Trading Tales: Unique Timebank


Pip Payne and Sylvie Froncek are both long-time Timebank members.

Pip, a graphic designer, remembers helping to design some of the original forms when the project started back in 2011 and Sylvie joined in 2013, when she first moved to Wellington as a way of getting more involved in the community. Both really value what they consider to be unique aspects of Timebank and have benefitted from the trades and the more hidden gems it offers.
Pip is in the process of doing up his house in Aro Valley and Sylvie answered one of his requests for help with exterior painting. Sylvie soon found herself enjoying a couple of hours during the afternoon painting, whilst listening to ‘moth radio podcasts’ and consuming ‘large pots of white tea.’ (That’s black tea with milk and no sugar - as the British would say!) She says it is a really pleasant feeling to know you are making progress with something, even if it’s someone else’s project. Pip says he feels that the window that Sylvie painted has almost become hers, as she really owned the work.
He says he could have taken on students on job-search to do the work for say $15, but there is something different about Timebank trades. People can develop, maybe just for the duration of the work, a relationship that is strong and real – something that, were money introduced into the equation, would subtly change its nature. 

Offering help with CVs has proved very popular and it is Pip’s way of giving back to the community. He has received so many things as a Timebank member, but amongst those that immediately spring to mind is the special paella cooked and delivered by a fellow Timebanker, which was shared with his daughter to celebrate the birth of her baby.  He values all of the contributions he has had whilst renovating the house, as he feels it is a daunting task to be alone with such a project. Having someone to share the work and challenges, even for short periods of time, is a real bonus. And the highly-prized wooden structure, shoring up the earth bank under which I am, safely, sitting in Pip’s sunny garden, was the result of another trade, where the builder’s structural knowledge helped Pip carry out the work. He knows he wouldn’t have done it without her!
Bicycle enthusiast, Sylvie, is more than happy to offer anything related to cycles. That includes; repairs, repair lessons, riding lessons and trouble-shooting any kind of biking-problems. In return she’s received salsa-dancing lessons, which she says ‘in numerous ways shaped my love of Wellington.’ She feels she has learnt more about Wellington’s culture, politics, activities and events through dance lessons than through anything else.  
Pip believes that there are a lot of people out there with skills and knowhow that they have learnt over the years that they don’t even realise they possess. Some are tricks-of-the-trade that will be lost if we don’t pass them on.  He would encourage people to go ahead and offer what they can, even if it appears really simple.
Whilst Timebank seems to be unique in the simple exchange of one hour’s skill for another hour’s totally different, but equally valued skill, both agree that it also helps people come together as a community and is a ‘beautiful way to meet people and learn from each other.’ 
Story by Sue Jenkins