Don't go steaming round the bend

Don't go steaming round the bend

Don't go steaming round the bend

Governance | Martin Farrell | 1 Jan 2007

If there's a lot to do it pays to take things slowly, says Martin Farrell.

Maybe you know the image – the train steaming round the corner with those up the front already seeing the way ahead and wanting to put their foot down, while those at the back are still approaching into the bend and want to go slow.

That’s how it felt at our last board meeting. There were issues which someone round the table was familiar with and were ready to go, while others needed time to digest and be reassured.

One issue was the general principle that time banking is a tool which we want to put in the hands of other people and help them use it safely and well. Only in this way can time banking be used far and wide to realise its potential for widespread community building and renewal. We all agreed that strategy at our awayday nine months ago.

But at the board meeting I realised that reassurance was needed – to make it clear that as an organisation, Time Banks UK will only be as small or big as it needs to be in order to create an environment in which time banking can flourish. (Be patient, I say to myself – I’ve said this lots of times already, but I have to accept that I’ll have to keep saying it for a while longer.)

Then just a little while later in the same meeting, another ‘steaming round the bend’ issue came along, when our Scotland director presented a new proposal about how Time Banks UK could collaborate with the Scottish volunteering umbrella body to develop time banking throughout Scotland.

It was new to most people in the meeting, but not to him. Having been deep in dialogue about it for a couple of months he was ready to steam ahead. Not so, others at the table.

Yes, they readily embraced the principle (as did I) but had cautionary questions – what mechanisms can be put in place to be sure that the values and operating principles underpinning time banking are put into practice and what will it mean for Time Banks UK being truly UK-wide? Time was needed to think and digest, to keep us all on board and be sure we’re being true to our mission.

Then a third issue came along, yes, at the very same meeting. Recently members of the movement had met together as part of the 2007/8 planning process and wanted some straight answers from the board about some strategic ‘elephants in the room’.

That’s funny I thought, we have discussed these already and have come to some conclusions. Then the obvious dawned on me – we haven’t been as good as we aspire to be in communicating the board’s deliberations, so I guess it’s not surprising that folks don’t know.

Who was it who said ‘there’s so much to do, so let’s go slowly’? Sounds like a good idea.

That’s it, as the visionaries steam ahead they have to watch their speed – we don’t want anyone falling off as we go round the bend, now do we?

Time Banks UK exists to create an environment in which time banking can flourish. Timebanking is a tool which builds sustainable social networks by using time as a medium of exchange – everyone’s skills are of equal value. One hour = one time credit.

For more information about time banking see

Martin Farrell is chair of Time Banks UK



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