Building a More Connected Community, One Hour at a Time

by Mary Murphy   |   February 22, 2016

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The Silver Spring Timebank recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. As one of the founding members, I remember thinking, at the launch last January, that all the hard work was finally done! Our founding group of six had put in a lot of time the prior six months. 

With the help of New Dream’s how-to resources, and some experimenting and planning, the team was able to set up a basic framework.

We learned from nearby time banks (thanks Greenbelt Timebank and Columbia Community Exchange), and received free and seemingly limitless support from hOurworld Time and Talents. Together, 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.

How We Got Started

During the first few months, our main focus was on getting new members. We partnered with community organizations that 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 we had enough people and commitment to split up into teams. And then, individuals made their offers to help based upon their strengths, their gifts, and what they liked to do, just like timebanking offers, and those teams have been wonderfully successful!

Book Swap
  • The orientation team, made up of people who like to offer presentations and techies who can work the equipment, offers two orientations each month, finding unique community locations and engaging new members with a revised presentation.  
  • The membership team, made up of people who like to connect-on-one with others, has personally reached out to every member in the time bank, offering help to set up profiles and brainstorming ideas for offers. 
  • The outreach team, obviously those who love to effectively spread a message, offered their original 20x20 PowerPoint presentation at the PechaKucha Night Silver Spring Vol. 5 focused on the theme of community. Current efforts are focused on creating a new and comprehensive website for the time bank.  
  • The event team, full of detail-oriented planners and those who love to volunteer, has enabled the Silver Spring Timebank to be a recognized leader in organizing sharing events in Silver Spring. With plans for a community swap each season, the event team already organized a fall clothing swap and a winter book swap, and has plans for a spring greeting card/stationary swap and a summer tool swap. 
  • Finally, the tech team, our bastion of calmness and practicality, has provided consistent support with all hOurworld software questions and any computer-related issues, and guidance on a variety of timebank policies.  

We celebrated our first-year anniversary with 130 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. Working on the strengths, interests, and gifts of the leadership team has been one key to our success. 

Building connections within the team and within the time bank as a community has been energizing and is what truly excites us to keep growing the Silver Spring Timebank…one hour at a time…one year at a time. 

For more information about how you can start a time bank in your community, check out New Dream’s how-to webinar and other resources.

Mary Murphy is on the Leadership Team of the Silver Spring Timebank and is a former New Dream Volunteer Coordinator for Maryland.