Karen Werner: I Love the Exchanges

by Sharon Wachsler

Long-time members of the North Quabbin Time Bank no doubt know Karen Werner was a founding force behind the Time Bank and a key leader once the organization got rolling.

Some may recognize Karen's voice from the impressive video she made about the organization One Equals One. (Scroll down to the lower left corner of the blog to watch it, yourself!)

For the past three years, Karen was a Time Bank member and co-coordinator. With new coordinators at the helm, some are asking, "Where's Karen?"

Never fear! Karen's still here, but taking a different role. I had a chance to chat with Karen about her past and present role with NQTB.

Sharon: What have you most enjoyed about your participation in NQTB?

Karen: Meeting people and doing exchanges. I've been really blown away by the people I've gotten to know through exchanges and the Time Bank.

Matching up people who are seeking or offering compatible services has been very rewarding, as well.

But most of all, I've loved doing the exchanges. I love how much people get the common-sense nature of the Time Bank. There are a lot of people at the community meal who want to get signed up, and many are low income or older people, and they so get it.

Sharon: What is it that's "blown you away" when doing exchanges?

Karen: The care that people take. I just didn't quite realize [before I started doing them], that doing exchanges for the Time Bank would open up a world of friendship. Even though I understood the theoretical idea, I didn't get how the sense of caring would be so different than when I pay for a service.

What are you doing these days?

Karen: I'm working at Zen Peacemakers and developing a Zen house, which borrows from the Catholic worker house model – a form of social ministry with social enterprise. This is a way of drawing on my interest in community economies and community relationships as a form of development. The details are still coming together.

Sharon: Does any of this connect directly with NQTB today?

Karen: Yes, I'm still a member, and the Zen House project is a member. We're sponsoring community meals in orange. (Click here to read about the monthly community meals.)

I've just chaired a panel on community currencies in the state of Massachusetts, involving facilitating a conversation with the organizers of all the Time Banks in Massachusetts. I'm really excited about the new NQTB leadership and excited that we helped inspire the Northampton Time Bank, which is just starting up.

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True to her word, Karen continues as an active member and inspiration. She's the first person I've done a time trade with, and she's right, I do feel like we've made a personal connection!