I volunteered for the City of Charlottesville bike count this week. For the record, not a lot of people are biking over the Belmont Bridge at 8am-9am on a Sunday morning. The person who came to relieve me was Stephanie, I had never met her and I’m not sure what made her think to ask my last name, but she did and we put it together that we are the same Melissa and Stephanie who have been emailing to arrange a time bank exchange – in this case, my offer for garden help and her “weird spot” in the garden that is growing penny royal but has potential for more. But let it be known that Stephanie had sewn the bag she was wearing, and as I got to see when I went to her house, can make curtains out of old quilts. If she posts an offer add this winter (when she has sewing time rather than gardening time) I am taking her up on it! ~ Melissa
Cville TimeBanker brings music back to life
- Lise Stoessel
I spent a most illuminating hour in Cville TimeBanker Philip Clark’s studio last week.
As I stood behind him, with his computer in front of him, his piano keyboard to the left and his music stand to the right, I got to hear a song that my great, great grandfather wrote in the days of the horse and buggy, a song that had never been heard by any living member of my family, despite the fact that my GG grandfather was a celebrated musician and composer in his time.
In recent years I have been spending the bulk of my visits to my dad’s home organizing Dad’s family archives with a view toward making his collection more accessible to our extended family, known and unknown. Over the last few decades, Dad had collected boxes and files full of clippings, letters, photographs and memorabilia.
Among the boxes was one containing original, handwritten sheet music from Thomas Harry Hinton (the aforementioned forebear), as well as a selection of his published music. Some of the sheet music was so old that the pages were crumbling around the edges.
We’d actually heard a lot about Professor Hinton over the years and had a number of photographs of him, as well as other tokens.
We knew that came from Birmingham, England and he’d been a concert pianist, having toured Europe accompanying an opera singer. He’d also taught music at a conservatory in upstate New York, and had been an orchestra director in Syracuse. And he’d been a composer. While we were aware that he had been quite accomplished, we’d never actually heard his music!
My dad is 87 years old now and all this family history means a lot to him. Professor Hinton’s work has been of particular interest because the ensuing generations of his family had carried on the musical thread, right down to my father’s father, who began his adult life as a professional violinist. Now, my father’s one regret in life is that he never learned to play an instrument (the lacrosse stick was as close as he got), but he did nurture and develop a very deep love of classical music. So this collection of sheet music from Thomas Harry Hinton fascinated him.
I visited my dad in February and continued work on the family archives, uploading photos to the ancestral Facebook page I’d opened, as well as uploading information and photos to our Ancestry.com files. As I was going through this box of sheet music I thought: wouldn’t it be wonderful to actually hear some of this music?? I wonder if I could make that happen…” And then, the light bulb went off: I could post a service request on the Cville TimeBank site and see what comes up!
What (who) came up was violinist, composer, music teacher and Cville TimeBanker, Philip Clark! I met him at Shenadoah Joe’s, my box of tattered sheet music in hand. He leafed through the pages, listening to my story, considering the possibilities. At the end of the hour he left with several of the songs and a plan to bring at least one of them to life. He would input the music to his computer, note by note, using a program called “Finale,” which would then play the music back to us.
That plan came to fruition last week when Philip’s computer played one of my great, great grandfather’s songs, “Sunrise,” for me. I made a rudimentary recording of it with my android phone and sent it to my dad. You can imagine his delight upon actually hearing some of the music that had been waiting silently in drawers and boxes for nearly 150 years. (Want to hear it? We’ve uploaded the audio/video here.)
Thank you to Philip Clark and to Cville TimeBank for making this family dream come true!
Even on my professional website, for years I’ve made do with snapshots to represent myself. One of the first posts that caught my eye on C’Ville TimeBank was Maggie Stein’s offer to take headshots. She described the process: she’d meet with someone in one of our photogenic town outdoor spots, shoot a bunch of digital photos in several poses, edit them and send a few of the best. We met on a chilly Sunday afternoon at the downtown mall. Maggie was really friendly and set me at ease. We found a few different locations and chatted through the brief and easy experience. A few days later she sent me a set of beautifully done portraits, and I’m thrilled to use them (crediting her) on not only my website, but several other professional sites as well. Thanks, Maggie!
I’ve done sewing/mending for 3 different timebankers thus far. Each of them came with projects that had been hanging around for a looooong time (not unlike the ones up in my studio…). Mostly they were things that had been well-used, well-loved and had begun to develop “issues”. Their owners were torn as to whether to just retire the old thing or maybe see if they could get a couple more miles out of it.
There are several great things about these sorts of transactions. One is that there’s NO RUSH. Unlike a commercial seamstress where you take things that you want done yesterday, Time Bank has a certain graciousness built into it. You are dealing with friends (though many are brand new friends), and there is somehow an enhanced sense of the golden rule. You treat fellow “bankers” as people who are doing you favors. And in return you get a lot of gratitude! Along with your time credit!
Another great thing is something Brigitte pointed out to me when she brought me her sweaters for mending. “I could probably do all these things myself,” she quipped, “but there’s less motivation. If I did it, no one else would appreciate that it got done!” I love that. We are giving each other little, otherwise inconsequential, opportunities for shared joy. Truth is that I too, have a pile of mending/projects that have been waiting for years. But, probably for the reasons that Brigitte articulated, doing the TimeBank work gets a higher priority.
And yet another gift is the way in which we learn about each other’s talents. I have known Barb for dog’s years (we are sisters from different mothers) (and fathers), but today, as I took her yoga class, I heard a voice come out of her that I’d never heard before. I KNEW she was a great yoga teacher, because I’d heard from others. But today I got to experience a facet of her that had been hitherto unrevealed to me.
I also love that TimeBank gives us an opportunity to share the little things we enjoy doing. Who we are besides our day jobs. “Oh, I didn’t know you could do that!” I would never venture to make a living worm farming, or mending, or cooking or organizing people’s sheds, but these are things I enjoy doing a little bit here and a little bit there.
I think it was Brigitte who acknowledged that sometimes it just comes down to the virtue of “getting it on the calendar”. Jobs that you keep putting off. Things that you are capable of doing, but… not this week. The act of making an arrangement with another “banker” to help you out, somehow incarnates the deed, gives it form, gives it a presence in the here and now. And it gets done! Yay!!
What is it about asking for help that makes things somehow more manageable? I think it might be about the practice of quietly forming connections with others. There’s something that feels deeply civilized about it. It feels like a tiny antidote to all the dehumanizing aspects of our fast-paced, techno-society. I think maybe this is the deeper gift of Time Banking, for me. – Lise Stoessel
One of the MANY reasons I LOVE Cville TimeBank: It’s helping me get things DONE!
Case in point – I’ve had this chunk of fabric for almost 20 years. I bought it with the intention of hemming the edges and using it as a tablecloth. I remember finding it while shopping with my mom – it was in the remnant bin…. $1, if memory serves… and we both loved it. And it was long enough that we both could end up with a tablecloth out of the deal. The fabric went home with me because mom already had far too many unfinished projects at home. (Remember that old “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” thing? yeah…. me/mom. *sigh*.) Mom has since passed, and the sewing machine is long gone, but I still had the fabric, and I still love it. It has moved with me six times since then – still in the bag from the store – but the hem never happened.
Knowing that we have several sewers in the Cville TimeBank, I posted a request: please hem this for me! A mere two emails and a few days later: voila! I have a tablecloth. Thank you, Lise! It’s beautiful — and well worth the 20 year wait! And as an added bonus, Lise is making matching napkins with the rest of the fabric. All for the low, low price of a little timedollar deduction from my account.
TimeBank members – think about your own “someday I’ll………” list, and ask for some help. The results are priceless.
Overwhelm. Ever had it? Surely you’ve felt it at some point. For me, it’s the force that causes me to avoid a seemingly monstrous task, instead of just diving in and getting it done. You know that thing on your to do list? More likely, it’s on the ‘to do someday when I have the time…. the energy…. and the inclination’ list, which is an entirely different beast. It’s a mental inventory of the things I’d like the magic fairy to wave her wand and make happen. If I don’t get these things done, the world won’t end. But they don’t resolve on their own. They’re still there. Nagging.
So, a week ago at a potluck meeting, when TimeBankers were each asked to come up with a service request we could post on Cville.timebanks.org, I started thinking about that ‘other’ list, and I mentioned my car. My poor, 14 year old car — and the disaster area within. It’s been years since my car was cleaned out. Not ‘washed’, mind you, because that’s happened a few times. The interior is the problem.
If you know me, you know that I’m very involved in the City Market. I’ve organized a summer long canning program, and a large annual farm tour — and they’ve left a mark on my car. Oh, and I adopted a dog last year, and I think she’s been the only other passenger in my car for months. My car has been filled with canning jars, tour programs, signage, coupons, tote bags, and dog hair. It’s ugly — and the full body shiver brought on by the thought of dealing with the mess has stymied any attempt to actually DO it.
As soon as I brought it up – another hand shot up in the group. Joanie’s hand. Joanie, who has her fingers in more community pies that you can imagine, felt my pain instantly. Her car was in a similar state, with the added bonus of containing floor mats that spent some time in a llama barn.
Within minutes, we’d hatched a plan to do a simultaneous car care session. Joanie would bring her cluttered, dirty car over to my house to commiserate with my cluttered, dirty car — and then we’d tackle the job: together. And then the magical shift happened. Momentum took over. Obstacle number one was conquered: we put our car clean-out on our calendars. It was official. It was going to happen. Finally.
On Saturday afternoon, Joanie and her car (“Little B”) came over, and out came the tools: trash can, shop vac, garden hose, cleaning rags, window cleaner, and four elbows’ worth of grease. And you know what? It wasn’t awful – it was awfully gratifying. I sorted, tossed, vacuumed and wiped, trading off tools with Joanie as we each worked on our own car. It took about two and a half hours, and the deed was done. (You’ll notice there are no “before” pictures – that’s on purpose. Suffice it to say that is was u-g-l-y.)
And congratulations to Joanie who found several dollars’ worth of spare change hiding out in the seats and on the floorboards.
Now, this “exchange” wasn’t really an exchange in the true timebanker’s sense. Each of us attended to our own vehicle, so it wasn’t really time being provided to another member. It was, however, the great momentum builder – and in the 24 hours following the great car clean-out, I’ve tackled two closets, and the back porch. Yeah… it’s a slippery slope.
By Laura Brown
Through the Cville TimeBank, I’ve posted requests for a service I need (trumpet lessons for my daughter) and described a service (mosaic tile work) I can offer to others. I’ve received a consultation from a talented website designer and learned how to make pickles via lacto-fermentation. (Finally! A use for all that zucchini from the garden my children don’t want to eat.) I’ve met fascinating new people outside my regular circles and have a greater sense of the richness and diversity of the community in which I live.
I love browsing the TimeBank listings. I see that time bankers in Charlottesville need transportation, bike repair, gardening help, Spanish instruction, and someone who has and knows how to use power tools. Those same folks offer services for haircuts, garden design, bread baking, house cleaning, and estate planning.
It gives me such pleasure to know that all these folks can come together without an exchange of money, or the feeling of ‘burdening’ one another with needs, but instead with the joy of connecting as the type of community we are meant to be. For me, exchanging services through the time bank is a small but significant beginning in creating a different world: one in which all people are valued and in which communities come together to respond to the needs of all.
See the fall edition of Joyful Dissent, a local zine, for the full article.
By Lise Stoessel
There are so many reasons why the Cville TimeBank is just right. From facilitating skill sharing across our community to building an infrastructure for an alternative economy, Timebanking rocks! As a (non)recovering Hippie, I have dreamed of utopian societies for decades. I even started a small communiversity back in the early 80s. I am also a natural networker; it’s just in my cells. When someone talks about something they need, I sort of file it in the back of my brain and then days or weeks later, when someone else randomly mentions the correlating offer, I get the two connected.
So when I saw an ad for the new Cville TimeBank on Facebook, I jumped on it. I was a little slow out of the gate with offers and requests, but now, after a series of fun exchanges, I’m on it.
One of my first requests for assistance was answered by Shell’s offer to help with gardening. Our front yard had been badly neglected and though I had good intentions of spending my summer reclaiming it, it had just gotten too daunting. My injured back, coupled with the July heat, made prospects of long hours pulling weeds look pretty unappealing. But, it had to get done. So I perused the list of offers and found Shell’s listing. I thought that, working together, I could guide her around the plants that were righteous, and we could get a good chunk done.
Shell rode up on her bike, tools in tow and a bright smile on her face. We’d planned an early session so as to avoid the hottest part of the day and she arrived right on time. We got right to work, digging here, yanking there. You could almost hear the flowers breathe a sigh of relief.
It wasn’t long before Shell and I started chatting about our lives and our work. Turned out that she and I had more in common than our shared interest in gardening (and the fact that she knew one of my daughters!). I teach Nursery at the Waldorf School and Shell teaches a little co-op homeschool-preschool. She was intrigued by what she’d heard about Waldorf education so she asked if we could visit my classroom as another time exchange. Sure thing!
Shell came to my classroom some weeks later and I gave her a tour as well as a little orientation to the philosophy behind what we do in Waldorf education.
So, we have Cville TimeBank to thank for a new friendship, a happier garden and some new insights into early education. Way to make connections! Thank you, Cville TimeBankers!
Once you’ve figured out what time banking is and how to get involved, you’re probably going to spend some time worrying that you have nothing to offer.
First, get over that. The beautiful thing about time banking is that it values what you do naturally. Tasks that are so simple for you that they might seem mundane could be truly exciting to others. Don’t believe me? Check out these lists.
At the Cville TimeBank Kickoff, we went around the room and brainstormed simple skills/services that could be offered. This list is impressive, right?
What was even more impressive was the interaction in the room. I mentioned that I could offer photography, and immediately someone in the room asked, “What does that mean? Would you take my picture? Would you teach me how to take pictures? Could you show me how to get pictures off my camera? Could you help me organize pictures on my computer?” From that one offer, we had built a whole list of ideas! I never realized that the task of importing photos – something that I do quite mindlessly at this point – was a task I could help someone else learn.
So, what are the tasks you accomplish regularly, without difficulty and without much thought? Can you stabilize wobbly furniture? Have you ever replaced an old thermostat with a new, programmable one? Do you know how to clean a fish? I’ve never done any of those things, and value your experience and expertise!