In the News

Time Is Money In A New Program In St. Louis, inking People To Share Skills

by Kristen Taketa, St. Louis Post Dispatch March 2016

The point of a mutual aid network is to erase the need for money as much as possible, because its founders see money as the root of inequality. To them, it’s an unnecessary middleman that makes it harder for the poor, elderly, disabled and other disadvantaged groups to get the goods and services they need.

“Dollars isn’t actually what people need, it’s what they can get for it,” said Stephanie Rearick, founder of a mutual aid network in Madison, Wis. “We don’t need dollars to help connect people and care for each other.”  Continue reading here

Time Is Money: Chinyere Oteh On Time Banking

by Rosalind Early, St. Louis Magazine March 2014

Tech blogs insist bitcoins are the future. But Chinyere Oteh buys into a banking alternative that harks back to St. Louis’ past.

“I’ve developed a radical worldview and way of living. I don’t believe formal institutions to be the only method of getting things done,” she says. “I’ve heard that radical actually means root—getting to the root of things—so you’re actually going back to honor the way things were done before....“Time-banking essentially reminds you what you’re good at—what skills you have, what services you have, and how you can share them with others,” Oteh says. “It helps you realign your value system"  Continue reading here.

Could 'Timebank' Become The New Money-free Craigslist?

by Nancy Fowler, St. Louis Beacon  November 2013

Are you a plumber who could use a massage? A masseuse in need of a hair cut? A hair stylist with a taste for pumpkin pie?
The local Cowry Collective Timebank (CCTB) connects people with a wide variety of skills. One hour of services rendered equals an hour of services received. All areas of expertise are equal -- 60 minutes of legal work has the same value as 60 minutes of love-letter composition...Oteh said she hopes people will embrace the power of an idea that might feel different but is far from new....Some of us have lost faith in the economic system and it’s important to find alternatives,” she said. “The good feeling we all get from helping each other in a culture of giving and receiving is a win-win.”  Continue reading here.

Winter Barterfest In St. Louis Offers A Way To Find Holiday Gifts For Less

by Stefene Russell, December 2011
 The first Barter Fest was held in July at Gya Community Gallery & Fine Craft Shop on Locust Street, and it was packed. “We were cramped for space!” Oteh says with delight. “We had everything from people doing bike repairs, where you could bring your bike and get your wheels looked at, to haircuts to face painting....“You feel valued, because someone is appreciating what you’re doing. And you can do that for someone else,” Oteh says. “It’s about honoring each individual and what they have to offer—that’s just implicit in the exchanges. We’re in such a competitive society. How often, unless it’s your mom or grandma, do you get accolades just for things you do well? As an adult, that praise diminishes. It just helps to know that other people appreciate what you’re doing.”  Continue reading here.

A Cowry For A Cowry: Time Banks Equalize Talent And Services

by Mary Delach Leonard, St. Louis Beacon  February 2011

Chinyere Oteh sees equal value in a job well done, whether that is a freshly mowed lawn, a creatively painted sign on the window of a store or a completed IRS tax return...."It's not a pie-in-the sky idea. It's something that is happening and is working,'' she said. "The more of us who are involved, the more services we can get from one another. The possibilities are endless in terms of the exchanges we can make." Click here to read more in the St.Louis Beacon.

Cowry Collective Provides Forum For Bartering Rather Than Buying Services 
by Rebecca S. Rivas, St. Louis American
Oteh decided to have a culturally-specific mission to address the socioeconomic inequities within the community of color, she said. Those disparities came screaming to the surface with the economic downturn. However, rather than getting frozen in fear, people within the black community began thinking creatively about ways to work together to sustain their families, she said.
“Time banking is taking more of a stronghold because people are realizing the instability of the market can be matched with stabilities provided in community-building,” she said.
The collective originated within the black community, and it operates out of the Gya Community Gallery...which is run by six African-American women. Oteh emphasized that by having the time-bank movement sustained within the black community, people of African descent are empowered to rely on each other for help and not outside entities.   Click here to read more.