Thursday, February 28, 2008

Time Banking -- Social Change through Community

I'm a member of the Dane County Timebank. Time Banking creates social change by weaving communities together. Through a timebank, we create reciprocal relationships with those who live near us. It's very simple: for every hour I spend doing something for another community member, I earn one Time Dollar. Then I have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for me!

Time banking is a way to create what happens naturally in communities with high social capital. Don Cohen, author of In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work, describes social capital as "the generalized trust and reciprocity that bind the members of human networks and communities and make cooperative action possible." Cohen was our keynote speaker at the 2005 Large Congregation Conference.

Yesterday and today, I earned time dollars by driving two women to and from a job skills class they must attend. They live about fifteen miles from the campus training center, so it would take at least 90 minutes via public transportation. It's a small thing, but having transportation provided made it easier for A and F to be at class on time and get home promptly.

I empathized with the ladies: it would difficult to get up at dawn and take two long bus rides to a strange place. The Madison Metro is great, but no matter where you want to go, you have to make a choice: do I want to arrive way too early or a little bit late? (I used to opt for being late, which meant I never heard any announcements at church!)

Today, A told me that her mother was hospitalized and may need surgery on her arm. I felt compelled to give her some wild rice soup. A very small gesture, but it felt good to do that.

Prayers for health and healing,

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