The Sebastopol Area Time Bank is ready to grow
The Time Bank has a shiny new website, easy-to-use time banking software, and they’re looking for new participants
The Sebastopol Area Time Bank was founded in 2016 and based on a simple principle: neighbors helping neighbors.
Time banking is easy to understand: you help someone with a task, “bank” your hours, and then, the next time you need help with something, you can spend those hours to get the help you need. Here’s a simple visual explanation of how that works:
Creating community and saving money
The Time Bank’s motto is “Building community one hour at a time.” It is one of those classic Sebastopol institutions that are intentionally designed to connect people who might never otherwise have met and weave them into a community of friends.
“It’s about neighbors connecting and neighbors helping neighbors,” said the Time Bank’s administrative coordinator David Gill, who has been with the organization since 2019.
He said it’s also a great way to save money.
“By getting help from other members, I've saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars,” Gill said, reeling off the list of some of the things he’s had fixed over the years by fellow time bankers.
“Kenn spent an hour advising me on a freezer issue where I would have paid hundreds for an LG serviceman to just make a service call. Jim solved the short in my low-level lighting where I would have paid a couple hundred for a master electrician to fix it…An environmental inspection under my house? Replacing the valves under my bathroom pedestal sinks? Picking up and moving furniture to my house? Diagnosing a problem with my on-demand hot water system?”
“The time bank makes sense and saves cents/dollars ... hundreds and thousands of 'em!” he said.
He, of course, contributes as well, racking up hours as the Time Bank’s administrative coordinator, but also doing hands-on jobs for other people.
Contribute to your community by becoming a paid subscriber of the Sebastopol Times.
Perhaps the best part about these interactions—in addition to the money saved—is the human connections that happen. “I’ve made good friends through the Time Bank,” Gill said, “and I now have a whole group of people I know, if I need help, I can just pick up the phone and call.”
Sebastopol artist and time banker Liz Newton echoes these sentiments. She listed off some of the services she offers through the Time Bank and some of the things she’s gotten in return.
“I do organizing of people’s spaces. I do various art-related things,” she said. “I do regular painting, like house painting. And I do a lot of gardening and pruning.”
“The thing I love about it is, none of those talents in themselves are terribly lucrative. So it's kind of a way of earning capital, if you will, from something you really love doing and are really good at doing,” she said. “I've never made a living out of doing any of those things, but they've always been things that I really enjoyed.”
In return, she’s found people to help out at parties, someone to walk her dog while she was on vacation, and someone to fix her shower. Gill fixed her smudgy printer and taught her how to fix it in the future.
“And you meet people, which is really wonderful,” she said.
All services are charged at the same rate. An hour of dog-walking is equal to an hour of computer repair, which is equal to an hour spent cooking or organizing someone’s office.
New website and new time bank software makes time banking easier
There have been some major changes at the Time Bank over the last few months: they have a handsome, user-friendly new website (sebastopoltimebank.org); new, easier-to-use time-banking software; and a reorganized volunteer management team to keep the whole thing running smoothly.
Gill was kind enough to walk me through the new system to show me how easy it is to become a time banker. Basically, you sign up on the site, get approved by an administrator, attend a short onboarding session on Zoom, fill out your profile and then you’ll have access to the site’s list of requests and offers. You should also subscribe to the Time Bank’s email list because they send a useful weekly digest on Fridays, listing all the new requests and offers for that week.
Here’s what the Requests and Offers page looked like today:
The Time Bank’s new software, Time and Talents, was created by a programmer in Lake County, and Gill said it’s far more user-friendly than systems they’ve used in the past. The Time Bank also offers extensive tech help and provides a lot of hand-holding.
New members are also given 10 hours to use to “purchase” services just for signing up.
The time bank currently has around 250 members, but Gill is hoping the recent improvements can help them expand that number. He says he’s not looking merely for members, but for actual participants who are willing to get in there and get busy, helping their neighbors and being helped in return.
“What we really want are participants that will actively use it, because when people use it, the time bank thrives,” he said.
Learn more about the Sebastopol Area Time Bank at sebastopoltimebank.org.
Learn about this and other great local organizations in the Sebastopol Times. Become a paid subscriber today.