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Have you ever thought about how much imagination and creativity gets stirred up by TimeBanking?

I was reminded of that, big time, at the September DC TimeBank monthly gathering and potluck that we held last weekend.

I happen to love the potlucks/gatherings. For a start, this is the time when new members come for a TimeBank orientation. New faces turn up at the door. They’re curious, period. And we’re curious about them.

Then it’s sharing time. We will get to share about TimeBanking. We will be sharing that TimeBanking is something really old and new, all at the same time. A bit like barter, but really not. A bit like barn-raising, but not quite. It’s different. And in being different, it takes some getting used to.

We also get to share something about us as members of a TimeBanking community. And then we listen: Who are you? Where have you come from? What inspired you to come to this orientation? What might you be interested to give and receive? The sharing is fun; the stories, without fail, are just chock-a-block full of interesting things.

The orientation is a chance to share the values behind TimeBanking. We briefly also share the DC TimeBank’s own story. And then we introduce the TimeBanking software. That time goes racing by like a roadrunner on steroids.

On the heels of the orientation, the potluck and members’ gathering begins. Potlucks are food-mysteries unfolding. On Sunday, almost everyone had thought the same thing: FRUIT! So we had fruit salads, with a little splash of regular salad, chips and salsa and yummy garlic bread thrown in. While we ate, we did a group check-in.

But perhaps the best thing about this particular orientation/potluck/gathering was “The Activity.”

At each gathering, we do a TimeBank themed activity. This one, designed by Caitlin, one of our coordinators, was simple — as we try to make them. It also turned out to be a wonderful spur to creativity.

Here was the deal: Caitlin gave us each two index cards. Then she told us we would be forming groups of three.

The instruction was this: In your group, help each other bring forward two offers and two requests that you have not thought of before. Write your two new offers and two new requests on your cards. Designate a person to share from the group. And then, using clothes pegs, you will hang your cards on a line for all to see and celebrate.

So this was how it played out. One: Buzz. The buzz of talk and laughter. Two: time to stop—but no-one would stop! Three: Settle down for report outs. Four: Reports bring up more laughter and Aha’s of recognition. Five: ritualistic hanging of cards on the line, which was fun. Photo time.

And then we did the close out.

We had started the evening as a bunch of friends, acquaintances, and strangers. We ate together. We shared about ourselves. We called forth more listening and sharing about meaningful ways that we might give and might receive. And at the end was this great sense of connection and warmth.

It was TimeBanking creativity at work. It was, in its own way, quite magical.