History of TimeBanking

The roots of TimeBanking extend back to the creation of TimeBank hours™ in 1980 when Dr. Edgar S. Cahn, co-founder of the National Legal Services Program, author of “Our Brother’s Keeper,” and founder of the Antioch School of Law, suffered a massive heart attack. He was 46. Recuperating in the hospital and “feeling useless,” he dreamed up TimeBank hours as a new currency to provide a solution to massive cuts in government spending on social welfare. If there was not going to be enough of the old money to fix all the problems facing our country and our society, Edgar reasoned, why not make a new kind of money to pay people for what needs to be done? TimeBank hours value everyone’s contributions equally. One hour equals one service credit. Seven years later (in 1987) at the London School of Economics, Edgar developed his theoretical explanation for why the currency should work. He came back to the US and started putting service credits (not yet called TimeBank hours) into operation.

In the nineteen years since, the currency has traveled a journey of twists and turns. After initial enthusiasm by foundations, funding for TimeBank hour Exchanges dried up in the mid 1990’s, and a period of struggle to keep afloat followed. This struggle turned into a time to dig in and to determine what made TimeBank hours and TimeBanking unique tools for social change. In 1997, a TimeBank hour convention helped new and surviving groups identify “what works.” TimeBank hours became the backbone of a successful cross-age peer tutoring program in Chicago, a Maine TimeBanks Network, and a TimeBank hour Youth Court in Washington, D.C. TimeBanks USA became the hub of a small network of independent TimeBank Exchanges around the country.

The deepened understanding that evolved in the following years led to new ways of using and speaking about TimeBank hours and TimeBanking as a tool for social change. Perhaps the most important shift involved the development of the theory of Co-Production outlined in Edgar’s book, “No More Throw Away People” (published in 2000 and re-issued in 2004), which emerged as the overarching framework for TimeBank hours.

History of MI Alliance of TimeBanks

Click here to view the accomplishments the MI Alliance of TimeBanks made in 2010

Kim Hodge read about TimeBanking in the Detroit Free Press in September 2007 and realized it was a tool she could use to get to know her neighbors. She researched the concept, found TimeBanks USA, bought their Start Up Kit and took it to her neighborhood Homeowners Association’s annual meeting in January 2008. About 20 people said they were interested in learning more, so Kim hosted a potluck meeting at her home the next week, which was attended by 12 people. From there, sprang the Lathrup Village TimeBank, an organization that has since grown to over 115 members having exchanged over 3750 hours since its inception. See www.lathrupvillagetimebank.org for more info about the Lathrup Village organization, one of the first community TimeBanks in Michigan.

When the organization began receiving kudos and stories in local newspapers, residents from other communities wanted to join the Lathrup Village group, whose membership was open to only Lathrup Village residents. Lathrup Village TimeBank won the Michigan Municipal League’s 2009 Statewide Community Excellence Award (see http://www.mml.org/resources/awards/index.html) and interest spread as a way for communities to help residents during the currently economically challenging times. Lathrup Village TimeBank Coordinators Kim Hodge and Richard Reeves wanted to find a way to spread the concept of TimeBanking to those who were outside their neighborhood, so they founded the MI Alliance of TimeBanks, which was incorporated in May 2009. The Executive Board was built, and mission and vision statements were created as the organization began to spread its wings and the word about how the TimeBank concept could be used to deal with many of the challenges throughout the state.

MI Alliance of TimeBanks received its 501c3 status from the IRS in March 2010 and working with the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (www.copower.org) as their fiscal sponsor, received an initial grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (www.cfsem.org). Through that grant, MATB will be working to create 3 pilot TimeBanks in Southeast Michigan, create an interactive program called MI Alliance of TimeBanks Institute for 25 people to explore TimeBanking and work to build organizational capacity.