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What's the Big Idea?

Barry Koren
Time Exchange Project - a simple solution to solving the big problems our communities face

Welcome to our group.

This project offers a simple approach to solving the big issues the Oak Park area faces.  It’s a game-changing idea that was chosen as a finalist in the Big Idea Competition held by the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation in Feb 2016. 1  We were also the featured article on "For Economic Justice, Is It Time for Time Exchange?" (8/30/2016) 

What's the big idea?



"Time is money."  Literally.  The big idea is using time (hours) to purchase services and goods in the Oak Park - River Forest - Austin area, instead of being limited to purchasing with dollars only. This website is a vital tool in implementing this idea. 

How will time exchanges transform the community, and why is that important?



HOW? – This Project will transform the community by freeing us from using only dollars, which for many individuals, organizations, and institutions in our community are scarce. Simply put, it works like this – I provide an hour’s worth of computer guidance to you; you clear the hour you owe by taking John to the airport; John asks Paul to help him with his car...and on and on the exchanges go. 

Give an hour.  Get an hour.


WHY? – This Project is important because it pulls us together, helping us connect by exchanging with one another.  It is urgently needed because it will help alleviate some of the biggest problems our community faces, like:

  • hunger (4,200 Oak Parkers are food insecure) 2;  
  • homelessness (173 Oak Park students were either homeless or at risk for homelessness in 2013) 3
  • the achievement gap (approximately a 9% gap in educational test scores between Blacks and Whites) 4;  
  • crime, especially in Austin (324 murders in Austin since 2006 5, and its spill-over effect in Oak Park); and
  • a shrinking middle class and growing inequality, making mortgage, food, and medical payments difficult, along with fewer services for those who need them.

Our simple approach to strengthening our community and alleviating these problems is to increase purchasing power community-wide through people exchanging time, and especially to increase the purchasing power of organizations addressing the big issues that we face. Give an hour. Get an hour.

You can join the time exchange project as a group (or organization) or as an individual.  You can exchange time within your group (eg, among members of your church), within multiple groups, or in a local marketplace, like the Oak Park Marketplace or the Chicago West Side Marketplace.

Although TimeBanks are a worldwide phenomenon, what’s important and novel here is the community-wide design. It is powerful because it changes the local monetary system—increasing the number of local exchanges that happen.  It does this by local people offering mutual time credit to one another.  Every part of the community will be impacted for the better by having time as a supplementary currency, which will help make Oak Park - River Forest - Austin a more attractive place to live, raise children, work, and do business.

Ready to increase your purchasing power?



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