Friday, September 10, 2010

Healthy Money Diary 2: stepping into the breach

As the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquake unfolds, it's amazing to see how having a solid community currency system already in place is helping some people cope, and get the help they need rapidly.

Canterbury's Lyttelton has a particular type of community currency system called a Time Bank - where hours of your time are the currency, rather than any form of 'dollar'.

Through a Time Bank, members generally trade services rather than goods, and everyone's services and skills are valued equally. Spending an hour on someone else buys you an hour of any other person's time.

The Lyttelton Time Bank has a fantastic website here - and this the media release they have just put out about their role in the earthquake relief efforts:

From Project Lyttelton (9 September):

Lyttelton has something to share with New Zealand.

No, we don’t wish a 7.1 earthquake on to the rest of New Zealand, nor an ongoing swarm of nerve stretching aftermath earthquakes.

We can share some of the stories that are unfolding. And the most telling story is about ‘the how’ we are dealing with the situation.

Lyttelton has a Time Bank. Time Banks facilitate the sharing of skills within a community. Every task undertaken is measured not by a dollar value but by the time it takes to do the job. Everyone’s time is equal. Everyone is valued.

With no real Civil Defence presence in Lyttelton, the local volunteer fire brigade and the Health Centre turned to the Time Bank.

Quickly and efficiently all Time Bank members (10% of the local population) were notified, tasks identified, teams organized.

A central drop in point at the Information Centre was established. People could check in and have a chat over a cuppa. Ease the tension of waiting for the unknown.

And the good thing, once the dust has settled and life returns to a more normal pattern, the camaraderie, the sense of connection, the care and love for one another within the community won’t disappear. This will remain even when the immediate needs created by the earthquake subside. The Time Bank will continue to function, to build on these human connections, to continue to create an alive, vibrant community.

What community wouldn’t want one!

3 comments:

Ruby Star said...

A great way indeed. My dad used to live so far out of town that this is how his little community worked too. He's an electrician so he would work in return for fresh produce and eggs etc. Such a great way to live. There should be more of it for sure. It's amazing (and awesome)how a disaster can really bring people together.

wildcrafty said...

That's very inspiring, thanks for the good news Johanna.

Isa Ritchie said...

I met a woman the other day named Emma who plans to do her PhD in anthropology on time banking at Otago uni. Very interesting!!!

It's similar, in a way, to what I want to do my PhD on (free food :))