Everything’s Connected: The Space In Between Us

When I went to grad school to study the history of South Asian religions, I thought that my passion for work in the community would have to be relegated to a hobby.  I felt like the two were so unrelated that there was no way I could justify my research of ancient medical and religious texts and stories from India with my desire to create a just world and sustainable, vibrant communities.  I started working with The Chicago Time Exchange while I was in grad school to create a “hobby” space for social justice.

Fast forward what feels like a hundred years (who’s working on that time machine, people?), and I’m no longer officially studying myths, texts, religions, and languages, but I am still active in The Chicago Time Exchange working to affect social change in communities.  What I’ve realized recently (and I promise this is going to be not about me–insofar as I can write about something other than myself–very soon) that they have always been related for me.  The stories and myths I’ve studied have always highlighted the experience of the non-dominant class.  Likewise, I’ve learned that stories, myths, and history play an important role in the way people relate to one another.

This joke-of-a-”spring,” Lara, an active member and co-director of The Chicago Time Exchange, finished her LinkUp residency at Links Hall.  The residency was designed to investigate Lara’s art practice and her social practice.   How does her community support her art?  And vice versa?  What is the role of art and artists in community building?  What about her love for etymology and linguistics?  And, probably most importantly, what about balloons?

Lara’s performance artistically wove these questions in with folklore and storytelling, social justice issues, current events, her own journey, desires, needs, and offering gifts.

Lara beautifully tells and illustrates the story of the princess and the frog and presents it as a story about desires and vulnerability.  The princess needs the frog to help her with her ball and the frog represents a need for human connection (and sexuality) that can be scary and sometimes intimidating.

She then recounts her story about how she came to the sharing economy.  She was listening about the BP oil spill and felt so furious and desperate that she was moved to action.  She needed to do something.  She found about gift economies at the Social Forum in Detroit and worked on building their presence in Chicago.

These are both two really separate things, right?  I mean, what does a fairy tale have to do with the BP oil spill?  What does any of this have to do with The Chicago Time Exchange?  They are all about needing each other.  The motto, if you can call it that, of the CTX is “we have everything we need, if we use everything we have.”  The two major premises of this statement is that we (individuals and communities) have needs and we have something to fill the needs.  It is never true that an individual can fill 100% of their own needs.  Basically, we need each other.  Lara’s performance illustrated in different ways, that I need my community.  I need other people.

The great thing about Lara’s performance is that saying “We need a community.  I need people” is a nice and cheery thing to say theoretically, but putting it into practice and living it is kind of brutal.  It is a pain in the ass to need people.  People fall through and they mess up and they can be super awful sometimes.  I wish sometimes we “needed” something a little less complicated.  Like,  chocolate.  Can the CTX motto be “we have all the chocolate we need if we eat all the chocolate”?

I certainly don’t have an answer for this.  Though I think we can vote on a motto change.  People do awful things.  I never do (ahem), but others definitely do bad stuff.  That stuff sucks and it’s constant and there’s nothing for it.

But people do awesome stuff too.  Lara starts gift circles in Chicago.  Rebecca starts The Chicago Time Exchange.  My husband tells the funniest jokes ever.  Laura knits stuff for people and is great to talk to.  Tom helps me with website stuff out of the goodness of his heart.  Julius tutors kids to make sure they do well on the ACT.  My boss enthusiastically supports me even when I’m being awful.  The kids I work with are simply hope incarnate.

I need these things.  I need this community.  I need these people.

It’s scary to need these things.  What if they get taken away?  What if I am no longer deemed worthy of these people?  What if what I offer them is not worth what they offer?  What if something happens and they cannot offer what I need?  What if I need them and they’re not there?  What if they do not follow through?

Those are scary questions, and the only person who has all the answers is Brene Brown and possibly Oprah.  And Beyonce.  I think Tavi Gevinson has some too, even though she’s only 17.  I digress.

The larger need that we have is the need to be needed.  In Lara’s performance, she describes a break down after the BP oil spill.  She needed to be helpful.  Do all the people I need, need me to need them?  Does my husband need me to laugh at his jokes?  Does Rebecca need me to appreciate the CTX because she needs to help her community?  Do the kids I work with need someone to see them with hope rather than despair?  Does my boss need to support me so his mission can be successful?

Perhaps it is not a weakness to have individual needs and desires.  Perhaps the secret strength of our community rests in the ubiquitous and inter-related nature of our needs.  When I need you, I am weak.  When we both need each other equally, we are unstoppable.

Links Hall performance with CTX member Lara Oppenheimer

For those of you who haven’t met Lara, she is one of the co-directors of the Chicago Time Exchange. She is wrapping up a LinkUp artist residency at Links Hall which is one of the CTX’s organizational partners.

This weekend, March 28th-30th, please come see her performance called “The Space in Between Us,” which is an intelligent and creative look into artist practice, storytelling, community, and social practice.

“Storytelling, lecture, balloons, and a golden ball traverse the territory of pleasure and fear between the kitchen and pond, frog and princess, utopia and apocalypse. Created and performed by Lara Oppenheimer, Marie Casimir, Jessica Marasa and Lindsay Hopkins, “The Space Between Us” explores intimacy, economy and ecology through the lens of a fairy tale and the question of how we name home.

Lara’s LinkUp residency is an investigation into the ways an alternative economy can support artistic work and vice versa. Throughout the residency, members of the community were invited to share skills and offer artistic support, being paid in time credits through the Chicago Time Exchange. http://www.chicagotimeexchange.com”;

CTX members can pay for the performance in Time Dollars by logging into the Chicago Time Exchange website and clicking here (offers tab).

Learn more and RSVP for the performance HERE.

A Member’s Take

Post by guest blogger and CTX member Maggie M.

When I first heard of CTX I felt incredible gratitude. Who knew that this radical, generous, open-minded tribe was organized in Chicago and available to me! Inspired by the prospect of soulfully expanding my community whilst decreasing my dependence on capitalism, I jumped in and signed up for an account.

However, my initial enthusiasm for CTX got swallowed up by my very busy life, and though I’d signed up with lofty intentions, I did nothing with the account.  I did nothing for so long that when I went to log in the other day I couldn’t recall my password.  Yikes.  I felt as if I’d spent a fortune on shoes I never wore, RSVP’d yes to an event and didn’t go, and begged for a toy I never played with.  But after I got over my embarrassment I realized that I hadn’t hopped on CTX in a while because I doubted I would have something someone wanted, or that I could actually get needs met by a group of strangers.  Lucky for me, I was about to have my mind blown.

I logged on and had tons of Time Dollars to exchange.  I’d been accruing them for doing things that, frankly, I wanted to do anyway, like talking to friends about their stunning, juicy art and setting up for parties and events where I had a blast.  But I never really thought I would use the Time Dollars….until I saw the offer for tickets to “The Space Between Us”–a clever, playful and complex show playing at Links Hall March 28, 29 and 30.  I was stoked and “bought” myself a ticket!  And since I was so Time Rich I got tickets for my friends!  I love that Time Dollars empower me to be generous.  I wanted to snatch up all the tickets because I know the people making it and it’s going to be great, but in my newfound generosity I refrained:  I left tickets for you so you can come out and meet me there!  Get on it!

Now, of course it felt great to “buy” tickets and receive from the CTX, but what could I possibly offer?  I’d earned Time Dollars for collaborating with a friend who was already on CTX, but I didn’t think I’d have anything to offer a total stranger.  I assumed that everything folk needed would be out of my realm of helpability….until I read one, wonderful little word—Kombucha!  Kombucha is a scrumptious, fortifying, mystical, miracle beverage made of fermented sweet tea, and it is one of my very favorite things to talk about, make and drink.  Someone on CTX was requesting help with this seemingly obscure thing of which I have an abundance of supplies, knowledge and enthusiasm!  Wow—this CTX thing is making sense to me now.

Even if you haven’t been active on here in a while, or if you are new to CTX, I urge you to check out the offers and requests of our community!  Folks are asking for all sorts of intriguing things like clothing alterations, help with writing, conversations in Spanish and musical accompaniment.  Folks are also offering wild stuff—theater tickets, book-keeping, music lessons, energy work.  I am so totally impressed with this community and am thrilled that I jumped back in!

Thanks for your patience with me, CTX!  My next adventure is to post an offer and make a request.  Maybe you will do the same?  Asking and offering are simple acts with infinite potential.  Check back soon and I’ll let you know what miracles and alchemy my adventures bring.  Maybe it will be you!

Free Screening of Urban Roots and Sacred Village Skill Share

Come join us THIS Sat 3/1 at the Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab

for a FREE screening of “Urban Roots” at 2pm and Sacred Village Skill Share starting around 430pm

Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab

4445 South King Drive, 2nd Floor

(Side Entrance on North Parking Lot)

Chicago, Illinois 60653

773.891.1967 or 312.869.9546

ONE EARTH FILM FESTIVAL & Sacred Keepers Present

Urban Roots Documentary & Film Discussion
Saturday, March 1st, 2pm

Following the Film: Sacred Village Skill Share at 4:3opm

Whether you have skills to share or want to learn something new, you are invited to the Sacred Village Skill Share following the film. Along with the Chicago Time Exchange, we will open the village to a variety of skills rooted in our community of guests. Participants will have the opportunity to join our circle to offer and receive in this sacred economy.

Wondering if you have anything to share?? Well it’s a POTLUCK, so start there with a delicious and healthy (if possible) dish!

Here are some details to help you discover your personal wealth:

Cost: You and some friends (aka Free!)
Bring: BYO non-alcoholic drinks and yummy food to share!
Come ready to Share around these topics:
1) FOOD! (growing, preparing, eating, throwing)
2) Healing
3) Stories
4) Art
5) Music
6) Saving humanity

Some of our friends will there to kick off the fun with their magic powers, we’ll let you fill in the rest. Read your freshest poetry! Sing your newest song! Teach us how to tie knots! Share your skills in tarot or astrology! The possibilities are ENDLESS…

You are GUARANTEED to meet one new interesting person, learn one new thing and laugh at least one time, open-mouthed with astonishment and delight.

Questions? Inspirations? Want to help out and get time credits on the Chicago Time Exchange?

Contact Seneca: senecak@gmail.com

Please RSVP NOW on our facebook invite and share with friends!
Sacred Keepers is a Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to teaching youth to inherit the earth through environmental STEM education, sustainable service learning initiatives and youth-driven social philanthropy.
The Chicago Time Exchange is working to strengthen and build existing community and organization networks through the power of time banking! Come learn, share and experience the benefits of alternative local economies with us!

Fight the polar vortex and winter blues with HYGGE!!


On the saddest day of the year, Links Hall and the Chicago Time Exchange will bring the happy back with a Happy Happy HYGGE Party!!

Friday, January 31

7 pm- midnight:)

Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave

Free! (like the love in your heart:)

Community + Potluck + Talent show/Skillshare + little twinkling lights = HYGGE! (say hyoo-gah)

7-8pm:  Open mic sign up, potluck, skill share tables rocking it.

8pm on: 2 or 3 open mic sets (45 min each) with time in between to eat, drink, meet friends old and new, play chess, sew things, program music boxes with paper scores and do acro-yoga if we’re lucky:)

The six things that make us happiest:

1)      Intimacy/making love

2)      Sports/running/exercise

3)      Theatre/dance/concert

4)      Singing/performing

5)      Exhibition/museum/library

6)      Hobbies/arts/crafts

Come share what you’ve got for #2-6.

(You are on your own for #1 but who knows, you may meet a friend:)

Read your freshest poetry! Sing your newest song!  Teach us how to tie knots! Share your skills in tarot or astrology!  The possibilities are ENDLESS… and you are GUARANTEED to meet one new interesting person, learn one new thing and laugh at least one time, open-mouthed with astonishment and delight.

Questions? Inspirations?  What to help out and get time credits on the Chicago Time Exchange? Contact Lara: laraoppenheimer (at) gmail.com.

CTX Member Julia Antonick presents “cresset: vibrant, rusting”


One of the CTX’s most active members, choreographer Julia Rae Antonick and Khecari Dance presents “cresset: vibrant, rusting”, a new contemporary dance work exploring meticulous movement embedded in a land of decay’s fruition. 

CTX members, Julia is offering 5 tickets to the December 6th show in exchange for time credits!  Check out her offer here!!!

Khecari invites you to enter into a world of magnetic viscera and dislodged niches holding performers whose movements grasp at vitality in the midst of cycles of lethargy and mania, departmentalization and yearning and ultimately an energetic outpouring in the face of inevitability. 

Antonick collides Balinese and contemporary dance to explore repetition and filigree, and uses the environmental confines to develop a unique new movement vocabulary derived from improvisations of composted life and the fortification of newness accompanied by an original score from Joe St. Charles using reel to reel and percussion. Lighting and construction design by Jonathan Meyer and performed by Maggie Koller, Danielle Hammer, Jordan Reinwald with Joan Chih Hsien Lin, Amanda Timm and Angelica Palomo. Costumes by Jessie and Julia Antonick.

November 22nd, 30th
December 6th, 13th & 14th
at Revere – 2509 W. Irving Park

8pm – doors open at 7:15pm
(no late seating)

$25 General Admission
$15 Low-Income


Open Admin Meeting: Wednesday, November 13

You are hereby invited to the first bi-weekly Chicago TimeExchange open administrative meeting. (From now on, these working meetings will happen every other Wednesday at the same location.)

When + where
This Wednesday, November 13
6-8pm (we will start on time!)
The Civic Lab
114 N. Aberdeen
What to expect on the agenda:
  • Brief history of the Chicago Time Exchange
  • CTX mission statement (work in progress!)
  • Inspiring models: BACECatarseSwarmWise, working for the MAN
  • Collaborative brainstorming of possible/real needs for administrating the growing CTX network
  • Working groups based on each of our offers to meet different categories of needs (e.g. outreach/hosting, structure/roles, software + other tech)
Come on down if you…
  • Have questions about the CTX
  • Are an active member of the CTX and would like to help grow the network by hosting, managing, consulting, or otherwise working for the CTX
  • Are part of an organization or project that would like to collaborate with the CTX
  • Have already created tools that would benefit the CTX (resource maps, organizing toolkits, cooperative/nonprofit bylaws)
  • Are a skilled organizer and want to earn time dollars!
  • Want to have input on how to structure / run a timebank
  • Have the time!
Before you come, please…
  • Think about your gifts within the context of the CTX
  • Sign up on the CTX (above!) if you haven’t already
  • Prepare your tools!
  • Make a snack to bring and share
All participants will be paid in time dollars by the CTX’s organizational account. Please invite anybody you know who would like to put their skills to work at the CTX.
We look forward to seeing you! Best wishes,
Isaac, Jami, and Lara