By Louise Bierig
Seven years ago, when I first moved to my house, I knew very few local people. The two friends I had counted on for help and camaraderie had just moved away. Working from home, as I do, has many upsides, but one downside is that I don’t meet people, or even interact much with people. Feeling very isolated, I started a list of people I could possibly befriend. I remember feeling hard-pressed to write three names on the list. I know that the first person did become a friend, but I don’t even remember the names of the second two people.
After work, I went to meetings, classes, and volunteered nearly every week night in an effort to make more friends and build community, but the progress felt slow or nonexistent. Over the years, I gradually added a few other friends to my life, but it is only in the last two years that I feel a sudden explosion of friendship and acquaintances—a true community around me!
I attribute this change to two important factors. First, the birth of my son pushed me to make more friends and to learn not just to offer help, but also to ask for it. Secondly, Transition Town Media, and specifically the Time Bank, brought together a wide group of people, many of whom I already knew from my other activities, and created a true community.
The monthly potlucks with different themes bring together like-minded people on a regular basis. I was surprised at my first TTM potluck to realize I knew half the people there and that I knew them from a variety of other groups. The Time Bank helps people get to know each other at a deeper level. As I go to peoples’ houses and learn their needs and share my needs for help with them, a greater understanding develops. The TTM Swap Board also brings people together at this deep level of sharing wants and needs.
I found it funny to realize that one of the women active in TTM lives on my block, as she has for the last seven years. A man who used to pick up his buying club vegetables at my house, has now fixed my bicycle and makes other Time Bank exchanges with me. When I walk to town, I pass the houses of several people I know and feel part of a network of people. At the Farmer’s Market or State Street events like Bastille Day, I see several friends to talk to and acquaintances who deserve a wave. Lending a hand gives me a sense of belonging and develops warm relationships with others. When I need help, there are people close by who can give me a hand.