From an alternative holiday survival kit to a video about Plenitude Economics, the Center for a New American Dream has been at the forefront of presenting alternative models for how to think about our economy. Specifically, their focus is often on ways to promote community-based, informal economies that use fewer resources, create stronger social ties and help lift the entire community.
As part of their Get2Gether Challenge, the center put together this video on how to start a time bank. Essentially a neighborhood exchange program that allows people to connect and trade their skills, time banks work by providing a system through which neighbors perform tasks or services for each other—anything from DIY to accounting to gardening skills—and earn "hours" in the time bank (everyone's time is valued equally), which they can then trade with other neighbors for other skills.
Not only does it get neighbors talking and trading together, and therefore create tighter social bonds, but it also keeps people trading skills, goods and resources locally. Why pay for an organic tomato from California when you can have your neighbor teach you how to grow your own? The other plus side of time banks is that they can help low income people, or folks who may not be able to work full time, by providing a way to supplement their income and get out in society on their own terms, without the need for start-up capital or formal business knowhow.
It's a neat idea. And it's simple as heck. This is what the sharing economy should be about.