NWI Timebank Helps to Create Opportunities and Build Community

KSipple“Paying it forward” reaps its rewards, and the brand-new Northwest Indiana Timebank is a great example of how people and organizations can help others and earn future services from fellow members.

“I believe Northwest Indiana is sitting on a goldmine of time and talent,” Kathy Sipple said. The Valparaiso resident is the energy behind the creation of the area timebank.

Sipple, the founder of CoThrive.org, an online community, and the host of the award-winning podcast 219 GreenConnect, will present the timebank concept and show residents how to get involved at 9:30 a.m. at the Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration on April 16. The event will take place at the Porter County Expo Center, 215 E. Division Rd., Valparaiso.

A timebank is a network of people that have agreed to earn and spend hours to meet the needs of friends, neighbors and the larger community. Participants contribute or “bank” hours, presenting their offerings and talents for other members to request. Once they complete what is requested of them, they, in turn, can request services from other members.

The timebank process builds community, allowing members to make new friends and contacts, learn new skills, save money, and make a difference in the lives of others.

According to Sipple, members who offer their services are encouraged and expected to request and use services offered by other members.

“Volunteering is great,” Sipple says. “What volunteerism often does not take into account though is how those on the receiving end feel being labeled as ‘in need.’ It’s important to recognize their gifts as well and provide a mechanism for the recipient to be part of the giving too.”

Unlike barter where energy is often expended looking for someone who wants to trade, Sipple says timebanking allows for hours to be banked and spent within a network of many different people.

The following is an example of how a timebank might work: Joe offers painting services in the timebank “offer” area; Sarah sees Joe’s offer and decides it’s a good time to paint their spare bedroom; Sarah offers yoga lessons, which Sue requests; Sue offers assistance with setting up worm composting bins, which Jeff requests; Jeff offers tree pruning services, which Tom needs help with, since he has limited mobility; Tom offers newsletter editing services to a local environmental nonprofit that offers scholarships to children’s nature programing through the timebank; Joe, the painter, sends his daughter Cindy to the educational nature program with the hours he earned through his painting services.

“My work life, as well as my outside interests in the environment, have given me opportunities to spend a lot of time in Northwest Indiana’s social ecosystem,” she said. “I think we can unlock some of the energy to create more interconnectedness, resilience, productivity and perhaps most importantly, happiness.”

Sipple, a social media specialist, is a graduate of the first class of Porter County Master Recyclers offered by the Recycling & Waste Reduction District of Porter County. She also earned her Indiana Master Naturalist designation through Taltree Arboretum.

For more information on the NWI timebank, visit www.cothrive.org/timebank or email kathy@cothrive.org.

Details on the Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration are available at www.ItMeansTheWorld.org.