What's next?

Over 25 TimeBank hours have been recorded in the last thirty days!

NQTIMEBANK is recruiting members!

Spring is coming - THINK SPRING... and many members offer and request garden help, clean-outs, tag sale assistance, and more in the Spring. If you can recruit members or become a member yourself in the Spring, you will be given a Bonus (1 time Dollar) for your efforts! The more members there are, the more opportunities we have as members for great exchanges! Need fliers or information for your organization or friends - let Amber know and she can get them to you!

NQTIMEBANK is looking for Coordinators!

Currently, Laurie of Wendell and Amber of Orange are the VOLUNTEER Coordinators for the NQTimebank. If anyone is interested in becoming a coordinator in your town or community, please contact Amber in Orange for details. You will earn TimeDollars for your service and can choose to spend them however you want!

NQTIMEBANK is looking for CASH!

Currently, The NQTimeBank needs to renew its website and pay it's yearly dues. In previous years, we have sold bags of coffee, donated seeds and asked for donations to cover these costs. If anyone is interested in working to organize a fundraiser or can make a donation, please contact Amber in Orange for details.

“Change starts when someone sees the next step.” William Henry Drayton

Laurie DiDonato: Wendell Ambassador -- and So Much More!

by Sharon Wachsler

I recently had a chance to talk to Laurie DiDonato, a dynamic community member. She is bringing a great deal to the town of Wendell, wearing many "hats," and bringing these activities together with her role as Time Bank Ambassador for Wendell.

How did you first hear about the Time Bank? What interested you about it?

I first heard about it in passing during one of the Wendell Sustainable meetings, which is a group of people that got together last year with the hope of preparing for a possible economic crash by making Wendell more sustainable. Then, I learned more details [about the Time Bank] when Amber [Ortiz] made a presentation at a Swift River School PTCA (Parent Teacher Community Association) meeting.

I signed up immediately after that meeting. I am very interested in keeping things local, for sustainability, community-building, and increased independence from corporate controlled systems and fossil fuels, and this seemed like one way to accomplish [these goal]. I had already been interested in the Common Good Bank project, which hopes to promote local trade and give communities economic independence. The Time Bank is doing the same thing, so I was excited to participate.

I'm curious about the time trade you did with Betsy [Ames, NQTB Co-coordinator] helping her identify the plants around our home. Do you have a background in botany? What interested you in this trade?

For many years I have been interested in edible and medicinal plants as a means to wilderness survival, and I have studied them both in guide books and through plant-identification walks. I also have a background in biology, and although I never specialized in plants, I think my attention to detail is also a strength in plant identification.

I was very excited to be able to do this trade, because I think this type of information is valuable to share with people, and I’ve always thought of leading walks myself, but never have. I hope next spring I can lead Time Bank edible plant walks with those interested in learning this type of information. I also very much enjoyed interacting with Betsy (and you!), and getting to know you both better. This is one of the other pluses of the Time Bank, getting to know your neighbors, who you otherwise might never meet.

What other time trades have you done?

I did some typing for Amber [Ortiz, NQTB Co-Coordinator]. I work on the computer at home, so it was easy for me to type up some poetry for her.

I’ve also had some sewing done by Deborah Manning, who mended some ripped pants that my children hadn’t grown out of yet. She was very quick, and used knee patches with fun patterns that the kids loved. I've also done another sewing trade recently, this time with Amy Simmons, who altered a pair of mittens. They came out perfectly, and she is doing another pair for me now.

I’ve also received babysitting services for my two small children and a healing massage, both from my neighbor, and provided the same neighbor pet care services by letting her dog out when she was away from home during the day.

Wow! It's great that you and your neighbors have really made use of the Time Bank! I know you're also on the Wendell Energy Task Force, which is an organizational member of NQTB. What does the Task Force do?

The Task Force [grew out of] the Wendell Sustainable initiative that I mentioned earlier. We started as a subcommittee focused on energy, and after a year of meetings and some accomplishments (we coordinated a carpooling initiative with zipride.com, a website that connects people who want to share rides), we realized we might be more effective as a town-supported committee. The town voted to create the Task Force at a special town meeting this summer. Our main objective is to determine how the town can reduce its energy use through conservation.

What do you hope to give or receive as an organizational member of the Time Bank?

One of our first ideas has been to educate people on how to save energy. To accomplish this, we plan to put up informative signs and banners in the town center. We have a Time Bank ad up for people interested in helping to make a banner for this purpose. (Ed. Note: See "Banner Making" in "Crafts" under the "Arts, Crafts, & Music" section, or once you're logged in to the NQTB site, click here.) Our first message we hope to use will be about getting a free Home Energy Audit from MasSAVE.

We hope to provide educational events and/or workshops for the community as well. We have two things in the works right now. The first is a movie we're sponsoring to be shown at the Wendell Library, called What a Way to Go; Life at the End of Empire. You can read more about the movie here.

The other is a Winsert workshop. Winserts are framed window inserts that help better insulate your house and save money on heating costs. Participants will make Winserts for the Wendell Town Hall, while learning how to make these for their own homes, too. The workshop will be on February 20th at 2pm, and Time Bank members can participate and earn time bank hours.To learn more about Winserts visit northquabbinenergy.org.

You have an exciting role as NQTB's first town ambassador! What do you do as ambassador?

I hold office hours at the Wendell library so people interested in the Time Bank can find out more, and those signed up can get oriented, or get help if they are having problems. I can also help people find trades.

How's it going so far?

So far I’ve had a refresher of the orientation process with Betsy, and had one office hour with no one needing help. It’s only been a few weeks, so I imagine things will pick up.

When are your office hours?

We're looking at a regular schedule of the second Wednesday and the fourth Saturday of each month. We’ll see how it goes. I’m also happy to find additional times if someone can’t make these hours and needs an orientation or help with the Time Bank.

Thank you so much for your time and all your hard work for the community! I'm sure I'm not the only one who enjoys your energy and enthusiasm, and learns from your great ideas!
To arrange a time to talk or meet with Laurie, send her an email.

Important Notice to All TB Members!

Did you receive our recent Time Bank newsletter? It featured links to our blog, lots of upcoming events, and a listing of new offers and requests. If you didn't receive it, it might be because your spam filter blocked it.

This may be due to a change in a TB email address. It is NO LONGER sysadmin@timebanks.org.

Instead, please make sure your junk mail/"spam" filters are set to accept the following addresses: membership@ourtimebank.net and nqtimebank@gmail.com. Otherwise, you won't get your messages from the Time Bank!

(If you did not receive the latest e-newsletter and would like a copy, email swachsler@aol.com and put "resend TB newsletter" in the subject line.)

Time Bank Contact Info & Office Hours

We do NOT have an office. Our Home base is located at 26 South Main St., Orange, 01364 Land line at non-office: 978-544-1869
NQTB cell phone: 413-512-1325
Email nqtimebank@gmail.com

OFFICE HOURS by appointment with Amber of Orange or with Laurie of Wendell.

Wendell Library on the 2nd Wednesday and the 4th Saturday with Lauire.
If you are interested in earning Time Dollars by holding office hours at your local library, contact Amber at 978-544-1869 or amber@yes-inc.org.

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Events!

Our next potluck will be Thursday, January 21 at 6 PM at the YES Biz Office (26 South Main St., Orange, a wheelchair accessible location). Snow date: Thurs., Jan 28. Please bring a dish to share -- if you're a member, you'll earn one Time Dollar for doing so! Time Bank potlucks are a fun, festive way to beat back the winter doldrums, get warm, eat delicious food, meet your neighbors, and be involved in local community! FMI: Amber at amber@yes-inc.org or 978-544-1869.

Note: In an effort to be more inclusive of all members of our community, the Time Bank requests that people attending the potluck, and all NQTB events, try to refrain from wearing fragrances so that those with allergies and chemical sensitivities will be able to attend. We understand it takes time to change habits -- we still want YOU to come! Thank you! For questions on this issue, contact Sharon at swachsler@aol.com or 413-512-1325.

What's in the Works? Glad You Asked!

- February Pet-Care Meet, Greet & Treat! A potluck and schmoozer for those providing pet-care services and those seeking them to get to know each other. Fabulous prizes and food for people and pets. Our December Pets n' People Potluck featured a small but enthusiastic turnout. It turned out many who wanted to make it couldn't come. So, by popular demand, we're bringing it back. It will once again feature food you bring for people and pets. (The “Cake for Good Dogs” was a hit among canines, though the people who sampled it thought it really was for the dogs). We're looking for an Athol locale (ideally, where well-mannered pets would be welcomed); if you have location ideas, please contact Amber at amber@yes-inc.org or 978-544-1869. Fabulous prizes will be offered! You wanna come? Do ya? Huh? OK: Ready? Come! Sit! Stay! Enjoy!

- March Childcare Meet, Greet, & Eat! A potluck in Wendell for those offering or seeking childcare services to meet each other, build trust, schmooze, and enjoy delicious food. Some of our members have said they'd be more eager to respond to babysitting offers if they met and got to know those caring for their kids, so this will be a great community-building and networking opportunity, as well as a good time.
- Are you interested in the Time Bank holding a spring cleaning e-cycling event? This would be a way for our community to keep those old printers, lamps, and cell phones out of the landfill! The TB is considering organizing an event that would allow everyone to bring their discarded electric goods to be recycled or reused. In addition to being green, this might also help the Time Bank and YES. If you think it's a good idea and would like to help, contact Betsy at BetsyNQTB@hotmail.com or 413-512-1325.

Amber Ortiz: Then I Got Hooked

by Sharon Wachsler

Amber Ortiz is the Timebank's outreach and events coordinator, and has been involved with NQTB for three years. I recently had a chance to discuss her involvement in the Timebank, including some pretty frank admissions about her initial impressions of the Timebank – plus some juicy gossip about a big impact the Timebank's had on her life!

Sharon: How'd you get involved in the Timebank?
Amber: I got got convinced to be a member, I don't remember [being told] why [it was important], just that I had no choice! And then I got hooked. I got really into selling it.

Sharon: What hooked you?
Amber: I had made a beautiful ball gown for a wedding I went to. A member who was a summer intern from a local college wanted to learn to read a sewing pattern. She wanted to learn how to follow a pattern and then how to change one to your tastes.

The next exchange was a guy who needed a drive to Worcester for the Immigration Office. It was just a ride, so I could do that. And then we had a very very mutual exchange. I had never had the time to take the info off my old computer and put it on my new computer. He did that. He also earned hours to get rides from me by painting at YES [the Young Entrepreneur Society, where I work].

Sharon: When did you become a coordinator?
Amber: Last year. I was already working at YES; I've been working there eight years. I was at the Learn to Earn program. It teaches teens in Orange to get savvy in the work arena - making resumes, job searching, and learning the skills it takes to become successful in a work environment.

When we looked into alternative employment, the Timebank was part of the alternative employment: how to invest time to get a job, using the Timebank as a way to network, etc. And then it did actually lead to paying jobs for some! One kid who started out doing trades for someone ended up with a long-term job because they'd gotten to know him through the Timebank.

You told me once, “It's so important for teens to get involved in the Timebank.” Why?
Amber: So that people don't judge them; so they're able to test the waters. In regular employment, people go to interviews. But teens can get nervous about interviews. But if they've already demonstrated their ability to do good work in a time trade, they've built a reputation around good work. [It creates an opportunity for them to] find paid employment, or meaningful employment. There's creative room within the Timebank that teenagers have taken advantage of, not as much as I'd hope, but I see the potential increasing over time. They can build a repertoire that can lead to jobs – or relationships, mentorships, friendships.

Sharon: You sound passionate about the Timebank.
Amber: At first I didn't understand the whole concept. I thought it was kind of stupid and annoying and repetitive to have to log in and keep track of all your hours. But after a while, I did get it and enjoy it.

Now I can tell people about it as part of an alternative community, and think it's very important – that I'm part of a movement that's worldwide – that I'm a member. [Before the Timebank,] I'd been a trader or a barterer and an entrepreneur because I had to be creative, because I was forced to, to get along. Being part of the Timebank is like being part of a family because we all have signed off on the core values and core beliefs. We're all on the same page. We're all understanding what it means to be part of the same unit. In a family or with friends or another job, you don't have that. With the Timebank, we all share that in some way.

So, someone who teaches me to knit might have a different background from me or think differently from me, but this is a way that we share something that makes us friends, that makes us passionate about the movement.

Sharon: I heard you had a time trade that has led to a big change in your life!...
Amber: I met this guy on the computer, on a dating website, and found out he lived in Orange, so I asked him to join the Timebank. I oriented him to the Timebank, and at the time I was looking for a walking partner – it was nice out, but I was living in Greenfield and didn't want to walk alone. So, we started taking walks, and we started to talk about, “If it's a trade, who's benefiting here?” And he said, “It's me, because I get to spend time with you.”

We've just moved in together. He blames it on the dating site, but I think what nailed it down was that we were on the same plane, we had that point of view in common of the Timebank. He has a [dog] kennel and offers kenneling for time dollars, and he's looking for landscaping assistance.

Sharon: This year you're focusing specifically on outreach and events coordinating for the Timebank. You mentioned that when you first found out about NQTB, you found the software stupid and irritating to use! Now that you have such a central role in using and teaching the software, how do you make the experience different for new members?
Amber: I was never oriented to the software, just to the Timebank concept, not into the system. It's a lot easier when you get oriented into the database concept. People sign up because they agree with the concept – but learning the system and how it works – well, if I wasn't computer savvy I'd have had a hard time.

Sharon: Yes, when you oriented me you made me very comfortable and showed me a lot of things about the software I would have had to stumble across on my own!
Amber: I also think it is important to log people's hours for them and to offer different ways and means for people to be involved in the system, and not just in the standard online manner.

Sharon: Is there anything you're looking forward to in upcoming Timebank events?
Amber: I've been doing a scrapbook class once a month in New Salem, and I love it. Lynn Layton offers the space as a Timebank project. It's a cool space dedicated to art and crafts. So I'm really able to hone in and hook into craftbooking instead of just doing it here and there in my spare time. That space is great! And she's helped me, given me tips to make my pages better. Most important she's given me a time to do it. See Scrapbooking Class Announcement for more details!

Sharon: When can people meet with you in person for member orientation or to ask questions and such?
Amber: I'm in the Timebank office, which is housed at YES (26 South Main St.
Orange) on Thursdays from 9 AM to noon and on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 by appointment. I'll be at at Athol library from 1 PM to 3 PM every Thursday. I'm working on setting up hours at other libraries, too. Interested North Quabbin libraries should definitely get in touch with me at YES at 978-544-1869 or amber@yes_inc.org.

Welcome Betsy and Sharon!

NQTB warmly welcomes our two new coordinators, Betsy and Sharon!

Betsy Ames is a resident of Wendell, "a vibrant community" that she "looks forward to getting to know better." Her background includes fundraising, theater, and assistance to elders with disabilities.

Betsy avidly follows the global economic crisis, which she believes is an ongoing issue for our times and the future. She is passionate about finding alternative economic systems and organizing at the local community level. Organic gardening and collecting rainwater are some of her most recent steps towards energy independence and sustainability.

The new Time Bank coordinator closely follows Chris Martenson's blog. She encourages others to check it out. "Martenon provides a behind-the-scenes view of the economy, particularly how the economic future--the next 20 years--may well be far different than the last 20."

What excites Betsy most about working for the Time Bank? "Creating a sustainable, widely used alternative currency for our region," she answers immediately. She sees bringing new organizational members on board, finding ways to trade Time Dollars for tangible goods like food, and earning and spending Time Dollars herself, as key steps to attain this goal.

For her offer: "I love eBay and I'd like to teach people how to buy and sell." And what will she request? "Help building a yurt!"

Also from Wendell is Sharon Wachsler, whose coordinator role will focus on the communications aspects of the Time Bank, from editing and writing content for this website to launching a monthly NQ Time Bank newsletter.

"I'd really love a fun, evocative name for our newsletter to kick things off," Sharon muses. "If any member wants to write for the Time Bank or has an idea for a title that screams, 'Read Me!' they should definitely send me an email."

Sharon's background includes providing information and referral to people with disabilities, teaching self defense, and editing a literary journal. But her passion is dog training, especially clicker training, which she's used to train her own service dogs. "Clicker challenges both the trainer and learner to be creative. It's the most fun you can have with a handful of liver," she jokes.

Sharon hopes to spread the joy of clicker training with her trades. What would she like to do with the Time Dollars she earns? "I'm behind the times with Twitter, Flickr, and MySpace. I need a social networking tutor."

Sharon loves the community-oriented nature of NQ Time Bank. "Being disabled can be extremely isolating. The Time Bank breaks that isolation."

Her disability-rights background also colors her perspective on the Time Bank: "Time swaps as alternative forms of currency can be really valuable to people with disabilities, many of whom are very low income. We have a lot to offer, but it's not always something there's an obvious market for." On the flip side, many people with disabilities need assistance with chores around the house or yard that others might take for granted. That's why Sharon will be working on making the Time Bank more accessible to members with disabilities. "I just think the Time Bank has so much to offer. I want everyone to be able to take part!"