By Grace Maselli
The Tampa Bay Timebank Leadership Team has been as busy as 80,000 honey bees in a colony. No kidding. They’ve been envisioning, planning, writing, and doing—all along the way sweetening the connections between and among our 549 members. This includes a focus on areas of expansion.
This unfolding expansion, dear member, is where you can earn TBT hours for your activities—and exchanges—with fellow members by moving as the bees do: productively (and “in the context of ‘electric fields’!” It’s all true!).
Our all-volunteer org means no paid staff or central office. No Gal Friday. What we do have: several coordinators managing the website and handling organizational planning. All other activity is generated by you, valued member, for members. And because we charge no fees, TBT relies on volunteer energy and donations whenever materials or cash are inevitably required.
What follows are some significant areas of interest that TBT would like to expand to meet organizational need. Some categories are only bubbling ideas at the present moment—or, significantly, they’re being handled by just one person.
So here’s the thing, if you’d like to get involved, don’t hesitate. Be like the bee and getta move on with another person or small group. Jump into something that maps to your passion or skills or both. We’re all ears and also open to hearing suggestions that may not be on this list. So please let us know what strikes your fancy and we’ll attempt to make it happen.
In the mean time, take a look through our Action Groups list and each category’s quick description to see what you think. To get things rolling or ask questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Administration Action Group
Handles administrative necessities including paperwork and phone calls.
- Community and Group Projects Action Group
Engages in community service.
• Co-Production Action Group
Helps other organizations with their projects.
• Education Action Group
Either attends or offers educational workshops.
- Emergency Services Action Group
Volunteers to help in an emergency. Those with medical credentials can use them. Others may offer transportation, phone contacts, or general support. We’d like people to join in various geo areas so we always have people nearby to call.
- Entertainment Action Group
Selects fun things to do for members and schedules open social events. It is a good way to get to know other members before making exchanges.
- Events Action Group
Puts on events around the area, such as Gathering with a Purpose and Introductory events. Support staff is always needed.
- Field Trips and Travel Group
Plans trips and tours around town.
- Marketing Group
Handles TBT marketing and advertising.
- Membership Action Group
Keeps in regular contact with members.
- Monthly Program Gatherings Action Group
Designs monthly programs held at Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center. Support is always helpful. Participants arrange speakers, food, transportation, and communications.
- Orientation Group
A trained group of people to help new members get acquainted with the website and members.
- Social Adventures Action Group
Selects fun things to do for members and schedules open social events and tours, for example. It is a good way to get to know other members before making exchanges.
- Social Justice Action Group
Involvement in specific social justice action-oriented projects.
- Social Media Group
Manages the Facebook group and other social media activities and announcements.
- Speakers Group
Makes presentations to various organizations about timebanking.
- Spiritual Study Group
People interested in metaphysics and spirituality who attend various local study groups and events.
- Technology Group
Helps with all the TBT technical requirements, including computer repair, setting up equipment for events, finding necessary equipment and connections for various media purposes, providing software assistance, photography, film-making, and more.
- Trainers Action Group
Trained trainers who carry out various programs such as formal orientations, introductory workshops, Gathering with a Purpose workshops etc.
- Transportation Group
Helps people who cannot drive to attend TBT events and sometimes arranges for personal travel needs.
- Welcome New Members Action Group
As the name implies, members of this group welcome new members via phone calls and small get-togethers to help new members become oriented and connected with existing members. Group members also help to facilitate new exchanges.
Readers can also support our Florida timebanks by donating equipment and supplies and cash for needed items. Among our ongoing requirements: supplies for potlucks and events, (think, paper plates, utensils, napkins, paper towels, pens, paper, name tags, office supplies, color printing, and bottled water). You get the idea! If you have things lying around that you don’t need and that you think TBT could use, please let us know by contacting email@example.com. We’re eternally grateful!
Of course, that physicality matters. (It’s easier to pull weeds or dust a timebanker’s ceiling fan in an exchange if that person lives in your proverbial backyard.) But community is also about something arguably even more intimate: identity. Longstanding TBT member Christina Bellamy’s personalized presentation at last month’s Third Tuesday gathering on October 15 opened a dialogue about all this and more. Using timebanking’s “Gathering with a Purpose” model, Christina stirred interactive conversation; she opened up a casual discourse with emphasis on the warmth and connection that characterizes timebanking’s priority, people and their collective and individual value as community members—or as writer Megan Garber wrote a couple of years ago in The Atlantic, “Community…is not merely something that one fits into; it is also something one chooses for oneself, through a process of self-discovery.”
Christina’s October 15 talk took a deeper dive—a spelunking exploration into what timebank vibe means to the whole and, to cite Megan Garber again, what it means as part of a journey toward self-discovery. There’s a wealth of motivation to explain why people get involved. Some reasons have are economic. Others have nothing to do with dollars and cents. Because in timebanking, “currency” is measured—earned and spent—in timebank hours. And for those on a budget, or with limited and fixed incomes, this can be an exceedingly helpful advantage because we can still get our needs met and also help others in the same way, even when we can’t afford it in greenbacks. For others, there’s motivation to widen the circle of good friends, enriching an experience of community along the way. And for others still, a non-material, spiritual (metaphysical, ineffable, sometimes sacred) energy compels involvement. Sometimes it’s all of the above: a desire to support others, be supported, and know intrinsically that timebanking’s ethos is real and can be felt when we all have a chance to feel valued and offer something in return.
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.