By Grace Maselli
Be nimble, be curious. Be an omnivorous learner and connect to your community. This is what timebanking can teach us about the the wonders, vagaries and, yes, even the mysteries of life—because you never know what’s going to get lobbed in your quadrant of the court. Or someone else’s, beckoning you to offer a helping hand that gives someone a sense of oomph, connection, a warm feeling in the belly. Or when it’s time to reach out to your fellow timebankers for a reciprocal helping hand-a-roonie.
Why Be Nimble?
Because life is about constant change. Dear reader, you’ve heard it before, but if honesty is indeed the best policy, there’s a resistance to change among our species that can’t be ignored. Timebanking is the antidote to resistance because it begs for outreach and responsiveness to fellow timebankers. It calls for action. Clarity. Awareness of change and an agile approach to address tasks at hand. Whether that means weeding a garden or tooling around in a car with a companion, as one TBT timebanker offers in her profile. Share errands, gas, and a good talk.
Curiosity is happily reinforced by timebanking. You never know who you’ll meet right in your own weed-laden backyard. It’s this very spirit of community and inquiry that spurred timebank founder Edgar Cahn. Edgar’s timebank “invention” speaks directly to the concepts of change and need, resource sharing, and combining energy for optimal, super-charged effect.
Be omnivorous and inquiverous (the latter, this writer’s neologism blending inquisitiveness with a veracious appetite for sharing your best skills with the community.) Be open as a timebanker. Changes in relationships, jobs, geo locations, appetites, death of a companion. You name it, and life brings it into the present moment. Either accept that change is implicit in this human experience, or dig in and resist. Mr. Cahn is about accepting life and joining together.
Now and again, we all need a helping hand (sometimes, even a prosthetic one) to make another person’s life easier, to instill a sense of agency and competency. It’s all tied to timebanking. So which member might be the one to help you over the hump?
By Grace Maselli
TBT’s hatching another plan for community involvement and conversation about timebanking. Show & Tell, straight from the pantheon of classroom classics. But for big kids. Because no matter your age, connecting, communicating, sharing ideas and objects—can pique curiosity, give license to express, and open doors to audience interests. It can demonstrate different ways of thinking and promote good listening skills! Plus, it’s just plain old fun to talk about your Aunt Edna’s heirloom tomato seeds, show off a piece of the Berlin Wall or a replica of Elvis’s 1972 Classic Burning Love suit, display kinetic craft projects made out of toilet paper rolls, or demonstrate how your fingers fly across the strings on a balalaika. Stay tuned while we manifest a time and place in the next four to six weeks. If you’re game to host, give us a shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Grace Maselli
Yesterday’s TBT poetry potluck served up food for the soul. Deep sharing—recitation and delighted listening, opened the door to our collective human experience. Inspired readings of classics ranged from “The Night Before Christmas,” first published anonymously in 1823 (and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore), to “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran. Some guests read from their own uniquely authored inventions. We heard about daughters’ enduring love for their mommas, a Philippine mother’s playful poem for her children about the stages of the moon, about a time and culture where families sit together, outside, sans TV, and take in the natural world. Spoken words from the annals of American poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay, and lyric constructions on the art of painting a picture, also flowed into the room. We were deeply moved by a widow’s enduring love for her life partner and overjoyed by the poetic expression of 80-year-olds taking the plunge, getting hitched, with love and humor fearlessly on their minds. We listened with all 34 of our collective ears to Brian Bilston’s poem, “Refugees” read forward and backward by a husband-and-wife duo, and marveled at its inventiveness and power to stir compassion and insight into our common humanity. Beyond the potstickers and pepperoni, our TBT community truly came together, hung out, hung back. We got caught up, carried away, and charmed by the verse and rhyme that binds us in ordinary and beautiful life moments.
By Grace Maselli
Here’s a reminder for you, dear reader, of our upcoming September 30 event: Magical potlucks galore! But this time, with a literary twist. Member guests and guests of members are invited to share one or two poems each in the safe space of a living room. Either something guests have penned in the dark of night or the bright light of day, or a recitation (from memory OR a sheet of paper), an homage, to their faves from the poetic pantheon. Think Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Dr. Suess and his perhaps lesser-known “Greatheart and the Brain Drain”. The Beats. To keep it synced, our shared potluck foods will follow a time-honored literary technique, alliteration, or “the conspicuous repetition of identical initial consonant sounds… ” You dig? That means our shared poetry foods may include potstickers, pierogies, pumpkin pie, pasta, parsnips, or a treasured family recipe from your Uncle Peter. Join us for the mini recital, fun, and foodery! Here’s the skinny: Time: Sunday, September 30, 3-6 PM ¦ Location: 2128 Park Crescent Drive, Land O Lakes, FL 34639 ¦ Questions: 215.834.4567 (Yes, it’s a local event despite the 215 prefix. 🙂 )
By Grace Maselli
Yes, you read it right. Booyah: “Used to express joy, especially over a well-played or victorious moment in sports.” When this humble blogger took a second to look up one of the kookiest words ever, it revealed itself as the first piece in a bread crumb trail leading to London and timebanking’s back story. It’s relevant to note that booyah is also a thick stew “of probable Belgian origin made throughout the Upper Midwestern United States,” and a stomach pleaser, arguably, depending on your dietary persuasion. Putting the two together, (1) booyah as exercise and, by extension, health, and (2) booyah as homemade food (ideally, nutritious food, maybe even made with organic, pasture-raised ingredients), the question the bread crumb trail leads to is, how might health and timebanks be connected?
The Doctor Is In
London’s Dr. Isabel Garcia’s work gives us a clue in a superb report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF), “Keeping the GP Away, an NEF Briefing about Community Time Banks and Health“. Notably, the NEF and the good doctor were way ahead of this September 2018 post, having penned the report 16 years earlier in February 2002. The New Economics Foundation and the concept of timebanking was developed far earlier still, in 1986, at the London School of Economics by Washington law professor Edgar Cahn, the report’s details reveal. The report also explains that timebanking, “works like a blood bank or babysitting club: ‘Help a neighbour and then, when you need it, a neighbour—most likely a different one—will help you.'”
The NEF’s and Dr. Garcia’s findings came from tracking people’s post-surgical health needs in “Rushey Green,” an electoral ward in the London Borough of Lewisham and set against the backdrop of England’s National Health Service.
Here’s an excerpt from the report’s conclusion:
1. The community time bank approach does help to engage patients as partners in the business of delivering health. It does this by helping to shift the focus from people’s problems to their abilities.
2. Time banks can lever hidden resources in the community. The Rushey Green model seems to be able to access people’s time and goodwill in such a way that they can provide a useful arm to the surgery.
3. Time banks allow health centres to supply a broader view of health. Time banks are not a stand-alone model, but a flexible approach that can be grafted onto existing activities.
4. Mutual support can make a difference to the way people experience the NHS. Mutual volunteering among patients through a time bank can benefit both the giver and the receiver.
To this conclusion, dear reader, let’s shout booyah in honor of every well-played and victorious moment in the sport of keeping people connected within their timebanking communities. And for the joy that comes with the collective health and well-being of as many as possible.
By Grace Maselli
Diane Sawyer’s TV piece on timebanking in her hometown of Louisville, KY was another B-12 shot to the movement’s arm. Resurrecting the 2014 exposé here, it details the experiences of Louisville, KY timebank members through timebanks.org. Peeps in the land of Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Derby continue to save hundreds of dollars by swapping skills and services including babysitting, family portrait photography, home improvement, chiropracty, and jewelry repair. “I feel wealthy since I’ve been in the timebank,” bubbles one interviewee in Sawyer’s piece. Bottom line, in Louisville and Tampa and places in between, if you have a skill, offer it up in your community by joining a timebank. You’ll save money and chances are strong you might find a few goombahs along the way.
By Grace Maselli
OK. Coming clean. When I happened upon this Girl Power maverick Amber Baldet, I thought, “How, how, how to make it relevant to our timebank?” Then, lickety-split, the synchronicities and story hooks
presented themselves like fireflies on a summer night. Amber Baldet, founder of “Clovyr,” is from Florida. A “blockchain” technology entrepreneur, Amber’s about challenging the status quo, changing it up, calling out hegemony where it lives on Wall Street or Main Street U.S.A. And that, dear reader (believes this humble blogger), is innately connected to timebank founder Edgar Cahn’s ethos when filtered through the prism of fact-based interpretation: leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others, does NOT equate to equality of time exchange—one hour of tax preparation and its equivalency to one hour of de-pilling a worn but beloved sweater. OK.
So what the hecker, as my kids used to say when they were toddlers, is a blockchain? A blockchain is the technical mechanism used to de-centralize digital power within “platforms.” What’s a platform? Can you say Facebook? Or Twitter? (A digital “place” where stuff gets posted and people write messages to each other and send pix of their sandwiches and dogs.)
Better yet, let Amber Baldet explain it for you: “Our company, Clovyr, builds tools that help people create decentralized applications, or platforms that are not controlled by a single entity. For example, Twitter is a platform where many people can talk to each other, but Twitter as an organization has a lot of control over what gets read and who can have an account. Decentralized alternatives can provide the same functions but without the central intermediary. Pretty much all the applications we use today are centralized in some way—there’s somebody who runs the show. At Clovyr, we are experimenting with ways to build different types of business models that challenge that hegemony, and allow people to make better choices about how we engage with each other. It’s also about increasing agency and consent in how our data is used.”
Hold up! That’s big news.
And in my imaginary conversation with Edgar Cahn he says, “You betcha. Big news. But also familiar news, if you’re a veteran timebanker.” Why? “Because we’re all about making better choices as it regards how we engage with each other.” Then Edgar says, “Yes, the link between the egalitarian timebanking concept and blockchain’s aim is running in a parallel universe.” Afterall, TBT uses Facebook. Our members communicate via this blog; our exchange hours are logged digitally on this here platform. In other words, openness and more choice in the use of technology is good for us! Carry on, Amber Baldet.
By Grace Maselli
Our invaluable, smart, compassionate TBT Coordinator, Rita Cobbs, reminisced recently about her five-year history with our Tampa Bay organization. Timebanking made a difference both in her “regular” living, and the life-altering loss of her beloved husband during this time period. “Two different TBT friends on separate occasions drove me from Florida to Virginia to help sell my house there,” approximately 800 miles each way. “I think back to the days when I was looking after my husband and remember all the goodwill visits and friendship extended,” Rita says. Besides interstate driving, help was on the way in Tampa to repair Rita’s home when her husband was no longer able to participate. “A timebank member and her father installed some fencing and a fine, white gate to the back yard,” Rita says. Another member and his son cleared all the backyard brush and hauled everything away, too. Yet another member pressure washed the roof.
Gratitude for Support and Knowledge
But it didn’t end there. Creativity, joy, and connection have come from Rita’s interrelationships over time with TBT members. “I can look back on numerous people I hold close to my heart, to lots of fun, and to wonderful benefits. Some of those benefits involved enjoyment of classical music at the Florida Symphony Orchestra, trips to the movies and restaurants, and transportation to social events. And also assistance getting through medical surgeries,” Rita says. Art by way of Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center likewise figures largely: “I was encouraged to teach a watercolor class at the Life Enrichment Center,” one of TBT’s non-profit organizational members, “and I even taught a few classes at my home!”
Nonetheless, catch your breath here, dear reader—as there is still more to consider. Through TBT, Rita also had “direct experiences” with yoga classes, acupuncture, the healing arts, open space meetings, not to mention “creative people committed to healthful living, proper diet and permaculture, social consciousness and social justice. My life has been enriched.” Hallelujah! The additional good news is our Rita continues to be one of the guiding forces in the TBT movement.
By Grace Maselli
We’re at it again! Magical potlucks galore! But this time, with a literary twist. Member guests and guests of members are invited to share one or two poems each in the safe space of a living room. Either something guests have penned in the dark of night or the bright light of day, or a recitation (from memory OR a sheet of paper), an homage, to their faves from the poetic pantheon. Think Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Dr. Suess and his perhaps lesser-known “Greatheart and the Brain Drain”. The Beats. To keep it synced, our shared potluck foods will follow a time-honored literary technique, alliteration, or “the conspicuous repetition of identical initial consonant sounds… ” You dig? That means our shared poetry foods may include potstickers, pierogies, pumpkin pie, pasta, parsnips, or a treasured family recipe from your Uncle Peter. Join us for the mini recital, fun, and foodery! Here’s the skinny: Time: Sunday, September 30, 3-6 PM ¦ Location: 2128 Park Crescent Drive, Land O Lakes, FL 34639 ¦ Questions: 215.834.4567 (Yes, it’s a local event despite the 215 prefix. 🙂 )
By Grace Maselli
Big doings thanks to an art partnership in the local community. Beginning Tuesday, October 16 from 6:30-8:30 PM, TBT will meet every third Tuesday of the month at Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center (LEC), “a private, non-profit organization whose mission is for students to fulfill their lifelong creative potential through the ageless engagement of the arts.” Yay! LEC Executive Director Maureen Murphy heads LEC, a long-time TBT organizational member that, under Maureen’s direction, has generously opened its doors to us the third Tuesday of each month for social events, orientations and ever-wonderful community potlucks.
The venerable arts organization has been in the business of art since 1980—38 years large!
Also in their own words: “The LEC is an innovative arts education center for adults, operating in North Tampa’s Forest Hills neighborhood since 1980. It is one of only a few centers across the country focused on redefining and reshaping retirement and the experience of aging. Its cultural arts program has received national and international recognition and serves as a model of a successful community-based organization, serving adults primarily 50+.” There’s a bundle of classes offered—more than 25 to choose from every week that interested TBT members can avail themselves of. Double yay! Among the gems: creative writing, drawing, pastels, oil/acrylics, watercolor, bead weaving, Tai Chi, yoga, Mahjong, and bridge. LEC’s address is 9704 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612; phone: 813.932.0241.