Residents of Cleveland Heights are launching an alternative service exchange system, called a Time Bank.
Time Banks place value on human support services that the current dominant economy de-emphasizes. Providing such services strengthens the community fabric.
Participants earn “time credits” or “hours” when they perform needed services for other participants. Credits or hours are electronically “banked” for spending on services from other participants. All time is valued equally.
John Clark, one of the Heights residents helping launch the local service exchange system, believes a Cleveland Heights Time Bank can contribute to meeting the needs of the city and its residents, affirming people’s existing skills and talents, helping rethink to create alternative monetary systems and, most importantly, supporting each other by building community. He first learned about Time Banks when visiting a sustainably oriented community in Missouri in 2010.
“Money is a tool for facilitating exchange,” Clark said. “Time Banks are another way for facilitating exchanges. My hope is that we can facilitate relationships and interdependence on one another. We rely on each other. Together, we can support one another.”
More than 300 Time Banks exist in 40 states across the country, with hundreds more in 34 other countries. A Cleveland Heights Time Bank would join similar systems in Kent, Cleveland and Akron in Northeast Ohio. Leah Davis, coordinator of the Akron Time Bank and staff member of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, spoke about the Akron program in Cleveland Heights earlier this year. That marked the start of the local effort.
The Cleveland Heights Time Bank is just beginning. Several preliminary meetings have been held. The system’s infrastructure has been established. The Heights branch now has access to the hOurworld software system, to log time credits and debits.
Clark believes the Time Bank can be useful to everyone in the area: “Even those who put in a lot of time in the dominant economic system still find time to help in building their community. A Time Bank is a way to keep track of and acknowledge the time we already give and to focus our time in ways that the community values as a whole. It gives a sense of gratitude. It symbolizes the service and time we give one another. It rewards everyone who contributes.”
There is no cost to join the Time Bank. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Coleridge is director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee and Cleveland Heights resident.