We Grow From Here's Blog

A Community Garden Project



“If you build it, they will come.” ~ (Field of Dreams)

Sometimes, when you build it, they really do show up.

Here is my blatant plug for a movement I became involved with last year: Timebanking… IT ROCKS! Our local ‘chapter’, Tampa Bay Timebank (TampaBayTime.org), is fairly new, and even so has really begun not only to grow by leaps and bounds, but also in the energy it has generated. See, that’s part of the equation in timebanking—currency as energy rather than paper. But I digress—let me first explain what timebanking is, then we’ll talk about what it does.

  • Timebanking is egalitarian, which means that no one person’s time is valued more highly than another’s. Time = Time. One hour = One hour. Some doctors, for instance, might not get the concept so much, when their time is valued exactly the same as, for instance, a cook, or a plumber. (Although I must point out: most plumbers I’ve hired make about the same per hour, if not more!) I once had a long-term relationship with an MD, and I often wonder whether he would ‘get’ that I always considered my time with him as valuable as, say, my time with my daughter, my job, etc. See, time is time—my time, your time—if we choose to share it with someone else, it really is all the same—no value judgments. It is in fact when we begin placing values on time that the conflict begins, and oftentimes when communication stops: “I’m sorry, I don’t have time right now, I have to_(fill in the blank with something you don’t particularly enjoy)___.” Think of all of the relationships you know which might have benefitted if you had not said or heard those words! Some common questions and/or misconceptions:
    • So, if I’m a dentist, and I normally charge $100/hr for a consult, I have to offer those services for ‘nothing’ through the time bank?
      • NO, you offer whatever services you choose to offer—perhaps you also have a sideline interest in, say, cooking, and you just happen to have taken culinary classes at a world-renowned institute: offer cooking lessons, or supply catering for special events. Or, perhaps you are a musician: offer music lessons, or to play at events. You really love to sew: offer lessons, or services. You have rocking mechanical skills: offer to fix things.
    • What if there is more than just time involved? (ie., food for the cooking, materials for sewing, etc.)
      • The details of supply-related stuff is simple: you work it out between those who make the exchange; this includes gas and travel time—if that is a factor, you simply agree what the ‘exchange rate’ will be, and that becomes part of the agreement.
    • So, this is just like bartering?
      • Similar, yes, but the main difference is: you don’t have to make a one-to-one exchange. You can accept an offer from one person, and provide a service to someone else in the timebank. Better than barter.
    • What can I get from the timebank…there are lots of things I can do, what will I get in exchange?
      • What don’t you like to do? Clean? Cook? Organize? Fix gadgets? Fuss with computers? I’ll just betcha there’s someone in timebank who does that!
  • Timebanking is not ‘volunteering’, but it does work very well with organizations who utilize volunteers. Many new to timebanking will refer to their time spent in timebank activities as “volunteering’, however it is not—this is compensated time, it is just not compensated in the same currency as a ‘real’ job. The currency is, in part, the energy generated by the exchange. I like to think of this as ‘green energy’, and this type of energy, not having physical form per se, increases in value and scope in the course of each exchange.

Which brings me back to “Gratitude”…it has been my extreme good fortune to have connected with several very helpful, not to mention pleasant and fun, timebankers. Yesterday, one of them even brought his son along to help in moving some large stuff, including a couple of mountains of dirt. What we accomplished in one day I could not have hoped to do in weeks–it was truly amazing. Here’s the other side of the “time” equation: the amount of time this one day has saved me is far greater than the time I took, or awarded to these two guys. Consider the amount of time you spend worrying and griping and recovering from all of those tasks you’d prefer not to do—this is, again, “true cost accounting“.


And the list goes on…I am grateful, thankful, fortunate…and I have some time. Do you?