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West Sound Time Bank grows community by pairing needs, skills
How many Bainbridge Islanders does it take to change a light bulb? That’s not a joke, it’s a real life question Kat Gjovik and others will be asking at the launch of West Sound Time Bank at Sustainable First Monday at the Commons.
Gjovik’s flickering light has been annoying her for months. It’s not life threatening, not top-tier on her to-do list, really not a big deal she insists. But, like a tiny pebble in a shoe, its persistent aggravation wears on her nerves.
Bruce White isn’t an electrician, but he knows enough to take a look at what might be causing the jitters: the bulb, the ballast or the wires. He’s happy to come to Gjovik’s house to take a look, particularly after receiving some valuable advice this week from Mickey Gibson about how to get more yield from his small garden.
“There’s so much to know,” White said. “Having someone with some expertise apply her knowledge to my specific application saved me probably 10 hours of reading a bunch of books or surfing the Internet.”
The three are involved in Sustainable Bainbridge’s newest initiative, West Sound Time Bank, a bank account that keeps track of deposits and withdrawals of time instead of money. In this community-building system, people sign up to participate in a local pool of talents and needs, listing services that someone else may need as well as areas where they could use a little help. The categories are limited only by the imagination of participants: a hiking partner, help in the garden, organizing a closet, writing a song for a special occasion.
“Get creative!” Melissa Page said at Wednesday’s planning meeting at OfficeXPat’s. After several months of brainstorming and research, the group is unveiling the program at a potluck gathering of Sustainable Bainbridge on Monday.
In the spirit of Occupy structure, leadership is shared.
“I have such faith in the culture of self-organizing, emergence and learning as we go, and a trust in the concept and the people who are involved,” Gjovik said.
“Think of yourself as a pioneer,” White said.
It’s about time
For many of Wednesday’s core planners, the time bank is simply an idea whose time has come.
Kema Larsen has been interested in alternative economics for several years.
“Time banks make so much sense in our hard capitalist world,” she said. “When community gets woven together, it lets our humanity show through.”
Leanne Stevens, who came from Suquamish to attend, heard about the idea through her resilience circle, groups of neighbors and like-minded folks who gathered last year, inspired by Chuck Collins’ presentation at The Island School.
“We have to do that,” she said. “We have no reason to not do it.”
In the past, some considered the time bank concept fairly radical, but when you consider that the Cedar Rapids, Iowa time bank has 99 active members, the idea doesn’t seem all that “fringe.”
After careful research of the many models available, the group adopted the Portland, Maine time bank’s turnkey “Sandbox” software to keep track of the hours invested.
West Sound Time Bank adheres to the hour-for-an-hour philosophy. An hour of raking will be credited as one hour, as will an hour of rocket science. But to be clear, the rocket itself can’t be exchanged. WSTB is for services only.
Details of the program will be explained at the presentation.
Whether it’s helping someone change a light bulb or plan a trip to Madagascar, the Time Bank allows a way for everyone’s light to shine a little brighter.
Connie Mears, Staff Writer