EquiKnox Talk: 'TimeBanking' Aids Economy, Environment

May 05, 2011

By Paige Anderson ‘14

"How is the economy working out for you?" speaker Stephanie Rearick asked the audience at Knox College's spring EquiKnox Lecture. If the answer is "not too good," she said, TimeBanking could help make things better.

Most people think of currency only in terms of dollars and cents, but TimeBanking asks people to think of time as a form of currency, explained Rearick, who directs the Dane County TimeBank in Madison, Wisconsin.

Through TimeBanking, people join a network and agree to exchange time for services. For example, a participant might donate two hours of time caring for a woman's children. In return, that participant can find someone else in the network to provide two hours' worth of services, such as mowing the lawn, plumbing, or sewing.

According to the philosophy of TimeBanking, everyone's time is equally valuable, and everyone has a skill to contribute, Rearick said in her April 13 lecture, "TimeBanking: Valuing Human Wealth, Creating a World of Sustainable Abundance."Knox Professor Richard Stout talks with Rearick

The Knox College EquiKnox lectures, scheduled twice a year near the spring and fall equinoxes, are sponsored by the President's Task Force on Sustainability to help Knox students explore new ways to be green.

The spring 2011 event was co-sponsored by the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association (GREDA) which is currently looking into creating a Galesburg TimeBank.

Tim Kasser, a Knox psychology professor and member of the President's Task Force on Sustainability, said that TimeBanking is important because people are often "locked into a typical way of exchanging goods and services," i.e., exchanging money for goods and services. TimeBanking, he said, is "an alternative vision of the way economics could work."

Rearick said that TimeBanking helps communities, not just individuals. It can revitalize neighborhoods, make democracy work, advance social justice, and make the planet sustainable.

For example, Rearick said, participants in the Dane County TimeBank get credit for TimeBank hours whenever they work in an area health clinic or in neighborhood gardens. They also can spend an hour helping the environment by participating in a program where they learn easy ways to reduce their energy use -- and their energy bills.

Previous speakers at the EquiKnox Lecture have included conservative environmentalist Dan Dagget, author Sandra Steingraber, and Holter Graham, host of the Planet Green show "Wa$ted!"

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Photos by Hongyu "Sophie" Zhou"