Since I was approached by Don Hall of Transition Sarasota last year to serve on an advisory board to implement a local currency, I have met quite a few people who don´t see the need for it. Although most people recognize that the United States, and the world at large, is going through some tough economic straits, many feel that it will simply work itself out if we just hold our course and have patience. Unfortunately, that may not necessarily be the case.

It is not my intention to come across as a Chicken Little and run around warning that the sky is falling, however, considering that the Federal Reserve Note, which the United States has been utilizing as its predominant currency for the last 99 years, has outlived the average 35 year lifespan of similar fiat currencies, we do need to consider the possibility that our legal tender of choice is not eternal and will one day lose its value. Also considering that the dollar is no longer attached to gold, silver, or anything of actual or assumed worth, it is highly unlikely that its ethereal value, and the multi-trillion dollar debt that has been accumulated through its inflationary printing, will hold up much longer. Combined with the burgeoning lack of faith that people have in the banks and government which have wielded this currency through the questionable economic activities of recent years, it would seem that the Federal Reserve Bank may not be the most appropriate basket in which to place all of our eggs.

In addition, the growing chasm between the rich and poor in this country, as well as the unmitigated use of the Federal Reserve Note for political gain, has left the majority of the American population virtually impotent in creating change within their communities and keeping their government in check. In order to reestablish the power of people to guide this country and to be the leaders in the world we proclaim ourselves to be, it is up to the citizenry of these United States to recognize their own worth by seeking value beyond the limitations of the Federal Reserve Bank. After all, if we are truly going to have a free market system, it only makes sense that it not be limited by a monopolistic currency.

As Edgar Cahn states in his book Time Dollars, “Citizen action must rest on a new economic base: one that makes it possible for people to meet their own needs while working to rebuild community and revitalize democracy at the grass-roots level.”

Time banking allows for this type of economic base. Based upon the values of greater appreciation for the individuals that comprise a community and a reconsideration of what truly makes life valuable, time banks are helping to rejuvenate communities throughout the country and around the world. Although not the only complimentary currency out there, time-banking does offer a way for people to find their power again by doing what they feel most drawn toward in service to their community while simultaneously meeting their own needs.

At a time when our economic status is facing such issues of instability, the greatest investment we can make is the community to which we belong. Our true economic stability will not be found in our independence and the wealth we can accrue individually, but in our interdependence and our ability to support one another. It is time that we start fully recognizing the value of our communities, investing in localization, and celebrating our ability to live sustainably. Let us open up the floodgates of abundance and realize our worth beyond the limitations of mere money.


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.