Archive by Author

Timebanking as a response to inequality

2 Sep

 “Inclusion means to be part of something, to be connected with other people, in an equitable way… there’s equality in inclusion”.[1]

The increasing level of inequality that we face in our nation today is leading to more social exclusion felt by a larger proportion of our population.  

Social exclusion refers to the inability of people to fully participate in the ordinary activities of citizens; and to find barriers to reaching their social, civil and political rights.[2] These barriers can be experienced by anyone but are more often experienced by people with disabilities, mental health illness and those living in poverty. As Robert Partnum explains, ‘The more divided incomes are,  the more [people]  live in different places, the less they see each other’s lives and the less empathy they have for other people.’[3]

Timebanking is a response to an economic framework that values what is scarce over what is most valuable in our society – sharing, loving, bringing up children, civic participation, being a good neighbour, good friend and good human.[4] (Edgar Cahn)

Hannagarden1

12 timebank members build a compost and garden bed for another member who’s always dreamed of having a garden.

A timebank is a community of people who offer their skills and services to each other based on a currency of time. One hours work earns you a time credit. You can use that time credit to buy an hour of someone elses time. Through the act of time banking people build relationships, are valued for their skills and get their needs met . Essentially, each individual that participates is taking an active part in building and supporting their own community.

Timebanking is built on the foundations of reciprocity and equality. Reciprocity calls for active  engagement – the act of giving and receiving being of equal importance. In other words, to contribute to society one must both give time and energy to others and ask for help in return. The foundation of equality removes the stigma of skills being valued differently according to their economic status. It recognises all skills as equal and therefore having value.

In a society where inequality is experienced in a very real way, timebanking allows people opportunities to participate, contribute and be valued. People are re-defined as assets, not judged on what they ‘lack’. This allows those who have been socially excluded due to increasing inequality to participate on equal standing with everyone else. The act of trading allows people to form relationships across established (and expanding) social boundaries. As increasing inequality in Aotearoa/ New Zealand  reduces these opportunities, timebanks are opening those spaces back up and encouraging people to see each other, interact with each other and continue to build strong social values that are driven by equality and reciprocity.

Hannah Mackintosh

A version of this article was first published on the Closer Together Whakatata Mai website

[1] Stories of Success, Mental Health Foundation Research Report 2014, p. 37

[2] Stories of Success, Mental Health Foundation Research Report 2014

[3] This is a quote is taken from a video of Max Rashbrooke that can be found here.

[4] For more info on this see Timebank founder Edgar Cahn’s book, No More Throw-Away People

Workplace culture

15 Jul

Recently, over a dinner with some friends, we entered into a discussion about workplace culture in NZ. These discussions stemmed from an article that was written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former US State Department official and Princeton Professor titled ‘Why women still can’t have it all’. The article told her story and experience of attempting to have a high-powered career and be a mother and wife. She claimed that this was an impossible task. The article caused a stir in the feminist world. An interesting perspective can be found in a response titled ‘Feminism didn’t lie to women about “having it all’. They criticise the way that she claims women to be ‘naturally’ more family oriented than men and her narrow definition of “having it all” – being a having a career and a family and that there is an underlying assumption that this is something that men have and women don’t.

In saying all of that, I am not writing this to get into debates about what feminism looks like today. What I would like to discuss is the conversations that were spurred around the dinner table as a result. In considering the current workplace culture in NZ, we decided that there are issues that impact both men and women alike and as a result the wellbeing of people in their jobs. Continue reading

Thanks but no thanks

14 Jun

Today, I took part in a demonstration at the Carillon where 100 U.S. Marines laid a wreath to honour the soldiers killed in the last 10 years of the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason we were demonstrating was not to dishonour the sacrifices our grandparents made in the World Wars but to reject an obvious push for closer military ties between New Zealand and the U.S.

I am yet to be convinced of the benefits of war. It breeds death, despair and destruction and little else. I especially don’t believe in supporting other people’s war for the benefits of creating closer diplomatic ties. We might as well directly trade blood for money.

We were a group of about 20 including members of the Concerned Citizens Collective and Adrian Leason, an activist most well known for puncturing the dome that covered the Waihopai spy base. We wanted to say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ on behalf of the New Zealand people. “Our presence is to remind them that while we love our grandfathers and respect their contribution to WWII, we oppose much of what the US military has done since. We will not have our grandfather’s sacrifices used to justify more recent wars or to bolster future invasions”, said Murdoch Stephens of Concerned Citizens.

Looking back at my photos from the event, I was struck by the different ways that war can be perceived. Continue reading

Let’s get a referendum!

10 Jun

A friend recently sent us her photos from the asset sales protest that marched through the streets of Wellington about a month ago. I wanted to share them with you here because I think they provide a powerful reminder of how many people care about the selling of our assets in this country. The impacts of these changes will be felt for many, many years to come. This was discussed in an earlier post written on the sale of State Owned Enterprises and the long term implications that has had for NZ today.

In a truly democratic society we would have the opportunity to have our say on these decisions. Considering how many people are engaging with this issue, it seems obvious that holding a referendum would be a fair way of making a decision on this issue that represents the desires of the people. The problem is that the current Government has no interest in listening to the voice of the public. This was made the most strikingly clear in John Key’s flippant remarks about the 2000-5000 of us that took to the streets asking to be heard.

However, we still have choices Continue reading

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