Urban Fold

'Time Bank' Creates Community of Bartering

An online "time bank" has opened in Los Angeles, allowing members to barter services with each other.

"The concept is simple: Members create an online profile that includes a list of the work they'll do free, or "offers," along with a list of services, or "requests," they want in exchange. Dog walking, housesitting, guitar lessons, baby-sitting, help with Photoshop -- almost any intangible is allowed. Members don't exchange services directly with one another -- they trade with the bank. So the person who picked up apples and artichokes for you at the farmers market isn't waiting for you to return the favor."

"Every hour volunteered earns a time dollar, which can be cashed in for services offered by any other member of the time bank. Crabtree, for example, did some cat-sitting last month, and now she's hoping to spend her time dollars on cooking lessons, cello instruction or Volkswagen maintenance tips."

"At its core, time banking is about rekindling the kind of community spirit and thrift that existed before we got wrapped up in our iMacs and Motorolas, and paid for housekeepers and guitar lessons. But being cash-free and Web-based makes the ancient practice of bartering feel like the wave of the future. How appealing is it, in this economy, to not pay for a massage, haircut or accountant? Very."

Full Story: Time bank takes root in Echo Park

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