February 2012 Meeting Recap
Many people came out for a balmy night at the Hillcrest Community Center last Monday to learn about SWM's success in 2011 and identify sustainable ideas they would like to be part of in 2012. 2011 was SWM's 5th year and the focus was on going 'deeper' in existing programs and building new leaders. Dave told the group "we've done a good job recruiting and supporting new leaders" including Eddie Bower for the Organic Community Garden, Tim Dalton for the Time Bank, Renee Alessio with Sustainable Jersey and Russ Bangs & Triscia Hennessy at the Farmers' Market. 2011 program successes include the town being awarded the Sustainable Jersey 'Bronze Sustainability Award', 'local' Ample Harvest efforts feeding 50-100 food insecure residents with fresh produce from local gardeners, a third year of locally produced foods available at the WM Farmers' Market, and the Medicinal Garden's strong growing community perfecting their water catchment system.
Some great sustainable project ideas for 2012 were generated from those that attended the session:
- A local seed saving effort that includes education, seed sharing, and using a community seed vault to extend shelf life
- A low-power FM radio station just for West Milford for events, information, and call-in dialogue
- Turn a classroom at Hillcrest into a sustainable education room - by upgrading it and providing education information on everything from low VOC paint to healthy lighting and a solar powered clock
- Cash Mobs - a way to focus the energy of 'flash mobs' into spending their dollars at local stores in WM
- Compost education and demonstration project- in partnership with David Styres and the Recycling Committee
- Transforming the local (and empty) movie theatre into the "Highlands Arts Center and Coffee shop" - a combination arts space, movie space, performance space and community gathering space
Additional plans for 2012 include:
- Moving the Farmers Market to the Wells Fargo Parking Lot (next to Shoprite)
- Upgrading and changing our website and facebook pages to be more useful and interactive
- Protecting our community garden from future floods
- A 'mono-culture' pilot at the Community Garden (single crops in each plot and everyone shares)
- Offering medicinal garden training to other Sustainable Jersey towns and other individuals
- The development of a 'Sustainable Awards Show' for the winter
- Expanding the timebank to local community organizations (animal shelter, Music at the Mission)
Project updates and SWM happenings will be discussed at the Time Bank potluck this month on March 26th, 7:00-9:00 pm, Hillcrest Community Center, 1810 Macopin Road. Hope to see you there!
Meeting Overview: Time Banking in West Milford
March 28, 2011
Time Banking in West Milford
Thank you so much for joining us on Monday night. We are profoundly grateful for the interest shown in bringing this to West Milford and all of your ideas about what it should look like here and how it could best operate. We look to your ongoing support as we prepare to “open” the Time Bank by June 1st!
This project is being launched as part of Sustainable West Milford, by a committed core team of Tim Dalton and Dave and Wendy Watson-Hallowell who have brought together the initial ideas, information and energy needed to present the idea to the community for input.
The meeting of 30 people began with a discussion of the concept and core principles – for more information go to http://www.timebanks.org/. Dave shared his reflections while painting the Apple Acres Grist Mill – how did they ever build it in the first place 200 years ago? Neighbors helped neighbors to create the kind of community they wanted to live in. Why doesn’t that happen much anymore? Many reasons including:
We are isolated – don’t interact with the same frequency in face-to-face ways
Believe independence, not interdependence is the best state to be in
Believe we can just hire experts to fix our problems
Afraid to ask for help
Don’t feel we have something of equal value to offer back ($ or other effort)
The time banking program can overcome these barriers and create a new supportive relationships within our community – in effect, weave a stronger community through opportunities to help one another out. Time banking will give everyone the chance to both give and receive needed services and assistance.
1-1barters can work well and go on all the time between neighbors and friends. For instance, Mary Loudon shared a story of how a barter/relationship was so valuable and provided far more than just the needed services. Many other examples were shared as well that showed how people found ways to help one another out when they needed it and the value of paying it forward. At the end of the meeting on Monday, as a result of participants sharing what they had to offer to assist others, Tim Dalton and Harvey Zanger found their connection – Tim will help Harvey improve his computer skills and use while Harvey will provide Tim with some needed carpentry work around the his house. Perfect!
But what happens if you don’t have something that the other person wants? The time bank system creates a new way to interact through the internet where what is needed and what is offered is posted, and the Time Bank connects these folks to meet needs, make new friends, and build community. This solves the problem often experienced in a 1-1 barter situation – if you don’t have what each other needs, then you can’t work together. With the time bank, you can repay the favor to another member of the time bank who needs what you have to offer... a great way of ‘paying it forward!’
The group discussed what is important about the Time Bank we create here in WM:
· Flexibility (give what you can, when you can)
· Equality (everyone’s time is of equal value)
· Belief that everyone has something of value they can contribute
· Should be available to anyone in or out of WM – we will market it locally but welcome all who want to participate
After the opening discussion, we viewed a video on the program from Good Morning America that provided more details of how it works and the benefits to users. Very inspiring and led to a great Q&A discussion where we together made some key decisions about our own Time Bank:
Q: Do we need a critical mass?
A. Certainly, the more the merrier but in reviewing existing time bank membership, most are less than 300 people, many with even 50 or less, and appear to function quite well.
Q: Can we put out a want that isn’t in the bank?
A: Yes – in fact that might be what inspires someone to help and join the program.
Q: Does it cost money to join?
A: No - SWM will raise the dollars to make it free for this first year. We don’t want any barriers to participation especially in the beginning while we are getting our feet wet. We are open to anyone out there who would like to sponsor this program – it will cost in excess of $500 for the use of the Community Weaver internet tools alone.
Q: Will the time bank have both Community Hours and Individual Hours? Community hours are hours that donated to the community in some way like volunteering for the Animal Shelter, INTERACT club projects, Township clean-up days, etc..
A: Clear agreement from all in attendance that this time bank should be individually focused – counting community hours would create a “deficit” in funds at the bank with far more hours banked than could be covered by hours put in. No way to cover the withdrawals, etc. Additionally, the group agreed that those community focused hours volunteered by these groups and residents provide their own rewards and needn’t be part of this effort.
A How will Quality Control of work performed be handled?
Q. While there were many potential solutions offered, we agreed the simplest and most direct way would be to have the time bank coordinator initially make an inquiry as to the skill set needed and make follow up calls to both giver and receiver to verify what had been done, their satisfaction with the job and their experience with time banking. This type of follow up will also give us a clear sense of immediate results and a great opportunity for continuous improvement by asking how we might improve the program. We can check in with Tim and Harvey next month to see how it all worked for them on their 1-1 barter!
Q. Will there be a public rating system like on E-Bay or Angie’s list?
A. While the idea of a rating system has its attraction, it has its liabilities as well – particularly, thinking that as a volunteer doing something to help someone out, that you would be “rated” on your performance, is a bit off-putting. We won’t be doing this.
Q. What is the insurance liability that comes with this type of project?
A. The insurance question and what liabilities, etc. are associated with this was discussed. Waivers are an option but a fairly weak one – more research will be done on this aspect in the coming weeks by the steering committee. One important point brought up is that those who join should understand that they will need to accept the same levels of risk and trust typically accorded to a supportive family member or neighbor when they offer help. This understanding provides a degree of protection for all.
Q: Will the time bank have a section for a materials exchange as part of the program?
A. A neat idea – one that Freecycle has covered pretty well.
Q: Can we list our professions as part of our profile on the time bank? Others may have a better idea of what I can offer than I do!
A. That’s a great idea – will do if possible and make it optional rather than required.
Much work remains to be done to launch it by June 1st and to accomplish this, Dave asked for volunteers who would like to join Tim, Wendy and Dave as they take this idea and put it into motion for our community. The “job” looks like 4 meetings over the next two months and the work in between for a total of about 16 hours of your time. Betsi Davies volunteered at the session and we are looking for 2-4 more people to join us. We could use the help and would appreciate all input!
Several participants from the meeting signed up to be in the Time Bank, and we’ll keep you posted on our progress and how/when you can get your friends and neighbors to join in as well.