`Banks’ allow members to pay with time, not cash

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Economy

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – No money? No problem! Pay with time, instead.
That’s what Maria Villacreses did when the economy put a hitch in her wedding plans: She used “time dollars” on everything from a wedding-day makeover to an elaborate seven-layer cake.
In a modern twist on the ancient practice of barter, people like Villacreses are joining time banks to help them get the things they need or want without having to spend cash.
In a time bank, members get credit for services they provide to other members, from cooking to housekeeping to car rides to home repair. For each hour of work, one time dollar is deposited into a member’s account, good for services offered by other members.
Scores of time banks are being started in hard-hit communities around the nation — and thousands of devotees are helping each other survive tough financial times.
“Even though we were planning to do something small and simple, it takes a lot of money, time and effort. Through time banking, I got a lot of help,” said Villacreses, who belongs to Community Exchange, a 10-year-old time bank in Allentown, where 500 members offer everything from electrical work to tai chi.
As the economy recovers amid stubbornly high unemployment, newer banks with names like “Back On Track” have joined Community Exchange in offering an alternative to cash. Time Banks USA, an advocacy group in Washington, says interest in time banking has surged: About 115 now operate nationwide, with 100 more in early stages of development. Membership fluctuates but is believed to total more than 15,000.
“People see time banking as a way to deal with the economic pressures they are feeling,” especially in places hit hardest by the recession, said Jen Moore, membership and outreach coordinator for Time Banks USA.
In Maine, where paper mills and shoe manufacturers have closed, time dollars buy everything from guitar lessons to yard work — even prayer. In California, they buy haircuts, tax help and aromatherapy. In Michigan, child care, plumbing and yoga.
In South Carolina, Back on Track Charleston was launched recently to help down-on-their-luck residents get, well, back on track. It’s already got 80 members.
Winborne Evans relies on Back on Track to supply her with baby-sitting while she picks up extra shifts as a waitress. She’s also using time dollars, which she earns by sitting for other members’ kids, to help get her fledgling beekeeping business off the ground.
“Becoming a single mom recently … I truly can’t imagine where I would be without it, mostly because I can’t afford a baby-sitter, and I can’t afford to pay people to help me with my bees,” said Evans, 29.
Unlike bartering, transactions in time banking are not usually reciprocal. Instead, Jane baby-sits for John, John fixes Mary’s leaky faucet, Mary drives Tom to the doctor’s office, and so on, all of them earning and spending time dollars. Their labor is valued equally: One hour is always worth one time dollar. (Time dollars are not taxable, according to Time Banks USA.)
People often join for economic reasons but wind up getting more out of it. Among the benefits: networking, getting to know neighbors, building a sense of community and keeping skills sharp.
“Part of it is very practical,” said Judith Lasker, a professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem who is co-writing a book on time banking. “There’s another part of it that’s very ideological. People believe the best way to survive in this crazy, unpredictable world is to forge local ties, support local economies … and support local people in a variety of ways.”
Services provided by Allentown’s Community Exchange — including gardening, cleaning, cooking and transportation — have allowed 79-year-old Joan Stevenson to stay in her home and out of assisted living.
“I’m enriched by it, not only from the services I receive but by being able to contribute,” said Stevenson, who earns time dollars by writing for the Community Exchange newsletter, hosting Community Exchange meetings at her house and helping other members with their resumes and job searches.
Time banks are labor intensive and can be difficult to keep going. Most of the successful ones eventually get a paid staff, either by raising grant money or affiliating with a larger organization. Lehigh Valley Hospital & Health Network, the Allentown region’s largest employer, pays the small staff of Community Exchange.
Manager Laura Gutierrez said time banks are worth the effort.
“Since the economy has been poor, people need to be a little more creative about using resources within a community that might not have been considered resources in the past,” she said.
Which is exactly what Villacreses did to salvage her wedding plans.
The 28-year-old, who is fluent in English and Spanish and earns time dollars as a medical interpreter and by offering rides and pet-sitting, thought she would have to scale back when her fiance’s hours at work were cut in half. Then fellow Community Exchange members suggested she use time dollars to pay for services that would typically cost hundreds of dollars.
On the big day, the bride sat at her dining room table while a complete stranger, Marilyn Shive, did her makeup.
“Show me which colors you tend to like,” said Shive, a Community Exchange member who sells beauty products.
As Shive applied foundation and eyeliner, another member of Community Exchange delivered the cake. Others brought food and decorated the sanctuary and reception hall. During the service, time bankers took photos and played the organ.
In all, the wedding cost about 200 time dollars. By spending her time wisely, Villacreses figures she saved about $2,000.

Surprising Healing Benefits of Spices

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Alternative Medicine, Natural Healing

Chances are you sprinkle cinnamon into your morning oatmeal or add a dash of oregano to pizza without giving the spices much thought. But did you know your favorite flavors can actually do your body good? According to Christina Suarez, master herbalist and owner of TheGoodHerbCo.com, while spices are only effective when eaten at least daily, each has its own specific health benefits. Read on to find out which additives can burn fat, ease a sore throat or help you get to sleep, and how you can incorporate them into your daily diet.
Fruit of the Elettaria cardamomum plant in the ginger family.
Health Powers: Eases belching, flatulence and indigestion; treats respiratory conditions like coughing, asthma and loss of voice; aids in the elimination of toxins through your skin.
Daily Dose: Stir a few freshly ground pinches of cardamom pods into a shot of OJ or your morning fruit salad, or mix it with white or brown rice before you boil it.
Fruit of the Capsicum annuum plant in the Solanaceae family, along with chile pepper.
Health Powers: Eliminates gas from the stomach and intestines; soothes sore throat, cold and flu symptoms; increases metabolism for weight control.
Daily Dose: Stir into a cup of hot chocolate or any sweet juice drink for a contrasting flavor kick.
Bark of a small evergreen tree.
Health Powers: Tames nausea and stomach ulcers; functions as a mild anti-inflammatory; increases insulin sensitivity to help focus fat burn.
Daily Dose: Stir into coffee/tea, yogurt, oatmeal or any boxed cereal.
Flower bud found at the base of an evergreen tree.
Health Powers: Soothes digestive tract muscles and is a potent antihistamine.
Daily Dose: Mix into your nightly ice cream treat or sneak into mustard spread.
Fruit of Myristica fragrans,an evergreen tree.
Health Powers: Improves digestion; eases the symptoms of menstruation; induces calm and sleep.
Daily Dose: Grate a small amount into applesauce or plain yogurt. (Note: It’s safe to grate the entire nut, which you can usually buy whole at the supermarket, but you never want to consume more than one nutmeg per day because too much of this potent spice can cause stomach pain, double vision and other uncomfortable reactions.)
Celery Seed
Seed of the Apium graveolens plant in the parsley family.
Health Powers: Flushes the liver of toxins; lowers blood pressure; combats water retention.
Daily Dose: Think salads—tuna, potato and egg all work—which can be tossed onto a bed of lettuce, eaten alone or spread onto bread.
Also known as cilantro; the leaves and seeds of the Coriandrum plant in the aromatic Apiaceae family.
Health Powers: Acts as a diuretic; eases seasonal allergies.
Daily Dose: Cook into couscous and quinoa, which you can store and eat with leftovers.
Seed of the Foeniculum plant in the aromatic Apiaceae family.
Health Powers: Calms bowel distress; supports milk production in nursing mothers; combats water retention.
Daily Dose: Add to canned minestrones and vegetable soups.
Leaf of the Origanum plant in the mint family.
Health Powers: Loosens mucus; helps treat respiratory illnesses; and calms indigestion.
Daily Dose: Use in any tomato-based foods, like marinara sauces, pizza and soups.
Leaf of the Thymus plant in the mint family.
Health Powers: Relaxes the muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal tract; stimulates immune system.
Daily Dose: Toss into any meat-based dishes.
Root of the Circuma plant in the ginger family.
Health Powers: Reduces inflammation (joints, airways); detoxifies the liver.
Daily Dose: Mix in with oil-and-vinegar-based salad dressings.

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