Change: The Only Certainty

By Grace Maselli

Eleven

by Tanya Markul

The pain
that made you
the odd one out
is the story
that connects you
to a healing world.

An abrupt (or slower-to-manifest life change)—whether because of a major move, job loss, natural disasters, or perhaps the most difficult to adjust to, the death of someone beloved—can feel unimagineable. It can feel to the person going through the experience of quantum shock that the “me” he’s known for many years is gone, replaced by a phantom. It can take months or years, sometimes, for confusion to turn to acceptance, or trauma to subside. For some people, acceptance of changes large and small can be more or less difficult; this may depend on how attuned a person is to this mortal coil’s impermanence.

In her beautiful book, Wake Up Grateful, The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted by Kristi Nelson, the author poignantly writes, “Getting comfortable with impermanence allows us to more deeply appreciate all the things we do not want to take for granted—our body, emotions, relationships, and mystery. There are few things more certain than the fact that we will experience change and loss in many aspects of our lives and, ultimately, loss of our own life.” The reference to mystery, and the idea that nothing in this life is promised to us, is particularly moving.

“Stop thinking of change as interruption to a story; the story was always going to change, many times. It was never guaranteed,” says Maggie Smith in, Keep Moving, Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change, adding, “In fact, only change is guaranteed. Expect it today, and from now on.”

Sometimes acceptance of what’s in our control to manage and what’s completely out of our control can be a way to deal with overwhelming change. When change feels unmanageable, reaching out to support systems, TBT friends or people throughout the Florida Timebanks network, can make the difference. There are moments when a connection to someone willing to spend quality time listening deeply to our pain can tip the balance in the direction of our ability to endure difficulty.

It’s what Markul’s poem Eleven aims to express. You don’t have to run from the pain of change and the humanness that allows a person to feel.  Sharing grief with others holds the promise of what can “connect you to a healing world.” And as Kristi Nelson writes, change, and the grief that can often attend it, “is the cost of loving and respecting life, our Earth and all its inhabitants, and our values of fairness, safety, justice, love, and dignity…The more we love, the more we courageously commit to walking through life thin-skinned, bound to the full range of how much the heart can feel, break, and break itself open—ultimately into even greater wholeness.”

 

Destined to Succeed Despite a Pandemic

By Grace Maselli

Given the public health push to vaccinate, for one shimmering moment in spring we thought we’d beaten back COVID-19. Then came the Delta variant and whammo—the trauma continues, with social distancing, mask wearing, and other survival behaviors and more forced change set in motion yet again.

Our own TBT had high hopes for in-person community and educational events. But like the rest of us, we hit the reset button and we’re back to Zooming and digesting life during a pandemic.

Despite the intensity of what communities and timebanks have lived through since early 2020, TBT was recently notified by hOurworld that we’re ranked in the Top Two internationally out of more than 400 timebanks around the globe for activity and exchanges, undeterred by lockdowns and enforced shut-ins. hOurworld is an international network of timebanks—an online system—where people log or bank the number of hours for which they provide exchanges to other members; the system likewise lets members keep a running tally of the hours spent receiving services provided by their member peers.

News of our happy catapult to the Number Two slot came at us like an adrenalin-pumped surprise party. Gratitude for the ranking goes to Coordinator Rita Cobbs and the TBT Leadership Team, including some serious volunteer and community development chops from Leadership member Christina Bellamy. Rita keeps the full head of steam on our timebank partnerships and collaborations, trainings, brainstorming sessions with Leadership, and the group’s collective energy for moving through the sticky parts of problem solving in the synergistic process.

“We’ve had to continually ask ourselves, ‘How do we build on discussions and idea sharing from diverse experiences and points of view when we can’t meet face-to-face?’ and ‘What do want to learn together’?” Rita says, using technology as an enabling tool.

This extends to our regular Third Tuesday membership and guest meetings. The next one on Tuesday, September 21, will focus on financial literacy, budgeting, and more; presenter will be Faith Wilson, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones in Clearwater. The educational event runs from 6:30 to 8 PM with a Zoom link sent to members and guests closer to the September date. For questions, or to get on the Zoom routing list, text Rita at 608-335-3383 or send an email to: rcobbs@sum.net.

Ideas for future Third Tuesday Zoom topics are always welcome!

A Pearl of a Partnership

By Grace Maselli

Fun, independence, and a daily sense of discovery. These are the values driving the community partnership between the Tampa Bay Timebank and Pearlena’s Adult Activity Center in Tampa. Just like the dynamic, mature seniors in each organization, the association aims to make the most of every day by bringing people together for timebank exchanges, nurturing connections and creative passions—everything from gemstone and jewelry collecting to woodworking and piano playing.

Representatives of TBT’s leadership team recently offered a timebanking how-to presentation to Pearlena members and happily signed a number of the latter to the TBT member roster. The connection between the two organization’s is an organic one, with TBT’s emphasis on social vitality and community—valuing all members of society—echoed in Pearlena’s mission statement, “To provide older adults an opportunity to receive mental, emotional, social, and physical stimulation.”

Katrina Osborne pictured here is Pearlena’s Administrator and actively engaged in the collaborative efforts between Pearlena’s and TBT with Coordinator Rita Cobbs and Leadership Team Member, Christina Bellamy. Katrina’s mother Arlena Chisholm is the Owner and Founder of the organization and named the senior center in her mother Pearlena’s honor.

“I have had a concern for Seniors who idly live alone for many years, desiring to create a place where they could frequent to socialize with others and participate in activities that will add value to their lives,” Arlena says. “My adoration for Seniors and my desire to honor my mother’s memory has been my long-term motivation,” she adds.

“It is a blessing to be able to encourage others to have a better quality of life and lift someone’s spirits,” Pearlena’s granddaughter Katrina says.

The kinship between TBT and Pearlena’s is now part of the local melting pot nourishing the idea of members staying active and developing friendships.

Maintaining vigorous social networks advances healthy aging, evidence-informed research tells us. Community connections and lifelong learning are among the best ways to reduce the risk of cognitive decline, a circumstance that respondents feared most about old age, according to a ­Con­sumer Reports’ survey of 2,066 Americans age 50 who also placed a high value on maintaining quality of life into retirement and well beyond. Here here!

Free Online Tai Chi and Qigong Classes (That’s Thousands of Years Worth of Mind-Body Health!)

By Grace Maselli

Tampa Bay Timebank Leadership Team member, Dr. Robert McGinnis, has once again done one of the things he does best: Bring community together on behalf of TBT. This time, Robert has brokered an amazing partnership to advance preventive health and pain management; it comes in the form of complimentary online classes in an ancient Chinese martial art and body-posture and movement practice that together are Tai Chi (know colloquially as “shadowboxing”) and Qigong (meaning “energy work”). As the flyer Robert put together indicates, the practices “promote mind-body health, immune system [strength], nervous system health, and chronic disease prevention.” Find a copy of the downloadable brochure here: Tai Chi & Qigong for Health & Pain Management.

Tai Chi and Qigong classes will be taught by Jeff Belton, Certified American Tai Chi and Qigong Association instructor and current provider of Whole Health Tai Chi and Qigong and Qigong Walking at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.

Classes are available to all at no cost including to our military veteran community partners, Seniors in Service of Florida, Inc., OVC AmeriCorps Members and Community Volunteers, Tampa Bay Timebank members, and members of our affiliates through Florida Timebanks.

Classes start Friday, June 4 and again on Friday, July 16 from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. Join by Zoom Meeting link at:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88342357332?pwd=dlk4SGJQaTEvQTQwU2tLSkJRMFBSUT09

Passcode: 637311

Pre-registration is NOT required. Just show up, click the link, and enter your name. Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Godzilla Hits the Highway from Tampa to Stowe

 

By Grace Maselli

 

He’s back and he’s headed north to Stowe, VT. The legendary Godzilla monster has been reimagined in 5′ 2″ of medical fiberglass casting bandages (and covered in an arty cocktail of materials: paper “clay” made of bamboo toilet paper, good old-fashioned white glue, and some dry wall compound) concocted by artist and TBT member, Delphine Geraci. “I’m also a bariatric nurse, so that’s what I could think of to make him extra strong,” says the ingenious road warrior.

Delphine took some of her inspiration from a paper clay art class offered through TBT partner organization, the Life Enrichment Center.

Bringing the mythic giant to life—complete with Mom tattoo and intimidating teeth—has been a Geraci family affair involving Delphine’s husband, Dean, and 13-year-old daughter, Stella. “We bought a little trailer and Dean built it up to exactly fit the 5’2″ Godzilla,” she says. Stella is on the road with Delphine as they wend their way toward New England, 1,200 miles north of Tampa to Stowe; it’s here where Godzilla will take up residence at Delphine’s friend’s bar and restaurant—or what Delphine describes as a big après ski hangout and sushi bar called The Matterhorn, otherwise known as Stowe’s world famous party spot voted #1 après ski joint in North America by USA Today readers. (Of course, there’s a certain poetic symmetry here. Godzilla as radioactive pop culture icon invented by Japanese filmmakers and known the world over AND beloved sushi—traditional Japanese haute cuisine made with rice, seaweed, raw seafood, and veggies.)

To be sure he’s steady on his feet, Delphine gave Godzilla a set of concrete lower legs befitting the beautiful beast. “Then we bolted him through a large wooden board into the concrete legs and screwed the board onto the trailer floor. ” Voila!

“I thought a giant Godzilla holding the Stowe ski gondola would be appropriate,” Delphine says.

TBT concurs.

 

 

 

 

Free Online Tai Chi and Qigong Classes (That’s Thousands of Years Worth of Mind-Body Health!)

By Grace Maselli

Tampa Bay Timebank Leadership Team member, Dr. Robert McGinnis, has once again done one of the things he does best: Bring community together on behalf of TBT. This time, Robert has brokered an amazing partnership to advance preventive health and pain management; it comes in the form of complimentary online classes in an ancient Chinese martial art and body-posture and movement practice that together are Tai Chi (know colloquially as “shadowboxing”) and Qigong (meaning “energy work”). As the flyer Robert put together indicates, the practices “promote mind-body health, immune system [strength], nervous system health, and chronic disease prevention.” Find a copy of the downloadable brochure here: Tai Chi & Qigong for Health & Pain Management.

Tai Chi and Qigong classes will be taught by Jeff Belton, Certified American Tai Chi and Qigong Association instructor and current provider of Whole Health Tai Chi and Qigong and Qigong Walking at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.

Classes are available to all at no cost including to our military veteran community partners, Seniors in Service of Florida, Inc., OVC AmeriCorps Members and Community Volunteers, Tampa Bay Timebank members, and members of our affiliates through Florida Timebanks.

Classes start Friday, June 4 and again on Friday, July 16 from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. Join by Zoom Meeting link at:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88342357332?pwd=dlk4SGJQaTEvQTQwU2tLSkJRMFBSUT09

Passcode: 637311

Pre-registration is NOT required. Just show up, click the link, and enter your name. Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Earth Day 2021! Buy a Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Plant a Plant (We Did)

By Grace Maselli

Earth Day. It’s an annual event that got kicked off in 1970. It’s a happening that beseeches us all to recognize our one-and-only precious planet beyond a single day. It’s an annual recognition that aims to appeal to our sense of community interconnection (think timebanking values!) and even small daily actions that can be taken by each of us to protect our faltering Big Blue Marble in the face of human-driven climate change and its dire and associated challenges.

Do One Small Thing to Make an Environmentally Positive Difference

Like EarthDay.org says, “As an individual, you yield real power and influence as a consumer, a voter, and a member of a community that can unite for change.” This can begin with small acts of environmentalism. For instance:

• Get on board with the #2minutesolution and spend two minutes a week collecting litter and recycling as much as possible
• Try eating one meat-free meal a week to lower the carbon emission associated with industrial livestock production to feed the 7.9 billion people on our planet
• Aim to go paperless: read the digital editions of your faves (magazines or newspapers), snap a pic of a poster instead of grabbing paper or a leaflet
• Conserve water and turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth
• Say no to single-use plastic water bottles whenever possible
• And if it’s realistic, take public transit or car pool—or better yet, walk to a store (the latter is a carbon-neutral activity and you’ll get some exercise to boot!)

Recently our community came together to help avid gardener and timebanker Richard Silverman—a disabled senior—in the Indian Rocks area of Largo, FL. Richard was being threatened with a two-week eviction notice from his trailer park after many years of residency if he did not remove his lush garden and glorious multitude of plants. Timebankers from far and wide across the Tampa Bay area came to the rescue, hoisting plants onto the backs of trucks and in cars and giving the green beauties new homes in yards and gardens, sustaining photosynthesis and helping a fellow human being to breathe more easily. It was a beautiful thing.

Take It A Step Further

Readers can also consider joining the EarthDay.com movement and find out about related events in their local area by visiting the event map here. Think too about boosting your environmental education by trying your hand at one or more of eight Earth Day quizzes: Upcycled Foods, Whale Conservation, Protect Our Species, Climate Change, Oceans and Plastic Pollution, Environmental Literacy, Deforestation and Biodiversity, and Clean Energy.

And if you want more, check out Sierra Club’s and Friends of the Earth United States’, “What World Leaders Can Learn from India and Global Grassroots Calls for Climate Action,” part of President Biden’s summit kick off that brings together world leaders to discuss global efforts to combat climate change. You can also jump into the action at EarthDay Live 2021!

 

Time, She’s Aflyin! It’s International Timebanking Day 2021 and Edgar Cahn’s Birthday

By Grace Maselli

We’ve nearly clocked another 365 days since last spring! Time to recognize International Timebanking Day, even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We’re also celebrating Father Timebank himself, Edgar S. Cahn whose birthday is on the same wonderful spring day, March 23.

No matter that we can’t gather easily and safely, we’re still reminded of timebanking’s core values and the history of timebanking with impressive international reach. Check out the video with thought leaders Dr. Cahn and his wife Dr. Chris Gray who discuss the sharing economy and new and emerging models therein. For soulful storytelling and inspiring excerpts on the beauty of timebanking, listen to Chris and Edgar in a recent podcast: “50 Stories in 50 Days!”

Please join everyone at TBT to make a collective wish for Edgar and Chris’s happy and healthy 2021!

The Five Core Values of Timebanking
Assets
We are all assets. We all have something to give.
Redefining Work
Some work is beyond price. Work has to be redefined. To create “the village” that raises healthy children, builds strong families, revitalizes neighborhoods, makes democracy work, advances social justice, and even makes the planet sustainable is valuable work. It needs to be honored, recorded, and rewarded.
Reciprocity
Helping works better as a two-way street. The question: “How can I help you?” needs to change so we ask: “How can we help each other build the world we all will live in?”
Social Networks
We need each other. People joined in shared purpose are stronger than individuals. Helping each other, we reweave communities of support, strength & trust. Community is built upon sinking roots, building trust, creating networks. Special relationships
are built on commitment.
Respect
Every human being matters. Respect underlies freedom of speech and religion and everything we value. Respect supplies the heart and soul of democracy. When respect is denied to anyone, we all are injured. We must respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.

 

 

 

 

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An Indelible Mark Left Behind

By Grace Maselli

It’s with heavy hearts and deep gratitude for her visionary work that we announce the death of Tampa Bay Timebank founder Marie Nelson. Marie died on January 21, the 21st day of the 21st year of 21st century. She was 78 years old.

Marie’s grassroots and tireless passion to structure and educate the community about timebanking—how it works and how it holds the potential to benefit intergenerational members of all communities—set the stage for a system of exchanges that continues to reach across Florida’s Tampa Bay Area, including more recent timebanks and timebank hubs in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Hernando Counties.

Petite in stature, Marie had Herculean energy for big picture strategy and hitting the pavement. She developed the inaugural Tampa Bay Area timebank, meeting with individuals, private businesses, and local government agencies in some cases to talk a blue streak about how to bring community members together to build timebanking alliances across counties and among neighbors.

“My mother was an exceptional woman,” says Naomi Nelson of Gainesville, FL. Marie is best described, Naomi says, as a person who dedicated her life professionally and privately to humanistic principles and ideas. “From the early 1960s, in every community she lived in, she was an activist and community organizer. She was not tied to a single ‘ism’ or oppression. [Her humanistic approach] was part of an integrated world view that encompassed her professional life in education, environmental and climate activism, racial and LGBTQ+ equality activism and, or course, the alternate economy work she did through the timebank.”

Fearless and Persevering

Marie was a bonafide academic who came from a long line of well-educated parents and grandparents. Her fearlessness and conviction is well demonstrated in a particular story Naomi shares. In the early 1960s Marie taught high school English at Furman College in Greenville, S.C. where she got her undergraduate degree. She taught for one year until she was fired from the job for leading interracial “meet and greets” in Greenville before desegregation, “so that black and white students could meet and talk to each other,” Naomi explains.  Marie also lived and taught at Columbia S.C.’s Benedict College, a small historically black college in Columbia where she was very active in the Women’s Rights Movement and served as one of the founding members of the city’s National Organization of Women’s chapter.

“Marie was a strong and spirited woman and always made sure there was a place at the table for anyone who wanted to be involved with what she was doing,” says B.J. Andryusky, coordinator of the St. Petersburg Timebank and longtime friend of Marie’s.

Marie was no stranger either to the founder of timebanking himself, Edgar Cahn, a distinguished legal professor and former counsel and speech writer to Robert F. Kennedy. Dr. Cahn is the author of Time Dollars (1992) and No More Throw-Away People: The Coproduction Imperative (2004), detailing how to mobilize a non-market economy that recognizes and rewards reciprocal contributions of service and caring.

“With Marie Nelson’s passing, the timebank community lost a dear and precious member of the family,” Edgar remarks. Marie believed that, as people who care about community, “We are here for each other,” Edgar says. And for Marie, “Community was not just an array of nonprofits and transactions by networks of do-gooders. Community was simply family, extended family, open-ended family…For Marie, Community was organic and alive.”

Dr. Chris Gray, Edgar’s wife and partner in timebanking, believes “Marie brought people together. She helped them think about the future and its possibilities—possibilities anchored in values of social justice and equity. On that, she was always crystal clear, she never wavered. Edgar and I so valued knowing her, sharing ideas with her, learning where her thinking was going.”

Wisdom to Share

For nearly four years Marie lived in Tampa with Karen Lowman, a member of the TBT Leadership Team, and Karen’s wife, Mandy O’Neil. “She was like family,” the two women remark. “She had an emotional impact and shared a lot of wisdom and stories,” says Mandy, adding “Marie was adventurous. I loved hearing stories about her rebel days growing up. She had a remarkably positive outlook on life even during the most difficult stretches of her health challenges. She always focused on perseverance.”

Marie’s efforts improved the lives of people in her orbit as she worked to create a safety net for some of the most vulnerable in our local communities. She acted on behalf of the greater good.

“Marie was fearless and liked to shed light on the darkest places; this was symbolic of her work with the Tampa Bay Timebank,” says Karen. “She was always patient and extremely diplomatic. She had a go-with-the-flow attitude. Marie truly loved groups and supporting an alternative economy, especially for aging populations whose physical abilities change over time,” Karen says.

A Laser Beam with Language

Marie’s love of language came as no surprise to anyone who knew her. She earned a Ph.D in Language Education and an M.Ed. in English Education from the University of Georgia. She studied French Literature at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. where she earned a Bachelor of Arts; she was also Emeritus Professor of Integrated Studies at National Louis University, Chicago, IL. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she taught English in Japan.

“Marie was always concerned about very specific words, their precise meaning, and how they sounded together to be sure a message was relayed absolutely perfectly,” B.J. recalls. “I remember spending hours with her to help create key documents for the Tampa Bay Timebank. She cared so deeply about people and about the message she had to share.”

From community activists and documentary film makers, to students and professionals, Marie loved and mentored many people across her nearly eight decades of life. For those who worked alongside her and became her dearest, closest friends, Marie’s death is a profound loss—even as she leaves behind a legacy of service and the results of her commitment to make the world a better place than the one she found.

Marie is survived by her daughter Naomi Nelson of Gainesville, FL, her son, Joshua Nelson of Beaufort, S.C., and a grandson, Elijah Nelson-Ehrsam of Gainesville, FL.

Celebrations of Life

This Saturday, January 30, 2021, interested friends are invited to an outdoor memorial for Marie at Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, FL, by/around Shelter 7.  Wearing masks and observing all social distancing recommendations, we will gather to celebrate Marie’s remarkable life. Plan to bring a chair and share a vegan potluck dish with a description of ingredients for those with dietary/allergen-related restrictions.

Event: Outdoor Celebration of Life for Marie Nelson
Day: Saturday, January 30, 2021
Location: Philippe Park, Safety Harbor, FL, near Shelter 7
Time: 11 AM to 1 PM EST
Questions: Contact TBT Coordinator Rita Cobbs at 608.335.2382

TBT will also hold a Celebration of Life for Marie via Zoom at its Third Tuesday meeting on February 16 at 6:30 PM EST. The Celebration will be facilitated by Karen Lowman with participants invited to speak for three to five minutes each to give all guests an opportunity to express their love and appreciation for our founder. Tampa Life Enrichment Center Executive Director and community partner Maureen Murphy is assembling a presentation to commemorate Marie’s life to be shared with Zoom participants.

Event: Zoom Memorial for Marie Nelson
Day: Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Time: 6:30 to 9 PM EST
Questions: Contact TBT Coordinator Rita Cobbs at 608.335.2382

 

A Walk on the Wild Side

By Grace Maselli

Wow: 2020. It wasn’t for the faint of heart. Adults, youth, essential workers, best friends—almost everybody’s lives got shaken by the wrath of COVID, an upside-down experience that turned “normal” living into strange and confined terrain in order to stay safe. Of course, the public health crisis continues and has even worsened in many states in the U.S., with infection rates spiking and hospital beds becoming more scarce.

Some people have turned away from the news. Or seriously limited the intake just to stay sane.

But there are rays of light breaking through. The soon-to-be Biden-Harris administration has a clear stance on safety and the pandemic, “A decisive public health response that ensures the wide availability of free testing; the elimination of all cost barriers to preventive care and treatment for COVID-19;…and the full deployment and operation of necessary supplies, personnel, and facilities,” according to the Biden-Harris camp. President-elect Joe Biden’s gotten his first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

And even if we’re lonelier, the whirl of technology connects many of us, screen to screen. The pandemic of 1918 afforded no such luxury. People have been creative with social distancing. Virtual girls’ night out, Microsoft Teams holiday parties with a professional trivia host and cash prizes. Of course, there’s also getting away from a screen (screen, scream!) and going outside for a stroll, a bike ride (recumbent, too), and kayaking under safe conditions.

Maybe 2021 will bring us to the entryway to that tunnel, where we can see more light at the other end?

Here’s hoping we all have the capacity to appreciate some of those little miracles—like being able to breathe, and hear, and walk. Maybe we can turn the corner this year and build some momentum by looking at some of the things that go right?

From all of us at TBT to all of you, we wish you a slice of joy in the complex holiday season.