Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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Edgar Cahn in EP

Edgar Cahn

Photo: Kim Pesenti, March 3, 2009

Large ideas filled a small space a few nights ago, as Edgar Cahn addressed Echo Park Time Bankers at the Echo Park Film Center. Cahn is the "inventor" of time banks, concept-wise (though if he wants to build one, all he has to do is step next door to Machine Project and they'll set him and any other volunteers up with as much discarded electronics gear as they can handle). Cahn is the other kind of DC lawyer; he's an activist who has worked on progressive causes and projects for years, with Sargent Shriver, among others. He's also founder of the law school at Antioch University. On Tuesday, he gave the time to come to Echo Park, speaking for about 45 minutes with members of the fairly new time bank in this community. In his remarks, he made clear that he sees the practical act of time-banking (a flat-rate barter system in which one hour's labor is repaid with one hour, regardless of the service -- which can be anything from dog walking, computer repair, language instruction, rides to the airport and hair cuts to political action and simple acts of companionship, civic engagement, caring, certain kinds of spiritual labor) as a social movement -- a program in community repair, in "rebuilding the social infrastructure of connectedness." In the economic world of Time Banking, he said, "there are no throwaway people."

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