We admire your desire to co-create an Hour Exchange / Mutual Aid Network in your community! Each new exchange is a cause for celebration as we circumvent our scarcity based cash economy to participate in a community currency based on giving and receiving out of our abundance. We will help you, happily sharing all the steps, stories and models that are known to us.
Where to begin? Below are suggested first steps for organizing a new Time Bank / Mutual Aid Network.
We provide FREE access to Time and Talents, the software that supports hOurworld®. There are no annual fees or hidden charges, period. Think Facebook. Your account is your community and your friends are your members. Check out the software demos with the links above. If you have questions about Time and Talents, please contact Stephen(at)hourworld.org. We'll provide ongoing support for your new community!
As you begin get ten to twelve committed people together to talk about growing your exchange. Be thoughtful about the skills of your group. The magic recipe includes: happy networkers, someone who loves computers, people who like to do events and fundraisers, someone with social service or nonprofit experience, a bookkeeper, someone with good marketing ideas, maybe someone who likes to write grants, and a couple of folks who are very personable on the phone.
Put on the coffee or pull out the wine and dedicate a few hours to Dreaming and Visioning how your Exchange would stimulate the sharing of ideas, cultivate friendships and respond to your community's needs. What is the greatest concern in your community now? Is it unemployment? Transportation? Medical care? Food security? What population comes immediately to mind for membership? Would that be elders? Young families? Everyone? It's what works best for your neighbors. Why not ask them?
Eventually you will want to find a site to donate (accountants call this "in-kind") an office and meeting space, a phone and computer. Having a workplace gives you a foundation from which to build your network. It can be a place of worship, a social service agency, an empty storefront, or the back of a business. It's important to be conscious in this decision. Be sure wherever you land represents inclusivity, somewhere welcoming, without bias, and given willingly because the donor believes in this good work. Where you are meeting is a statement of the values of your program.
Now or later: Many exchanges ask their members for a small annual donation like $25. The software supports multiple customizable membership levels and annual billing and collection of hours and or dollars for same. This accomplishes two things:
This movement is about complementary currencies. We believe that real wealth is found in the currency of community. While the cash economy has its role, it will never replace the power that members of a community have when they join their voices and spirits together to solve our common problems.
We look forward to continuing a dialogue with you, supporting your good work and helping your world connect to hOurworld®.
The hOurworld® team.