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Let’s help each other

A Timebanking opportunity!

Timebanking is an internationally utilized method for people to exchange services on an hour-for-hour basis where everyone’s hour of service counts equally. So for example, an hour of computer instruction equals an hour of replacing a fence post; or an hour of sewing equals and hour of raking pine needles.

The timebank administration provides a list of requests and keeps track of everyone’s hours “banked” for services provided or used for services received.

Last year some of the members of Community Connections, the former timebank administered by Plumas Rural Services (PRS), met to attempt to reform a similar group. During that attempt we became aware of a Timebank centered in Chico, which is a viable option for Plumas County residents. As the initiator of the attempt to keep a timebanking organization going, I decided to join the Chico group. I did so and I am happy to report that their group is well organized and a suitable platform for residents of our county.

The Chico group is called Northern California Counties Timebank (NCCTB). They make use of a computer program called Hour World.  Communication to members is via weekly email. Their program not only shows requests being made but shows offers of services from members.

The feature that makes joining workable for those of us in Plumas County is that each service request states the location of the request.  So we could see if the request is local to us.

They offer a monthly orientation at 5 p.m. the first Sunday evening of each month at the Chico library meeting room at 1108 Sherman Ave., phone 530-891-2726 (followed by a potluck). They did say they were thinking of changing to an earlier time after I said that the 5 p.m. time might make it hard for Plumas County folks to attend.  They also said that if several people in Plumas County join, someone from their board of directors would be willing to come up to Quincy for orientation (which is about how to use the software).

This is your invitation to join the NCCTB. It is not only for former members of Community Connections (CC) but also for anyone else who has considered joining a timebank. The only way this will work for us in Plumas County is for many of us to join so that we have a pool of people to request and provide services locally since most of us probably would not be interested in traveling to Chico, etc. to provide services. Nor would members from down below be likely to come up here to fulfill our requests.

If you are a former CC member and you requested your hour balance last year from PRS, you may have those hours credited to your account. That would need to be individually processed by communication with the NCCTB board.  Their phone number is 636-0620 (for messages).

If you are interested, I encourage you to peruse the two websites — ncctimebank.org and hourworld.org. If you decide to join, you will do so on the hourworld site but you can get there from either site. For those of you without internet, other arrangements would need to be made.

Topics that came up during meetings last year amongst former CC members included confidentiality, liability for injuries during the provision of a service, costs to join, background checks for members and the kinds of services requested. In regard to these, several features of the NCCTB framework are different from that of CC. NCCTB framework has no background checks and the name, phone number, email and city (but not address) of each requestor is posted on their request so there is a lot less confidentiality than in the CC framework. There is no liability insurance provided by either NCCTB or hourworld, whereas PRS covered liability for members while engaged in a service.

The NCCTB has no paid administrator; everything is done by the computer program.  There is a Board of Directors and a few “facilitators.” CC had an advisory board. A donation request is made when joining but there are no required fees from members. Expenses of their program are liability insurance for the board, rental of a .PO. Box and website hosting.

As to liability — a homeowner’s home insurance would probably cover an injury by a time bank service provider — each requestor would need to check that with their insurer. If you are not a homeowner, you would need to check out what the property owner’s insurance provides. Importantly each requestor and each responder would need to take responsibility for making sure that the request is safe — no requests that involve using a ladder or going up on a roof for example.

Also requestors should understand that it is inappropriate to request a service from another member that is so extensive, skilled or difficult that a person would normally hire an expert for that work. Also inappropriate would be to request a service, which becomes much more involved when the responder arrives to do the task.

I will be happy to facilitate those who wish to join this group. Community Connections had around 300 members. In order for NCCTB to work for us here, a bunch of us in Plumas County need to join. Let’s help each other!  Feel free to call me at 616-1644.

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