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“I became an Onion River Exchange (ORE) member after years of resisting the urging of a friend. I thought with my work and family commitments, there was no corner of my time free for providing services and with my busy life figuring out what I might use seemed like an additional chore. Now, I use the network often. I am grateful for a whole vast group of people whose skills and help I can draw on. I have had folks bake for me, made use of a truck and driver on a garden project, gotten help doing computer research and collaborated in the creation of a long musical playlist for a special event. My ability to consider solutions and brain storm responses to life’s challenges has increased because I have so many people I may be able to call on. And it turns out, my everyday work life is the place where I have benefited the most. Every week I unfold the laundry done for me by an ORE member, and when I travel to study an ORE secretary takes over the scheduling of my appointments for my massage business. In exchange I offer services in a way that fits my schedule and has become a delightful way to meet people I might never have known otherwise. ORE has made my life richer and easier and I am grateful to everyone who has worked to make it succeed.” - Rebecca Riley @ Onion River Exchange, Vermont #timebankingis #community #50storiesin50days #timebanks #story #timeasmoney #worklife

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Reflection by Edgar Cahn

Today two things happened. I reread the story of Rebecca Riley of Onion River Exchange.  Her life had already been filled to the brim, only to discover, that contrary to all her rational expectations that her whole life could be made richer by a “ vast group of people whose skills and help” she could draw upon. They did things for her like bake a cake, provide a truck and driver for a garden project, provide help with computer research. 

But then all of that took on a different meaning for two reasons. First, reading her story, I learned that Rebecca had a massage business so that she paid back by offering massage for time credits in ways that fit her schedule. She became part of community in a new way. Second, that same day, Sunday, January 27, 2019, the Washington Post had a book review on “The Magic Feather Effect, the Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief.” The book focused on the connection between the mind and the physical body, noting that wounded soldiers asked for pain medication far less than civilians when admitted to a hospital. The reason: hospital admission for a civilian meant “the beginning of disaster” but for a soldier, it meant a ticket to safety off the battlefield. The conclusion: your brain interprets your condition and dispatches pain as a sign for your body to take action.  The good news is, pain may be unavoidable, but the suffering is optional.

Similarly, TimeBanking reframes pain as an opportunity to give, to be relevant, to make a difference, for the person receiving help, but also for the person giving help. TimeBanking provides an opportunity not only to get help without paying money, but also an opportunity to create a relationship, to express gratitude, and to provide the helper with an opportunity to know that he or she has made a difference. 

From that perspective, TimeBanking represents a kind of alternative medicine for community and for democracy.  If we think of ourselves as social neurologists, Timebanking is a treatment modality to activate empathy by stimulating our normative nervous system – by creating or awakening new kinds of connectivity, by relieving pain, by providing healing for a wide variety of wounds: racial, economic, gender, age. 

Today let’s reframe TimeBanking as constituting social acupuncture that reduces both cause-and-effect of the pain from the pathological isolation inflicted by the self-interest that market theology perpetuates and makes paramount.