Notes on the December Potluck by Julie Pilat

Once or twice a season I get goose bumps when the spirit of the holidays hits me over the head. Sometimes it happens while watching a Christmas movie or talking to families about memories from the past. Giving vs. receiving always warms a winter night as does the kindness of strangers. This year it was the talent of strangers at The Echo Park Time Bank that caught me off guard at our December 13th Holiday Potluck.

Aside from hitting a Dodgers game I’d never explored anywhere near “Stadium Way.” That's where we met up in a cozy cottage, Williams Hall, at Barlow Hospital. Every month the time bank potluck themes vary. Just as random as the menu are the activities at events. Talent was the main theme as Time Bankers offered homemade gifts for last minute shopping and performers got ready for the show. Time Bank co-founders Lisa & Autumn mingled amongst the guests. Carrie circled the potluck table reminding everyone how great it would be if they brought their own plate for the next potluck so we didn’t have to use paper. I also ran into my former square dance partner (Fall Time Bank event) Howard Seth Cohen who was acting as the evening’s M.C.

As I shopped I checked out Michael Jacob Rochlin’s nine books he’d written that were all L.A. Centric. I picked up “Silverlake Seige” which was endorsed by the infamous “Walking Man” who’s often seen at The Reservoir. Gretchen set up shop selling her necklaces and also gorgeous wraps from Orchid who was at another event. Another perk to being in the time bank – if you make jewelry, gift cards, toys or other crafts you can join the new Artisan Cooperative. Earn extra cash while helping out the time bank. If you’re not too crafty you can also earn time dollars for helping sell for others at local Farmer’s Markets.

When the talent portion of the program began one of our neighbors Brit Manor stepped up to share a song, as casually as you would share a cup of coffee. As she belted out “The Christmas Song” the holiday goose bumps set in. Our resident Time Banker sounded like Vanessa Williams meets Alicia Keys putting sole into every note! She was followed by an original and entertaining duo – ½ singer songwriter, ½ puppet show. They performed a quirky track called “Inner Species.” The last act I saw was The Fort Kings who performed a ballad. It was a love song with a few yoga references. At the end they announced they would perform another track. Our MC, Howard Seth Cohen, grinned and answered back on the mic “That would be lovely. Maybe then another 5 people would leave the party.” As Autumn quickly made her way to kick him in the shin for not being nice enough to our neighbors I waved goodbye & Happy New Year while fulfilling his prophecy…. I dashed out of the room as song two got started in on their encore. See you in January!

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