A new form of banking will begin in Cork city shortly — but instead of depositing money, members will
deposit time and expertise.
Residents in Cork are setting up a ‘Time Bank’ where members are rewarded for helping their neighbours by earning Time Dollars which they can then exchange for other services.
The services do not need to be a direct exchange. In other words, if you are a plumber and you fix a drain for a mechanic and you don’t need work done on your car but want guitar lessons instead, you can bank the credit you earned and use it to get a guitar lesson from a member who offers that service. Members can look up an online database or printed directory to see what services are on offer.
John Eder, from the US State of Maine, who is studying community development at Cork Institute of Technology is hoping to get the Cork Time Bank up and running.
He said that central to the philosophy of Time Banking was that all services offered by members were valued equally, hour for hour.
“The market system has no use for building a strong community and our looking out for each other, so our basic humanity is getting lost,” he said.
“With Time Banking, everyone is included; the elderly, the so-called ‘unskilled’ and the disabled.”
The Time Banking concept began in the US in the 1980s and rose to popularity in the early 1990s with heavy private foundation support.
There are approximately 250 Time Banks in the UK and 53 officially recognised in the US.
Earlier this year, the community of Clonakilty launched Clonfavour, using the Time Bank concept.
With rising unemployment, uncertainty and cuts to community development programmes looming, Mr Eder said he felt that community-minded residents of Cork would be keen to form a Time Bank.
“The Time Banking movement can be a viable and attractive alternative currency when people can’t afford services. It’s not just a feelgood or academic exercise in times like these,” he said.
A Facebook page for Cork Time Bank (https://www.facebook.com/groups/corktimebank/) has been set up and currently has more than 130 members. Mr Eder will give an hour-long presentation on the history and philosophy of Time Banking, as well as the next steps needed to organise a Time Bank for Cork, at Solidarity Books on Douglas Street tomorrowSaturday at 10am, as part of the Cork DIY Festival.