We found ourselves at Te Hiko asking the question:
How can we support alternative economic systems based on skills and connection in Eastern Porirua?
We saw Timebanks as a potential response to this pātai/question.
Timebanks rely on concepts such as:
· Equal value of labour
· Empowerment and dignity
The Timebank runs on the idea that members can trade skills and swap labour using time as a currency, rather than money. For example, if you work one hour mowing someone’s lawn, you can then bank this hour and use it to receive a different service from someone else in the Timebank.
We think all types of work contribute to the wellbeing of a community
In a Timebank, all types of labour are valued equally by the amount of time that is contributed; it doesn’t matter if you're a doctor or you are really good at dealing with kids, these skills are equally as important to us. This is why we think that ideas like the Timebank can unlock something special. All kinds of work and skill are valuable in upholding a community that thrives and works together.
This is a much different way of understanding work than in traditional economic models. In these systems, work is valued and ranked differently, meaning that for some of us it is easy to feel invisible and discouraged with work.
Timebanking is one way that we can show the dignity and necessity of a variety of work in a community. Through Timebanks we can feel more connected to the impacts and value of our work. It's really rewarding being able to physically see the differences we are making in someone’s life through our work, rather than feeling like someone else far away is reaping the benefits.
How can we create a more inclusive economy?
Timebanks are useful tools for thinking about how we can push past thinking about money and tap into the values which make up our community in Porirua East – like generosity and reciprocity. Everyone in a community has both something to offer and something they need in their lives. The Timebank addresses both of these in a way that supports people to share their personal set of skills and knowledge.
We think that interdependence helps a community thrive – knowing that we can lean on those around us is a key way to build trust and connection in our community. Being part of a Timebank means thinking about yourself as part of a group, rather than an individual member of a community. Growing connections and relationships in your community is one of the big draws of a Timebank. The Timebank is a great way to meet new people in the community and build fulfilling and unexpected relationships which are based on reciprocation and care.
What is the bigger picture?
Rather than simply being a project, we see the Timebank as being about building local social infrastructure for the community. We see the Timebank as an alternative to the way we currently structure our economy. We want to see it grow into a structure which can support and sustain a busy community. Something that people can rely on and turn to regularly and is built into our everyday lives.
How our time bank is working currently - what are we learning and what are we getting wrong?
The community in Porirua East is full of skilled, creative, resourceful people who are eager to help their friends and neighbours, but we have been struggling with our Porirua Timebank. We’ve noticed a disconnect in the ways that the Timebank has been received in our community, and it doesn’t seem to have been picked up in the same way as other places. Our Timebank has been around for years, and we have a good group of members who are all people generous with their time and skills. But it has been slow progress for us trying to increase Timebank trades and get the concept to take root.
We brought our Timebank into projects where people are already contributing their time, which is where most hours are being logged. We haven’t seen many hours being logged outside of these projects for personal needs, which is how other time banks typically operate.
We’ve noticed that the community in Porirua East are more than willing to give up their time to help their community, but less willing to ask for help from others.
We still think that a Timebank is a really useful tool for thinking about alternative economies and local infrastructure. Our experience with the Timebank has reinforced our hunch that not every idea can be picked up and placed down in any community. We need to do some more work to tailor it to how our community works; what it needs, how we interact, our shared values. We are still trying to figure out how to tailor the Timebank to Porirua East for the people who are in this community.
We will keep reaching out to the community to increase both the depth and the breadth of our Timebank. This means involving more people in the community and broadening the scope for the needs and skills that people bring to the Timebank. We are also going to work on getting creative about how we link Timebank more closely into our other mahi, like the Porirua Wealth Pool, and Fruit and Vege Co-op.
In the Te Hiko whānau: How is this contributing to growing better economic systems and adding value in our communities?
We believe that money isn't the only way to measure value
We believe that time is a valuable resource which should be noticed and measured.
Everyone in a community has both something to offer and something they need in their lives - an economy is stronger when it is more inclusive of all of these things.
We also believe that interdependence helps an economy and community thrive, the time bank technology can help with interdependence, trust, and connection.