Community is more like something that we're remembering than something that we're creating all over again.
I was inspired by physical therapist and sailor Stephen Becket's words at the end of a segment of David Brancaccio's upcoming special edition of PBS Now, Fixing the Future, shown on tonight's PBS Newshour. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed the series, and how disappointed I was when Now and Bill Moyer's Journal were cancelled. I was grateful to have another glimpse, and look forward to watching the full segment online this weekend (our local PBS affiliate, KCTS, does not appear to be carrying the show).
The Newshour segment profiles Hour Exchange Portland, where members of the community contribute and receive services in an exchange that lies entirely outside the traditional financial / banking industry:
We believe in people.
We believe everyone has knowledge and skills that someone in the community can use. We help people find what they need and give what they can. We are neighbors helping neighbors help themselves. We are a community service exchange.
We believe no one is more valuable than you, and neither is their time more valuable. At Hour Exchange Portland everyone's time is equal, an hour for an hour. If you give an hour of your time helping someone, providing a service, then you can receive an hour of someone else's time who provides a service you need. Time is what our members exchange. We are a community currency based on time. We believe all people are created equal, and so is our time. Our time is priceless.
I won't say too much more about the segment, but will include a another one of my favorite excerpts - and embed the 7-minute video - below. The entire hour-long version of Fixing the Future can be found online or seen on many PBS stations this week (at least, outside of Seattle).
DAVID BRANCACCIO: Are you connecting with other people? Are you meeting other people through this?
JENNIFER LUNDEN: This is like the new kind of community. In this country, we have lost a lot of the sense of community, and people are so focused on just surviving economically or doing better than their neighbors economically. We're so focused on stuff, that we have completely lost our sense of community. And Hour Exchange is a way that I have a built-in community. There are about 600 members that I can go to and ask for help.
STEPHEN BECKETT: We just have this arbitrary economic system that we all have -- you know, have grown up in and believe in and contribute to and work in. If it's not working anymore, then let's do something different. I think the seeds already are planted and sprouted and well on their way.
Indeed, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.