Santa Cruz Tech Beat

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TimeBank launches new website and asks, “Is timebanking relevant?”

By Bonnie Linden
Director, TimeBank Santa Cruz
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

July 23, 2015 — Santa Cruz, CA

[Editor’s note: Santa Cruz Tech Beat published a related article, Nobody makes a profit — on purpose, April 19, 2015.]

Timebanking is slow currency. Like slow food and slow money.

“One stubborn wall has been our interface with the Santa Cruz tech scene. We spoke to a crowd of 300+ at the Tech Meetup last April. People said we were articulate, spot-on. Yet not one person applied to join. We wonder why timebanking isn’t resonating with the tech crowd.”

A millennial girl was so charmed by the TimeBank’s Poetry Box at my house that she posted it to Instagram. “I use Instagram,” she told me, “because I want to be relevant.” She also posted a photo of me beside the poetry and the question arose between us: Does a 65-year-old even belong on that app?

It was more than amusing. How quickly this casual conversation with a stranger (the cost of living in SC, poetry’s price per pound) had arrived at demographic walls and relevancy. Society and the individual. Technology and how it meets, and doesn’t meet, our needs.

TimeBank Santa Cruz has just released its new website: http://timebanksantacruz.org so, yes, we’ve been waltzing with tech and purpose. Timebanking is slow currency. Like slow food and slow money, it seeks to change behaviors – to re-introduce and normalize modes of being that will sustain us in our rapidly changing economic landscape.

The TimeBank uses software to match the human resources of ordinary people with the unmet needs of others. We knew when we opened nearly four years ago that we needed a dynamic, engaging public web presence because our user site is members-only. Our goal was to create a modern look appealing to new users and to sponsors, to provide simple navigation to the essential information that explains the TimeBank. The challenge has been to create an elegant site with next-to-no funding.

Our luck changed when Bread for the Journey Santa Cruz County gave us a micro-grant last February. This precious group of local philanthropists micro-funds people with creative ideas that make Santa Cruz more healthy and just. See for yourself: http://santacruz.breadforthejourney.org

We TimeBankers set to work. We brainstormed a clean homepage style. We found a base Drupal theme to build on. We rewrote the essential information and decided on a navigation site-map. Built pages, added photos and started testing.

Yep, it was a community-based development team for sure. (Though timebanking is seated internationally, it’s fiercely local.) Drupal programmer Mary Edith Ingraham wrote the code and Ernest Amos-Jackson did the graphics. Monica Karst provided invaluable media insight. I wrote the content and a dozen loyal TimeBankers beta-tested.

The site is implemented using an open-source Drupal profile provided by Community Forge. This code provides basic timebanking funtions: User Accounts, Offers & Requests, TimeCredits for work exchanged, Exchange History, Member Roster, etc. We’ve built on the open-source code and adjusted functions to match the traditions of TimeBank Santa Cruz. In the coming months, we’ll finish styling the user site to our new look, transfer users from the existing site and launch the user site for our members.

We’ll also open a Business TimeBank Santa Cruz branch at that time so that established local businesses can earn TimeCredits mentoring start-ups. We want business professionals to use the sharing economy to build a stronger market economy. Skills established businesses might teach: accounting, bookkeeping, phone skills, advertising and marketing, hiring and firing, benefits packages, insurance, safety and efficiency, tax-wise spending, prioritizing and goal-setting, and OSHA guidelines.

The TimeBank is all about radical collaboration

The TimeBank is all about radical collaboration so it’s been important to stand before prospective members exactly as we are. We hope we’ve conveyed our policies, parameters and programs as multiple points of entry. We’ve endeavored to communicate the qualities we look for in members. (You have a four-second attention span? Maybe not you.)

We wanted to provide a sufficient peek inside this rare group and its diverse mix of ages, of homeowners and renters, bicultural competencies, niche expertise and advanced degrees. Demographic walls? We break them down.

Why isn’t timebanking resonating with the tech crowd?

One stubborn wall has been our interface with the Santa Cruz tech scene. We spoke to a crowd of 300+ at the Tech Meetup last April. People said we were articulate, spot-on. Yet not one person applied to join. We wonder why timebanking isn’t resonating with the tech crowd. Can I cajole a few of you to join? It’s a genuine way to connect with people you’d otherwise never meet. Walking with ‘the other’ is daring, intriguing and might even change the course of your life. It’s a minor time commitment: we ask you to be available to others only three hours per month. That’s six minutes per day, the equivalent of one good daydream, no? http://timebanksantacruz.org/join

You’ve read this far, so let me ask you: Is timebanking relevant? If so, join us. If not, let’s talk. What do you think about the price of poetry per pound? Contact bonnielinden@sbcglobal.net

TimeBanklogo

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