What does it take to start a time bank where you live? That was just one of the questions on Mary Murphy’s mind after she was inspired by New Dream and Sharable to host a sharefest in Silver Spring, Maryland in May 2014. Eight months later — this past Saturday — the Silver Spring Time Bank kicked off its first New Member Orientation. Three days later nearly 40 people have already signed up!
In a time bank, one person provides an hour (or more) of service for another person; the provider of the service is credited with one hour, which they can redeem for an hour of a different service from another person. The idea began with law professor Edgar Cahn, who has explained time banking as “a babysitting pool with neighborhood memory and multipurpose.”
The Silver Spring Time Bank is an offshoot of Silver Spring Shares, an organization that Mary started soon after she began organizing the Silver Spring Sharefest. Silver Spring Shares is working to kickstart the sharing movement in Silver Spring. In recent months, the organization has hosted a community potluck and a local book swap, with many other activities planned for the future.
At the time bank orientation, Murphy commented, “People tell me they just don’t have time for another activity. But the beauty of our time bank is that you don’t have to commit to any specific block of time. And your offers are things you enjoy doing so it’s not another chore or burden. You can offer to help someone doing something you enjoy and have a talent for and in return you get help with something that’s beneficial to you.”
The time bank is already receiving support from a number of local partners. Springvale Terrace Senior Living Community provided the room and audio visual equipment for the event. Christy Batta, a local graphic design professional, chipped in and received time bank hours to develop the logo and brand of the time bank. Likewise, time bank members Tina Slater and Jonathan Bernstein gained some hours by designing the time bank’s brochure and PowerPoint presentation. All the member hours are tracked on the free HourWorld web application.
The orientation provided attendees with an opportunity to seek out someone they didn’t know, describe their interest in the time bank idea, and explore what they might offer or request. It was surely the sign of successful community building that Mary nearly had to whistle to bring the chatty group back together.
Orientation participants were also provided with practical tips and guidelines to ensure that they get the most out of their membership in the time bank. In addition, they were able to watch video interviews of other time bank members from the Onion River Exchange in Burlington, VT. Interviewees in the video discussed the important role that their time bank plays in their own community.
According to attendee and Silver Spring resident Linda Matthews, “we came away with the notion that this is a really good idea, the sense of community, getting to know one another.”
Frankie Blackburn, who also attended, expressed her excitement to be part of the time bank, saying, “As a long time community builder all over the country, I am so excited to finally participate in and benefit from a new time bank right in my neighborhood. I can’t wait to meet new folks, find someone to take care of my house plants when I travel and perhaps help a few people cart things in the back of my pickup truck! I am sure I will discover many new wonderful people and gifts in my own backyard.”
The group welcomes interest from other community members who want to join. Please visit the Silver Spring Time Bank page for more information and to join. Also check out and “like” the Silver Spring Shares Facebook page for more information.
Bernstein lives, works and plays in Silver Spring.