Time dollars are far more than a tax-exempt, barter currency. When strangers start acting like neighbors, and neighbors start acting like extended family, communities are invigorated. In an age of mobility, family breakup, neighborhood decay, and widespread drug-related crime, that is no small achievement. Indeed, in an era of white-collar crime, S&L fraud, personal greed, and government default, the need for an innovation that successfully promotes basic moral values of mutual assistance is enormous.” – from Time Dollars

Time-banking began in the eighties when Edgar Cahn was trying to find a way to ensure that the older generation was valued and cared for. Since then, it has blossomed as people have realized that the monetary system doesn´t account for the entire economy. Because the monetary system finds value in those things that are limited, such as energy and our natural resources, time-banking helps help to account for that which is in abundance, such as compassion, creativity, and community development. Now, time banks have popped up across the country and in many places around the world.

Time dollars don´t play by the same rules as Federal Reserve Notes. They aren´t meant to be hoarded, and all profit is intrinsic. Earning time dollars doesn´t provide you with a nest egg to be able to provide for yourself in the future. Earning time dollars helps build the nest so that we assure that everyone is taken care of presently and for years to come.

I think the greatest service that time-banking offers is merely its function as a conduit through which people who truly want to participate in the life of their community can communicate their needs and services, and work toward aligning them in such a way that they produce the greatest output of win/win situations possible. I think that by appreciating the Core Economy and honoring the value of work that often goes unheeded, and by offering greater opportunities for people to participate in meeting their own needs while simultaneously meeting the needs of others, the Common Wealth Time Bank provides the service of simply realizing the power of service. Once we start to recognize that we are not merely a bunch of individuals out competing for our own survival, but we are also, and even more greatly so, a collective, a single unit of diverse talents, gifts, skills and resources that multiply with appreciation, then we will more fully realize that every gift we give is also given to ourselves, and thus increases our common 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.