Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Maui Time Bank - Starting up Soon?

One of my deep wishes, among a list of deep wishes, is to see a time bank flourish on Maui.

What is a Time Bank?

It's an organization in which members trade one hour of their time for an hour of another member's time. Using software from www.Timebanks.org, hours can be accumulated and traded for services that involve many hours of time.  The idea behind a time bank is that "Everyone has something to give." Unlike barter, which involves trading the same value of one service/good for another service/good, a time bank involves trading the same number of hours. One hour of babysitting is the same as one hour of professional web design. One hour of walking someone's dog is the same as one hour of dental work. One hour of elderly home care is the same as one hour of fixing someone's car. 

A Maui Time Bank visioning collage.
It's not the same as barter, which means it doesn't have to reported as income on taxes. Also, it simplifies record keeping in that each member is valued at the same rate - an  hour for an hour. Even a plumber who charges $100/hour can benefit by having someone else run errands for an hour so he/she can focus on business  rather than on things that he/she doesn't like doing!  One person's despised errand or service is something another person may be only too happy to provide!  AARP recently published an article on Time Banking

The benefits of time banking are:
Building and strengthening community by:

  • Helping people find out the skills and services that other people provide
  • Helping neighbors and friends know each other
  • Creating a safety net in uncertain economic times 
  • Helping people feel valued in the community (despite economic status) in being able to offer something, and to receive something

I can think of so many people, including myself, who would benefit from a time bank... people who are on a fixed income or disability and can't earn more than $600/month... unemployed people looking for work... friends with unusual skills like face painting or crystal bowl chiming (it's Maui, you know?) ... community activists... alternative health specialists... retirees... stay at home moms... people with too many jobs who need an extra hand. 

To function well, a time bank should have at least 500 members. More than that, and then there could be a second time bank. 

What's the catch?
Ah... yes... getting the darn thing started. While I've harbored this dream for a couple of years, I don't feel up to spearheading this project by myself. I'd like to see a core group of people who are willing to commit to making this happen on Maui, getting the word out, getting the software up and running... It will take volunteers or staff to keep track and update the time bank. All of this time banking also takes time. Once it's running, the volunteers could be compensated in time bank hours... but in the meantime, a certain amount of momentum needs to happen. The software costs a certain amount based on the number of members. There are annual dues to the national time bank organization. The local time bank needs to have a web page.... and so on... I really think it's possible to have a time bank up and running by the end of 2012.

P.S. The only time bank in Hawaii just started last fall on Oahu. There are only 14 members. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm very interested in getting this going on Maui as well! This is an awesome idea!


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