At tonight's TTJ gathering, Eric Bachman from Montpelier gave an inspiring talk on time banks and specifically, the Onion River Exchange in Montpelier. The ORE is one of three time banks in Vermont (the other two are in Brattleboro and Bennington).
Eric has been involved in ORE since its inception in 2008, and also works for Time Banks USA. Word has it he's been seen at farmers markets waving large dollar bill replicas and a clock to demonstrate that time equals money; the man lives and breathes this stuff!
A time bank is an online network whereby members’ offers and requests are listed; each time you do an hour of service you receive an hour of time credit. And all hours are considered equal. Giving an hour of massage, fixing your neighbor's plumbing, or assisting an elder; all are deemed equal in this system.
Eric talked about how time banks promote the ‘core’ economy, the harder to measure transactions that are undervalued in our market economy. Making up 40-50% of the total economy, this alternative economy is legitimized and promoted via time banks.
Five core values underscore all time banks and a new member going through orientation is schooled in everything from valuing 'human assets' to redefining the concept of work.
The ORE system appears user friendly and even provides ‘guardian angels’, people who can help those lacking computer skills (and get credit for doing so). With 440 members, ORE has recently created a tool library and is planning to host Repair Cafes in the near future.
We watched a short video of the Long Beach Time Exchange; many very enthuastic people! I loved how one person described time banks as “a way to fulfill basic needs AND access your highest potential.”
Eric suggested that if local folks want to develop a time bank, Jericho and its environs could become a ‘hub’ to ORE; piggybacking instead of starting from scratch. Lots to consider, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one dreaming about future possibilities.
On another note, I'm very excited to be going to the first ever transition town conference in the US, this coming weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota! Will definitely post a blog when I return...