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Community members start local alternative currency

by Sean O. Morgan

State College, Pa–Dec. 4, 2012–Charlie Kain needs a bicycle repair. Sean Morgan wants to share his love of photography.  In the conventional economy each one of them would find a way to charge for services rendered or pay for services received.

Charlie Kain and Sean Morgan of State College have created another option for exchanging services. They have spearheaded an alternative monetary system for the Centre county region.

Spring Creek Homesteading, a local education organization, has donated the funds for the first year of the time bank.  New Leaf Initiative, a local incubator, facilitated the planning process.

Time banking is a pattern of reciprocal service exchange that uses units of time as currency. It is an example of an alternative monetary system. A time bank, also known as a service exchange, is a community that practices time banking. Time banking is primarily used to provide incentives and rewards for work such as mentoring children, caring for the elderly, being neighborly—work usually done on a volunteer basis.

Essentially, the “time” a participant spends providing these types of community services earns “time” that can be spent to receive services. As well as gaining credits, participant can potentially gain confidence, social contact and skills through giving to others.

 Time Banking is on an upward trend.Today, 26 countries have active Time Banks. There are 250 Time Banks active in the U.K.and 53 officially recognized Time Banks in the U.S.   

Recently Penn State Professor Dr. Jack Carroll was awarded nearly $1 million by the National Science Foundation to create a mobile phone application for time banking.  He has stated he looks forward to working with Happy Valley Time Bank as they grow.

Members of the timebank create profiles as part of a social network.  Then they post offers and requests in categories such as: transportation, help at home, community activities, wellness, recreation, education, arts and crafts, and business services.  

Members that are interested in an offer or request are able to make contact through a private message and the website keeps track of hours given and received.  New members have been getting used to the idea of offering their normally unrecognized talents.

“For those that are having trouble coming up with what to offer or ask for, a sample list of skills is available on the website,” said Kain.

“With all of the negative economic news, it’s nice to be a part of an effort to increase the resources of everyone equally as well as promote community self sufficiency,” said Morgan

Membership is being offered for free for the first year and potential members can sign up at http://www.HappyValley.Timebanks.Org

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