OPINION: Strengthen The Local Economy with Time Banking

by Dan Towle and Edisa Muller

Onion River Exchange, Central Vermont’s community timebank, is ready for the tumultuous times ahead.

What is a timebank? It’s a complementary currency in which the currency is time. It’s a currency that everyone possesses. Timebank members earn time-credit for the skills, services and talents they offer to others. They “bank” those hours and use them to get hundreds of other services provided by other timebank members. The larger the timebank, the more diverse and varied the services available.

A core purpose of the exchange is to strengthen the community’s resilience. Through the timebank, members can get services they could otherwise not afford such as house cleaning, garden work, delivery services and pet care. Members in turn give hours to the “bank” with their own special skills, talents and interests. This sharing community network contributes to conserving resources, saving money and building connections between people from diverse backgrounds.

Timebanking is based on principles that differ from the dominant money economy.

  • Everyone has assets and skills to share. 
  • Every hour of service is equal to every other hour. For example, an hour of reading aloud to someone is equal to an hour of website design.

Onion River Exchange is one of three timebanks in Vermont; others exist in Brattleboro and Bennington. Timebanks can be found throughout the U.S. and around the world. In his book, “Equal Time, Equal Value, Community Currencies and Timebanks in the US,” sociology professor Ed Collom wrote, “Timebanks appear to be growing and are arguably the most successful form of community currency in the U.S.”

The Onion River Exchange was founded in 2008. Since then, members have made over 14,000 exchanges and shared more than 43,000 service hours. The exchange currently has 440 members, living in over 45 towns across Central Vermont.

Members offer all types of services through the timebank, including computer help, passport photos, proof-reading, rides to the airport, reading aloud, and lessons in horseback-riding, cooking and wood-carving. Local organizations and small businesses are also welcome to join as participating members.

Linda Workman from Montpelier, has made 49 exchanges and received 21 exchanges since she joined in 2008.  She says “I have picked up someone’s compost, sold tickets at a garlic festival, helped someone with computer entries and typed up a grandmother’s memoir. I’ve received several cooking classes (one of my favorite things to do), gotten wall repair and painting, borrowed a truck to move a mattress, and had ceiling fans installed, plus too many other exchanges to detail.”

Onion River Exchange recently embarked on a three-year plan to increase public awareness and interest in timebanking, and to expand and diversify its membership. It recently reopened its Tool Library, carrying such items as a food-canning set,  a circular saw, a power washer, a soil tester and a weed wacker, all items members don’t need to buy.

People interested in learning more about Onion River Exchange can go to www.orexchange.org or email info@orexchange.org.

Onion River Exchange’s Mission is to promote the exchange of skills and talents, using time instead of money, to increase the sustainability and well-being of communities.

For further media enquiries, please contact the board presidents: Dan Towle dan.towle@icloud.com, 860-558-5341 or Edisa Muller, edisagrm@me.com.

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