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Time Banking Offers a Friendly Give and Take

Earlier this week I cooked a tasty spinach quiche, a feat I owe in large part to the Bay Area time bank. More specifically, I whipped up the quiche thanks to all I learned during a cooking lesson with Christina Oatfield, who I met through the time bank website. The concept of a time bank is simple: all time has equal value. An hour of cooking help, an hour of massage, an hour of computer wisdom—all are considered an hour of work. No dollars are exchanged. Now that I’ve received two hours of cooking expertise, I owe two hours to the time bank (not to Chef Christina). I can repay my two hours to anyone who’s a part of the time bank. Likewise, Christina has earned two hours and can request her payback in gardening, plumbing, or whatever she needs. Christina and I connected on the time bank website because her skills matched my needs. We then arranged a menu by email, and I did the shopping and some prep work. On the appointed evening, Christina biked over to my house, we chatted a bit and then got to work. Beets and sweet potatoes were roasted, broccoli chopped, cheese grated. Best of all, Christina taught me to make a no-fuss, no-rolling-pin-needed pie crust. We ended up with two dishes: a scrumptious root vegetable casserole and a lovely quiche based on the Moosewood Cookbook’s recipe. The spinach quiche I recently concocted on my own is the result of my newfound recipes, skills, and confidence. Officially called the Bay Area Community Exchange, the time bank is a great way to get things you want or need without spending money. The experience is equally about giving and provides a venue for sharing your skills or items you’ve made. In addition, the time bank offers the chance to be part of an alternative, local economy. As a member of the time bank, you can explore some of the ideas and values behind the Transition Movement—people building relationships and sharing skills within a community.

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