On the literature side of things, I’ve finished a review of around 70 articles and book chapters on Time Banking, LETS (Local Exchange and Trading Systems), and other Community Currencies such as Ithaca HOURS. Most of these are international studies, and there have also been some studies done in New Zealand including Lucie Ozanne’s research with the Lyttelton Timebank which I think you are all familiar with, Lisa Geary’s report for the University of Canterbury (contains a great FAQ for start-up TimeBanks, with answers written by Julie Lee, from page 18 onwards), and Peter North’s work on Green Dollars.
Here are a few brief highlights from my literature search:
– There was a comprehensive review, Community Currency Research: An analysis of the literature published this year in the IJCCR (International Journal of Community Currency Research). The authors of this review have also made an extensive online database available. Click on ‘databank’ to search the literature that they have compiled.
– I found a few good overviews of the similarities and differences between Time Banking and LETS, and although it is an older article (2001) I really enjoyed this short piece On LETS and Time Dollars by Edgar Cahn.
– A fascinating book that I came across in February this year was Clue to the Economic Labyrinth, written by Michael Flurscheim, discussing many of the same issues that we are concerned with now – and published in 1902! A long text but well worth the effort. I still haven’t finished reading it but I intend to, and would be very excited to have somebody to talk to about this book. Why not make a large cup of tea or coffee and download the pdf 🙂
– Another interesting piece of writing is Elizabeth Miller’s PhD thesis Both Borrowers and Lenders: Time Banks and the Aged in Japan. Go straight to chapter four to read about the life of Teruko Mizushima, who created Time Banking in Japan decades before Edgar Cahn independently designed the same system in the United States.
– In his chapter The Longevity of Alternative Economic Practices: Lessons from Alternative Currency Networks Peter North lists the following key factors that he has observed amongst long-lasting alternative currency networks: The existence of at least one key and committed activist; strong management systems – including the delegation of tasks to a team, and the utilisation of the collective resources of this team (time, money, bicycle-power, creativity, personal computers and printers etc.); a supportive local state or voluntary body providing funding, worker time, or in kind support on a long-term basis; commitment building mechanisms – e.g. buddy or mentor systems for new members, regular pot luck dinners, newsletters, clothes and goods ‘freecycle’ parties, members feeling part of a community of like-minded people, and/or part of a wider political project; finally, a large and dense enough network of like-minded people getting what they need and with skills to share (North, 2010:38-42).
Let me know if there’s anything else in particular that you’d like to know from the literature and I can add further links and comments. I looked at studies of Timebanks in New Zealand, USA, Japan, Taiwan, the UK (Wales, Scotland and England), and Sweden.