Area Timebank Seeks to Make All Pay Equal


from the Cowry Collective Timebank, a 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. Through membership in the CCTB people: create and strengthen community bonds, create economic freedom by providing an alternative means to get needs and desires met, and encourage creativity in redefining self-sufficiency, interdependence and valuation of time. The CCTB introduces a paradigm where members reflect on the available resources in their lives moving from a perception of scarcity and lack to abundance and wholeness.

With the continuIng debate on minimum wage, many are re-evaluating what their time is worth.  What conditions make one person’s time worth $30/hour and another person’s time worth only $8/hour?  When we all have equal hours in a day, it seems that time is precious, yet unequally valued.  CEO’s of the S&P 500 companies get paid 354 times more than the average for rank and file employees.  According to a recent poll by the Washington Post/ABC News, 50 percent of respondents say they support a minimum wage hike.  As Americans look at a more equitable way to pay workers, one St. Louis organization has already figured it out.

An hour for an hour – that’s the economic system that Chinyere Oteh is creating. The Cowry Collective in a non-profit organization that works to make sure that everyone is valued equitably for their time while having their talents recognized and honored.  The Cowry Collective is a timebank and the concept is simple: work an hour, gain an hour credit, use your credit to have other work done.  All jobs are equal and all contributions are valued.  Over the last year the timebank has grown from 80 members to 150.

“I can get many of my needs met through the timebank. It cuts out the middle man so we can get compensated fairly while offering services affordably (your hour is worth my hour)! It also keeps the fruits of our time and energy benefitting the local community, rather than some CEO thousands of miles away. This makes our communities stronger and more self-reliant. And it brings us closer, helps people connect. I've made exchanges with so many amazing people who I'd never have gotten to know without the collective,” explained active member, Tara Schneider.

To date, members of the collective have exchanged more than 1,000 hours.

“I joined the timebank because I have some work I need done on my house. Right now I’m using my skills to help someone write a resume and working with someone else to write a grant,” stated Michelle Witthaus, a new member of the collective.  “I’m hoping to save up my credits (otherwise known as Cowries) to get some of the work done on my house.”

In recognition of her dedication to growing the alternative economy movement in St. Louis, Chinyere has been selected to attend the Emerging and Evolving Economies Jam in Northern California, October 13- 18, 2015.  The Emerging and Evolving Economies Jam brings together national leaders in alternative economics to learn, share, and grow more sustainable economies.  The goal of the Jam is to address what it takes to build thriving, just and sustainable economies.

“We see a lot of economic disparities in our community and timebanking is a great way to offer economic inclusion for all people,” said Chinyere Oteh. “This Jam will provide an opportunity to learn from other successful economic models and bring that knowledge back to St. Louis to help build and refine our structures here.”

Building upon the communal style of The Cowry Collective, Chinyere is seeking funding for her trip to the Emerging and Evolving Economy Jam.  To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Jam or the timebank visit:

For more information on The Cowry Collective visit:

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