Are You Tired of Banks, Credit Cards, and Debt? Consider a System of Trading Time Instead of Money
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We live in a capitalistic society. Banks are everywhere, and it often seems like cash and credit are required to live. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing. And it can sometimes seem like economic inequality is ubiquitous.
But around the world, people are using a system of exchange that requires something everyone is, for the most part, given equally, every day: Time.
How do you trade or exchange time? Through a time bank. At its most basic, you spend an hour doing something for someone in your time banking community, and you then receive a time banking credit of one hour to spend on something you need. For example, if you spend an hour raking your neighbor’s yard, you then have an hour to spend, for example, on childcare or car repair. It’s an hour for an hour. The idea is simple, and it’s growing.
Take, for instance, Rushey Green Time Bank, based in South East London. It’s a connected group of 535 people, with offshoot projects that include the Wild Cat Wilderness community garden of another 400-plus people, and the FoodCycle Lewisham project with another 100.
The Rushey Green Time Bank was very small when it started almost 20 years ago, explains its director, Philippe Granger, when a doctor wanted to offer something else to his patients beyond prescription drugs—especially for those suffering from isolation, bereavement and loss of work. “Normally, a doctor prescribes pills,” in those cases, says Granger. “But what he thought would be better would be to integrate the patients into the community.”
Rushey Green Time Bank started in a health center, in a part of London with more buildings than green space. It’s an area of high unemployment, single parents and pensioners.
“What we’ve experienced in the past six to seven years is a rise in mental health issues. I think everywhere on the planet, mental health is coming up because life is becoming very stressful,” says Granger, explaining that people in their mid-30s through 40s often have depression, but that’s used as an “umbrella word.”
“We’re not healers. We’re not doctors. We don’t promise if your body is broken we can fix it. But we can help manage your condition. You have a community around you and you have support. If you have a broken leg, and you’re alone, that’s tough. But if you’re in a group, you have support. In that way, it slows down the ill effects.”