A New Economy

Submitted by Rachel Elizabeth on April 28, 2013 - 3:19pm
Connecting 4 Community Cincinnati; Day 2

My learning continues in Cincinnati at the Connecting 4 Community gathering. Today, among the many other things discussed (which could each be their own blog post), Edgar Cahn, the grandfather of the "time banking" concept, shared about this idea, which has been his life's work. Essentially, he argues that our current economy measures value based on scarcity- things that are scarce are far more valuable. That means things that are in abundance (caring, listening, helping, etc.) have almost no value at all. He suggests an alternative currency where everyone's hour is equal. There are tools to use to measure this method.


He and his wife work together sharing the importance of time banking with folks all over the world. They shared a story of where time banking has been used and has had positive results. There is a homeless shelter in London called Holy Cross. Edgar and his wife met with them and they figured out a way to implement the time banking model at the shelter. They decided to involve the folks at the shelter- paying them equally for whatever their tasks might be. Some helped clean the facilities, others helped create a newsletter- there were many different tasks. They had weekly meetings to ensure all people were feeling respected, that there were clear boundaries, and that things were generally running smoothly. This system changed the culture of this shelter entirely. The guests felt useful- they had a purpose and enjoyed being able to contribute.

There are many issues and questions that arise immediately when considering time banking. In what ways does this interest you? What concerns/questions/hesitations do you see?

Leading into this chat, we had an opening exercise that was fun and powerful. We were asked to think of a skill we have that would not be on our resume. Then, we were asked to spend a few minutes going around to people we did not know in the room and introducing ourselves and sharing our skill with them. For instance, I went around and said, "My name is Rachel and I would love to cook Mexican food for you." There was such a variety: cooking, gardening, smiling and laughing, giving a massage, petting your dog.... these were among many of the things people wished to share. Someone remarked how everyone was so exicited as they shared with each other. We all have an abundance of wonderful gifts- we just need to find more opportunities to share them with one another.

Is there something, that isn't on your resume, that you would like to share with others?

For more information on time banking, watch this short video of Edgar describing it.