As money troubles and unemployment take their toll on local communities, more people are looking for alternatives to food stamps and social assistance programs. A growing number of people are becoming increasingly disillusioned by the current banking system and are seeking sustainable alternatives to the exchange of goods and services that are independent of traditional banking and financial models and services.
If you are one of many millions of underemployed or unemployed people you are likely facing a new economic reality and if you are looking to local government to solve your financial troubles you will need to begin looking elsewhere for solutions and fast.
The good news is that alternative solutions to the economic crisis are coming from local communities rather then from government or large financial institutions which favor a disproportionately small percentage of high-income banking customers and often at the expense of middle and low-income customers.
Food Stamps And Welfare May Become Irrelevant
The unemployed and underemployed are being forced to survive in a eat-or-be-eaten top-down economic system that favors a tiny fraction of our nations population. Housing and food costs are forcing families to move in with each other as they desperately seek out ways to receive assistance from food stamp programs, food banks and other forms of social assistance. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Community Time Banking – Emerging Communities Creating New Types of Banks
A new economic model is emerging from the old. It is being called time banking and it empowers individuals and communities to become self-sufficient and less reliant on institutional banks that continue to be driven by untold levels of corruption at the highest level and which consequently have been driving our economy deeper into a welfare state. Extending the reach of food stamp programs is not the answer to our problems.
One new model which is growing in popularity is time banking and it is based on the principle that every person is an asset and has something of value to offer the community. It is also based on the belief that social networks of people are economically and socially more powerful then individuals acting alone and only for their own benefit.
Time banking at its core is about spending an hour time doing something you know and enjoy for somebody in your community and then, having someone else spend an hour of time doing something for you. Sounds ridiculously simple, yet through the power of online technology the system is both elegant and equitable. Lets take a closer look at how this works.
Time Measured In Units of Exchange
Everyone has different skills, talents and passions, whether its caring for pets, playing music, growing food or repairing cars. The work and services you perform are broken into units of exchangeable time. Typically these are one hour units which then get deposited into your time bank account which you can then spend on what someone else makes or does for you. Thanks to online technology, your local time bank website lists what associated community member offers in services and product creation and then these services and products, and the hours they represent, get tracked, categorized, credited, and deducted online.
Time banking can be as simple as a farmer offering his corn as units of time, to services like house-cleaning, legal advice, landscaping, caring for an elderly parent. The types of services people exchange depends entirely on what services people offer and what their local community needs.
Here is a simple example of how it works. Someone in your community needs three hours of assistance repairing a leaky roof. The person requesting the service goes on line and posts the request. A person within the community offering this type of labor skill responds from the lists of services in the community bank website and completes the service thereby earning a credit of three hours of time which then goes to their account which they can use for services or products they may want. The system removes the middle-man – specifically the bank the local equation.
Time Bank Models Both Diverse And Expanding
Currently, there are nearly three hundred time exchange systems nationwide (and many more internationally) and as the economy worsens, their numbers are growing exponentially. Time bank communities range from a few dozen people to several thousand. Best of all, community time banks can link to one another allowing for a more comprehensive and varied selection of service and product offerings.
The types of time banking models varies in structure depending on the communities unique needs, skills and creative resources. At the source however is the collective power of its members who deposit and withdraw time hours (rather then dollars) from a central account which is managed online and made readily available to its members.
The goal is to empower communities to be self-sufficient, to create sustainable employment based on the needs and desires of the community. And yes, to eliminate the need for such programs as food stamps and social assistance programs which degrade and destroy self-esteem, individual empowerment and freedom of choice.