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Time On Their Side

timebank logoTimeBank Santa Cruz celebrates its continuing evolution with an upcoming mixer

After a viral kickoff accumulating hordes of members in February, TimeBank Santa Cruz has scaled back to keep what—and who—works best.

The basic currency of TimeBank is, fittingly, time. One hour of pruning, for example, earns you one credit for an hour of clarinet lessons, computer repair, dog walking, or any number of other offerings from fellow members. The group has invited the public to come learn about its ways at a Saturday, Aug. 18 potluck at Frederick Street Park in Santa Cruz.

Initially created as a sibling to the Reskilling Expo, TimeBank Santa Cruz has ended up teaching its current members (of which there are around 75) about sustainable skills in a more experiential way, says member Leanne Ravinale. 

Ravinale, who has been with TimeBank Santa Cruz since its inception, says her experience within the organization has intensified her understanding of resiliency.

“[In TimeBank], you’re going to have to be up-front about what you are looking for,” Ravinale says. “Learning how to ask for help has done so much to build trust among members.”

She opens up her queue of communications with TimeBank members on the TimeBank Santa Cruz website. Tonally, the messages convey a sense of friendliness, professionalism, and wistful curiosity.

“It’s been a great way to meet people,” Ravinale says. “It’s really funny when somebody responds to your request and it’s actually your friend or neighbor—you think, why didn’t we do this sooner?”

Ravinale says her participation in TimeBank has also helped her process her concerns about the future of the local—and global—community.

“Listening and speaking with others, you can take it in, accept it, feel it, and heal,” Ravinale says, using “it” to refer to climate change, a massive earthquake, Peak Oil, financial collapse, and other impending fears she shares with many other TimeBank members.

Indeed, the group is not without more serious undertones. As a member of the Reskilling Expo and Transition Santa Cruz family, many have joined the organization because they feel that “business as usual” will not do for much longer.

In the meantime, Ravinale says she has learned about herself by observing other people’s work.

“I remember this one 70-year-old woman was helping me with my raised flowerbeds—she really had some energy,” Ravinale says, motioning vigorously to demonstrate the woman’s shoveling prowess. “That really shifted my perspective on shoveling.”

In order to be effective, members must both successfully advertise their work offers as well as their work requests. Director and lead organizer Bonnie Linden has taken it upon herself to enhance individual outreach and connect more people with each other using mixers. The 62-year-old former elementary school teacher says her latest TimeBank project has to do with flash mobs.

“We had 10 people descend on our webmaster’s home and pack his car efficiently so he could move,” Linden says. “Then one of our members recently had knee surgery and three people came to help her with gardening.”

Outreach projects like these are working well for Linden, who says she would rather have “good members” than “more members.” TimeBank Santa Cruz, while having grown in overall membership, has let some members go due to low participation. She also hopes to see more middle-aged members join the ranks, which are mostly comprised of younger and older participants. The upcoming potluck will be a chance for prospective members to learn about how to use a TimeBank membership efficiently, she adds. 

TimeBank Santa Cruz’s free public mixer and potluck will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Frederick Street Park, 168 Frederick St., Santa Cruz. Visit santacruz.timebanks.org for more information.

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