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Valley Time Trade provides services without cash


For The Recorder

Thursday, July 21, 2016

When Jennifer Rau asked a community member what she wanted for her 80th birthday, she received very specific instructions: strawberry shortcake and face paint for all the kids.

Rau, 36, was able to give the woman the birthday she wanted without spending money, thanks to Valley Time Trade. Using the mutual aid network, she found someone to paint the children’s faces.

The organization is an exchange system that allows community members to trade services, paying for them with time rather than currency. One community member will do something for someone — weed their lawn or give them computer help — to “buy” hours of service they want in return. This Saturday, the time trade will be holding a free orientation for new members at 2:30 p.m. in the meeting room at Green Fields Market, 144 Main St. in Greenfield.

“For me, it’s a way of connecting to this place, to the valley, more deeply,” said Rau, an Amherst resident who’s been participating in the organization as a trader for around five years. “It’s a way to connect to the community and places differently than if I were to go to places and pay.”

Now, Rau works as an organizer for Valley Time Trade, although she said the role isn’t incredibly taxing because the group uses sociocracy, or dynamic governance, to split up tasks and responsibilities. Since March, the time trade has adopted this new organizational structure, which splits coordinators into three separate “circles” — administrative/development, membership and IT/data. The method, Rau said, allows for an equivalence of voices and more transparency and effectiveness.

The group offers orientations once a month in both Greenfield and Northampton to primarily show new members how to interact with the web interface they can use to peruse services being offered. The orientation on Saturday will also address beginners’ fears of getting started in Valley Time Trade, Rau said; many people join but are intimidated by the anonymous nature of the online postings.

The organization has about 950 members, according to Hilary Caws-Elwitt, who assists with Valley Time Trade software. But only 300 of those members arecleaning active, meaning 650 members haven’t logged on in the past year.

Valley Time Trade is working on creating a buddy system for new members, Rau said, to encourage them past that tough first stage in integrating with the community.

Member Susan Hackney, who earns some of her hours by helping at orientation sessions, said while the anonymity of the website isn’t a deterrent to her, it is to others.

Hackney said she joined the organization in 2012, but wasn’t very involved until more recently. It was never at the forefront of her mind at first, but once she began to meet more traders and build relationships in the community, she became more involved.

“The more I meet people that I might trade with, then the more I trade,” said the Bernardston resident.

Because of this, Hackney said Valley Time Trade social events are imperative to retaining active users.

For now, Rau said the time trade will focus on making the organization smoother and livelier for those already registered. Her personal goal, she said, is also to draw in members of diverse economic statuses, races and ages.

“We want this to be more thriving, more community building, more and more active members,” Rau said.

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Thank you for a VERY successful event!

Our 5th Anniversary Celebration and Trading Fair on 5/16/2015 was a tremendous success, with around 100 attendees.

Thanks most of all to the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, who provided a Seed Grant to make the event possible. The NEGEF is our new fiscal sponsor (umbrella 501(c)3 charity to continue our non-profit status).

Master of Ceremonies – Stan Pollack

Music – Peter Skolnick

Food Organizers

  • Marsha Stone
  • Elisa Mai

Movie/Q&AAli Pinschmidt

Trading Fair – Individuals

  • Alex Fisher
  • Chris Sanborn
  • Christian McEwen
  • Haiying Ju
  • Janet Bunce
  • Jessica Gifford
  • Nancy Caffall
  • Rachel Besserman
  • Ruthy Woodring
  • Peter Skolnick

Trading Fair – Organizations


  • Balbir Singh
  • Betty Wolfson
  • Jasper Lapienski
  • Kim Longo
  • Laura LeClair
  • Marsha Stone
  • Mia Kortebein
  • Mordi Kamel
  • Norm Hirschfeld
  • Susan Triolo
  • Zelda Schladweiler

Cake donationRiver Valley Market

Flowers – Lenore Grubinger, Flowers of Florence

Trash/recyclingPedal People

Door prize donations

  • Devorah Levy
  • Hilary Caws-Elwitt
  • Janet Bunce
  • Megan McDonough
  • Stan Pollack
  • Valerie Bassett

Event Organizers

  • Alisa Kowal
  • Devorah Levy
  • Hilary Caws-Elwitt
  • Jessica Tanner

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5th Anniversary Celebration and Trading Fair

Our event was a great success! Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Join us for this free event, Saturday, May 16, 2015, from 2pm-5pm at the Florence Civic Center! (90 Park St, next to Lilly Library) There will be skill sharing and demonstrations, entertainment, community-building games, food, and fun. Door prize drawings will be held throughout the afternoon. Learn more about Valley Time Trade and its members. Meet old and new friends over refreshments at the Conversation Cafe. The short documentary on Valley Time Trade will be shown, and we’ll have a Q&A with the filmmaker.

Current, past, and potential future members are all welcome!

Some of the skills to be demonstrated or shared will be:

  • Bike maintenance
  • Chinese paper cutting
  • Keyboard music
  • Knitting
  • Massage
  • Woodworking

Consultations about wellness and elder care will be available. All time traders will be encouraged to “wear and share” offers and requests.  Some of the offers our members provide include gardening, language instruction and translation, organizing, transportation to/from the airport, writing and editing–and just about anything you can imagine!

Organizations to be represented include All Things Local Cooperative Market, Co-op Power, Help Yourself Northampton, Holyoke Tutor/Mentor Program, Mediation and Training Collaborative, Northampton Community Television, and Village Hill Cohousing.

If you’re a member who’s gone dormant, it’s very easy to re-activate your account, and it’s free. Just show up and we’ll take care of it! Please come and bring your friends.

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VTT & Edible Gardens in the Gazette

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VTT Makes The News! Article in The Recorder

Megan McDonough of Colrain has traded her artwork for a massage through the Valley Time Trade.    Recorder/Paul FranzValue of time

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
(Published in print: Thursday, January 2, 2014)
“Time is money” is one of those truths that rarely gets challenged.
Especially in these economically shaky times, some people are questioning whether the almighty dollar should be our society’s only currency. They’re seeking alternative ways to build an economy that also builds community.
“A lot people go to work, they come home, and they maybe have a close group of friends,” says Megan McDonough of Colrain, one of more than 500 members of Valley Time Trade, which began about four years ago. “But this is a way to broaden that network of who you’re having interactions with. The medium we’re used to is money, but with this network, you’re able to trade your time, too.”
McDonough, who does administration for a nonprofit organization in Northampton, said she learned about the time bank at a gathering in Colrain a few years back but didn’t get involved until she cut back work hours earlier this year and began looking for ways to fill free time.
“A lot of people have a job where we do one thing, and our culture encourages specialization,” says McDonough. “But the reality is that people usually have many skills. You can’t necessarily get a job doing all those things, but it’s a way to potentially share those skills with other people.”
The commuting woman offered to share rides, and also said she likes to work on art projects.
“Somebody took me up on that. They wanted to make a lamp shade,” she said. So McDonough took out a few library books about making lamp shades, found some Asian rice papers and onion-skin paper, and made a lamp shade for the person’s frame.
She’s also shared her computer skills and has also been in touch with someone about getting a chair massage.
By offering services on the Valley Time Trade website — where the hundreds of categories range from bartending to packing help and portrait photography to offering support to new mothers, child care and farming — members are “paying forward” into this community with the understanding that they can get repaid, over time, in services they want.
“We’re taught that debt is bad, and when we’re talking about money, I’d agree,” McDonough says. “But when you’re talking about goodwill and sharing, sometimes accepting a gift from another person is what makes the whole system work, as well as giving your time. People can have a positive or negative balance. The economy is a lot more than the exchange of money.”

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Video and article explaning timebanking

This Good Morning America segment is a great overview of how and why time trading works:

There are many more time banks in operation now! Also check out this great 2012 magazine article.

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by | November 28, 2013 · 10:23 am