As a resident of Pottstown and volunteer with Hobart’s Run, Taylor Folk ‘22 recognizes that many families and individuals in Pottstown have experienced financial losses due to COVID-19. When it was time for her to decide what she wanted to do for H Term, she approached the staff at Hobart's Run for ways in which she could give back to her community and find a way to help those who have hardships as a result of the pandemic. Twila Fisher, Hill’s Director of Community and Economic Development, presented Taylor with the idea of creating a Time Bank.
A Time Bank is a mutual credit system. It is a group of community members who trade services with each other using time as a currency. “For example, if I give you a haircut, you give me a time credit,” explains Taylor. “I then can spend that time credit on ‘Bruce’ to fix my bike. It is a pay-it-forward system of trade. One hour equals one-time credit. It doesn't matter if you are a lawyer or a teacher, everyone's time is valued the same.”
Fisher had first heard about the concept of time banking when she was studying alternative currencies for low-income communities at the University of Pennsylvania. “However, I did not see it come to life locally until 2020, when Barrio Alegria, a community arts organization in Reading, Pa., hired a consultant to implement the first community time bank in our area,” notes Fisher, who also serves on the board of Barrio Alegria. “I was able to follow their progress throughout the year, and I was inspired to bring it to Pottstown in 2021.”
Once Taylor learned more about time banking she immediately fell in love with the idea. It was a way for people to obtain services that they need without having to spend money on them. During H Term, Taylor researched various Time Banks and the impact that they have on their communities. She learned about the five core values of Time Banking: asset, redefining work, reciprocity, social networks, and respect.
“Every member of a community can benefit from Time Banking because we all have something to share with the world,” states Taylor. “Time Banking helps strengthen communities by creating trust and networks between neighbors. After being isolated for long, I think it’s essential that we support each other as a community during this unprecedented time.”
The Pottstown Time Bank would start as a pilot program available only to residents of Pottstown living within Hobart’s Run focus area. Taylor created and shared a survey in early February to gauge the community’s interest in this service. Once the Time Bank is officially established, residents who join the program will be able to post services that they need or are offering and can begin trading with other members. All of the time credits exchanged will be logged on the Time Bank website.
"Taylor embraced this project, diving into research on Time Banks, creating a survey, and thoughtfully considering how this 'win-win' for the community might be marketed,” states Cathy Skitko, Director of Hobart’s Run Communications. “I know she would like to see a Time Bank implemented through Hobart's Run, and we are hopeful this might be added to our range of programs benefitting the neighborhood and all of Pottstown."