Your time is valuable, and the Long Beach Time Exchange uses this principle to develop an alternative system of neighborhood economics - a system that uses time rather than money as the unit of exchange. Sunday, the non-profit invites the public to share an afternoon with them as they celebrate one year of successful time banking.
Time banking, as based off the model pioneered by Edgar Cahn in 1980, uses hours as the unit of exchange rather than dollars. One person can offer one hour of service in their skill range, and later receive an hour of service for something they need. Services can be as skilled as tax preparation, hair styling or massage, or as neighborly as a ride to the airport, elderly companionship or childcare.
"Everyone's time is valuable and everyone has something to contribute," Christine Petit, co-founder of Long Beach Time Exchange, remarked.
The Time Exchange differs from a traditional volunteer organization because while you volunteer time to help someone else, the exchange is reciprocal and beneficial to parties on both ends. As Petit put it, "Accepting a service from someone else is, in a way, a gift to them because they can feel useful and valuable."
And rather than just exchanging services with one person, members can log in to the Community Weaver online system, create a profile, offer a service and browse other profiles and services. The pool is large and Petit suggests that even if you don't know what you would offer or want to receive, just logging in and taking a look around can open your eyes to the types of much-needed and fun services that abound.
"Especially during hard economic times, a time exchange program like this helps people stay active, stay moving, and it helps them retain their sense of worth, even when the jobs say otherwise. And sometimes it even helps connect people with future employers," Petit elaborated.
LBTE member Lily Begler, who offers jewelry repair and childcare in exchange for guitar lessons, said, “All of my time exchange experiences have been really rewarding. I feel like I am getting closer to my friends as well as expanding into parts of my community that I would not normally have the chance of encountering.”
The public is invited to the one year-anniversary celebration. It will be held from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the 2nd City Council Art Gallery at 435 Alamitos Ave. and will highlight some of the accomplishments of the past year, including growing to 200 individual members and 15 organizational members who have exchanged roughly 2,600 hours.
Some of the goals for next year, Petit said, include encouraging more leadership within the organization, expanding to more neighborhoods in Long Beach and strengthening a sense of community overall. Some Belmont Shore members already partake in the time exchange, but Petit remarked that she would be pleased to see a community hub begin in the neighborhood.
Continuing to employ the spirit of reciprocal volunteering at their anniversary event, a DJ and local favorite band, Program Love, will entertain the expected crowd of 100, and receive time-banking hours that they can redeem later. There will be food, music, art and of course socializing.
Vanessa Acosta, a LBTE steering committee member, said, “The Long Beach Time Exchange is such a positive addition to our community because it recognizes that everyone has something to give and we’re stronger together. I encourage everyone to come out on the 18th to celebrate with us and learn more.”
Members are screened before they are entered into the time exchange, in order to ensure the safety of all involved, so to apply for membership, visit http://lbtimeexchange.com.