Community, It’s a Choice

By Grace Maselli
Community is a lot more than a physical neighborhood, town, city, or state.
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 measuredearned and spentin 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.

Before the October 15 meeting concluded the group put together a timeline, a visualization depicting how longfrom a few weeks to close to a decade—that each participant was connected to TBT. People took stock of their identities as a growing part of the TBT tribe, an ever-widening kindred connection. If you’re inspired to Gather with a Purpose, download “Gathering Welcome & Introduction” to get rolling and keep the community energy flowing!