COMMENTARY: Vashon Time Bank Invites New Members

A time bank is a group of people who come together in a community to exchange services using units of time as currency.

What is a time bank, you ask? A time bank is a group of people who come together in a community to exchange services using units of time as currency.

Everyone’s time is equally valued regardless of occupation or particular talent or kind of service. It is the perfect addition to some other Vashon programs, including but not limited to Zero Waste Vashon and The Vashon Tool Library. It is part of a growing movement in the country to decrease our footprints and lessen consumption, rely less on the market economy and to equal the playing field.

The world’s first time bank began in Japan in 1973 and was founded by Teruko Mizushima. The first time bank in The U.S. began in the 1990s. By 2014, there were 500 registered time banks in the US, and they had collectively enrolled more than 37,000 members.

Time banking is founded on five principles:

• Everyone is an asset

• Some work cannot be valued in dollars

• Reciprocity in helping

• Community is necessary (and time banks build community!)

• Respect for all human beings

Vashon’s time bank, called Vashon Island Time Exchange, held its first meeting in September 2020, six months into the shutdown of our country due to the Covid 19 pandemic. While it currently has 156 members, it has been slow to build at least in part due to ongoing restrictions and social distancing. Now that our community is beginning to open somewhat, we are interested in building interest and membership.

The West Seattle Time Bank has about 1400 members. My wife and I, two relatively new islanders, belonged to a time bank in Culver City, California that was large and very active. That time bank came together, as a group, for potlucks and other activities in addition to doing individual trades. While Vashon’s time bank is not there yet, we are hopeful that in the future we will be able to host such events.

Time bank members can offer or share experiences and/or services. Time spent is logged on the platform by the individual member, who then can use their logged hours to take advantage of offers by other members. Members can post both offers and requests on the platform.

Some examples are:

Gardening/yard help, computer assistance, sewing/repairs, odd jobs, cooking, rides in town and out, wine tutorials, sharing ideas and materials for activities for kids, errands, help with phone calls, etc.

There is really no limit. Be creative in thinking about what you know or what you know how to do that can be shared with others, as well as needs you might have and things you’d like to learn.

We have recently partnered with the Vashon Tool Library so that tool library volunteers can utilize their volunteer hours to access time bank offers. We hope to partner with other island non-profits in the future.

We welcome all members. Don’t be shy — if you can’t think of what you might have to offer, please reach out and one or more members will brainstorm with you. Learn more at, or call Amy Morrison at 206-408-8058 for more information. Please join us!

Stacey Peyer is a retired clinical social worker and has lived on Vashon Island since September 2020.