This Isn’t B of A

Feb 21, 2012

With the arrival of ATM cards, some of us haven’t seen the inside of a bank in years. At the automated tellers, there’s not even a need for deposit slips; you can insert fifty checks at a time or fifty bills; zip in, zip out. You can hardly count a trip to the bank as an errand anymore, it takes so little time.

Unfortunately, our economy began hurting years before the voices on high declared it an official recession (or depression, depending on your lot in life). Trips to the bank aren’t so fun when your receipt glaringly illustrates that funds are going to be tight for one more month, in a seemingly endless string of months. The Arroyo Time Bank wanted to change all that.

The Arroyo Time Bank is a group of residents from Pasadena, Altadena, northeast L.A., and other neighborhoods who exchange time and skills when the Benjamins in our pocket won’t allow us to scroll the Yellow Pages and hire someone.

For every hour of time you give—whether that be offering your skills as a handyman, artist, writer, educator, or entrepreneur—you receive a Time Dollar that can be withdrawn when you need help yourself.

One woman who lost $800,000 in the financial meltdown has seen her retirement dramatically altered. She could no longer afford to keep up with the multiplying needs of her home. Being a member of the Time Bank allowed her to bring in people with the skills to scrape and paint, and fix her plumbing. In return, she spends time with a local young man in need of assistance in math, whose mother can’t afford to pay a tutor.

Additionally, to increase a sense of community and realize their commitment to reduce waste and “bridge the gap between unmet needs and unused resources,” Time Bank offers to members who have fruit trees on their property to schedule a harvesting. Just fill out the application and ATB Fruit Harvesters will soon be on their way. The produce is used for the community and to supplement organizations that feed the homeless such as Union Station, Ripe Altadena, and Fallen Fruit.

Every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Arroyo Time Bank has a community dinner (the price ranges between $5 and $15 depending on whether or not it’s a fundraising event). You can see the menu every Monday night on their Facebook page Arroyo Lowdown (RSVP suggested). Meals are gourmet vegan spreads; this week’s dinner included home-dried tomatoes on bruschetta, creamy potato kale soup, and crêpes for dessert.

The Arroyo Time Bank sees itself as a way to create more community interaction, validate people’s skills and talents, provide tangible help for those in need, and then have those recipients pay it forward. So far, sixty Time Banks have sprouted up across the country with 11,000 people signed up in an “inclusive exchange of time and talent,” respecting Time Bank USA‘s core values. The goal is to “inspire trust, reciprocity, and community through the sharing of our greatest natural resources, our time and our spirit.”

The Time Bank concept is built on desire, predilection, and good will. No bailout necessary.



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