By guest blogger Nicole Willson, PDX Time Bank volunteer
Everyone has things they are good at and things they need help with - as well as things they don’t know how to do or don’t have time to do. That's what the PDX Time Bank is all about - allowing Portlanders to do the things they love in exchange for help doing the things they don’t know how to do, want to do, or have time to do.
How a time bank works
A time bank is a community of people who share services in exchange for a complementary currency called time dollars. Each time bank member earns time dollars by using their skills and talents to help a neighbor in their community.
For example, you could earn a time dollar for walking someone’s dog and then use that time dollar to get a haircut or have someone bake you a cake. This allows time bank members to do what they enjoy in exchange for what they need, including tasks they may not want or be able to perform.
The amount of time dollars you earn is proportionate to the amount of time you spend on a task and everyone’s time is equally valuable. Someone who provides legal services gets the same amount of time dollars as someone who does a different service, such as babysitting. Having a zero balance is the ultimate goal of a time bank, unlike with a conventional bank.
Since its revival in June 2014, the PDX Time Bank has grown to 125 members living in various parts of Portland. The skills offered by members include gardening, crafts and cooking. Time bankers are encouraged to give as well as receive since both create reciprocity and help build supportive networks within the community.
Time banking helps get things fixed
Time bank members can get items fixed, as well as provide volunteer hours to sustainability-related organizations like The City Repair Project and Repair PDX.
When time bank members have a broken item they don’t know how to fix, they can request help through the time bank. That’s what time bank member Amanda Perl did when she needed someone to repair a broken slat on her futon bed. When she contacted the store where she purchased the futon, all they could do is sell her an entirely new bed frame for $180 so they recommended she get it fixed instead.
After posting her request, Amanda heard back from a time banker who asked for details about what was needed, including the dimensions of the slats. This time banker bought $2.67 worth of supplies at The ReBuilding Center and checked out a drill from the Northeast Portland Tool Library. The time banker then went to Amanda’s house and worked with her to remove the broken slat, drill holes in the new board and put it into place. Shortly after this project, Amanda was able to earn back the time dollars she paid for the repair by giving tai chi lessons.