Time on My Hands

This is cool. I'd heard something about this a while back, but I just read an article on "time banking." The concept is so simple. You spend an hour doing something for someone (cleaning, gardening, cooking etc.) and you get an hour in the time bank to spend having someone do something for you (acupuncture, massage, cleaning, gardening etc.).

I'm going to look into this and try to figure out what skills I have that I could trade for. I'm thinking weddings, funerals, photo books, gardening, cooking, cleaning. I guess I can write too maybe or edit? I can definitely organize.

I am so into the concept that our labor for each other (the time we spend helping each other in volunteering, care giving for a family member, watching a friend's kids etc.) are undervalued economically (not personally). While writing my thesis, I came across a bit of literature on volunteering and what was considered volunteering in our statistics on volunteerism. For instance, if you go to an organization and officially volunteer that is counted in our stats as an non-profit organization. If you just go across the street and help your neighbor with yard work or take your mom to her chemo visit and cook her dinner, this is literally not valued in our economy. Literally. It's not counted as having any value in our economy. 

Marilyn Waring wrote a seminal work on this concept of "value" in her 1988 book If Women Counted. She explores the world accounting system at the time, which is still our current accounting system, and found that it was based on a work called How to Fund the War. She made the argument then (which was not an entirely new argument) that we have fundamentally changed the concept of the term value to mean only that which is tied into and contributes directly to the dollar system. In this system, acts or things (such as a park) do not have any intrinsic worth on their own. They only have worth when they are sold, items are mined off of them, or they produce a pay check.

In his TED talk, Edgar Cahn describes the motivation behind time banking as being to give back value to our acts of labor for one another. To transform our system so that these acts of labor that are currently not being valued are finally valued. It's a short talk/video worth watching.

If you are in Portland, here is a link to the PDX Time Bank.

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