A time bank is a trading system in which hours of work become the currency, as service hours of one skillset are exchanged for another.
Meet Woodstock Timebank, Inc., a nonprofit with life-changing initiatives. Its business model is designed to help prepare vulnerable populations for a post-carbon, climate-changed future. The organization provides a framework of interrelated projects focused on food and water access, plant medicine, and mental and emotional skill building that engage displaced refugees, the underserved, and immigrant groups in a time bank community.
This story has its roots in social transformation programs built by Pamela Boyce Simms, a native of Woodstock, N.Y. She has been working with plant medicine and prescribed herbal products for most of her life. Singularity Botanicals, launched in Swarthmore in 2019 as a division within the Woodstock Timebank Inc. Constellation of Projects, promotes selfcare with medicinal plants and education to help transition anxiety, depression, panic, and chronic stress into a state of calm, joy, mental clarity, and gratitude.
The Path to Success
“It takes a while to build trust with a community,” said Boyce Simms. “Getting people to understand these plant-based medicines, how we make them, and how they are a natural connection to our earth takes time.”
After a year seeding the concept and sampling these supplies in Chester, a launch took place in February 2019 over a three-day period. The community was invited to focus groups where the brand team explained how the program would be introduced. Sample teas and tinctures were served, and feedback was gathered. The new products were a big hit, available with a monthly membership including herbal packages or bundles and community education. The team was delighted with donations raised on the first day. Conversations with clients supported that their experience with these all-natural plant medicine supplies provided “such clarity of thought.” The benefits were clearly recognized and needed.
Donations directly support accessibility of plant medicine in Chester and other economically depressed areas. The goals of Singularity Botanicals are to increase control over the treatment of illnesses, to localize plant medicine production in times of climate disruption, and to build and grow a cottage industry that promotes self-healing and self-transformation.
Chester residents are now growing their own plant medicines and reclaiming their right to selfcare. People of color experience heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and lead contamination at exponentially higher rates than the mainstream population. Singularity Botanicals growers work beside communities in Chester to cultivate and harvest plant medicines that treat these health conditions prevalent in populations affected by prolonged stress, poverty-induced diets, and longstanding systemic health disparities.
How SCORE Helped
Boyce Simms originally came to SCORE in September 2019 for help with QuickBooks, an accounting software package. After the first meeting, she decided to involve SCORE mentor Bill Pearce in the further development of her branding and marketing strategy. The two started working together on the plan for the Singularity Botanicals introductory trial in Chester.
Pearce’s openness, curiosity, and deep interest in Boyce Simms’s perspective helped her to sort out what could work for this new business and reach her own decisions. She especially valued how “Bill brought his expertise to bear over time, while he speaks to you in the moment.” Pamela appreciated that they spent their working sessions focused on getting the important work done and not on the formulaic approach of checking boxes or dwelling on complex matrices. She recalls her first impressions of her SCORE mentor as “extremely accessible, personable, down to earth.”
Boyce Simms also worked with Mike DiLeo and Dave Turner, SCORE mentors with nonprofit experience, who provided important advice on the requirements for a nonprofit, the role of an advisory board, and intellectual property management.
Chester is now the operational center for Singularity Botanicals. The project supports farming, education, and medicinal herb distribution free of charge to Chester residents.
As is the intent of the Woodstock Timebank, the projects work in harmony.
Boyce Simms will share her success story and be honored by SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties at its virtual awards celebration on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 12 PM. Click here to register.
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