By Tylor Skory and Monique LaBenne
Location: Southeast Michigan
By popular vote, the city of Lathrup Village won the 2009 Community Excellence Award for the Lathrup Village timebank, a pay-it-forward concept of neighbors helping neighbors.
Kim Hodge lived in Lathrup Village for 15 years and only knew a handful of her neighbors. When she read about TimeBanks, she knew she wanted to start one. She kicked off the concept at a 2008 Homeowners Association Pancake Breakfast, and it’s grown to 117 members. “We’ve got something cool in Lathrup Village, but we need others to do it,” Hodge said.
At its most basic level, TimeBanking is about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the TimeBank as a “time dollar.” Then you have a time dollar to spend. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.
“In the economic times we’re dealing with now, I think it’s a great thing that people can help people,” City Administrator Jeff Mueller said. Since its inception, Lathrup Village TimeBank members have logged 3,229 hours of service exchanges.
“This tool speaks really well to these economically challenging times we’re in,” Hodge said. “It’s an exchange system that is similar to a barter. We don’t have the money to pay for things right now. There are so many people who are unemployed or haven’t gotten a raise or don’t know what the future holds. They need to do something, feel valued, be out and about and meet people in their community, get stuff done and be productive . . . it’s not like we don’t have the talent just because we don’t have the jobs. People are sitting around with so much talent and skills and interest that they can share with others. We really need to rely on each other more right now.”
Richard Reeves, along with Hodge, coordinates Lathrup Village’s TimeBank. “Now is a better time than any to have a TimeBank in a community,” he said.
“Just the economic value of it—people can save money and get things done that they need to have done. But what’s really more important is that it’s a project that really helps to build community. In times like this, something that helps bring the community together helps people realize that we’re all in the same boat, and it kind of makes us stronger.”
With TimeBanking, sharing gifts means building trust.
Each TimeBank connects to an internet database where you list what you would like to do for other members. You look up TimeBank services online or call a community coordinator to do it for you. You earn time dollars after each service you perform and then you get to spend it on whatever you want from the listings. With TimeBanking, you will be working with a small group of committed individuals who are joined together for a common good. It connects you to the best in people because it creates a system that connects unmet needs with untapped resources. To see what happens each week when you are part of TimeBank is deeply fulfilling, especially if you are helping to make it run.
TimeBanks Promote Five Core Values:
1) Assets – We are all assets. Every human being has something to contribute.
2) Redefining Work – Some work is beyond price. Work has to be redefined to value whatever it takes to raise healthy children, build strong families, revitalize neighborhoods, make democracy work, advance social justice, make the planet sustainable. That kind of work needs to be honored, recorded and rewarded.
3) Reciprocity – Helping works better as a two-way street. The question: “How can I help you?” needs to change so we ask: “How can we help each other build the world we both will live in?”
4) Social Networks – We need each other. Networks are stronger than individuals. People helping each other reweave communities of support, strength and trust. Community is built upon sinking roots, building trust, creating networks. Special relationships are built on commitment.
5) Respect – Every human being matters. Respect underlies freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and everything we value. Respect supplies the heart and soul of democracy. When respect is denied to anyone, we all are injured. We must respect where people are in the moment, not where we hope they will be at some future point.
If you like to volunteer and give time to your community, TimeBanking is a way to get something back in exchange for your time. Richard Reeves not only serves as one of the coordinators for the Lathrup Village TimeBank, he has also earned time dollars creating two short videos to help promote it.
Community Excellence Award
Lathrup Village won the statewide 2009 Michigan Municipal League Community Excellence Award. The project really touched the hearts of Michigan’s officials, who voted for the TimeBank project as the overall winner in the Race for the Cup.
“They (Kim and Richard) just absolutely floored the Convention,” said Lathrup Village City Administrator Jeff Mueller. “It was really awesome.
There were 400-500 people there, and all the attendees voted . . . everybody jumped up and cheered (when Lathrup won). It was pretty cool.”
“It was truly amazing being there—I was almost overwhelmed by it,” Reeves said. “It was really cool. We always knew it was a good idea, but it’s nice to have it validated by other people.”
Since the Convention, Hodge and Reeves founded the MI Alliance of TimeBanks (MATB), to link and support TimeBanks across the state. They have been contacted by 74 cities and 80 organizations to find out more about TimeBanks. Three new TimeBanks have already sprung up since the fall of 2009—in the Southfield area, Ferndale, and southwest Detroit. In addition, several Detroit communities are exploring TimeBanking and expected to begin soon. Organizing efforts are happening in Charlotte, Muskegon Heights, Sterling Heights, and many more communities.
MATB envisions sustainable communities throughout Michigan that are attractive, vibrant places to live because of the strength of their social networks, and their ability to match unmet community needs with untapped community resources. It received its first grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to help start three pilot TimeBanks and a Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks institute. For more info, visit www.miTimeBanks.org or to see what’s happening with the Lathrup Village TimeBank, check
Who will take home the cup in September at the League’s Annual Convention?
2010 Community Excellence Award Regional Winners:
R1: City of Monroe
R2: City of East Lansing
R3: City of Grand Haven
R4: City of Saginaw
R5: City of Harbor Beach
R6: Village of Kingsley
R7: City of St. Ignace
Click here for more on the event.
Tylor Skory and Monique LaBenne are the website coordinators for the Lathrup Village TimeBank.