TimeBank Mahoning Watershed

Strengthening Communities – The Integrative Potential of Time Banking

Strengthening Communities
The Integrative Potential of Time Banking   ver8.18.13
A Guest Post by Marie Wilson Nelson

Time Bank Mahoning Watershed (http://tbmw.org/) is a community service exchange or “Time Bank,” a collection of people and organizations who connect unused resources with unmet needs. Time Bank Mahoning Watershed is part of an international social change movement grounded in five core values articulated by founder Edgar S. Cahn in No More Throwaway People: The Co-Production Imperative:

  • Assets: We are all assets. Every person has something of value to offer.
  • Redefining Work: Some work is beyond price.
  • Reciprocity: Helping works better as a two-way street.
  • Social Networks: We need each other. People helping each other reweave communities of support, strength and trust.
  • Respect: Every human matters.  When respect is denied to any, all are injured.

Acting on these values our Time Bank fulfills its mission–promoting equality and building a caring, just and sustainable community economy through inclusive exchange of time and talent. The concept is simple. Members help someone for an hour, earn an hour of credit, and spend the credit on services offered by any other member. Reweaving community one exchange at a time, they document exchanges in an online database (http://sandbox.timebanks.org) and revitalize what Cahn calls “the core economy” on which the Market depends. The core economy includes:

  • Raising healthy children
  • Revitalizing neighborhoods
  • Making democracy work
  • Nurturing the spirit
  • Building strong families
  • Strengthening local economies
  • Advancing social justice
  • Making the planet sustainable

In the PBS documentary Fixing the Future, time bankers help each other weatherize homes, access medical care, eat healthier food and take sailing lessons (8-minute clip: http://video.pbs.org/video/1646871620/). They contribute to low-carbon lifestyles, reduce transportation costs and provide services within neighborhoods. They grow capacity for community groups, non-profits, small businesses, and government groups, serving schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, and court systems. They do so by

  • Offering groups an expanded pool of volunteers.
  • Providing something valuable groups can give back to volunteers.
  • Identifying and connecting unused community resources with unmet needs.
  • Incubating new businesses.
  • Facilitating restorative justice.
  • Lowering operational costs.
  • Keeping prices low for businesses, clients and customers.
  • Reducing medical expenses.
  • Helping elders age in place.
  • Mentoring & tutoring.
  • Offering internships and on-the-job training.
  • Reducing tax burdens.
  • Containing administrative costs.
  • Tracking volunteer hours for reporting in funding proposals.

Each of these benefits reverses the opportunity costs of not banking time.   In addition, paying volunteers in Time Bank Hours could support start-ups in underserved communities. A few potential examples come to mind:

  • Weatherization projects                        Solar installations
  • Urban farms                                            Plant nurseries
  • Food preparation and distribution    Canning and preserving
  • Water catchment                                   Backyard garden installation
  • Home building                                       Home repair

Any group aligned with the five core values may partner with a time bank:

In the spirit of reciprocity, Time Banking offers community partners:

  • A complementary currency, the Time Bank Hour, created by doing some work.
  • A means of rewarding unpaid work by converting it to goods and services.
  • A way to reactivate social capital that lies untapped within neighborhoods.
  • Proven models for co-producing each other’s operations.
  • A way to restore community values ignored by the market economy.

If you want to discuss the above ideas, Contact Tony Budak

What is Co-Production?

What is Co-Production?     A Guest Post by Edgar S. Cahn

publisher’s note, This piece was extracted from What is Co-Production?, with four added hyper links.

Co-Production is the essential contribution to change efforts needed from the ultimate consumer in his or her capacity as student, client, recipient, patient, tenant, beneficiary, neighbor, resident, or citizen. Experience with Time Dollar programs leads to a hypothesis: Without Co-Production, nothing that professionals, organizations or programs do can fully succeed. With Co-Production, the impossible comes within reach. If this hypothesis is true, community-based groups, policymakers, and human service agencies must be convinced of the indispensability of that contribution, and they must begin to intentionally generate Co-Production from the recipients, targets, or consumers of their efforts. Reciprocity must be central to achieve social change. This is the Co-Production Imperative.

Co-Production is not simply a euphemism for expanding or enhancing specialized social services with free labor contributed by the consumer. Its function and its power are far more fundamental. 1) If undertaken as a priority and intentionally, Co-Production can yield new and more effective services and outcomes. It triggers processes and interactions that foster new behaviors. It alters conventional distinctions between producers and consumers, professionals and clients, providers and recipients, givers and takers, investors and managers. By creating parity for individuals and communities in their relationships with professional helpers, it achieves systemic change.

While Co-Production values what professionals have to offer, it also poses a challenge to prevailing notions of “best practice” to the extent that “our best thinking” has led us to where we are — paralyzed or frustrated by our inability to make inroads on major social problems because we have failed to incorporate Co-Production as a pervasive strategy that redefines roles, relationships, processes, and outcomes.

Yet as critical as It is, Co-Production-the essential labor needed from the ultimate consumer — is never fully funded and rarely directly funded, even partially. Instead, we fund specialized programs, professionals, outreach workers, and local organizations-paying staff while the extensive and essential labor from the individual, the household, or the community goes uncompensated. 2) We rarely lay out this inequity so explicitly. In part, that is because the cost of actually purchasing that labor at market prices, even at minimum wage, would be prohibitive. So we tiptoe around the issue, calling for “community involvement,” requiring “citizen participation” — without insisting on it too directly lest somebody ask us to pick up the real cost. (Think of the family as a good example of Co-Production)

3) Time Dollars are a mechanism for rewarding that reciprocity and converting that contribution into compensated labor. They are a mechanism for securing Co-Production.

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If you want to discuss the above ideas, Contact Tony Budak

Would Young People Contribute?

If actively engaged in our Time Bank service exchange
Yes, Time Banking  for Young People will

learning group~Engage young people in community projects (active young citizenship).
~Engage young people in project planning and decision making.
~Improve relationships between young people, police, other agencies & community.
~Reduce levels of anti-social behavior.
~Thank young people for their contribution.
Time 4 Young People as Active Agents of Change

If you want to discuss the above ideas, Contact Tony Budak

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