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© Allison Usavage

Tompkins Time Traders

Tompkins Time Traders is a system that allows members to exchange services for time credits.

What’s Good loves Tompkins Time Traders because it strengthens our community in a way that other currencies can’t: beyond reducing our dependance on the dollar, it facilitates personal interactions, promoting connection and collaboration.

A Q&A with Margaret Soulstein, Coordinator of T3, Kitchen Cabinet Member, and T3 member. Photographs of various T3 trades and the T3 orientation, led by founder Leslie Strebel.

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What is Tompkins Time Traders?

Tompkins Time Traders is a time bank. A time bank is an organization whereby people exchange services and goods using time as the currency, and where everyone’s time is valued equally. So, an hour of dog walking is equal to an hour of accounting.

 

© Allison Usavage
Who is it good for?

The time bank is good for everyone. It’s great for people who are in a position where they’re underemployed or unemployed, because that’s a time when mainstream society may be making you feel like you don’t have skills to offer but the reality is that you do.

It’s also great for people in a situation where money is in abundance… they may be able to open the phone book and hire someone and pay them in dollars to clean their gutters or paint their room, but by allowing a member of the time bank to do that work, it gives that member an opportunity to earn time credits that they can use to get the services that they need. It’s also great for people who are in our community who are from other countries who have work limitations and they don’t have a work visa. Time banking is similar to barter, but it’s important to designate that it’s not the same thing because barter is viewed as a taxable event by the IRS whereas time banking is not taxable.

 

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What kind of change are you trying to make?

I think the biggest change is to help people feel valued and to remind people through experiences that they have things to offer and can be part of this community. It’s a way to acknowledge and build and share abundance. We can get things that we need using skills that we have to live in a more resilient community that isn’t as reliant on the dollar.

 

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How did it start?

Leslie Strebel is our founder. She had gone to a conference where one of the people was talking about time banking and the idea really resonated with her. She thought that this kind of thing could work in Ithaca. She came home and began working on it. And, as a time bank is about community, she realized that she needed other community members, so she joined forces with Danielle Klock and Karryn Olson-Ramanujan… and it’s just grown from there.

 

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What impact does this have on our community?

For people who are already part of sharing economies, this is an exciting thing connecting them to a larger system. For people who that kind of transaction is totally foreign, it’s a way in: to see what you can offer, to do to what you love and get the things that you need.

How has the community supported T3?

In addition to the support and encouragement from other organizations, community members have supported us by joining the organization, trading time and spreading the word. We currently have 123 members (last year at this time we had 44) and over 1900 hours have been traded!

 

© Allison Usavage
What struggles have you encountered?

Well, as any young organization or entity trying to get on its feet and to grow, there’s those growing struggles. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that with bigger numbers we need different support and outreach.

What should we be celebrating?

We should be celebrating time. I was just reading in a past week’s Ithaca Times… there’s this column that has a question and asks five people… the question was “if you could give someone a gift, what would it be?” Out of the five people that they asked, two of them said time.

So many people feel so over-scheduled and there’s not enough time in the day. I think if we can release that back and not feel the pressure of all the things to do but see that we have 24 hours in a day and there’s a lot that we can do with that time and that abundance, we can really celebrate the things that we fill each of those hours with.

 

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How can we participate?

Start trading time! Becoming a member is really simple, you can apply right on our website. And it’s not required that you have time in your account to start gaining services… unlike the money-based world where if your wallet is empty you can ‘t go to the store and buy a loaf of bread, if your account has zero time credits you can still receive services.

 

Or, learn more or support the organization at tompkinstimetraders.net.

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