Aerin Dunford is from Salt Lake City, Utah and now lives in Oaxaca, Mexico. She attended Lewis and Clark University in Oregon, where she received a B.A. in English Literature, and a M.A. in Organizational Management. Aerin works out of the downtown Oaxaca location of the HUB, an international organization designed to facilitate the creation of sustainable impact through collaboration.
It was at the HUB, in late November 2012, that Aerin and I sat down to talk about The Bank of Talents.
At the Bank of Talents we imagine a world in which equality of the value of our time and trust are the foundation of human relationships; respect, honesty and co-responsibility are the pillars. In this world everyone has access to the diversity of talents in our community, and we live from a perspective of abundance in which we all can have what we consider necessary to be happy.The time bank movement has been around for about 70 years.
Akilah: What brought you to Oaxaca and to the work that you are doing with The Bank of Talents?
Aerin: I came to Oaxaca as a result of my interest in organizational management, and meeting the authors of Walk Out, Walk On. The basic question the authors ask is, "What can we learn from life systems and nature."
Akilah: What exactly is The Bank of Talents? It sounds fascinating, especially for those of us who are anxious to get on with the creation of the new earth.
Aerin: The time bank movement has been around for about 70 years. It is rooted in the United States, and was a mid-western response to the great depression. With the failure of the economic system, people had to figure out how to get their physical, service and labor needs met.
Akilah: You say "time" bank, while I thought it was a talent bank.
Aerin: Well, it is a bank where the currency is time; and it is with time that talents are exchanged, not bought or purchased. This idea is new and has its challenges.
Akilah: Why is that?
Aerin: It's about moving from a start-up, a great idea, to sustainability. A certain level of confidence in the process must be maintained over a long period of time. An internal structure is also a critical element in the creation of a sustainable bank.
Akilah: Could you elaborate more on this internal structure?
Aerin: The bank cannot be sustained on volunteers and goodwill. We have to have a model that is based on the needs and issues of the people of Oaxaca. In other words, the talents being offered must address the needs of the people here.
Akilah: Okay. I see. The internal structure is like the assets. So the time bank doesn't replace the economy we have now, where we exchange pesos, or dollars, for goods and services?
Aerin: No. This is about creating a parallel economy. This is the way for people to get their needs met, and for them to meet the needs of others, using their time and talents.
Akilah: Okay. Give me an example of how this works. Let's say that I have some electrical work that I need to have done in my home.
Aerin: You would find an electrician, have him/her come and determine how much time the job would require. You would pay for the materials for the job. If it takes 2 hours, then 2 hours would be added to the electricians account, and 2 hours would be deducted from your account.
Akilah: The time in my account is based on the talent that I am offering?
Aerin: That's close to how it works. It's a bank based on trust; sharing in unity; weaving deeper connections with people in your community. We all have needs, and we all have talents to meet those needs. Time is the same for everyone. The doctor's time is no more valuable than the gardener's time.
Akilah: Thank you for sharing your time and this information with me. I appreciate it.
Aerin: My pleasure.
If you would like to have more information about the time bank and gift culture, take a look at this video of Charles Eisensteins' talk, sponsored byThe Sante Fe Time Bank.