Building community one hour at a time…

The Silver Spring Timebank celebrated its first year in January 2016.  As one of the founding members, I remember thinking last January when we “launched” the timebank that all the hard work was finally done!

Our founding group of six had put in a lot of time the previous six months, researching, experimenting and planning. With help from nearby time banks (thanks Greenbelt Timebank and Columbia Community Exchange), inspiration from other time banks, and free and seemingly limitless support from hOurworld Time and Talents, we created our mission, vision, exchange policies, and promotional and orientation materials all needed for the start-up.  

But in the last year, as our founding circle expanded to include over a dozen individuals, we have put in more hours than any of us ever anticipated.  We’ve done so with amazing energy and dedication because it’s been such fun hearing about the wonderful exchange stories like new puppy help, early morning rides to the airport, resume counseling, french lessons and bike repairs.  Even more, we’ve happily given our time and talents to keep building the Silver Spring Timebank because we’re thrilled to see a community of new connections develop…one hour at a time.

During the first few months, our main focus was on getting new members. We partnered with community organizations who offered us space for orientations, and we organized potlucks and happy hours for new members to get to know each other. Each month the leadership team met and we congratulated ourselves on the growing membership: 25…50…75 members!  We anxiously tracked the various exchanges, and always wished there were more!  We posted member stories on Facebook and Twitter, and we “tabled” at community markets to spread the word.

A turning point came when over 15 people attended a monthly leadership team meeting in the late spring.  The group was full of enthusiasm and ideas, but it was unwieldy and so many voices made it hard to decide on next steps.  We realized then wehad enough people and commitment to break up into multiple action teams and individuals stepped up to lead each team to get so much more done!

The orientation team has continued to offer two orientations each month, finding unique community locations and engaging new members with a revised presentation.   The membership team has personally reached out to every member in the timebank, offering help to set up profiles and brainstorming ideas for offers.  The outreach team offered their original 20X20 powerpoint presentation at the PechaKucha Night Silver Spring Vol. 5 focused on the theme of community. And, outreach team members worked to build this wonderful new website!

Because of the terrific efforts of the event team, the Silver Spring Timebank is now known as a leader in organizing sharing events in Silver Spring.  With plans for a community swap each season, the event team already organized a fall community clothing swap and a winter book swap.  Plans are already underway for a spring greeting card/stationary swap and a summer tool swap too.  Members love to help with these events as they earn timebank hours to spend on timebank services. Finally, the tech team has provided calm and consistent support with all hOurworld software questions and any computer-related issues, and guidance on a variety of timebank policies.

We’re celebrating our first year anniversary with 135+ active members and hundreds of hours worth of exchanges.  There’s lots on the agenda for the time bank’s next steps and keeping the momentum going will be critical. Our hope is that the bonds we’ve made within the leadership teams and the connections made within the timebank community will energize and excite us to keep building the Silver Spring Timebank…one hour at a time…for many years to come.