Baltimore Time Bank

Jerry Raitzyk is a juggler who is using the Baltimore Time Bank to trade juggling performances for services he needs. Here, Raitzyk visits the Baltimore DIYFest, on Sept. 15. (Photo by Nicole Martyn, Patuxent Publishing / February 13, 2008)

Andrea Wenger needed computer help. Ian Schlakman wanted nutrition counseling.

So they traded services. And no money exchanged hands.

"I fixed two of her laptops," Schlakman said. "In exchange for that, she gave me one hour of nutrition help."

"I think we have at least another hour," Wenger said.


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Wenger, of southwest Baltimore, and Schlakman, of Fells Point, are members of the new Baltimore Time Bank. The organization, whose members meet at the Union Mill teacher housing and nonprofit complex in Hampden, helps nonprofits and owners of businesses — as well as individuals — exchange their skills and talents without using money.

Five years in the planning, the time bank, one of 300 nationwide, plus more in Europe, is now getting off the ground, according to Schlakman, a coordinator of the Baltimore group.

Membership is low and Schlakman said he is waiting for about 50 people to sign up, before he has a formal kickoff.

The time bank has two websites, http://letsbemore.timebanks.org and www.letsbmore.org, and Schlakman says he can train anyone who wants to join.

Baltimore Time Bank also has a 501C-3 fiscal sponsor, the Baltimore-based Fusion Partnerships.

Longer established time banks are in Columbia, Howard County, and Anne Arundel County, Schlakman said.

Time banks are often thought of as a kind of barter system, but Schlakman said they're not, because the exchanges are in hours that can be used for agreed-upon services or held onto for future use.

"It doesn't have to be a direct exchange," he said. "You can simply bank the hours and save them for a rainy day."

Time bank members create accounts on one of the two websites, where they can log their hours, Schlakman said. They can also transfer hours to other members or organizations that are members, he said.

The recent agreement between Schlakman, 27, of Fells Point, and Wenger, 43, of southwest Baltimore, is typical of the kinds of transactions that members say are possible through the Baltimore Time Bank.

Schlakman owns Civilizations Systems based in Fells Point, which provides technology services to schools and nonprofits.

Wenger owns Community-Supported Wellness, a nonprofit she founded that offers holistic wellness services.

Wenger is also in private practice in Hampden as a master in Reiki, a spiritual practice, and a sound healer, using her voice and other sounds to promote healing.

Wenger hasn't exchanged more services since her trade with Schlakman, but said, "I am eager to get back in the system. I just love how (the time bank) facilitates connections and honors each person. I think it offers a personal touch and adds value to what each person has to offer."

"The time bank is a great way for nonprofits to encourage community," Schlakman said.

It is also helpful in hard economic times, he said.