Linda Hogan, Social Architect
hOurWorld of Portland, ME
Hello. Congratulations to all the current and future members of the Monadnock Time Exchange for choosing community currency as a way of living and sharing your values.
For some of us, this practice arrived as a surprise option. For others it is a reclamation of a forgotten way. For one it might be a militant expression of a political statement while for another it is a quiet reflection of a simple choice to do something differently. The range of reasons people participate is long—full blown anarchist to practical idealist.
And that’s why it works so well. It fits everyone, everywhere, who wants to use Time as Currency based on the eloquent belief of Equality and Reciprocity for All.
MTX has established itself as a local, member driven organization, but it is also part of an evolving international movement that is continually morphing to satisfy human wants and needs. It’s not your Mama’s Time Bank anymore…..it’s yours.
MTX members can exchange with people locally or anywhere the software tool, Time & Talents, connects them. That campus is continually expanding, making the whole world smaller. Now you can ask someone to help plant your backyard garden, or you can be part of helping someone in another country with advice about how to plant theirs. How cool is that? We’re only limited by our imagination, which is why exchanging services for time will never go “bankrupt”.
So here you are, having become practiced members in the Keene area. Keep it up! Every hour generates a benefit for you and another. Best yet, they radiate beyond that one exchange, touching your neighbors in a myriad of ways. This is the foundation of time exchanges—neighbor to neighbor.Are you ready to explore another layer of the movement?
If so, here are some cool ideas to consider. They are offered to help tease out your dormant or budding social innovations. Ideas may already exist and have been stalled by old economy thinking. Here’s the chance to dissolve the barrier belief that one needs cash investors to create social innovations. The money economy is constrained by a structure with hard rules. How about inviting Community Currency Investors to build your dream? Community Currency is abundant and right here, right now, waiting to be asked to the dance.
Here are some examples of Time Exchange Communities who are doing group projects that purposefully raise community currency and bits of cash to support their exchanges. Each one has the potential to grow into a business model or a community cooperative, if the groups are interested and willing to stretch more.
In service exchanges around the US, members hold “Repair Cafes” incorporating a blend of currencies. Bike Repairs, Small Appliance Repairs, Basic Computer Repairs (often instruction for newbees), Clothing Repairs… all of these have been successful gatherings. Members earn hours doing repairs (example: bikes). Other members spend hours receiving the service. For some places, it’s 100% time exchanging. For others, food sales and raffle tickets are included, with proceeds benefiting the Exchange. In both California and Alaska, members rode stationary bikes that blended drinks (non-alcoholic juices or alcoholic margaritas). Exercise while earning hours that are donated to the Exchange—fabulous! Drink fees went to the Time Exchange. What if any one of these events became a for-profit arm of the Time Exchange? It doesn’t have to run 52 weeks a year. It would be locally owned and managed, attracting givers and receivers. Hmnnnnn….
In Portland, ME, members hold an annual Bizarre Bazaar. Re-gifted goods and newly made crafts are sold, for Hours, at a festive, day long event. Members provide setup/cleanup, music or entertainment to earn hours. Still other members sell soup and treats (for cash) that is donated to the Exchange. It’s held during the winter season, when holiday shopping is high. Kids can use their Hours to purchase gifts— so can everyone else. It’s a day when the Economies reverse: Community Currency to “buy and sell” is the primary source, while cash for food and drinks is the alternative/supporting currency. Portland Members have been doing this for over 10 years. It became THE annual event for the Exchange. Crafts of all kinds are popular . What if the Exchange opened a crafts store, with members earning hours to support the business and cash revenue went back to the Exchange? Hmnnnnn…
Health Care is one of the top services for Exchanges all over the world. This includes traditional medical appointments, as well as other healers, companions, chicken soup makers and listeners during times of loss or stress. Some exchanges have received grant revenue paid by hospitals to support transportation to and from medical appointments. If patient post-op care is received, medical costs are lowered, resulting in cost savings for all of us. This is equally true for wellness/prevention visits, and for reducing the highest costs– emergency room visits. If alliances with hospitals and medical clinics/groups are forged, members could pay Hours for transportation, and the Exchange could receive funding for coordinators to schedule the rides. Then dream a bit more wildly. What if it extended beyond transportation to include social services for “mental health” (caregivers). What if a tapestry were created by weaving a portion of funds from established organizations such as the United Way, state or federal services, private foundations and hospitals to gap fill transportation and family support needs? Hours would pay for the services: money would pay gas and coordinators. Costs down, community currency up. This arrangement has been going strong in Allentown, VA for over 17 years. Would it work for the Monadnock Region?
In Saverna Park, Maryland, elders work in a non-profit Boutique (picture a thrift shop), earning hours for themselves and their social capital fund in service to their elder neighbors. Goods ranging from jewelry, clothing, furniture, household goods, art, etc. are donated as tax deductible gifts to the amazing parent organization, Partners In Care (PIC). Anyone can donate, just like Goodwill. Those goods are tidied up, priced and sold by Time Exchange Members. The sales revenue is given to the parent agency, which then provides a beautiful range of services including home repairs, meals, transportation and social outings to its community. This social innovation flows in all directions, giving elders a place to belong during the day, and helping each retain independence as they stay in their homes or communities. This social enterprise is 20 years old, and provides 35% of the annual operating budget for PIC. Amazing! Could it happen here?
A cool new trend is the creation of Community Cooperatives. Cooperatives are tax-paying businesses that are worker owned and managed. Community Co-ops utilize Service Exchanges to support businesses. They marry cash and time currencies. hOurworld has piloted two successful models itself, helped several others launch, and is midwifing the births of still more in the US and abroad. We provide stories, training and TnT: we receive tremendous satisfaction from witnessing creative economies blossom.
These examples were piloted and paused, but have been or are being explored elsewhere with varied degrees of creativity and success:
Portland, Maine: Hour Weatherization Cooperative. This business provided home weatherization services and job training for 3 cold winters in Maine. The co-op provided a qualified, licensed energy auditor and energy technician to oversee home audits and improvements. The Hour Exchange provided members who learned safety and home energy repair skills, and then provided Step One (basic) home energy improvement services. Members were called “Green Teamers” and they earned Hours for their work. Three received grant funding to pay for state classes and examinations to become certified energy technicians. Two went on to full time employment in the field. A portion of the proceeds from the more professional, full scale weatherization work was paid by cash fees, donated to the Exchange.
Lake County, California: The Cooperative Farm Network was born to help farmers plant, tend and harvest their crops using Time Exchange Members to help with the labor. Members earned Hours paid by the Farmers, allowing additional rows of food to be planted. The Farmer’s revenue rose from higher yields without having to pay cash wages for the help. This afforded the farmers the opportunity to “give back” by donating some foods to the local food bank, the local food cooperative and the service exchange. Members learned farming skills, could buy food for Hours and some were eventually hired as Farm Hands. This social enterprise is easily replicable. How about Keene?
There are many variations on these themes of food security, health care, energy assistance, aging in place and family support networks. Most, to our knowledge, are not formalized in the conventional way. They are, however, birthing wildly in the US and internationally. For some, the challenge has been how to structure such alliances—legally, with paid administration, insurance, all those business-y things. For others, it is a happening that hasn’t been titled or governed by typical structures. It is becoming, and can be copied.
Here’s the tease. What does Keene need that Time Exchange Members could co-create using community currency—ideas, tools & equipment from your garages, a good listen, food during brainstorming meetings, a ride for someone to attend a meeting or event, whatever is needed. Might Greater Keene benefit through cooperation for business startups or expansions? For health caring/wellness programs? For family support or child adventures? What might be FUN to do, with others, that earns time for you and returns a bit of the money stuff back to the MTX to support its future operations?
hOurworld would love to hear your ideas, your stories, your Good Works. Money is an invention that separates one from another. It is dependent upon scarcity. Love Currency is a Remembering that we are One People, One Planet. It is interdependent with abundance.
Keep the Stories Coming…
In Peace & Gratitude,