Monday, June 7, 2010

Community time bank: What can I do for you?

These past few weeks, my dad and brothers have stepped up to help Chris and I out with our deck-building project. It's something my dad had long promised to do when we were ready. Last Christmas, he even wrapped up his original deck plans and gave them to Chris to get him started.
My dad is a smart guy and has lots of home repair and construction experience. His "you can do it with what you've got" attitude is just the encouragement Chris needed to turn his plans into something we can sit on.
On Sunday, my brothers came over to lend a hand. They mixed concrete, came with me to the hardware store to buy lumber and were generally helpful. Logan was even cheerful about it.
The point is- each one chipped in to help a sister - or daughter- out.
So I thought it'd be nice to say thanks in a way I knew they would appreciate: with food. So I greeted them with gourmet waffles bright and early Sunday. (Err, I took some basic waffle mix and hacked it to make it better.) It's a simple thing that didn't take much time, but I enjoyed doing it and they enjoyed eating it.

All this helping and sharing got me thinking about the idea of community. Growing up, when my mom needed a cup of sugar or an egg at dinner, I would run next door to borrow it from the neighbors. Now, I feel like we've gotten to know our neighbors pretty well, although I haven't yet borrowed an egg. But I like the idea of feeling like you have people around you - sometimes literally next door-  that you can turn to when you need a hand.

Then I read this article about time banks. When you belong to a time bank, you do something for someone and you earn a time dollar. You can then spend that time dollar on having someone do something you need done. I like the idea of putting a "currency" on helping. One hour of work equals one time dollar. It means that anything you have to offer, whatever it may be, is worth the same as other forms of help. So building a deck is worth the same as driving someone to the store. Maybe it's not the same amount of difficulty, but if it fulfills a need, it's just as important. I would think it might encourage others to both ask and offer help.
Right now, there's only one time bank set up in the St. Louis area. It's in north St. Louis city for members of a settlement house. I think it would be cool to start one in my community, but that's a lot of work - more than I could handle right now.
So for the time being, I'm interested in swapping favors with someone. Let's give it a try. Ask me anything you need help with. If I can do it, I sure will. If I can't, I'll do my best to find someone who can help, and I'll tell them about my plan.  In return, if you could offer a favor, that would be great!

Things I could use some help with:
  • Organization. My craft/cat room is a disaster area. I've tried to arrange it all before, but have found it hard to keep things organized. I need someone to help me find a permanent place to put things.
  • Kneading lessons. I cannot make a proper loaf of homemade bread. I think it has something to do with the kneading. I'm just not doing it right! Help me make a good loaf of bread!
  • Stair-climbing motivation: Climb some stairs with me at a local park and don't let me stop before I've gone up and down at least 5 times! I need someone to encourage me and make me show up!
  • Buying shoes: I tend to buy cheap, bad shoes that fall apart quickly. When I do splurge on nice ones, they wear out because I wear them all the time. But I have a hard time spending more than $25 on shoes (thanks mom). I need someone to help me build an affordable shoe wardrobe that will last awhile.
Things I can do to help:
  • Teach you how to make your own homemade jams. (Apple butter, peach, raspberry, or strawberry) OR, I can turn your fruit into jam.
  • Make you some cute baby bibs or fancy burp rags.
  • Teach you to sew a simple pillow or turn your old t-shirt into a bag.
  • Watch your kid for an evening or afternoon. 
  • Edit presentations, papers, and essays.
  • Listen to you vent about anything and provide soothing, encouraging feedback.
  • Help you plan and decorate for your next fabulous event.

Or maybe you need help with something else? Leave me a message! I want to help - and I need yours :)


  1. I am so down for a craft room organization day for a lesson on the ol' sewing machine!

  2. Yay sounds great! We'll have to figure out a time when we're both in town!


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