A new bank in Sarasota believes it is time that your time will provide change.
It’s called the Manasota Time Bank, which is a branch of the Common Wealth Time Bank. At this bank, you deposit your time, giving credence to the cliché “time is money.”
“Time banking is a way to economize the ‘pay-it-forward’ principle, while also ensuring that every member of the community feels valued and a part of something greater than himself,” says Manasota Time Bank Co-Director Steven McAllister.
The local project is spearheaded by Transition Sarasota, which dedicates itself to using community resources to encourage self-reliance amid economic and climate crises. A new member orientation for the bank will be held tonight from 5:30 to 7 p.m. inside second floor conference room. The bank plans to launch on Labor Day.
Sarasota County’s unemployment rate has consistently remained above the national average since September 2007. As of May, 8.6 percent of Sarasota County residents remained unemployed, and far more are making less than a living wage as the summer economy lurches on. It is no surprise then that many residents have begun looking for viable alternatives to help ease the pressures of this unprecedented economic hardship.
Although time banking is a global phenomenon, for many it is still an unfamiliar concept. It was created in 1980 by Dr. Edgar Cahn, former speechwriter for Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and essentially is a re-organization of the barter system.
Registered members of the Time Bank offer services needed in their community and are able to accrue Time Dollars for their services that can then be exchanged through the Time Bank for the services of another registered member.
“Our primary goal is to cultivate a happier and healthier local community and economy for all … and rekindle a real love for and pride in our community that is too often lacking,” says Don Hall, the executive director of Transition Sarasota and primary coordinator of the Manasota Time Bank.
Regardless of what service the Time Bank member is offering, the value of the job is determined by how long he or she spends working on it. This is meant to encourage community participation and transcend boundaries of race, class, and gender.
“As we have worked toward a greater sense of equality in both gender and race since the sixties, these days we are also realizing a great disparity between rich and poor,” McAllister says. “I think that time-banking allows for the cultivation of a currency outside of the influence of the paradigm which makes that type of inequality possible. In a time bank, every single member has 24 hours in each day, and no single member´s time is any more or less valuable than anyone else's. We are all equal.”
However, Time Bank officials are quick to denounce the idea of entirely replacing the monetary system with time banking.
“At this point in time, time-banking is a viable alternative… It opens up the doors for us to realize that there are other ways of developing economic value outside of the monetary system,” McAllister says. “The monetary system still serves a purpose, but as we realize its limitation in providing us with what we really want and need, we must direct our energies toward currencies that will.”
Instead, the time banking should be embrace as a part of the currency system instead of thinking that your American dollar is the only way to pay for something.
“This idea that we only need one currency that will do it all is the same kind of monoculture mentality that has gotten us into such trouble with conventional agriculture,” Hall says. “Perhaps what we need is a polyculture of currencies.”
To learn more about the launch of the Manasota Time Bank, check out the The Economics of Happiness Summit at Studios, 525 Kumquat Court on Labor Day, Sept. 3.
The event will be open to the public and you can find more information about the event and time banking online at: http://manasota.timebanks.org/
“At a time like this, with so much changing in the world around us, community is the greatest investment you can make,” McAllister says.