Organization gives — and gives back — to community

Brattleboro Time Trade members create an economy of mutual assistance, banking hours by helping their neighbors with tasks both large and small

BRATTLEBORO-One winter not so long ago, Tony, a professional juggler, discovered that a huge icicle had fallen from his roof and penetrated the ceiling above his living room.

Several gallons of water had collected in a large pouch there, held back only by paint, which he punctured and drained into a bucket. Surveying the damage, he sighed, knowing that repairs would be costly.

However, as a new member of Brattleboro Time Trade, or BTT, a local time-bank organization that began in 2009, he decided to try what he thought might be a long shot: He wrote up a request for help and posted it on the BTT website.

To his surprise, Kip offered his skills.

As Tony remembers it, "we worked maybe two or three hours and we fixed it, and, while a roofer might have taken half the time, working with Kip didn't cost me anything."

Kip was compensated not in dollars, but in Brattleboro time credits, which are earned according to the number of hours you work.

In BTT, each person's hour of contributed work, whatever the job, is worth one time credit, or one BTT hour. No matter what you do for another member, that time is counted: petsitting or cooking, giving massages or painting pet portraits.

These hour credits can then be "spent" on services you might need, like stacking wood or weeding, or getting a ride to get local errands done while your car is in the shop.

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Silver is a new member of BTT, a reporter and a novelist. She recounted how, nine days after moving to Brattleboro from New York City in March 2023, she had a serious accident, falling face down on Main Street, and then, after making it to her lobby, blacking out and hitting her head and back.

She says she was appalled by the lack of any response or help from passing motorists, while no pedestrians were to be seen, perhaps due to the early morning hours.

With a fractured vertebra and a traumatic brain injury, her capabilities were severely limited.

Silver no longer recalls who told her about BTT, but she is grateful for the many members who responded to her BTT requests for help after her accident.

She recounts with enthusiasm how often BTT members came to her aid.

One member drove her and her ailing cat to Massachusetts several times to the nearest veterinarian with openings. Tony rode his bicycle - at night, no less - to bring her ibuprofen to help with pain, and Philip and Kip assembled ergonomic chairs and desks.

These services and more were all done happily and freely, with nothing more than BTT hours exchanged. Anticipating the need, BTT allows users to go into negative time credits, which was perfect for Silver since it would be months before she was finally feeling well enough to earn hours by responding to others' requests or offering her skills.

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BTT members have been instrumental in providing community service, such as getting the library's e-bike borrowing program off the ground and playing a major role in staffing it, as well as helping Window Dressers, an organization that makes low-cost insulating window inserts to help keep out the cold in winter.

Members can earn time credits working with local refugees or performing other community services, like delivering The Commons newspaper or Meals on Wheels.

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Brattleboro Time Trade will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, April 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Root Social Justice Center, 28 Williams St, Brattleboro.

Our keynote speaker and facilitator, Eric Bachman, is a long-time time trader with Onion River Exchange ( and has many years of experience in organizational development.

Interested in learning more or becoming a member? Just go to, email [email protected], or call 802-379-9637.

Phoebe Wagner, a local artist and writer, is an enthusiastic and active member of Brattleboro Time Trade. The Commons' Deeper Dive column gives artists, arts organizations, and other nonprofits elbow room to write in first person and/or be unabashedly opinionated, passionate and analytical about their own creative work and events.

This News column was submitted to The Commons.

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