The Value Of Time

On February 4th, the Kearsarge Valley Transition Initiative had an excellent turnout with over 30 people attending the event to enjoy the delicious farm fresh food and relaxed atmosphere at the GRAZE Café.  We had the special pleasure of having guest speaker Lisa Conlan talk about Time Banking and its benefits for the community.  Over the past 20 years, Lisa has been involved in a variety of non-profit organizations. In addition to being Executive Director of Timebanks in Rhode Island, Lisa Conlan is also on the Board of Directors of TimeBanks USA. This is very same software the Kearsarge Valley Transition Initiative is planning on using for their Timebank.

Lisa Conlan discussing the values and benefits of Time Banking (Photo credit: Olin Jenner)

Lisa Conlan discussing the values and benefits of Time Banking (Photo credit: Olin Jenner)

When Lisa began describing her volunteering experiences, she captured the audience’s attention with her genuine appreciation for others and her love of community service.  Lisa enjoys working with non-profit organizations and values the importance of having our basic needs met.  Interacting and learning from others is not only a benefit to our health and the health of others, but it also helps people become more self-sufficient. This is especially important when Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the country.  She explained how many timebanks form in low income and struggling communities because people learn to work together to help each other get by.  Internationally, timebanks have begun to appear across Spain and Greece, which are both countries that have struggling economies. Time banks are now established in over 40 countries worldwide, and are likely to spread as word of their endless benefits spreads.

Lisa went into detail about the core values that the philosophy of Time Trading is built upon.   These core values can be found in a separate article. (For a more detailed description of these values, click here)  These value’s included:

Assets

-Redefining Work

-Reciprocity

-Social Networking

-Respect

Community members were given time to socialize and eat before the presentation (Photo credit: Olin Jenner)

Community members were given time to socialize and eat before the presentation (Photo credit: Olin Jenner)

Lisa continued to explain how our culture has changed.  It has been a growing trend over the past decades that many of us don’t know our community, or our neighbors for that matter, anymore.  This affects our ability to trust and socialize with others.  We have technology, which allows us to talk and connect with others 24 hours a day, yet many of us have become secluded.  We can’t forget that we are a part of a community and having good social interactions is healthy.  Timebanking is about getting to know others and becoming more connected, not through phones or social media, but through human interaction.  Right before Lisa was about to answer the audience’s questions about Timebanking, a heartwarming event took place.  A couple rose their hands and apologized for having to leave the event early.

“We’re sorry about interrupting this, but we must excuse ourselves because of volunteering obligations… We volunteer at the state penitentiary and have a meeting at 7”

With this being said, of course there was no problem with letting the couple leave. After hearing many of the audience members ask questions and talk to one another, you could tell Lisa peaked their interest about timebanking.  People agreed with Lisa’s ideas and concepts throughout the presentation.  She used prior experiences to tell a story of how people’s lives were affected and improved by giving a helping hand on a weekly basis.  Towards the end of the presentation a woman rose her hand and told Lisa,

“I knew nothing about this before I came here but now I’m intrigued and it seems like an awesome concept”

Many great ideas, lessons, and information were taken from Lisa’s presentation.  This concept isn’t new, but many of us have forgotten the joy, empowerment, and happiness we find by helping others.  Today’s fast pace society makes us overlook the little actions and decisions we make every day to help others.  In addition, many people are measured in society by their “wealth.” But unfortunately, our income doesn’t necessarily measure who we are as a person and our well-being.  Timebanking pushes towards the idea of measuring ourselves by our ability to take care of each other and manage that interdependence without pushing limits and exhausting resources.

“I’m not saying money is a bad thing, I need money as much as the next person but, if you let money run us, we live in a vulnerable community” – Lisa Conlan   

In review, Time Banking can be summarized as the exchanging of services between people in a community without the use of money; instead time is traded.  Timebanking emphasizes the acts of kindness and outreach that many of us do every day without the incentive of money.  This currency uses what’s called “time dollars” and this exchanging process is known as “Time Trading”.  To learn more visit the Kearsarge Valley Timebank page for more information on Timebanking.

“Currency is about the flow of energy, we just happen to use money as our currency”

–Lisa Conlan

To learn more about the history of Time banking click, here

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