I’ve discussed the idea of timebanking before, but I’ll use this post to dive in a bit deeper into the world of exchanging hours with others. While there are over 275 timebanks nationwide, there are only a few that explicitly cover the Bay Area, here in California.The primary one, as far as I know, is the Bay Area Community Exchange (www.bace.org).
BACE, as it is known, is run by The Timebank Collective — a dedicated group of volunteers who manage the day to day needs of the community, plan events, and look to the future of timebanking. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with these awesome individuals on several occasions, including hosting one of the monthly POSSE parties (Potluck Orientation Skillshare Swap Event) here at Motive.
If you’ll remember, I’ve spent the last year trying to figure out how to live a life as far from cash-based as possible. BACE offers an opportunity to do exactly that. As more and more people join, with their variegated personalities and skills, the potential for a time-based service economy grows.
First and foremost, the Bay Area Community Exchange is about building community, one personal exchange at a time. Without the anonymizing influence of cash, all exchanges are personal, and usually end up with a budding friendship and potential for future collaborations. Because every person has multiple passions, interests, and skills, the possibilities for exchanges other than the original intent exist, and often are more valuable than the planned exchange.
For example, take the case of David and Bobby, father and son BACErs. I initially met the two after David (the father) responded to a request I posted for a photographer to come to Motive Collective and take pictures of the site and projects we had going. The idea was to get a running profile of the house so that we’d have a record of changes over time. Plus it was cool to have professional photos of the place that I lived! After exchanging a few emails, it became clear that David was playing middle-man, and his 16 year old son was actually the photographer, with David working to encourage his hobby. By the time they came over with camera in hand, I had already had an amazing site photographer I had found on BACE out, so there wasn’t much need for more photos, but it turned out the two had a very healthy interest in the things we were doing at Motive.
After an hours long tour/conversation with the two, they left with an introductory book on urban sustainability and a promise for Bobby to return to work on a project of his choice. He ended up choosing rocket stoves, and came back to build some one Saturday. It was great fun and wouldn’t have happened but for that initial exchange. I’ll be sure to write a brief post regarding the project – it was definitely a worthwhile use of a beautiful weekend day.
I’ve used BACE for physical therapy, help with organizing my space, and micro-enterprise projects.
It’s the last one that really gets my heart thump-thumping. More than just Micro-enterprise, what I used BACE for was hobby-supported manufacturing. Some of you may be familiar with Saddle Sacks, my attempt at practical fashion several months ago. Some of you may even have a pair.
Saddle Sacks are basically the cargo-pockets from cargo-pants, cut off and resewn to the waistband to form a utility belt / fanny pack / whachamacallit. After making a pair for myself, I realized that the demand for such things could be pretty high. Not wanting to make them myself or to pay to have someone make them for me, I utilized BACE to find someone willing to exchange hours for the crafting of them. 2 weeks objective time and 6.5 hours of BACE time later, I had 4 beautiful pairs of them that I proceeded to give out to 4 of the amazing women in my life. And I had formed a budding friendship with their crafter!
I plan on utilizing BACE in this regard much more in the future. I really think there’s a great potential for hobby-supported micro-enterprise, and I plan on writing the book on it (so to speak).
BACE is such a great opportunity for so many ventures, contacts, relationships, and experiences, that it’s a wonder to me that more people don’t use it. With 624 users (and growing), it’s utility increases daily, but it’s not yet enough to support a cash-free lifestyle. While I travel this Spring and Summer, I hope to successfully evangelize it’s use to the people and communities that I meet.
Besides it’s potential utility for individuals, BACE has the potential to serve as the thread that binds and strengthens the community of communities of the Bay by acting as the exchange for resource, time, and skill sharing.
I hope I’ve at least convinced you to check it out. Please feel free to contact me if you need any help! Here’s the link again: www.bace.org