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.