Fun! (Say What?)
September 3, 2020 — 10:41

By Grace Maselli

You’ve heard of it, right? Fun fun fun. To say the least, COVID’s put a kink in the pleasantries we took for granted—in the freedom to move around, pre-quarantine. All the more reason why the vital reminder to rip the Band-Aid off ho-hum and jump into some safe boisterousness, or amusements you’re personally stimulated and refreshed by, is so more important. We have Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of Tampa’s  Life Enrichment Center, to thank for a stellar Zoom talk to about 25 people during August’s Third Tuesday of the Month event on August 18.

Maureen’s exhaustive and inspiring presentation on the benefits of fun even in the context of lockdown stirred participants to share what they do to let their coiffs out of the hair net—get into “flow” where time effortlessly slips away— as it motivated others to amp up fun time and creativity in their daily lives. Maureen talked in depth about the psychological and physical health that fun can mean for the psyche and the body.  With pure enthusiasm she delighted us with factoids and substance: Fun reduces stress. It helps people cope better with stress. It trips the seratonin switch, a good brain chemical. It boosts energy and memory and concentration.  And when you make fun a habit, it’s relaxing, it pumps up positive feelings, it helps you sleep better, and it improves the relationships you care about. Whao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sky can still be the limit if you turn that box upside down and see things from a new angle! Here are some ideas:

  • Dress up your dog and snap some pix for fun…
  • Do cartwheels in your backyard
  • Go to the beach on a Wednesday when there are fewer people
  • Kayak
  • Make art with LEC
  • Get creative with cooking
  • Do 20 jumping jacks in your living room
  • Take the St. Pete’s Mural Walking Tour
  • Blow bubbles lakeside
  • Cut up some magazines and make a collage to tell a soul story
  • Join The Rumpus Book Club
  • Jump into The Sofa King Music Fest
  • Check out BroadwayHD shows for less than the cost of a standard Netflix subscription
  • Explore new podcasts that make you happy and inspired
Social Adhesive in the Midst of Social Distancing
June 18, 2020 — 11:35

By Grace Maselli

Got uncertainty? Get some glue in the form of social adhesive. No argument that making life big and colorful and filled with art of all kinds requires more creativity in the days of COVID-19. Take member Robert McGinnis’s ingenious approach and arrangement of a mix of paid services and Tampa Bay Timebank resources—our characteristic offers and requests exchange model in action—to celebrate his lovely wife Debbie’s locked-down birthday. Robert hired violinist LaRon Hearst (classic and electric) accompanied by the violinist’s wife Angel’s (angelic!) singing voice. “He played an hour on our deck for the alligator and all of the neighbors on the other side of the pond,” Robert says, adding how groovy it would be, “to get musicians to show up at every members’ house to cheer them up with a song.”

Robert also commissioned some art from brilliant artist/educator/member Qinghong Wei to support the arts and honor the day. This includes a watercolor of a double rainbow taken by Qinghong, auspicious given its powerful symbolism for Robert and Debbie: “On our first real date there was a torrential downpour that broke with a double rainbow,” he says. Way to make it romantic and real and keep it safe, Robert!

For any of you reading, here’s a rolling echo from the TBT Leadership Team—reach out and touch someone by phone. Get on the TBT website and call a fellow member; check in, see how folks are doing. Spread the glue.

Speaking of social stickiness (think: reach out and touch someone in the metaphorical sense and by cell phone), here’s a local Community Resource and Referral Guide that may be of use to readers or someone you know who might benefit.

And as a reminder, here’s another glance at our Five Core Values to Guide all Participation and Decision Making

Assets: Everyone is an asset. We all have something to give.
Redefining Work:  We redefine work to value whatever it takes to raise healthy children, build strong families, care for elders, revitalize neighborhoods, make democracy work, advance social justice, and make the planet sustainable.
Reciprocity: Helping works better as a two-way street.
Community: We need each other; networks are stronger than individuals.  When people help each other, they reweave communities of support, strength, and trust.
Respect: Every human being matters. Respect for all means accountability to all.

Here here. Everyone matters.

No Walls, Only Open Arms for Refugees
May 17, 2020 — 16:27

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: ritacobbs@sum.net

It Was a Holiday Hullabaloo
November 20, 2019 — 11:46

By Grace Maselli

 

That’s right. It was a commotion. A happy fuss. A bit of an uproar complete with panpoolers, pantookers, and drums. Well, drums and symbols and sound effects, to be sure, from folks blowing into glass bottles and making rhythms with clackers and castanets. TBT’s Thanksgiving Friendsgiving celebration last night at Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center rattled the beautiful art on the walls just a tad when post-meal musical improvcomplete with OM chanting and time for storytellingmade for lush community connection and singalong (sans the bonfire). The vibrations and reverberations, the cling clang and bing bong and laughs, stirred the soul with the energy to “bring about social change.” We were led by our fearless presenter and longstanding member, Karen Lowman, who got the notes flowing after she answered guests’ questions about timebanking, exchanges, and the ins and outs of how it all works. And of course there was food. Crock pots bubbled and veggies lay in wait to be snarfed. Bundtinis and pies, chocolate and treats, were shared by all.

Stay tuned for holiday festivities slated for our Third Tuesday in December on the 17th when we’ll make homemade ornaments at the Life Enrichment Center (Yippee Ki-Yay!) .

 

A Culture of Innovation and Connection
April 29, 2019 — 20:53

By Grace Maselli

Of course, our TBT and Florida-wide timebank members totally get the value of timebank exchangeswhere 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.

 

TBT Revitalization Project: Share the LOVE with Our New Flyer
January 27, 2019 — 11:31

By Grace Maselli

Hear ye hear ye! It’s time to spread the news about TBT. Check out our new flyer! We’re pumping up the volume through the ABCs, spreading the good word to libraries, community centers, relevant community spaces in the Tampa Bay Area, about how timebanking gets people together through services exchanges they like to do that help members and themselves, too.

What’s Timebanking?

It’s a service exchange “system” that uses time as its currency. Instead of money, we exchange “person hours.” So you can sign up to do things you love for members, offering what you enjoy in a service exchange. Members can organize household stuff, help with meal preparation, offer rides, tutor, fix things—if that’s what excites you. Professionals can participate too through their organizations or as individchange service credit hours and record them in our online “Hour World” system. Every hour of time is valued equally. Whether you’re weeding someone’s garden or drawing architectural plans. Feel free to send the flyer to your network of community members, either online, or print some and sprinkle ’em around like happy confetti. Yay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BJ and the Dragonfly!
January 27, 2019 — 9:44

* Hey peeps, let’s give it up for guest blogger and founder of the Spring Hill Timebank, Dr. Andy LePage, and his very own spotlight on St. Pete Timebank Coordinator, BJ Andryusky. The link to the Spring Hill Timebank also takes you directly to Andy’s original piece covering BJ. Let Andy know what you think! Thanks, Grace


By Andy LePage

How wonderful it is to find the hidden gold in another and then to celebrate it. Recently I found such hidden gold in BJ Andryusky, the Coordinator of St. Pete Time Bank. And what hidden gold it is!

BJ has given a huge amount of help to us in at Spring Hill Time Bank, in as far as we’re new and kind of “green” in understanding the finer points of moving around the website and in learning about the inner workings of Time Banking. Although she and I have had many conversations, it wasn’t until the end of last November that she mentioned she was having a guest exhibit at the Dali in early December.

Recently I spoke with her again about Time Banking and at the end of our conversation — a conversation that always includes her great computer instruction — I asked how her art show had gone. She was so excited. Although there wasn’t a formal judging of the new talent exhibitors that BJ was a part of, among the twelve exhibitors, she was in what would have been first place! Her work was so favorably received by the Dali staff, that she hopes to be able to exhibit there again, as well as have some of her art for sale in their gift store.

On her Facebook page, BJ writing about herself and her art states: “I am an artist with an exceptional skill for turning domestic items like vases, boxes, and jars into affordable metallic-looking art. I do this by working my magic with polymer clay; often in an industrial, steampunk or bohemian style. You will find each piece is handmade and one of a kind. A true conversation, collectible piece!”

In case anyone reading this piece thinks that BJ has an exaggerated sense of herself and her talent, please use one of the links at the end of this article to see her incredible ability and to know that she honestly speaks her truth.

One of BJ’s customers wrote this about her art: “I can’t begin to tell you how beautiful these pieces are. BJ is currently working on a custom piece for me, but I did purchase some ornaments from her for gifts, and both people I gave them to absolutely loved them. There is such attention to detail and creativity in each piece.”

Another said: “I can’t thank you enough BJ for creating the customized book ends for my Father-in-law’s 80th birthday gift! He absolutely loved them and everyone at the party was completely blown away by the craftsmanship and creativity of the pieces!”

We may never know about all the talent the great people whom we meet in Time Banking have. But as we get to know our fellow Time Bankers, we will find that many, like BJ, have their own form of hidden gold.

The name of BJ’s business is Dragonfly Antics. Readers may know that the dragonfly is a strong-bodied, non-stinging insect which helps to keep the mosquito population down and has wings that stay outstretched rather than folded when at rest. This is great symbology for how BJ watches over all of us in the Time Bank. Even at rest, she has her great wings outstretched ready at a moment’s notice to help someone, to encourage us to be our best, and to hold other coordinator’s hands (mine and many others’!) as they try to navigate the inner workings of Time Banking. She is as skillful in helping us find answers to our questions as she is in nimbly crafting magnificent pieces of art from a tattered jewelry box or a broken vase. We are fortunate she is in our midst! Check out this gifted lady’s website at dragonflyantics.com  and at facebook.com/pg/dragonflyantics/about/

A Metaphoric Barn Raising (aka, a Community’s Collective Action)
January 20, 2019 — 9:01

By Grace Maselli

It’s all about getting it done. Together. Pretend it’s 1900 in Indiana. It’ll be mighty cold soon, and your barn, well, it needs a raisin’. Through collective community effort, your neighbors come together with lots of up-front prep work done. Lumber, hammers, and nails are at the ready for able-bodied builders—others bring food to sustain the collective. Before you know it, in one to two days, with dozens of people on the job, the structure is up. Later, there’s a party inside where it’s warm, with a fiddle or three and a dance. Next up, Jeremiah and Annabell’s place seven miles down the road.

The point? Interdependent social frameworks—neighborly and family bondedness, mean there are people who can be there when you need it most. And to whom you can return the favor. This is the very essence of Dr. Edgar Cahn’s vision 30 years ago or so when he conceived the timebank model of service exchange sans money. By connecting through local Tampa Bay Area’s timebanks, members and potential members stand to expand the help they give and receive through the barn-raising archetype. Whether it’s assistance you need moving your pile of stuff into storage, a leg up with cooking, yoga lessons to jump start your fitness goals, job coaching, or a ride to a doctor’s appointment, timebanking can get you there without money because in our world, time is the currency required. It’s free to join. And when you do, your modern day equivalent of Willis and Bertha, neighbors down the road—or, maybe, even across the Howard Franklin Bridge, just might be the folks in your life to lay a strong foundation. Click here to get your application to TBT rolling!

 

 

There’s Soon to Be an Elephant in the Room
January 11, 2019 — 19:29

By Grace Maselli

Happy New Year! Join TBT at its regular Third Tuesday of the month member and friends meeting at the Tampa Life Enrichment Center. We’ll be talking timebanking, of course, and also doing a White Elephant Gift Exchange. Bring something you, uh, er, might not be in love with—or something you’re just not in the mood to keep for whatever reason. (It’s too big, too tight, you already have three, your least favorite 2nd cousin gave you the same gift four years in a row and you don’t need the extra inventory…)  We’ll be swapping post-holiday this-and-that for a few laughs and maybe a couple of, “Oh, I can’t live without this!” moments. Who knows? Bring your funky gift wrapped in either newsprint or brown paper for concealment and get revved to participate; toss in a light snack to share if you’re able! Here are the details:

Date Tuesday, January 15, 2018
Time 6:30-8:30 PM
Address 9704 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612; phone: 813.932.0241
Questions? Contact coordinator@tampabaytime.org or call (215) 834-4567 and reference our White Elephant and monthly meeting event at LEC!
A Good Head of Hair: “Putting Timebanking into Practice”
July 23, 2018 — 11:33

By Grace Maselli

I went to a friend’s house recently to wash her hair. She’d just had shoulder surgery and needed help with something I take for grantedthe ability to easily execute self-care. Bandaged and still in the early phase of recovery, “Pamela” cared about hygiene. Truth be told, it was a hairy situation for me at first. I hadn’t washed another person’s head of hair since my children were small enough to fit inside a kitchen sink. (On my worry list: unintended re-injury of Pam’s shoulder, soap in her eyes…) Happily, it went well and my friend smelled fresh as a daisy on a sunshine-y morning. I even played full-on hairdresser and combed her hair, added product, including a spray to spike her hairdo just the way she likes. Heretofore, Pamela didn’t know from timebanking…so I pitched away. “But what can I offer?” she asked in earnest. “Just about anything you might need or like to have a helping hand with yourself: car rides, organization,  sorting storage boxes,  gardening, reading to a house-bound person who could use some human contact.”

My plan as of this writing is to pick Pam up and drive her to the TBT August monthly meeting to get more than her head wet, but her feet too. Then I took to Page 34 of a long-ago written but still relevant missive published by “TimeBanks USA” in their, “Guidebook 1: Exploring the Big Ideas of TimeBanking, Transforming Time, Reweaving Community”. Page 34 offers the following suggestions for ways to contribute and receive timebanking tasks that map to many of our own TBT offerings:

Accompaniment
Adult literacy
Advocacy
Befriending
Car care
Child care
Clerical support
Computer assistance
Computer literacy
Consumer support
Cooking
Craft lessonsErrands
Entertainment
Financial advice
Group Activities
Gardening
Haircuts
Heavy lifting
Home Repair
House watching
Information sharing
Jewelry makingLegal assistance
Light housekeepingMassage
Meal preparation
Medical monitoring
Music lessons
Personal grooming
Pet CareReading
Resource sharingSewing/Mending
ShoppingTutoring
Translation services

 

I reckon I engaged in two activities with Pam that appear on this wonderful list: “Personal grooming” and “Befriending.” You’ll notice too that “haircuts” is colorized and bolded. It’ll be a long time before I ever take scissors to head again, now that my children are teens and the days of unprofessional trims with craft scissors are behind us. But I think I may add hair washing to a potentially ever-expanding list of TBT skills I could offer right here on the peninsula in Tampa Bay.