive from our community when we invest our time, care, talents, and skills into the people around us, money is completely ill-equipped to measure that kind of abundance. What we need to realize is that money is not the entirety of our economy. Time banking helps us find value in the Core Economy that really makes life vibrant.


If you want to free yourself from some of the stress caused by financial woes, something that´s coming down hard on everybody, you want to find ways to not only alleviate that stress, but make your life even better. Time-banking allows you to do what you enjoy and connects you with people that want to make sure you´re taken care of. At a time like this, with so much changing in the world around us, community is the greatest investment you can make.



Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.




Historically, human civilization has always contained some strain of inequality as people have manipulated dominance over others. As we have worked toward a greater sense of equality in both gender and race since the Sixties, these days we are also realizing a great disparity between rich and poor. Time-banking allows for the cultivation of a currency outside of the influence of the paradigm which makes that type of inequality possible. In a time bank, every single member has 24 hours in each day, and no single member´s time is any more or less valuable than anyone else´s. We are all equal.

Presently, not all of us get to completely choose how we spend our 24 hours. Many of us have to sell quite a few of our hours in order to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. But there are many others that are recognizing the importance of their time, and have the ability to be more selective in how it is spent. The more we can use this technology to teach people how to recognize greater abundance than merely the representation of it, the more people will more time in their hands to do with what they wish. And from what I´ve experienced in witnessing people participate in a life that appreciates them, I really believe that the majority of us really do enjoy putting our hands to good work.

America´s great declaration has always been about independence. It has been about celebrating the individual´s ability to make a life for himself. As a virtue, It has helped create a plethora of free thinkers that have gone way outside the box to develop incredible technologies and human rights movements that continue to aid in humanity´s evolution. As a curse, it has also planted seeds of pride, greed, isolation, addiction, violence, and selfishness. Unfortunately, those seeds have developed rather deep roots.

Because those seeds also serve as the foundation for much of our financial abundance, cultivating a culture of consumerism, our standard operating procedure often precludes Americans from the practices of community development and understanding economics outside of ¨what´s in it for me?¨ The good news is that not all Americans are content with the status quo and the celebration of independence alone. In America, although perhaps a bit more slow-going than in other parts of the world, people are realizing that the the next great revolution is one of interdependence.


Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


One of the concerns I have heard about time banking is that it will detract from the pure benevolence of volunteering. Indeed, there is much value in simply participating in life and serving one´s community without seeking anything in return. However, in our dichotomous economic system, participating in life is usually seen as either something you profit from, like a paid job, or something you give yourself to, like a charity. But as Edgar Cahn points out, “Charity is wonderful, but most people don’t want it. Many people won’t accept help if it is welfare.” Time banking allows people to participate in the life of their community in the space between profiteering and volunteering, a model which is much more in sync with the natural rhythm of life.

Is it really so unthinkable to design a helping program that functions like a community, rather than like charity?¨ Cahn continues. ¨Time Dollars may appear to compromise the spirit of volunteerism, but that is mainly because we have drifted so far from a sense of real community. In practice, Time Dollars strengthen the volunteer spirit by providing a context of reciprocity that turns service into a real force, rather than just a political bromide to avoid facing social needs.”

While government assistance programs have seen many more participants over the last few years as people have been forced to rely on unemployment and food stamps in order to survive in the wake of the economic crises which have befallen us, many are too proud to take advantage of such things. And those that are reliant on such programs do, on some level, suffer the anguish of a lowered self esteem based upon their inability to operate in the world without such assistance. Many conventional volunteer programs that serve the needs of those citizens that are unable to compete for survival in the Darwinian construct of capitalism are also left wanting because of the lack of reciprocity in their activities.

Such programs,¨ Cahn points out, ¨are built on a status ladder: paid professional staff at the top, volunteers in the middle, and needy recipients at the bottom. This divides the world into the able and disabled, givers and takers, haves and have-nots. The model is charity, rather than community. And the volunteer becomes second-class and dispensable.”

Time-banking helps institute programs that allow citizens to be the able-bodied participants in their community that they are fully capable of being, without relegating them to the role of ¨societal sponge¨ that seems to serve as the scourge of our system. It allows people to both give and receive, opening them up to a truer realization of abundance and a greater sense of self esteem.

Certainly, people will never stop volunteering. We have an intrinsic need to serve the world benevolently, and those who have tasted the joy of giving without the need to get back will continue to cultivate that joy through their very being. However, for those who have been cast by the wayside in this economic climate of ¨looking out for number one,¨ time-banking offers the opportunity for them to realize that we are all One.


Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, mankind forever changed its operating procedures. Especially in Western Civilization, with this new trend of economic development, the work that people did to participate in their communities, largely through cottage industries where families would work together to develop their livelihood, was changed to meet the needs of the supposed ¨greater good¨ of industrial growth.

In the nineteenth century,¨ according to Edgar Cahn, ¨people were wrenched out of traditional social roles to become employees in mass production. After World War II, their role was increasingly to consume the things produced, and consumption became a substitute for the many social ties that remained.”

Before we relegated ourselves to the demands of industry, humans operated largely out of their homes, developing stronger familial ties, and a greater sense of community through collaborative cooperation. As corporate industries formulated ways to produce goods faster, and seemingly more inexpensively, cottage industries were unable to compete and were forced to take jobs in factories in order to meet the growing needs of an economy that moved further away from the household and into the realm of hierarchical economic growth.

Because this revolution of industry was based on the use of machinery, it became quickly reliant on a steady source of fuel to run the machines. The more the machines ran, the greater the need for fuel. Unfortunately, this fuel was comprised of our time and energy, slowly turning mankind from citizens to consumers.

Fortunately, now that we have gone through the Information Revolution, we are given the ability to move beyond our roles as simply consumers that feed the machine, and return to our proper roles as citizens. Instead of simply creating industry for industry´s sake, we can now choose to once again create community and cultivate lifestyles that provide true wealth for all instead of simply material wealth for some.

As Laurence G. Boldt states in Zen and the Art of Making a Living, ¨Today we stand at a crossroads in human history. We have the opportunity to create a new image of ourselves at work, one which will surely trigger a revolution as profound, as shocking, as transforming as the Industrial Revolution. Even as the Industrial Revolution could not occur until there was a massive shift in society´s view of work and wealth, so must an equally profound change in thinking regarding work and wealth occur before the next quantum leap in man´s social evolution can flourish. We can no more conceptualize the impact of such a change than a pre-industrial miller in the hills of England or New Hampshire could have conceptualized the impact of the Industrial Revolution he was helping to foster. We are charting new ground. We must.¨

Time-banking is a pivotal tool for helping us turn the tide to become more than fuel for an antiquated economic system, but participants in a new, collaborative way of creating the world in which we can all live abundantly.


Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

In his bookFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Enjoyment, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, ¨Twenty-three hundred years ago Aristotle concluded that, more than anything else, men and women seek happiness. While happiness itself is sought for its own sake, every other goal – health, beauty, money, or power – is valued only because we expect that it will make us happy.¨

In our current economic paradigm, the goal is seemingly to accrue financial wealth, or to at least gain a sense of fiscal security so that we may go about the business of then attaining happiness. Though it has largely been proven that money cannot buy happiness, we are still somehow predisposed to seeking after this illusory currency in a madcap attempt to prove it for ourselves. Nevertheless, it is becoming abundantly clear, based upon our economic instability, that we need to redirect our focus from the acquisition of money to the realization of happiness. The system of time-banking is proving itself to be a worthwhile tool in doing just that.

Time Dollars aren’t a substitute for money,¨ says Edgar Cahn. ¨They are a way to do things that money can’t do and to claim back the realm of community that money has invaded.”

While there is a certain sense of satisfaction in accruing monetary success and being able to purchase whatever one may need, it can hardly compare to the sense of security one gains in having a supportive community where those needs are met simply through participating in the community. Money does cultivate an individual´s independence and can often ensure the fulfillment of security needs, however, it does not offer the same depth of fulfillment that one may find in an interdependent community which meets those basic needs and goes beyond them to also cultivate the belongingness and love that human beings require.

When we cease to use money as our only ruler,¨ Cahn continues, ¨we begin to realize that we live in a world of two economies, not just one. One is the formal marketplace measured by-and consisting mainly of-monetary transactions. This is the realm of supermarkets and shopping centers, offices and factories that the media calls economy. The other economy is the informal networks of helping in families, neighborhoods, volunteer groups, and the like.”

Time-banking offers the possibility to move beyond the paradigm of competitive capitalism and into the realm of collaborative participation. By encouraging people to participate in their community development rather than simply throwing money at it, citizens are able to gain a greater sense of fulfillment, and thereby a greater measure of happiness, because they become part of something greater than themselves.

This is uncharted economic territory,¨ Cahn says, ¨a currency that makes people feel good about themselves for helping others.”

When all is said and done, don´t we all just want to feel good?

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

A healthy economy is one that meets the needs of the populace. According to Abraham Maslow, the needs of people can be seen as a hierarchy, starting with safety, health, and security, moving up to belongingness and love, reconciling the need for a healthy self esteem, developing the cognitive needs for understanding and knowledge, creating aesthetic needs for the enjoyment of beauty, and encouraging them to become self actualized. Unfortunately, in the climate of competitive capitalism as the sole economic system, many of these needs go unmet when citizens are unable to appropriately compete due to lack the lack of resources that the competition demands.

Even in America, highly touted as the most wealthy nation on the planet, many people are unable to provide their own safety, health, and security to an adequate measure whereby they can address their other needs. In this competitive climate, where people are directed to appreciate independence, the need for belonging also goes undernourished. In more collaborative cultures, where interdependence is more adequately celebrated and applied, although the communities may be less materially affluent, there is a larger Gross Domestic Happiness factor. If we can address these discrepancies in our economy, we can then realize a more robust and wealthy community.

Time dollars do more than meet human needs,¨ says Edgar Cahn. ¨They do more than rebuild trust in a world of many commercial predators. They provide the kind of new economics that can support sustained citizen action on the scale society needs. The Time Dollar represents a strategy to generate tremendous resources and to involve thousands of people on a sustained basis.”

By integrating time-banking into our economy and sharing our wealth on a more communal basis by encouraging interdependence and collaborative, participatory economics rather than only a competitive model, we will be able to help each member of our community meet their needs, thereby enabling society as a whole to actualize our unity and develop greater overall wealth.


Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.