Working For the Man: A New Way to Build Community Economy

Stephanie Rearick is founder and project coordinator of Mutual Aid Networks. She is also founding co-director of the Dane County [Wisconsin] TimeBank, and former co-chair and former interim co-director of TimeBanks USA.
 

Allied Coop leaders on a field trip to New Orleans, learning about “social aid and pleasure clubs,” the historic African-American mutual aid (and festivity) tradition. Photo: Spence Zalkind.

A timebank is a system of mutual credit, where a member provides a service to someone else in the timebank and gets credit, which they can redeem for that same amount of time to get something they need from another person in the network. Timebanks capture our imaginations and allow us to replace some of our financial pressures with community supports. Engaging in timebanking lets us enhance our social ties, stretch our budgets in this money-based economy, and free up our time. Timebanking works beautifully for growing informal community economies, where people used to meet their basic needs before they were swallowed up by the monetary economy.

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Most Post-Disaster Funding is a Disaster: How To Do It Right.

Women Awareness Centre Nepal, shown here in happier days before the earthquake, is now active in community-led disaster responses. Courtesy of International Development Exchange.

A recent report from Pro Publica reveals that the American Red Cross raised half a billion dollars for Haiti after the earthquake of 2010 and built just six homes there. Similar stories are likely to emerge from Nepal following the devastating earthquake and aftershocks in April and May of this year. The road to post-disaster recovery is paved with mismanaged funds and botched projects. Many large international agencies, often lacking local connections, have a dismal track record.

There is a pressing need to directly support communities following a catastrophe. There is also a widespread, compassionate desire to give. The question is, how do we avoid the six homes scenario?

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