The philosophy of Time Banking was first established by Dr. Edgar Cahn during the 1970’s. Dr. Edgar Khan is a professor of law and is considered the founder of Time Banking and Time Bank USA. He believed that one of the major failings of many social service organizations was their unwillingness to enroll the help of those who they were trying to assist. He later wrote that Americans face at least three interdependent problems within society:
Growing inequality: People living in areas of low income have difficulty fulfilling their basic needs. Many struggle to put food of the table for their families and perform basic necessities due to health problems, low income, etc.
Increasing Social Problems: Families are stressed when it becomes difficult to have their basic needs met. As a result, communities and families may become disconnected from society and less self-efficient. Many people who need help are unable to reach out, and many who want to help don’t know who needs services.
Growing Disillusion with public Programs: Dr. Edgar Cahn believed that public programs designed to address social problems are usually disconnected and disorganized and fail to rebuild genuine community. They must be implemented into society properly or else they become a part of the problem with a struggling community.
This lead to the formation of time banks which set out the goal of helping individuals and communities become more self-sufficient and unified. Dr. Edgar Cahn believed many social programs used a “deficit” approach rather than an “asset” based approach when attempting to build community. Organizations tried helping people in terms of their needs rather than focusing on the contributions they could make to their community. Everyone in the community, young and old, have skills and services which benefit and contribute to an interconnected community. Therefore, communities use time banking as a tool to build relationships. This process is known as “building social capital”.
The idea of time banking may seem new, but this philosophy of exchanging goods and services has been around for hundreds of years. Many of us help others everyday by offering a ride, tutoring, and taking out the trash. We offer help and assistance everyday but because we don’t put a monetary value (money) onto these actions, they go unnoticed. Since the term Time Bank was coined in the 1970’s there are over 276 TimeBanks in the United States alone and are established in over 40 countries.
To learn more about Time Banking directly from Dr. Edgar Cahn you can view the interview below.