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.
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!
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?
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