Time Banking, also known as a Service Exchange, is a reciprocal service exchange in which TIME is considered the currency. The unit of currency is valued at an hour's worth of any person's labor, and is often referred to as Time Dollars.
Time Banking is most valuable for its re-valuing of services that are often devalued in a money market system, things such as child- or elder-care, mentoring, housekeeping, or light clerical duties. Time spent providing services such as these, but certainly not limited to these, earns the person providing the service Time Dollars which can be spent on other services. The beauty and value of Time Banking is that it can increase interaction between neighbors and community members who might otherwise not have engaged with each other. The core values of Time Banking are:
Each network works out their own system, making it unique and beneficial for all within the system, but some basic principles include:
Gawa is a KiSwahili term. Gawa meaning “to share” and Kazi means “work.” GawaKazi is a unique community value-exchange enterprise which honors the unique gifts, talents and resources of all members of the community and
provides the opportunity to share those gifts, talents and resources. It allows individuals and the community to place
value on their skills, abilities and human resources, as well as provides an opportunity for intergenerational sharing. The sharing can include things such as tutoring, yard work, simple repairs, running errands, and storytelling. However, it is only limited by the human resources available within the community. GawaKazi is based on values that are in synch with the values inherent in indigenous communal societies, from Africa to Native American and throughout the world.
As part of orienting the community to this system of exchange, these values can be expressed and demonstrated.
This requires that individuals from the community be willing to offer something to each other – their neighbors, members of their faith communities, the elders, etc. Thus, one of the orientation activities might include having community members identify personal gifts and/or experience and to begin the process of making the commitments.