“History of the International TimeBank Movement”
by Kerry Martin, TimeBank member
The ArchCare TimeBank is part of a growing international time banking movement. The core values and concept of time banking—communities of people exchanging skills and talents to fulfill each other's needs—have been replicated by hundreds of time banks across the U.S. and thousands across the world.
In modern US history, exchanges of “time dollars” date back to the 1980s, when time banking began to emerge as a means of encouraging community self-sufficiency. It was promoted as an answer to the urgent social questions of modern times: How can we muster our own human wealth in the face of shrinking resources? How can we leverage our greatest resource—people—to serve one another?
A grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded several pilot time banks across the US starting in 1987. Elderplan’s Member-to-Member Program was New York City’s pilot time bank, started by Mashi Blech, who ran it for almost 20 years. She then launched the VNSNY Community Connections TimeBank in 2007, which was acquired by ArchCare in 2014 and became the ArchCare TimeBank.
“In all time banks, all work is worth the same, and one hour always equals one hour.”
By the early 1990s, many communities wanted to start time banks of their own. In 1995, Edgar Cahn, a civil rights lawyer who popularized the idea of time banking in the US, founded TimeBanksUSA in order to promote the nation's time banks with mutual support, education, and software. Another organization, hOurworld, was also founded to offer time bank software and training.
Japan was one of the first countries to embrace the time banking model, leveraging it to care for its aging population. Later, time banking took the UK by storm, and there are now hundreds of time banks across England, Scotland, and Wales, many of which receive funding from the government and support from an umbrella organization, TimeBanking UK. Now, time banks can be found in over 40 different countries, including Israel, Spain, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and many more. They have been used as a tool to address issues as diverse as healthcare access, juvenile justice, substance abuse recovery, hospice care, and women’s rights.
Time banks have a variety of governance and sponsorship structures. Many are entirely grassroots and member-led. Others are sponsored by large organizations or government agencies. Still others are national efforts at large-scale community integration and co-production. But they all share something in common: in all time banks, all work is worth the same, and one hour always equals one hour. The ArchCare TimeBank is among the world's largest.
To find out more about the TimeBank and how you can become an individual or organizational TimeBank member, call 1-844-880-4480 or email email@example.com.