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|
We are all assets. We all have something to give.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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|
TBT welcome guest blogger Dr. Robert McGinnis, TBT Leadership Team member, professor, MBA, Ph.D, St. Leo University/St. Petersburg College
By Dr. Robert McGinnis
As we reflect on the tragedy of 9/11 19 years ago, we are reminded how connected all of humanity is. We are also reminded of the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
These immortal words are just as true and relevant today as they were during the Civil Rights Movement 70 years ago. Since that time, we have had many tragedies and challenges. They all have one thing in common: they bring out the best in us. The “Beloved Community” always picks up the gauntlet and rises to challenge. During the pandemic of 2020 we are once again reminded how interdependent we are on so many: teachers, store clerks, first responders, students, caretakers, doctors, nurses, waste disposal workers. So many risking their lives on a daily basis to keep the “Beloved Community” alive.
“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls, as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us.
We are blessed to have many heroic individuals and organizations in the Tampa Bay area. one of which is the Tampa Bay Time Bank.
Many of us have shared Dr. King’s “Dream,” including Dr. Edgar S. Cahn. In 1995, Edgar Cahn founded the Time Dollar Institute—now known as TimeBanks USA—to promote timebanking in the U.S. and around the world. Passionate about social justice, Edgar saw timebanking as a way to restore community and to recognize and reward civic engagement. In the decades that followed, he became its strong, persistent champion, promoting timebanking as a tool for creating a more just, more caring world. Today organized timebanking takes place in more than 30 countries—including China, Russia, and various countries in Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. In the United States, there are about 500 registered time banks, and together they have enrolled more than 37,000 members. ( Stanford Social Innovation Review, SSIR.org)
Universally, there are five core values underlying timebanking:
- Assets – We are all assets. We all have something to give.
- Redefining Work – Some work is beyond price. Work has to be redefined. Creating “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 and needs to be rewarded.
- Reciprocity – Helping works better as a two-way street. The question: “How can I help you?” needs to changed 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 establishing roots, building trust, and creating networks. Special relationships are built on commitment.
- Respect – Every human being matters. Respect underlies freedom of speech, freedom of 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. (timebanks.org)
Tampa Bay Time Bank is an integral part of the “Beloved Community” and has been actively engaged in Tampa Bay for more than 13 years. When the news of the pandemic peaked in mid-March, Delphine Geraci, a Bariatric RN and dozens of other timebankers pulled together as a community of workers and immediately started making face masks. They have distributed more 6,000 masks to individuals and communities in the Tampa Bay Area and beyond. Many are made from “PUL,” or what’s described as a “disposable, breathable, and waterproof fabric, specially treated so that it is not harmful to the skin, both in adults and babies.
My most current timebank project is working with two new member organizational members RAMWI and Radiant Hands, both of which provide support for Tampa Bay’s refuge population. Tampa Bay Time Bank members are scheduled to be tutors for elementary math at teh start of school.
As we reflect and remember those who lost their lives in the many tragedies in our country’s history, let us also be reminded of those whose heroic efforts continue to build and heal our “Beloved Communities.”. Thank someone, anyone, today for their contributions to the quality of life that we enjoy today.
By Grace Maselli
Invoking the recent words of former President Barack Obama to high schoolers and 2020 college grads, “If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you.” Or in the case of our Florida Timebanks, which have always been about inclusivity and valuing all members of our society, it’s up to the collective community energy—the social adhesive and grassroots mobilization we strengthen and invigorate together—that can make a positive difference. And a critical and encompassing change in our neighborhoods and localities, particularly given the intense negative effects of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable populations.
TBT and its nearby timebank partners are forging organizational connections with groups dedicated to helping the Tampa Bay Area’s refugee populations; to reinforce the local social safety net, we’re taking citizen action for emergency responses and aiming to help expand refugee support programs. The locus of initial activity will begin around Tampa’s University of South Florida and Temple Terrace neighborhoods where concentrations of Congolese and Arabic-speaking refugee families live.
Organizational partners have joined TBT and surrounding timebanks to participate in the exchange “system” that uses time as its currency instead of money—welcoming refugee families to exchange “person hours.” Individuals and family members who sign up to do the things they love for other members, offering what they enjoy in a service exchange where every hour of time is equally valued.
To make it happen TBT is working closely with Tampa’s Radiant Hands, Inc. whose mission is to “empower women and families in the North-Central Florida region by providing them with spiritual, emotional, educational, and financial support with the goal of helping them to achieve independence in mind. In doing so, we hope to encourage and enable women and families to contribute individually and collectively in strengthening our community as a whole.”
Like Radiant Hands, we’re also collaborating with new organizational member Ramwi Refugee and Migrant Women’s Initiative, Inc. Based in Tampa, Ramwi (pronounced ram-wee) places emphasis on support with the potential to blossom into self-actualization that can come with being an independent and much-valued community member: “Our mission is to bring newly arrived refugee, migrant and other vulnerable women, children and their families residing in Tampa Bay together. Doing so, we hope to empower, engage, and support them during the difficult phases of resettlement and transition.”
Volunteers to Deliver Much-Needed Food
The unfolding community work means there’s an opportunity for timebank volunteers to help deliver food in the USF area and to donate storage space for canned food. Also in the planning phase for timebank exchanges:
• A community garden
• Help with Radiant Hands’ and Ramwi’s Thanksgiving dinner
• Mask sewing for healthcare workers in need of Personal Protective Equipment
Many of Ramwi’s female program participants will graduate from sewing classes and be given a sewing machine of their own. The graduate “collective” is talking about potential plans to sell the things they make, including possible wedding guest favors. But of course we’re all open to all kinds of creative ideas for goods that can be handmade and brought to market.
No pairing of timebanks and community stakeholders dedicated to serving refugees could fit the Tampa Bay Timebank mission and revitalization efforts with more symmetry than the work now underway with Radiant Hands and Ramwi. Increases in our 550+ membership is a telltale sign of interest as more organizational leaders and families join, welcoming all who come to our city and its surrounding area.
For donations, to volunteer for food delivery and storage, and ideas to share, contact TBT Coordinator Rita at 608.335.22382 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Grace Maselli
The Tampa Bay Timebank values a good laugh as much as it values community connection. A TBT friend
shared a “NextDoor” social post, part of which is excerpted immediately below. NextDoor self-describes as the digital “neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services,” so we have something in common. A woman in a virtual NextDoor community penned this:
Isolation Can Be Tough
“Just seen a news report about the stresses and strains of self-isolation. It was reported that people are going crazy from being in lockdown in their homes. It was strange because I had just been talking about this with the microwave and toaster and all of us agreed that things are getting pretty bad. I didn’t mention anything to the washing machine as she always has to put a different spin on everything, and certainly not to the fridge as he is acting cold and distant again. In the end the iron calmed me down. She said everything will be fine, which surprised me because she’s usually the first one to apply unnecessary pressure and get steamed up over nothing!!!”
By Grace Maselli
Unless you’ve been under a rock, dear reader, then you know about the pandemic—Covid-19—and how it’s changed daily life. For reliable info, members of the Tampa Bay Timebank turn to recommendations from leading national public health institutes, namely the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And if you might be feeling “plague dread,” as coined by The Atlantic, you can find some tips here for staying sane.
But remember too, there’s still room for gratitude amidst the bewilderment of life gone topsy-turvy. (Think: “Hey, I may still be able to get food delivered to my door,” “I can take a walk,” [for those of us this may apply to], and “I can listen to a groovy podcast.”) About that last one, check out the Good News Network’s “Inspiring Corona Virus Kindness Updates” to blow some much-needed fresh air up your trousers.
Or for a quick pick-me-up, call a TBT friend or a neighbor to let them know they’re on your mind and in your heart. Because after all, we’re in this together. Even if (to varying degrees) we can’t be in the same room right now. And in the spirit of community and living life one day at a time, here’s to hygienic hand-washing and common sense for all of us.
By Grace Maselli
Join TBT for our upcoming Third Tuesday monthly member-and-guest gathering. We’ll not only talk timebanking and exchanges, but amp-up the fun with our traditional, post holiday White Elephant—our homage to the Big Season, plus a book and CD swap. Come, join the fun. Bring your stuff to give away, leave with new goodies. Get to know people. Bring a light snack to share. It’s that easy!
|Date||Tuesday, January 21, 2019|
|Address||Life Enrichment Center
9704 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612; phone: 813.932.0241
|Questions?||Contact email@example.com or call Rita (608) 335-2382|
By Grace Maselli
There’s no doubt we’ve got it going on in Florida with timebanking: building community, making connections with one another. We’re 546 members strong in Tampa and part of the ever-expanding timebanking communities in St. Pete’s and Spring Hill. Our service exchange “system” uses time as its currency. Instead of money, we exchange “person hours.” More and more people are signing up to do things they love for other members, offering what they enjoy within the service exchange framework and using our online system known as “Hour World” to collect and tally their exchanges. That means everything from scrapbooking and sweeping someone’s garage, to fixing stuff and tutoring. Professionals can get involved too through their organizations or as individuals to offer exchanges in the form of legal advice, tax prep, medical appointments, dental care, and the like. The really good news, every hour of time is valued equally, whether you’re taking someone’s trash out or offering dermatology services. Want more info? Call Rita, Tampa Coordinator, at 608.335.2382. Or join us at one of our Third Tuesday monthly meetings; the next one’s coming up on January 21, 2020, 6:30 PM, at Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center. So head on over. Ask questions. Be part of our ongoing work and revitalization energy!
By Grace Maselli
Timebanking and Dr. Chris Gray are two peas in a simpatico pod. On September 15 our affiliated Florida timebanks got a big, happy boost when more than 30 people came together in Pinellas County to participate in Dr. Gray’s interactive workshop titled, Gathering with a Purpose. A 20-year advocate and Timebanks USA Board Member advancing the “sharing economy”—the neighbor-helping-neighbor defining the ethos and driving the event, Dr. Gray traveled from the Washington, D.C. home she shares with spouse and timebanks founder, Dr. Edgar Cahn.
In a nutshell, Dr. Gray explained timebanking as a service exchange system that uses time as its currency. Instead of greenbacks, timebank members exchange “person hours” doing stuff they love to do: From re-potting someone’s plants to giving her a ride to the doctor, it’s all part of people coming together to help and connect and exchange “services.” Professionals can participate too through their organizations or as individuals to offer exchanges in the form of legal advice, tax prep, medical appointments, dental care, and more. People exchange service credit hours and record them in an online system to keep track.
Born in the U.K. and educated at UCLA, Dr. Gray’s Meeting Map took us from these timebanking basics through to action steps—the proverbial “how-to” of hosting a Gathering with a Purpose event in your own neighborhood. Everything from organizing materials and distributing fliers ahead of time to room set-up and tech support. With equal sincerity and verve she dove into the issues of community sustenance and “relational needs,” otherwise known as the good feeling vibes that come from being a human helping another human, and sometimes even the spiritual buzz that such connections may bring. She discussed the vital interplay between giving and receiving. “When we can allow ourselves to receive as well as give, we do our part to keep the channels of abundance open for ourselves and others,” according to the work of author Madisyn Taylor shared by Dr. Gray at the event. Dr. Gray’s own doctoral thesis was written on the subject of Native Americans, Tribal Matters: The Journey of American Indian Tribes in American Political Development.
To learn even more, check out a conversation between thought leaders Dr. Chris and hubby Edgar and the Timebanks USA “chief focus,” which is “to seek out and work with individuals, associations, and organizations…to achieve more just, more sustainable communities.” Explore Gathering with a Purpose by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608.335.2382.
In his book No More Throw-Away People, Edgar Cahn listed four values that stand at the heart of successful timebanking and have stood the test of time. Later, he added a fifth.
Asset?– Every one of us has something of value to share with someone else.
Redefining Work – There are some forms of work that money will not easily pay for, like building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, making democracy work, advancing social justice. Time credits were designed to reward, recognize and honor that work.
Reciprocity – The question: “How can I help you?” needs to change so we ask: “Will you help someone too?” Paying it forward ensures that, together, we help each other build the world we all will live in.
Community/Social Networks – Helping each other, we reweave communities of support, strength & trust. Community is built by sinking roots, building trust, creating networks.
Respect – The heart and soul of democracy lies in respect for others. We strive to respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.
By Grace Maselli
Of course, our TBT and Florida-wide timebank members totally get the value of timebank exchanges—where everyone’s time is valued equally, no matter the type of doing being done.
Nonetheless, dear reader, you may have also caught wind of what’s rattling the U.S. middle class. According to real data, it’s taking an economic hit to the sternum. For example, in May 2018, the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy group in Washington, D.C., published an article, “Seven reasons to worry about the American middle class,” where it also referenced the start of its initiative, the Future of the Middle Class and the notion that people are getting banged up in their chase for the American Dream.
Specifically, data points to all things stagnant: “Despite gains in national income over the past half-century, American households in the middle of the distribution have experienced very little income growth in recent decades.” Couple stalled incomes with “falling wages,” and the effect is “fewer Americans are growing up to be better off than their parents.”
Enter Sustainable Lifestyles and the Quest for Plenitude: Case Studies of the New Economy, published by Yale University Press in 2014. In it, the book references the “sharing economy” in the collection’s “Chapter 3, New Cultures of Connection in a Boston Time Bank.” The sharing economy in 2013 dollars was “estimated at 25 percent annually and…predicted to exceed $3.5 billion.” It’s also given rise to “connected consumption” and includes everything from sharing goods and assets between peers and neighbors to “reuse of goods” (carbon footprint reduction) and many things in between, including (drum roll, please), “time banks, which are service-exchange communities that operate without money according to principles of equal time exchange.”
In other words, by virtue of necessity, a timebanker might argue, the squeeze on the middle class has given rise to connectedness. Not to mention, innovation. (You know, the proverbial Mother of Invention phenomenon.) Peeps are renting out their cars (Relay Rides). Their houses (Think Airbnb). And they’re timebanking. The authors of Chapter 3 declare, timebanks are all about forging “informal social ties.” They fit right in, perfectly. “We have found that while the sharing economy is by no means confined to young people [italics, mine], they have been its innovators and early participants. They’re more digitally connected and more open to strangers and lifestyle experimentation,” the authors say. The moral of the story? The 30+ year-old timebanking idea is still capturing the hearts and imaginations of youth culture and way beyond, to align with the “new” sharing economy.