In the beginning there was time, followed eons later by the ubiquitous lack of time and the ever-frustrating waste of time. Now a group of locals are introducing the idea of “trading time” to get things done and bring people back together.
Exchanging favors and services between friends and family is a timeless tradition that conjures images of barn-raisings and informal childcare. But a group of locals think that many of these casual exchanges have been replaced by monetary transactions that have eroded a sense of community and reciprocity.
The Time Trade Network of Greater Newburyport will help to right this imbalance and restore an exchange of skill for skill while rebuilding community. According to founding member Elizabeth Marcus the Network is special because it encourages personal relationships.
“The Time Trade Network will restore a non-monetary system of reciprocity that develops and strengthens community social connections,” Marcus said.
The Network is a system of giving and receiving services between members which are then recorded through special software and accessed through a member website. Every hour given is worth an hour in return of services from a fellow trader of the network. All hours are of equal value whether fixing a car or caring for a pet. Hours earned are deposited in the “time-bank” and can be used later to receive other services from members of the network.
Over the past year seven local volunteers have been researching, testing and designing the Network. It will debut on Sunday, October 19 at the Newburyport Farmers’ Market located at the Tannery.
Twenty-five volunteers participated in a pilot program from May until September. There were 41 types of services exchanged during the pilot. These services included event planning, plant care, pet care, hauling, photography, clutter management, cooking, writing, computer assistance and home decorating.
“The larger our membership becomes, the more diverse the services offered will be,” said Marcus.
The mission of the TTNGN’s is to “provide a time exchange system that connects unmet needs with untapped resources by empowering its members to both seek assistance and share their wealth of skills and experiences; enhancing the quality of our members’ lives and fostering a greater sense of cooperation that enriches our local community.”
There are over 30 time banks already operating in New England. Some of the most successful include the Hour Exchange of Portland, Maine and the Time Trade Circle of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The TTNGN is organized as a Massachusetts non-profit corporation.
The core group and members of the pilot program will be at their Farmers’ Market booth from 9 AM to 1 PM to share their experiences with time trading and to answer questions. They will also be
registering those interested for an orientation meeting, a requirement to become a member. Orientations are currently scheduled for Thursday, October 30 at 7 PM or Saturday, November 8 at 10 AM in Newburyport. Additional orientations will be scheduled in the future.
Contact the Network at 978-225-3440 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.