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.