Filling in the gaps through TimeBanking

From Cville TimeBank member, J., this wonderful testimonial to the power of community:

“I sustained a traumatic brain injury in early 2013, and as is the nature of such injuries, I lost some processing skills.  In my case, (among other things) my math abilities regressed to about a 4th grade level.  Charlottesville does not have cognitive therapy resources available for someone able to function to the extent that I can, so when it was time for me to get back to working with my budget I was at a loss of how to take the raw data I knew I had and turn it into something useful.

I placed a request under “Miscellaneous” for “help with basic logic” with the Charlotttesville Time Bank. Someone wiling to take time to explain basic concepts (and, perhaps more notably, have patience with my frustration when I would hit a cognitive wall and need to take a break from the task at hand) responded, and I was able to make notes as we went so with my newly forgetful mind, I am still able to refer back to them.

Where there is a gap in services, there are Time Bank members with the ability and willingness to fill in.  Online tutoring was not an option, and leaving the area to work with conventional cognitive rehabilitation would have been expensive in both federal currency and in time.  Through Time Bank, I was able to get the help I desperately needed in return for giving rides around town to others.  That, my friends, is community!”

TimeBankers hold a garden party

When I first mentioned that a timebank was starting in Charlottesville, Toan Nguyen was eager to learn details.  If you live in or near Charlottesville, you probably know Toan as the owner of Cville Coffee, but he has all ten fingers firmly imbedded in multiple community pies.  He’s always eager to help get projects off the ground, eagerly embracing new ideas and grass-roots movements.

When I mentioned to Toan that the Cville TimeBank was beginning to explore how businesses and organizations could become members, and the mechanics of how that would work — Toan excused himself for a minute, and returned in a flash with his checkbook.  Most people who join the timebank love the idea of a community, sharing their time, skills, and interests with each other, but it’s sometimes hard for a business to begin thinking of our service exchange as an investment in their community.  Not Toan.  That realization was instantaneous.

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* before *

The Cville TimeBank has held two member socials and a film screening at Cville Coffee, and Toan has graciously offered space to hold these functions.  So when Toan signed Cville Coffee up as a member, I wanted to know what he might need from us.  (Remember that core value of reciprocity?)  Right away, he suggested a project that he’d postponed for too long: rejuvenating the planter boxes on the coffee shop’s patio.  Yeah — it was time.  The plants were alive (barely), but they were far from thriving, and over the years, the planters had been used as ashtrays and trashcans more than once.  And Toan had neither the time nor the inclination to select plants and replant them.  Would the timebank take it on?  Absolutely!

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Timebankers Stephanie, Emerald and Jean get their hands dirty.

We put out the word to the membership, and on May 15, we held a member social and planting party at Cville Coffee.  Members were asked to contribute a couple of bedding plants, and Toan reimbursed the purchase of fresh potting mix. That evening, members began to arrive, with cuttings and bedding plants galore! (Have I mentioned that we have quite a few green-thumbed members?)  TimeBank member Stephanie K. stepped up as planting coordinator, and within minutes, a flurry of soil and shovels descended upon the patio.  And the best part?

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Two weeks, plenty of water and sunshine later…….

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Great job!

The planters are now overflowing with beautiful plants, herbs and flowers — a mosaic of colors and scents.  See how it works?  We get what we need when we use what we have.                                           — Kathy Kildea

Shedding light

Cville TimeBank member Andrea posts about her recent lighting project, made easier with the help of Todd:

I have really enjoyed the Cville TimeBank thus far.  I have helped a couple of people with spring cleaning and taken a look at resumes or had nice conversations through messages, but what really struck me is how willing and skilled other members are.

I hated the track lighting in my condo since I purchased it nearly 5 years ago, but did not know how to paint or replace it.  2013-02-10_13-08-17_227I posted a service ad for a member to come over for recommendations and suggestions with intentions of completing the project myself after guidance. Todd replied quickly and came over within a couple of days fully prepared (tape measure, pencil, and probably a couple of other tools in tow).  He gave me a lot of suggestions about lighting styles, but I especially appreciated that he spent time asking what I was hoping for, how I use the rooms, etc. He told me several places in town where I could shop for the type of lights I was looking for, and also even looked around my place for other ways I could install new and better lighting. During our discussion, he told me about his background and that he could install whatever I purchased, if I decided not to do it myself.

I scoured the internet again after getting his feedback and found lights that met my needs. When they arrived, I still intended on installing them myself. However, after taking them out of the box, I realized I really did not feel comfortable taking down the old lights myself or connecting wires for the new ones so I sent another message to Todd. He came over that week with all of the necessary tools and installed
them with much less effort, stress, and time it would have taken me.  He even patched areas around the track where bits of the ceiling had fallen out from loosening the old track.

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Todd was obviously skilled in this area and was willing to help and address my particular needs and space. I love the new lights and am so happy each time I turn them on that I did not install them myself!

Thanks, Todd and  Cville TimeBank!

-Andrea M.

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Priceless Gifts Through TimeBanking

What does a TimeBanker give an 88 year-old dad (who has more than everything he wants) for Father’s Day?

Dad doesn’t get around very well anymore so these days I puzzle over what small gesture would give him a little happiness in his closely circumscribed life. I got an inspiration last February when I was visiting him at his home in Arizona.

Dad had become fascinated with his ancestry decades ago and had started researching and collecting family memorabilia.  He went so far as to travel to ancestral homes in and around New England, visiting the local historical societies.  The office in his house is now the repository for these memorabilia.  As a way to honor Dad, I made it my project to go through the boxes and files and see how I could perpetuate the stories a little further, so that the tales didn’t go to the grave with this generation.

Perhaps our most celebrated ancestor was one Thomas Harry Hinton. He was a musician, composer, conductor and music professor in upstate New York during the nineteenth century.  There are many stories about Professor Hinton, and the family archives had photographs and even some of his original musical manuscripts (with the emphasis on “manu” — hand written with pen and ink!)

Professor Hinton began a musical genetic thread in our family that has been passed down from generation to generation.  My daughter is now the proud possessor of her great grandfather’s (THH’s grandson’s) refurbished violin!

What does all this have to do with TimeBank? To say it in a nutshell, TimeBank enabled my father to hear his great grandfather’s music played for the first time!

I took some of Professor Hinton’s original music back to Cville with me in the hopes of finding someone who could play the music for me. I would then record it and send it to my dad.  After scanning the Cville TimeBank member list, I spotted Philip Clark, a professional musician and violin teacher.

Philip was delighted to take on this unusual project.  He began by selecting one of the songs called “Sunrise”, and uploading it into his computer. That allowed us to hear  what it sounded like for the first time!  Philip then got inspired to take it a step further and asked if I’d like it arranged for string trio.  I said, “Sure!” We soon strategized that my violinist daughter Julie could be one of the performers, and her friend Mark Dennison could play the cello part. And to record the performance, I contacted TimeBank goddess, Kathy Kildea.

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The ensemble met the Saturday before Father’s Day in the Woolen Mills Chapel (a great local resource!) and “Sunrise” was brought to life.  The moment was so joyful, I had to keep myself from dancing in the aisles (for fear that Kathy would capture it on the video…).  Kathy put the footage into a lovely little video presentation and I was able to email it to my dad in time for Father’s Day.  He was deeply moved and totally delighted.  And the bonus is that I was able to upload it to our family’s Facebook page to share with all the other branches of our family tree!

TimeBank has proven over and over to be an incredible resource for our community.  Not only do things get done that would otherwise languish on our neglected “to do” lists, but the joy of accomplishment gets shared around and friendships blossom and grow.  And this project is a great example of something that I could not have afforded to finance were I relying on for-hire helpers.

My deep gratitude goes out to Cville TimeBank members Philip Clark and Kathy Kildea for this priceless (literally!)  gift to my family!

-Lise Stoessel

Like links in a bike chain

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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

Music to TimeBanker’s Ears

Cville TimeBanker brings music back to life

- Lise Stoessel

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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.

Sunrise sheet musicAmong 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!

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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.)

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Thank you to Philip Clark and to Cville TimeBank for making this family dream come true!

Smile and say “Cheeeeeeese”

From new member Gwen, who is now sporting some snazzy photos! -Image

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!Image

People who need people

liseI’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

The priceless $1 tablecloth

One of the MANY reasons I LOVE Cville TimeBank:  It’s helping me get things DONE!

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Wilma thinks it’s beautiful, too.

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.

Why Kathy (and Joanie) like the TimeBank

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.