Time Exchange, Networking, And Happiness

By Diana Damato, Monadnock Shopper News, Green Monadnock Column

Diana profileKnow where the happiest place in the world is? Norway, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report published annually by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In fact, four out of five of the top spots are held by Nordic countries. These countries ranked highly on the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance, the report says. So what does this have to do with Keene, NH?

Keene (and the surrounding region) and these Nordic countries are made up of cohesive, collaborative communities, an important ingredient of their happiness. “What works in Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good,” says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.

Happy communities are not only healthy, they are also sustainable. Forum for the Future describes sustainability as “a dynamic process which enables people to realize their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earth’s life support systems.”

The combined time and talents of community members in our Monadnock Region are the driving force behind all the positive sustainable action that happens here. Some examples are an increased use of solar power, more energy efficient heating stoves, a thriving farmers’ market and numerous CSAs (community supported agriculture) that produce our own regional food.

The Monadnock Time Exchange (MTX) offers a way to connect people and help them share those time and talents, while working toward the greater good of the community. We often say “I don’t have enough time,” yet when we team up and share services with each other, efficiency and enjoyment can increase. Raking a lawn together or two people simultaneously washing the insides and outsides of windows gets the job done more quickly and can be fun, ending with a cup of tea or cold lemonade. Someone who loves cooking can prepare a meal for someone, giving that person extra time to offer computer assistance to a person who struggles with technology.

Looking at time as something we can pool and have in abundance is an integral concept for the Monadnock Time Exchange. Rather than bartering directly back and forth, members are invited to offer services that they enjoy doing and then direct the flow of hours they earn out to other exchange members who provide services that they seek. This “pay it forward” flow encourages the involvement of more people who can all benefit from making exchanges.

In addition, people of all economic levels can participate, as time (hours) are used in place of money when services are exchanged. Among MTX’s guiding principles are the belief that we all have gifts to share and everyone’s time is equally valued. Another is the idea of reciprocity; that helping works better as a two-way street so instead of asking, “How can I help you?”, the question becomes “How can we help each other build the world we both will live in?”

Social networks are stronger than individuals and by connecting and helping each other, we can reweave communities of support, strength, and trust. And when a social network redefines work, taking the concept of money (and scarcity) out of the equation, it can focus the value of work as whatever it takes to raise healthy children, build strong families, revitalize neighborhoods, make democracy work, advance social justice, and make the planet sustainable. Time exchanges honor, record and reward the kinds of work that are currently undervalued by or even invisible to our monetary system; work like caretaking, helping neighbors and doing volunteer work for the benefit of those in need and their community overall.

Ideas like these must surely be part of a great recipe for happiness.

Happiness may be the best indicator for the health and sustainability of our community. The Monadnock region’s very own time exchange, MTX, would like the network it provides to support every member of our community. Join us and leverage your happiness while enhancing our region’s sustainability! (For more info on MTX: monadnocktimeexchange.com)

Diana Damato is the membership coordinator for the Monadnock Time Exchange, as well as a freelance writer, AWA writing workshop facilitator, and member and former board member of The Sustainability Project. She actively participates in the positive growth of the greater Keene community, where she and her family have lived for nearly 20 years.


Working Together

IMG_1467When Diana Damato suddenly learned that the city was coming to collect leaves within the week, she looked at her leaf-buried yard with a bit of panic. Much to her delight, fellow MTX member and neighbor, Bonnie Rill was available and showed up with rake in hand ready to help.

Chatting and laughing while they raked, piled and dragged leaves, they had fun and finished the job much more quickly as a team.

Bonnie has also helped with extensive organizing in the Damato’s basement to create space for their new wood pellet-burning boiler system. Her enthusiasm and determination gave Diana the boost she needed to face a project that seemed overwhelming.

And with the hours she is earning she can request services for things she needs or would enjoy, like painting or learning to ferment foods.

Fun, Fascination and New Relationships

IMG_1650Karen Cota has journals full of stories and reflections written by her father. But she isn’t able to read any of them, as they are written in his native German language. When she and Gerhard Bedding connected at MTX’s annual meeting and celebration, she found a perfect solution. Gerhard, close in age to what her father would now be, offered his German language skills to translate the journals, written during the time of the Nazi occupation and WWII.

This resonates with Gerhard, who lived in the Nazi occupied Netherlands during that time.”I remember that 1943 was a big year in my life in which the war became much more palpable and threatening.” He says the fascinating thing is that apart from the German that they work to translate into English, they’re working with the aspects of the life of a young man that displayed great maturity at the age of 17.

“I get this whole multi-dimensional connection with this person I’ve never actually met, but feel as if I’ve come to know,” he says.

There are some challenges to the translating, explains Gerhard. The journals are hand written and he sometimes needs a magnifying glass to help make out letters that are difficult to decipher. In addition, Gerhard says that his German skills are limited to what he learned while in high school in the Netherlands; he is no expert in the language, he admits.

In addition to working on the journal translations, Gerhard found a companion for hiking area trails, an activity both he and Karen enjoy. Their ongoing meetings combine time spent fulfilling the requests of both members, while strengthening a connection between the two, who have gradually established a relationship that in some ways resembles a father/daughter bond. Karen Cota even shares the name of Gerhard’s own daughter, Karen, who is just six months older.

Earn Hours with MTX at Monadnock Earth Festival

Earn hours as a volunteer at the Monadnock Earth Festival, talking with visitors about your experiences exchanging with other MTX members. Come join Diana Damato, Membership Coordinator, to help out for an hour or two, meet friends and help us grow. Or just come and enjoy the day! To volunteer, contact Diana today!

We’re also looking for members to earn an hour or two of service (credited by MTX) at a future time. These services would be offered as prizes to prospective members, who visit our table and guess a fact or figure about the time exchange. Please consider this great way to introduce more people to MTX and strengthen our membership! To offer a service, contact Diana today!



Plants and Healing Potluck Features MTX’s Katy Locke

Monadnock Time Exchange Potluck
March 23 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Katy Locke speaks about nature-based healing
380 Water St., Keene
RSVP 603-465-1153

39e3a456-d205-4ae0-a653-89aff90601d9Happy Spring! At this month’s potluck, Katy Locke will share her insights into the healing gifts of plants. Since 2010, Katy has been crafting flower essences, herbal tinctures, teas and salves – many of which have been sourced entirely from her own back yard.

“The bond between plants and humans goes back to the beginning of time,” she says. “And plants are still the main source of medicine for the majority of people around the world. They are readily available and easy to use. Herbal remedies are not rocket science – I am certainly not a rocket scientist.”

Katy will share her love of working with plants to bring healing both in her own life and for the benefit of others.

MTX Member Shares Experience and Thoughts: Michele Moore


MTX Member Michele Moore

“Most wellness is up to the person. Give them a good diet and that’s the basis,” said Michele Moore, MD, who has practiced medicine for the past 40 years, much of it holistic.

She said that diets don’t have to be complicated and recommended striving to eat a colorful plate. Many of the super vegetables are deeply colored. And she pointed out that it is possible to eat in season with foods that are available locally.

Other components of leading a healthy life include getting enough sleep and exercise, some type of inner life or meditative time, and finding purpose in life, she added. Although these are common sense, many have difficulty practicing them.

Moore studied medicine for 5 years in Dublin at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, earning her MD degree. She followed that with a 2-year residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, focusing on family practice. For six years, she worked as a busy doctor in Crown Point, New York before moving to New Hampshire, where she briefly worked at one group practice before joining six or seven other health practitioners to open a holistic health center in Keene. Unfortunately, in 1984, it was before its time and couldn’t be sustained financially so it closed after a year or two. Moore opened her own private practice and continued for nearly the next twenty years.

In her practice, she was open to whatever worked, with the least risks associated with it. Many women liked the idea of having a female doctor and sought out Moore. She wound up doing lots of work with allergies, although that was not by design. A lot of clients looked to her for interpretation and guidance, as they weren’t getting answers from other doctors, even after having complex work-ups done. “I would tease out subtle things, always with an emphasis on doing no harm,” she said.

Moore is also the author of eleven books, including The Only Menopause Guide You’ll Need, published in 2004 by Johns Hopkins University Press and, more recently, Hungry Neighbors: Hunger & Hope in Northern New England, published in 2016 with CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

MTX Member Shares Experience and Thoughts: Sandra Whippie


MTX Member Sandra Whippie

Sandra Whippie joined MTX eleven months ago and applauds the reciprocity of the time exchange.

“The time exchange is very flexible; you can take from one hand and give to the other,” she said, describing how she could spend hours that she earned by providing rides for Galen Butcher, to receive computer assistance from Nikki Sauber.

Sandra calls time a very valuable commodity that is more of an equalizer than money. In fact, having time for the things she wants to do led her to retire at age 55 after working double time in the education system for a long period.

The match between she and Galen has worked well, she explained, as her background in education provided years of experience working with students with special needs. Thirty-five years of classroom teaching and school administration have given her the sensitivity to support the special skills and efforts Galen applies to the challenge of navigating his interpersonal interactions.

“Every human being has strengths and weaknesses and the time exchange offers an opportunity for them to list areas they feel strong in and ask for help in areas that they need (help),” said Sandra.

She views time exchanges as an exciting concept that she is glad to see catching on and spreading across the country and beyond.