The National Bureau of Economic Research recently made it official. We have been in a recession since December of last year. The longest recession since the Great Depression. Up and down we go: gas prices, Fannie, Freddie, stocks, your 401k, the auto industry. What if we could change the idea of “economy?” What if your ability to rake leaves for an hour could earn you a haircut?
Dr. Karen Werner is changing the economy of Orange, Massachusetts one hour at a time. Werner and some of her students from Goddard College developed a Time Bank in Orange. A Time Bank deals in a form of alternative currency. The Orange Time Bank, doles out a web-based currency, meaning, that people list the services that can render and the services they wish to receive. One hour of raking someone’s lawn could earn you enough virtual capital for a 60 minute massage. “We are turning strangers into neighbors,” said Werner.
If there is one thing I have learned from the many Great Depression survivors who have shared their stories in the MobileBooth, it is that the kindness of strangers and neighbors pulled many people through tough times. Community is, indeed, something to bank on.