Social structures and superstructures tend to adapt to changes in infrastructure.Richard Heinberg
The Kola Nut Collaborative (KNC) is a mutual support network of people engaged in reciprocal exchange of services, skills, and goods through a timebank where the currency is an hour of time for everyone. The Kola Nut Collaborative is an initiative of Kola Community Solutions LLC, a social enterprise formed to develop and pilot innovative solutions to issues impacting Chicago communities employing Just Transition strategies to strengthen the citywide solidarity economy.
- To improve the quality of life of members by linking them to a high value citywide database of skills and human assets.
- To increase the accessibility of local skills pools to individuals, small businesses and community based organizations.
- To develop and sustain a complementary community currency which decreases financial pressure, reinforces the fabric of trust and creates new opportunities for engagement between stakeholders within communities.
- To develop a co-production pipeline which enables more agile delivery of human and social services by linking some recipients directly to services provided by members in their local communities.
Time and Talents is a timebanking platform developed by hOurworld to increase the accessibility to the practice of timebanking and reduce barriers to entry for individuals and organizations whom desire to implement time exchange in their community.
The platform consists of a digital ledger for the recording of hour exchanges between members, a directory of available skills, assets and unmet needs in your surrounding community and search options that make it easy to locate trading partners at a reasonable distance from your home.
In addition to the Time and Talents platform, the Kola Nut Collaborative operates an auxiliary closed Facebook group and Slack instance to provide its members with additional opportunities to communicate and connect with members throughout the network.
Five Core Values
While time based exchange systems have existed as far back as the early 19th century, Edgar Cahn of Timebanks USA is most often credited with its late 20th century revitalization introducing such terms as “time dollar”, “time bank” and “time credit” into our parlance with his 1992 text, “Time Dollars”.
He later went on to define four core values of co-production in his 2000 publication, “No More Throw-Away People” to which he later added a fifth value. These values now form the ethical foundation of timebanks throughout the world.
Every person is an asset. Everyone has something of value to share with another member of their community. Every person has a contribution which they can make towards making their community a more resilient, trusting and healthy environment. We approach timebanking from this asset based perspective because it allows us to meet the whole person in our interactions.
Some work is beyond a market price. The market economy has placed a premium on specific types of work and undervalued others. Money is not is not attracted to work which restores families, improves communities, engages democracy or shifts our society towards more socially just outcomes. Timebanking is designed to be a system which allows a community to develop a local economy centered in its own values and assign value to the things it deems significant or impactful.
Giving works better when there is a mutual contribution and benefit to the exchange. The benefit may not be immediately reciprocated to the giver as in a barter transaction, but redounds to the whole community when a previous recipient now has an opportunity to become a giver. In timebanking, we pay our gratitude forward rather than paying it back. Through reciprocity, we shift from being volunteers offering unilateral acts of charity to stakeholders in community acknowledging that our fates are intertwined with those we are helping.
We need each other. Vibrant communities are built on the foundation of deeply rooted social networks. Networks are stronger than individual citizens. We can access this collective strength by pooling our unique skills and intangible assets in a space where members of our local communities may engage with them more readily. Through timebanking, we can reestablish a social infrastructure grounded in mutual support, strength and trust which becomes a social safety net scaleable enough to bridge the gaps in each of our communities.
Every person matters. In the construction of just, democratic and community oriented spaces, we strive to honor this value of respect by being thoughtful, sympathetic and reflective in how we deal with one another. I am not who I was yesterday and I may not be who I am now tomorrow. We respect the journey that each member of our community must take and commit to build a supportive social infrastructure around each member to aid them in their journey.