In 1995, Dr. Edgar S. Cahn started to experiment with a new way to link untapped social capacity to unmet social needs. He created a practice known as “time banking”--a mode of exchange that lets people swap time and skill instead of money. The concept is simple: In joining a time bank, people agree to take part in a system that involves earning and spending “time credits.” When they spend an hour on an activity that helps others, they receive one time credit. When they need help from others, they can use the time credits that they have accumulated.
The supporters of time banking want to show that a different kind of currently could exist alongside the dollar. Money should not have a monopoly on the definition of value. The money-based market system fails to reward many types of critical work--the work of raising healthy children, building strong families, caring for the elderly, revitalizing neighborhoods, preserving the environment, advancing social justice and sustaining democracy--and there should be a way to honor and reward that kind of work. In short, time banking provides a medium of exchange that advances goals that money does not and cannot advance. A world increasingly dominated by a fixation on money requires a complementary, local tax-exempt currency that will open opportunities to weave (or reweave) social connections. [Dr. Edgar S. Cahn and Dr. Christine Gray, Summer 2015]