Pay it Forward: The #CLE TimeBank

We all know a dollar only goes so far, but at the Cleveland TimeBank, my new form of currency is an hour worth of service.

It’s a unique form of social exchange where you give a little of your time (or a lot) in exchange for someone else’s service. The concept has been happening for years here in the U.S. and in many parts of the U.K., so if you think about this creatively, you might just have a whole new reason to go places.

A couple of months ago, I had heard about the Cleveland TimeBank and decided to attend one of its community potlucks. I didn’t realize I would enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor while learning about this reciprocal service exchange.

A guy by the name of Max Balakoff is leading the charge over at the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office. I like to support what they’re doing in the neighborhood and Max is trying to get the word out. When I heard him explain the concept quite easily, I figured I had a few things I could offer in exchange for some handyman repairs.

I discovered a whole hidden underground of people willing to help me fix a roof, paint some furniture or just plain bake for me, in exchange for a service I can offer. Maybe I can help till a garden or help write a grant or press release. It sounds like a great way to barter.

The sign-up process is really simple. I’ve already had a conversation with a guy who needs a hand with a non-profit. Another woman needs help with an art project. How easy is this when you think about it?

The fact I can use the three hours I gave to someone else any way I choose is merely a win-win. Plus, Max just sent us an e-mail a few days ago. He told us that our TimeBank hours could be used for global “currency,” so my mind started to wander a little.

Maybe I could go horsebackriding in the Andes in exchange for a farm grant?

I could get used to that.