Re: Local Currency
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 07:41:12 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 7, 2005, at 9:32 AM, Hyghroad [at] wrote:

1) Have you had any experience incorporating a local currency into your
community and how?

Our community does not use a local currency and the subject is met with two objections:

1. People don't want to "count". They want a free flow of sharing.
2. It's too much work to count. It can't be done.

2) In place of a local currency, has your co-housing community created and
used its own currency and if so, how did you use it.

I have done some study of TimeBanking (formerly TimeDollars) and participate in TimeBucks. TimeBanking encourages local groups to share time, hour for hour, and has a system of producing hours for the community so "the community" can "pay" people to work. For example, if one person teaches a class to knit, he would receive 2 hours time teaching and each member would pay 2 hours for time taught. The extra hours paid would go to the community. This way the community can "pay" for time needed to mop floors, etc. They sell a software for tracking hours but it is expensive and a simple database can be designed to do the same thing --as well as a paper system.

TimeBucks is a private venture that runs a similar system nationally and hopes to become self-supporting. They grew out of a local system and have a very good website for recording and paying hours. This is a huge help. I"m sure they would work with a local group in developing strategies for incorporating a community time-sharing system into the larger system. Use of the site is free. I suspect when it is fully developed, there will be a low yearly membership cost.

The important points are that the system (1) has to be large enough to have skills that everyone wants to give and receive, and (2) if you stick to hour for hour time exchanges, you avoid the IRS. Local currencies that can be used to buy goods, are in a whole different category.

Using TimeBucks I am currently doing career coaching with an artist in California (I'm in DC) and have a second signing on who lives in the Idaho outback. I plan to use my accumulated hours to "hire" a web designer who can be located anywhere.

This can be a very powerful way for a community to balance the needs of members who like doing the community floor sweeping and kitchen organizing and other members who don't.

Sharon Villines
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