Timebank Jack Pot – Compound Interest

TBTandTIMBy Laura Clarke

This is a story about how simply accounting for the silly little unpaid things that we do outside of the market economy are actually beautiful, noble, and incredibly valuable. Time Banking may be thought of as a mechanism for giving credit to the hours we spend helping friends, neighbors and building community. Assigning value to these unpaid acts of service acknowledges their role in keeping the market economy humming and reminds us of our basic human need to feel worthy and valued no matter our socioeconomic status.

On a recent trip to Maine I suddenly realized the value of compound interest when I joyfully offered half of the Time Bank hours in my account to a Time Bank member in Maine who generously provided me a week’s lodging in her home. This transaction saved me more than $600 that otherwise would have been deposited in the market economy C/O Marriott Hotels. The cool part is, not only did I save money, I met new friends, had a great experience, and helped weave the Time Bank communities of Maine and Florida together. By simply adding up all the little times and ways I said yes to my Time Bank and its members I came away feeling- not used and spent- but completely energized! Now that is what I call hitting the Time Bank Jack Pot!

The muscular market economy has us so well trained. We forget how to think outside of it. Such was the case when planning my trip to Maine. When I learned lodging at the Fairfield Inn was $99 a night I was aghast. Shrewd and inspired I thought of Time Bank! That I even came up with the idea of Time Bank was a miracle in itself! I wondered if Augusta had a Time Bank? My fingers began to fly across the computer keyboard as I researched time banks in Maine.

I emailed Stacey Jacobson, the Director of T.I.M.E., Time Initiative of Maine located in Augusta. The tag line for T.I.M.E. is “ It’s Your Time. Make It Count.” Stacey hastily addressed my request for lodging, posting a member alert that was attached to an automatic update that was sent to all time bank members.

Like pennies from heaven, offers for housing began to flood my email inbox. I received three offers! Wow! Now I had to choose! I didn’t expect that! I opted to stay with Rebecca Singer. She said she had a guest room that her mother from Clearwater stays in. Yes, she has a mother from Clearwater, Florida! Who knew? Stacey kept in touch with both me and Rebecca to make sure connections were made. Rebecca also offered to pick me up from the local bus station in Augusta and offer me rides around town. This Time Bank concierge service simply can’t be beat! I felt completely pampered.

After showing me to the guest room in her quaint 100 year old house Rebecca took me to her grandfather’s house. Her entire family was gathered for a father’s day get together. The nicest folks you could meet! Then we headed to nearby historic Hollowell, met up with Rebecca’s boyfriend Erik, and enjoyed live music and craft beer at The Liberal Cup. Ah! Life is good!

I spent my week in Augusta attending Compost School. Early in the week Rebecca drove me to school and Erik picked me up. By midweek I hitched rides from compost classmates. Evenings found me showered and in my plaid flannel pajamas by 7:00pm. Rebecca and Erik were so incredibly easy to be around. Eric, an inventor, made a scrumptious stew and multi talented theatrical Rebecca sang around the house with the most beautiful voice I have ever heard! I ask you, were else can you go and mingle with people you just met in your pajamas and feel like it was the most normal and natural thing? I dare say not at the Fairfield Inn!

When Friday came, and my week came to a close, Rebecca and I discussed our exchange. We mutually agreed upon a set number of hours per day, in our case 5 hours, that I would pay her. Rebecca said that she planned on using her hours to give her son Joseph piano lessons. I offered Rebecca and Erik a place to stay when they come to Clearwater, Florida to visit her mother.

When I returned to Florida I learned that the Founder of Tampa Bay Time Bank, Marie Nelson, had been in touch with Stacey Jacobson, the Director of Time Initiative of Maine. It seems that both leaders see the potential for a weaving together or mutual partnership between the two Time Banks as many Mainers visit Florida and many Floridians visit Maine. Ah! Life is good! And with Time Bank, it just gets better and better!

So keep on flexing your Time Bank muscle! The little daily or weekly things you do for each other and your communities are really beautiful, noble, and so valuable! Use the hOurworld app on your cell phone and capture these Time Bank moments. You are worth it. The little moments of making exchanges doing freely what we love be it weeding, driving, organizing, or advising are the things that unite us, excite us, and make us human!

Permaculture Blitz and Timebanking

The following is a description of a permaculture site being developed in Clearwater through the efforts of Tampa Bay Time Bank member Koreen Brennan. It is a good example of how effective permaculture events like “permablitzes” can be and what Hibiscus House is doing in Clearwater. Tampa Bay Time Bank members can earn TBT hours working at permablitzes like this one.

We’re installing a comprehensive urban permaculture design at our 1/3 acre property in Clearwater, and have been having a series of “permablitzes” to accomplish this. Some of the design elements include: Sunburst raised beds, fruit trees and perennial edibles (goodbye lawn!), rainwater catchment, outdoor solar shower and much more.


The first week we had about 25 people on the scene – this mighty crew moved 5 truckloads of mulch into raised beds. That was a huge part of what we needed and would have taken us month.  The second week we had about 10 people who were also mighty – we pinpointed the sewer pipes, created a hugulkulture mound (tree trunks under soil, replicating forest floor), dug out part of the pond, planted tons of seeds, and many other permaculture inspired features.

The third week we’re going to continue the comprehensive design, eventually producing hundreds of pounds of food and cuttings to spread to others, and demonstrating many elements of a highly productive urban permaculture site. We’ll have free cuttings of easy to grow plants and good camaraderie and conversation, and yes, Time Bank hours!

Contact us to take a look! Best, Koreen Brennan

Read more about Koreen Brennan on the web site Growpermaculture.com, follow “Grow Permaculture” on Facebook to find out more about Hibiscus House events and Permaculture in the Tampa Bay area.

Email Koreen at koreen@growpermaculture.com


Talent Show and Birthday Celebration, May 22

TBTTalentShowFlierSmallTampa Bay Time Bank is celebrating FOUR years of building community through timebanking in the Tampa Bay area! In the true spirit of making offers and exchanges, we are having a Talent Show and Birthday Celebration on Friday, May 22, 2015 from 7:30 to 11 pm at Sacred Grounds Coffee House, located at 4819 E. Busch Blvd., Tampa, FL 33617. Tampa Bay Time Bank (TBT) members are invited to participate as the TALENT for the evening’s show.

If you’d like to perform in the talent show,
please contact
Kathy McGuire at KathySings4u@gmail.com.

Download a full color flier of the event here.

Keeping your Timebanking Agreement

The Tampa Bay Time Bank “terms of service” agreement contains the main guidelines to which all members agree when they join TBT. Here’s a pdf file of the document: TAMPA_BAY_TOS.

It states…

1. As a member of Tampa Bay Time I agree to treat others with respect. I will respond to
communications promptly and perform quality services in a safe and careful manner.
2. I will not disclose any personal information (such as names, addresses, email addresses or
telephone numbers) about any Tampa Bay Time participant without the participant’s consent.
3. I understand that Tampa Bay Time will not do criminal background checks on participants or
check personal references, professional licenses, driver’s licenses and/or driving records.
4. I understand that Tampa Bay Time may take photographs and video for use in community
outreach, publicity and research. If I do not want my image(s) to be used I will notify the
photographer or videographer at any event(s) that I participate in.
5. I understand that Tampa Bay Time defines and limits the types of services that can be
exchanged with other participants. If I have any questions about whether a particular service is
allowed, I will communicate with Tampa Bay Time.
6. I am responsible for determining whether and when to exchange services offered through
Tampa Bay Time. I understand that the services I provide or receive are not evaluated or
recommended by Tampa Bay Time, and that Tampa Bay Time does not warranty or guarantee
the services in any way.
7. I assume full responsibility for all liability and all risk of injury or loss which may result from
participating in the Tampa Bay Time program. I agree to indemnify and hold harmless all parties
who facilitate or participate in the Time Bank exchanges.
8. I expressly waive any claims, demands or causes of action and release Time Banks USA, Tampa
Bay Time and their members, partners, contractors, agents, officers and employees from any
liability whatsoever arising from this program.
9. I understand that participating in Tampa Bay Time does not and will not form a contractual
relationship between me and any other Tampa Bay Time participant or entity.
10. As a participant in Tampa Bay Time, I agree that all services I give or receive are voluntary. I will not give or receive any money for these services. I understand that service hours have no
monetary value.
11. I understand that my participation in Tampa Bay Time may be terminated for any reason not
prohibited by law. Reasons for which my participation may be terminated include conduct that
is unlawful, harmful to any other individual or disruptive to the program.
12. This agreement will remain in effect even if I am no longer a participant in Tampa Bay Time. I
have read and understand and specifically agree to all of the language in this Agreement.
13. By Applying for this account, I acknowledge that I understand and agree to the above terms.

HCC 2015 Beyond Sustainability Conference

The Tampa Bay Time Bank will have a table at the Hillsborough Community College Beyond Sustainability IV on April 15, 2015.

The TBT table will be at the HCC “Showcase” between 3:00-6:00pm Wednesday, April 15th on the Ybor City campus. The entire event is free and open to the public. It’s in the Student Services Center, the LEED building on the HCC Ybor Campus, 1320 E. Palm Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605. Room YSSB 307/308. Parking in back.


Edgar Mitchell founder of The Institute of Noetic Sciences– IONS will be speaking at 7:00pm. See more at noetic.org. Our Time Bank partner, Suncoast Community Institute of Noetic Sciences (SCIONS) will have a table right next to ours!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 3-8 pm on the Ybor City Hillsborough Community College Campus. Download a pdf flyer of the event:



Timebanking and Hospice Home Care

A Personal Experience
by Rita Cooper Cromwell Cobbs

Three weeks after my husband’s death in hospice, I can reflect on the experience of providing home care for him for the past six months with the help of the Life Path Hospice team, friends, family, neighbors and several Tampa Bay Time Bank members. All in all, my two years as a member of the Tampa Bay Time Bank helped provide a key network of support for this intense journey.

Much of that support was unsolicited and poured out from the members’ compassionate interest in our welfare. Even though such support had not been requested formally on time bank software, much service was provided informally, volunteered or just appeared as surprise presents. In retrospect, I have tried to provide some accountability by recording time bank hours to a few of the key people who helped us through this journey. But during the six month long hospice experience itself, it was not possible for me to have enough detachment, time, or energy to do the appropriate reporting of exchanges, nor was it expected by members. In fact, I moved from a fairly active participation in time bank activities to completely shutting off any computer connection with it, not even reading the newsletters.

My focus was one-pointed and brooked of no distractions by necessity. Also clear was that people who were friends in the time bank did not offer their support and help as a time bank exchange, but simply to assist someone they cared about in a time of crisis. The services provided, the meals brought, the patient companionship as caregiver relief were given as a gift of love, a manifestation of friendship, not as a potential exchange of value. For me, this created a strange gray area of communication, where to discuss something like giving credit in hours (not money certainly, but related to a value exchange) would have been tantamount to an error of etiquette, and would have reflected poorly on the friendship and feelings of affection motivating the service provided. In summary, it was not the mechanism of our formal exchange of hourly services in the time bank structure which was my big support at this time of need, but rather the intensity of the friendships generated through contacts within the time bank that provided a network of caring individuals who offered themselves and their talents as great gifts.

I did not undertake looking after my 89 year old husband through his lung cancer illness with only the support of hospice naïvely, but rather based that decision on my years of being a hospice administrator, and knowing in a thorough and basic way the gamut of the hospice process and its outcomes. In fact, I could visualize the final hours of my husband’s death at home from the first day that we received the hospice referral. And that both made the process easier and more functional and at the same time harder and more poignant. My commitment to caring for him at home was 100% and the only question was would I be able at my age of 73 to do what was needed as sole caregiver, our seven children being scattered throughout the United States. A few simple responses from the hospice team convinced me that their care was excellent and the structure was established to provide me with all of the basic care giving needs.

My husband had countless years of successes in a wide variety of fields and was best known for his storytelling ability and his infinite capacity to engage other people in interesting dialogue. We soon had emotional ties with the nurses, the CNAs, the social worker, the volunteers and other members of the hospice team. Quickly, my daily experiences were altered by my husband’s changing physical condition. It required concentration to stay on top of medical and emotional needs and to continue to provide enjoyable, productive and creative life experiences for him. He continued to write his newspaper column for the Virginia mountain newspapers each week, to communicate with family and friends and to read his usual book a day on an e-reader.

The one certainty we had was competent professional help from the hospice staff, so when volunteer hours were needed, I went first to the Hospice structure which mandated highly trained volunteers as part of their interdisciplinary team. We had two excellent volunteers, one who came every Wednesday after work and talked with him while I took a much needed break, and another who developed a Legacy program which involved videotaping his stories and resulted in some 10 hours of irreplaceable family history and anecdotes as well as a slide show commemorating his life and family.

Later, as time bank members begin to offer help and my routine was more established, I was able to incorporate their kindnesses as additional help to our day by day activities. One of the first supports from members of the time bank was bringing food. My stress level was high enough so it was hard for me to make decisions about food. My husband’s appetite was minimal and soon his intake was primarily supplementary drinks, but one Tampa Bay Time Bank member brought watermelon and other such delights and for his birthday a gigantic birthday cookie which was fun and made a great photograph. Another member offered overnight accommodations for visiting relatives. Sometimes someone would bring me a special little meal delivered as a surprise, often some delectable foreign dish, or a dessert or special cheeses or a sandwich. Since his intake was limited, it was usual for me to eat randomly, and such food gifts were always a great pleasure.

Often a time bank friend would ask if I needed something from the grocery store and if I mentioned one item, they would appear with a basket of goodies. One special member emailed a long list of things that she would like to do for us; the itemized list gave me previously unidentified possibilities. It also made me realize that she wanted to help and was not making a token overture. She came to our house and listened to me talk for over an hour, adding supportive comments and gentle guidance. Her professional skill as a counselor was just part of her personal identity and “friend to friend” she was able to provide professional support, a bonding that carried over through followup emails.

Some members were long-standing friends; when one of our dogs needed surgery, she took over the whole process, taking the dog to the vet, handling aftercare, and monitoring recovery. None of this would have been something I could have handled on my own while looking after my husband.

Another member developed a relationship with my husband almost like a granddaughter. She checked weekly to see what we needed, brought supplies, treats, fixed home repair problems, and created a bed for him outside in the backyard to give him a chance to be in the sunshine.

Perhaps the most extraordinary development was during the last three weeks of my husband’s life. Two members of the time bank who operate a community acupuncture clinic in the area came by repeatedly to help in many ways. One, an expert in computer technology, got my printer working, also fixing some computer problems, and signing me up for her Netflix program, enabling me to watch some interesting movies. The computer and printer concerns were important as we continued to work with my husband’s writings and needed to print out copies for his review as well as photos of daughters and sons. Both of these TBT members were good visitors, full of fun, hugs, and emotional support, bringing food delicacies which we shared together. They also made visits at bedside with my husband to listen to his stories and share their own lives.

As the time of death drew near, their spiritual support came into play. One member brought invaluable spiritual books, one book a dialogue with a Rabbi and another written by hospice nurses, entitled Final Gifts, providing a way to meaningfully interpret the so-called confusion of patients in their final day. The other friend who had medical training was able to help position my husband in his hospital bed and make him more comfortable. All in all, their visits were a major contribution to our comfort and tranquility.

Another fairly new and inactive time bank member, both a friend and neighbor, came regularly. He took a couple of our dysfunctional hearing aids to the VA repair service and brought them back in working condition, helping us when hearing problems were compounding all our other concerns. He also spent hours at bedside in meaningful conversations with my husband. A visit from Mark was something my husband welcomed even during his last week of life.

There are several conclusions that I have drawn from this recent life altering experience:

1. Attention to the mechanism and technology of a time bank (its exchanges) is beyond the capacity of a caregiver and patient during a time of crisis. It is largely impossible to initiate and complete requests and recording of hours for services rendered unless a caregiver shifts that needed one-pointed focus away from the medical task at hand. Nevertheless, the basic building of community which is the foundation and function of the time bank exists in and apart from the formal exchange mechanism and THAT is the greatest benefit derived from the time bank. That community of friends who really care about the patient and caregiver come forward with love and service as a voluntary outpouring of affection.

2. For one committed to the principle of time banking, it is easy after-the-fact to begin some kind of equitable adjustment of “time-bank hours” for services rendered that satisfies the function of hourly exchanges and at the same time cements the personal relationships of the people involved.

3. There is probably a role for facilitators within the time bank structure to help this process go forward and also perhaps to create a gift category of hours that could be awarded in the name of a person giving the service. If it is awkward to award hours for service to a particular member, it might be more graceful to give hours in their name to a fund for those who need hours, much like a donation to a charity in honor of a special friend. If such a mechanism is created it is important that some member of the time bank acknowledge that gift of hours and the name of the person that is being recognized soon after the service is rendered so that it is not an unrecognized formality.

Finally, at this point, weeks after my husband’s death and one day after a Thank You Potluck for all those who helped us on our journey (a gathering attended by some 40 people, 8 of whom are members of the Tampa Bay Time Bank, and taking place in our front yard) I am reminded of my husband’s strategies in fund raising for Roanoke College in Virginia. His point when accompanying one of their development staff was never directly to ask for money. He believed that, if a call was completed with the proper emotional rapport and information, the financial gift would follow and would often be greater because it was never requested. In the same way it has seemed to me that there has been more goodwill created for and about the time bank through an oblique process, stemming from natural emotional attachments and affection than through any so-called pitch or direct solicitation of membership. Perhaps what we have learned is that, when we go about building community, the time bank structure takes its rightful place as a mechanism rather then as the primary function.