"You help build the Sharing Society." was the sentence that jumped off the page at me on my July 19, 2012 Risa D'Angeles horoscope. Hmmm... sharing society...not a term I'd heard before but felt super-curious about...so tried to define for myself:
- First, I thought about how my neighbors and I share the use of tools, gas grill, and other odds and ends (and may now extend to NY Times subscription and internet)
- Then as an avid Freecycler for more than five years, I concluded that this was a prime example of a sharing community where people give and receive goods, all completely free of charge.
- Next my mind jumped to CouchSurfing and AirBnB -- a fantastic concept of people opening their homes to provide accomodation for travelers and vacationers.
- I thought I was out of ideas for a moment until Time Banking popped into my mind -- I had heard of this through a friend and decided with my horoscope's nudge, that it was time to check it out!
I discovered that, "Time Bank is a system of reciprocal service exchange that uses time units as currency." I love it that everyone's time is equally valued whether you are providing legal advice, weeding a garden, or teaching someone how to play the guitar. The Time Bank is no flimsy operation.... there's an application process, references required, an orientation meeting, and annual dues (on a sliding scale.) Love it -- I felt these hoops would weed out those who aren't really into it or alternatively not so good at following through on things..oops, a little judgment coming through there.
My bank account started off in the black with time credits earned from the orientation. I was encouraged by the time bank founders to spend and help get some more activity in the system. So, my first service received was a delightful and professional Thai massage....and just blocks from my home nonetheless! In the giving realm, I decided to depart from the traditional skills I use at my job and think of other services to offer. I came up with the following: helping clutter clear people's closets and creating fun mail art (mostly out of recycled materials) to add a bit of cheer to someone's mail box and day. It surprised me that the latter was the first requested. I gladly searched for images & quotes and cut, pasted, created, and sent some uplifting mail to another! Then I found myself in the situation of unexpectedly leaving town for a conference and needing some care for my new kitty. A lovely timebanker who offers cat care was up for it; it was a win-win-win -- my kitty was well-cared for, I was at ease, and my fellow time banker earned time credits she can use on services she wants or needs....brilliant! While at the conference (on Happiness, Well Being, and Sustainability), I found myself meeting others who participate in Time Banking and other forms of sharing like co-working (e.g. Next Space) and vehicle sharing (e.g. Zipcar). I am looking forward to learning more from author & new friend/neighbor, Cecile Andrews, who is passionate about the this topic of sharing. And thanks, Risa, for getting me motivated to dive in further!
article published at Everything Home Fall Edition of DIY Home Tips