This is a story about how simply accounting for the silly little unpaid things that we do outside of the market economy are actually beautiful, noble, and incredibly valuable. Time Banking may be thought of as a mechanism for giving credit to the hours we spend helping friends, neighbors and building community. Assigning value to these unpaid acts of service acknowledges their role in keeping the market economy humming and reminds us of our basic human need to feel worthy and valued no matter our socioeconomic status.
On a recent trip to Maine I suddenly realized the value of compound interest when I joyfully offered half of the Time Bank hours in my account to a Time Bank member in Maine who generously provided me a week’s lodging in her home. This transaction saved me more than $600 that otherwise would have been deposited in the market economy C/O Marriott Hotels. The cool part is, not only did I save money, I met new friends, had a great experience, and helped weave the Time Bank communities of Maine and Florida together. By simply adding up all the little times and ways I said yes to my Time Bank and its members I came away feeling- not used and spent- but completely energized! Now that is what I call hitting the Time Bank Jack Pot!
The muscular market economy has us so well trained. We forget how to think outside of it. Such was the case when planning my trip to Maine. When I learned lodging at the Fairfield Inn was $99 a night I was aghast. Shrewd and inspired I thought of Time Bank! That I even came up with the idea of Time Bank was a miracle in itself! I wondered if Augusta had a Time Bank? My fingers began to fly across the computer keyboard as I researched time banks in Maine.
I emailed Stacey Jacobson, the Director of T.I.M.E., Time Initiative of Maine located in Augusta. The tag line for T.I.M.E. is “ It’s Your Time. Make It Count.” Stacey hastily addressed my request for lodging, posting a member alert that was attached to an automatic update that was sent to all time bank members.
Like pennies from heaven, offers for housing began to flood my email inbox. I received three offers! Wow! Now I had to choose! I didn’t expect that! I opted to stay with Rebecca Singer. She said she had a guest room that her mother from Clearwater stays in. Yes, she has a mother from Clearwater, Florida! Who knew? Stacey kept in touch with both me and Rebecca to make sure connections were made. Rebecca also offered to pick me up from the local bus station in Augusta and offer me rides around town. This Time Bank concierge service simply can’t be beat! I felt completely pampered.
After showing me to the guest room in her quaint 100 year old house Rebecca took me to her grandfather’s house. Her entire family was gathered for a father’s day get together. The nicest folks you could meet! Then we headed to nearby historic Hollowell, met up with Rebecca’s boyfriend Erik, and enjoyed live music and craft beer at The Liberal Cup. Ah! Life is good!
I spent my week in Augusta attending Compost School. Early in the week Rebecca drove me to school and Erik picked me up. By midweek I hitched rides from compost classmates. Evenings found me showered and in my plaid flannel pajamas by 7:00pm. Rebecca and Erik were so incredibly easy to be around. Eric, an inventor, made a scrumptious stew and multi talented theatrical Rebecca sang around the house with the most beautiful voice I have ever heard! I ask you, were else can you go and mingle with people you just met in your pajamas and feel like it was the most normal and natural thing? I dare say not at the Fairfield Inn!
When Friday came, and my week came to a close, Rebecca and I discussed our exchange. We mutually agreed upon a set number of hours per day, in our case 5 hours, that I would pay her. Rebecca said that she planned on using her hours to give her son Joseph piano lessons. I offered Rebecca and Erik a place to stay when they come to Clearwater, Florida to visit her mother.
When I returned to Florida I learned that the Founder of Tampa Bay Time Bank, Marie Nelson, had been in touch with Stacey Jacobson, the Director of Time Initiative of Maine. It seems that both leaders see the potential for a weaving together or mutual partnership between the two Time Banks as many Mainers visit Florida and many Floridians visit Maine. Ah! Life is good! And with Time Bank, it just gets better and better!
So keep on flexing your Time Bank muscle! The little daily or weekly things you do for each other and your communities are really beautiful, noble, and so valuable! Use the hOurworld app on your cell phone and capture these Time Bank moments. You are worth it. The little moments of making exchanges doing freely what we love be it weeding, driving, organizing, or advising are the things that unite us, excite us, and make us human!