@LayofLand.SecondaryPromo.Headline:The barter system is one economy that’s booming

| 01 Mar 2012 | 11:47

Elizabeth Scrimgeour had “rubbish-picked” a nice dresser, and nice dressers tend to be heavy. She and her husband tried to get it upstairs one night, but when they were almost up they realized they had to bring it back down and rotate it. Too big a headache. They gave up and listed the dresser on freecycle. But the person who said he’d pick it up never showed.

An exasperated Scrimgeour remembered that she had signed up for something called the time bank. A time bank is a barter system in which every hour of work earns you one time dollar that you can spend on having someone do work for you. Now in 26 countries, time banks provide an incentive for neighbors to help each other out.

West Milford’s time bank, started last May, has 78 members who’ve exchanged several hundred hours of work. Upon joining, each member gets a credit of two time dollars. Scrimgeour, 37, cashed in by getting two guys to carry the dresser upstairs. “They solved a huge problem – and I really needed a dresser, too,” she said.

“The Dresser Experience” launched Scrimgeour into the time bank. She’s done house and gardening work for an elderly woman, and written newsletters for the time bank. In return, she got help clearing fallen trees after Irene.

Scrimgeour, mother of four, has 15.5 time dollars and a big idea. “Tim and I and some other people are going to build a small rowboat. It would be really neat to learn how to do. Tim is really good with chainsaws.”

Does she have a place to row it? As luck would have it, another time bank member just invited everyone to her lake.