Systems that support people and the planet

  • Decolonising our economy
  • Access to land
  • Finance that works for communities, not against them
  • Tools for local and regional revitalisation
  • Local food and energy
  • We promote solutions including community currencies, timebanking, cohousing and cooperative living structures, no-interest community finance, and show how these simple can help people and businesses deal with economic uncertainty.

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Find out more about systems people are already using around Aotearoa here

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“Why wait for a dying, archaic system to fix itself? We have plenty of people, plenty of work to be done, and an equal time on this Earth. We can do better.”

– Edgar Cahn
March 23, 1935 – January 23, 2022

It is with great sadness we farewell Edgar Cahn, the grandfather of Time Banking and a generous and inspiring man.

Edgar Cahn would always ask, “Is there something that you’d like to make happen? What do you want to create? Where do we go from here?”

This will sound familiar to many of us who have crossed paths with him.

Every day, Edgar made the conscious decision to pursue his passion for justice, and he recognized the same yearning for justice in those he met, their own desire to take action for a better world. One of his favorite sayings was that the way to radical transformation is by setting in motion things you do not control.

With that visionary spirit, he has either “set in motion” or, at the very least, was an active force in the following, in chronological order:

a federally funded national system of legal services for the poor called the Legal Services Corporation
fundamental reforms to a costly federal food program that left hunger blooming, untouched, while the coffers of well-connected farmers grew fat
the push by Native American tribes to hold on to their sovereignty as nations within the nation
a whole new approach to legal education by law schools nationwide first implemented by the Antioch School of Law, the school Edgar co-founded that is now the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
Timebanking, a new way of linking untapped social capacity to unmet social needs and for communities to come together to help promote trust, reciprocity, and citizen engagement
and yes, a magical garden, that was more than “just a garden.” It was, every year, a story. It’s a story of investment, emergence, flowering, and growth.
Edgar Cahn passed away on the morning of January 23, 2022 at age 86, leaving behind an immense legacy of making revolutionary change by planting seeds wherever his heart, mind, and soul were invested.

He embodied the highest ideals of mobilizing communities to come together to express their strengths and to restore mutual care, and build lives of joy and dignity for all.

We were honoured to host Edgar in Aotearoa in 2015 to celebrate the 10th Birthday of the Lyttelton Timebank, the first timebank in New Zealand.

Pictured is Edgar with his wife Christine Gray outside TimeBank HQ, their Washington home.

LE Book Shop

Our volunteer-managed bookshop is our primary source of funding, and it is also one way the Trust provides information on a wide range of topics including:

  • How our money system works
  • Complementary currency systems
  • Grassroots responses to interconnected economic, social, and ecological challenges
  • Building a just and equitable society that respects our planet and all who inhabit it
  • Energy, climate issues, systems change, permaculture, organic gardening ... and more!

Margaret Jefferies MNZM

27 December 1944 - 13 January 2020

Remembered with love by her many friends.

Respected and celebrated by many as a visionary for vibrant sustainable community and unlimited possibility.

An inspirational community leader has died in Lyttelton.

Aged 75 years, Margaret was no ordinary grandmother. Respected and celebrated by many as a visionary for vibrant, sustainable community and unlimited possibility, Margaret was a networker supreme.

Living Economies will know her for the person who brought timebanking to New Zealand and showed other communities how it could be done as the Chair of community group Project Lyttelton.

She saw opportunity wherever it emerged and labelled it with a capital O.

Give her a disused building, an unused talent, or even a devastating earthquake and she relished the challenge. Give her a community problem – she loved it. She then used her unique combination of intellect, common sense, and people skills to work out how it could be a win-win for all parties.

For example Margaret wanted to start a local news publication to start seeding the idea of the time bank. When she discovered the Akaroa Mail owners were distressed that their local deliverers were not doing the job properly in Lyttelton, she invited time bank members to do it for hours, Akaroa Mail paid cash which helped fund the early growth of the Time Bank and the other part of the deal was that Project Lyttelton would get an independent regular insert in the weekly Akaroa Mail to share local stories and ideas.

She grabbed each big problem as a possibility for new community action and then committed herself 100% to this new goal. Her legacy will live on because she inspired so many to do the same.

She stimulated creativity around her and inspired everyone who met her. But Margaret didn't do everything herself. She listened carefully to others with ideas and then said, "It sounds like a goer to me. Bring me your champion and I will support that person fully."

Her secret was an ability to listen, to see a good possibility and then to challenge others. Her talent was in forming and maintaining good personal relationships, the key to successful organisations and results. She had the X-factor. She said, "Yes, I will make sure that happens" and then achieved it. Undaunted in the face of disappointment and adverse circumstances, she somehow saw her projects through. An example was the spectacularly successful Living Economies Expo in 2017 in Lyttelton.

She also was not afraid to let things go if it became evident that the timing or energy was not quite right.

Margaret prided herself in being practical. Although very intelligent and a former teacher with an M.A, she didn't want to be involved in too much theory – that was for others. She held the centre, managed the vision and didn't want to be bothered with details or academic distractions. But give her a concept with a possibility for community action and she was all in: let's go for it!

She had the good judgement to know who to trust that their recommendations would work. But she never dodged an opportunity to speak frankly when it could be uncomfortable. She could not just nudge you but give you a sharp jab in the ribs. When she told you off there was no doubt in your mind at all. And it worked.

Through her many achievements and impressive list of celebrity connections, she came across as unassuming and never talked about her own accomplishments. She always gave the credit to others even though she clearly acted as the catalyst. She was totally at home with herself and profoundly human.

Many of her biggest ideas came from international connections. For those who knew her and her interest in Spirit at Work she had a thirst for sparking ideas for ground-breaking activities. When she found out about a Science and Spirituality workshop in Vancouver Island in 2018 or a Time Banking event at Bard College in New York in 2004, she raised heaven and earth to get there and she went. Inevitably she made contacts with global leaders and came home with ideas for action, most recently starting a Power of Eight Intention group.

While Margaret has now left us the ripples from her work and the people she has connected will long continue.

Margaret’s significant contribution to our communities was recognised in the 2018 Honours List where she was awarded the MNZM.

A celebration of Margaret’s life was held with family friends and community in Lyttelton on Saturday January 18, 2020.

From the people of Project Lyttelton: In honour of Margaret’s memory, we invite people to do a small act with great love, for others or for our Earth.

Margaret’s family invite people to share with them memories or stories about her. Please send these to

Solutions: Economic Tools for Community Well-Being


The problem

In our global financial system, "normal" money (such as New Zealand Dollars) is created as interest-bearing debt. This exacerbates inequality, weakens community ties, and destroys the planet.



TimeBank members earn hours of credits by providing services and spend credits by receiving help from others.



Local Exchange Trading Systems are membership-based mutual credit system, where trades are made using points rather than money.


Local money

Local money--also known as local currency or complementary currency--is a way to promote local trade through a non-dollar alternative.


Savings pools

Also known as the genuine wealth system, savings pools are informal private groups where members support each other through interest-free savings and loans.



Co-operatives are businesses that are owned and run by and for members, using democratic processes to give all members a say.


Social enterprise

Social enterprises use a commercial model for the primary purpose of having a positive social and/or environmental impact.

Go Local


Local first

Supporting your local economy can have many advantages.


Local food

Local food increases community self-reliance, and there are often ecological and health benefits, too.

News articles

Press Release - Treasury Should Sell Interest Free Bonds To Reserve Bank

16 Apr 2020, 12:50

Read More

In Memoriam - Bernard Leitaer

12 Mar 2019, 13:16

Read More


Living the Change

18 Mar 2018, 12:17

Happen Films' newest full-length documentary features Living Economies Trustees Phil Stevens and…

Read More


LE Expo

2 Apr 2017, 12:17

Living Economies three-day Expo has been a great success.

Read More

Living Economies Educational Trust (LE) promotes exchange systems and investment models that build community strength and well-being, offer interest-free alternatives to 'business as usual', and respect both people and our living planet. Our network of volunteers can recommend resources and provide educational support for community initiatives. LE (CC 38114) is a registered educational charity, and we do not provide financial or legal advice.

© 2018 Living Economies