Builders Workshop #22: Making Front Yard Gardens

photo 3We had a great workshop Wednesday! Very informal and very fruitful.

The topic was Making Front Yard Gardens. TimeBank member Christopher Daly offered to create a Front Yard Garden project so we co-led yesterday’s workshop, along with Mary Girard (DCTB Board member) who had organized our previous Garden Projects.

We had around 20 participants representing a wide range of organizations and interest areas.

After introducing ourselves and why we were there, we established our common goals, then did some asset and need mapping. We identified needed roles and functions and made a timeline for the season.

I’ll summarize here:

We started by establishing goals. I’ll list a few highlights here and you can also see them on the whiteboard photo, written in green: Healthy food, sharing food, spreading the joy of gardening, let gardening-haters avoid the misery of gardening, smart food distribution, spaces to swap and share, container gardening, seed and plant exchange, and environmental restoration.

We created the expanded title “Front Yard Gardens: Gardens Everywhere for Everyone”

Then we established a timeline of activities.

First, photo 1we will meet as a small group to create our outreach materials. One to invite individuals to participate by offering land, gardening, other project help, and also to invite them to ShareFest in mid-May, which will be the kick-off of the project. Other materials we will create will be invitations for organizations to partner on the project.

We will spend April doing outreach and preparing, kick off the project publicly at ShareFest in mid-May, hold seed and plant swaps and have crews dig and plant in May and June, hold food swaps and dinners in July and August, host a canning workshop (or more) in September, and have a big harvest party as part of the Dane County TimeBank’s 10th birthday party in October! Whew! This will be a really cool project.

The next Builders Workshop, Wednesday April 22 from 4-6pm at Madison Central Library, will be the next big work and planning session for this. Please come if you’re interested in this! Front Yard Gardens part II.

Yes, Spring is really coming.

Thanks for reading,


Builders Workshop #21: Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams

photo 1On Wednesday Feb. 25 we hosted a Builders Workshop on creating Neighbor-to-Neighbor (N2N) Care Teams. We had a special guest – Kathy Perlow, creator and implementer of the Lehigh Valley Time Exchange, a hospital-based timebank in Pennsylvania. There Kathy piloted N2N Care Teams around hospital patients who needed a hand. Kathy has recently retired and will be creating an even more robust model, based in a health center and in the form of a Mutual Aid Network. She came to Madison to share what she learned and help us create our own system tailored to our local needs.

What is a N2N Care Team?

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams are simply a more structured, neighborhood-based way to coordinate timebank services. A local N2N Care Team might choose to focus on a few basic services, like transportation,photo 2 home chores, companionship, and food/medicine pick-up. The Care Team Coordinator/s (it can be one person per neighborhood or a whole team, with one person per service type) is responsible for paying attention to who offers a certain service and who needs that service, and helps to connect people appropriately. The Coordinator also takes responsibility for identifying gaps and recruiting people to fill them. In addition, the Coordinator may provide back-up when no other timebank service provider is available.

We decided to form at least three N2N Care Teams, based around people or groups who have interest and need. Ryan suggested his apartment complex in South Madison, where we happen to have another member who could use a hand after breaking a bone. We’re forming another care photo 3team in Sun Prairie, where we have our Capacity Building Initiative working with families and community members with and without disabilities to create more networks of mutual support and engagement. And another around our efforts in central Madison, working to support people who are homeless.

You can read details in the notes from the workshop here.

photo 5The next evening Kathy joined me as we introduced our next steps in building N2N Care Teams in Sunphoto 2-1 Prairie. We have a follow-up next week and will share the steps we take to get started, just in case you’d like to make one in your own community.

Thanks for reading,


Great articles on us, out now! Huffpo and RSF Social Finance

Dane County TimeBank's Annual MeetingYes, I’m posting a lot but this one’s brief.

We’re very happy with these new articles telling the world what we’re all about. And stay tuned for another Huffington Post within the month, on Mutual Aid Networks.

Please pass them on!

Madison MAN pilot brainstorming meeting – summary and notes


As I mentioned in my last post, this is a big week jam-packed with events to take advantage of the presence of the fabulous Kathy Perlow, founder of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Team model of timebanking that we’re starting to adopt here.

So my reports for each event might be a little bit cursory, because I’m trying to get them all done before I take a much-needed mini-vacation (Sat to Wed, so leave me alone! ;)

This is the report from the meeting I was most excited about, a brainstorm about how we could MAN up in a very cool way right in my own neighborhood!

We met at the Social Justice Center (SJC),  the collaboratively-run home of several non-profits (including Dane County Timebank). It’s two blocks from my house, and the former site of the great Willy Street Coop (which moved across the street when they needed to expand).

The building has been undergoing some turnover and there are a few vacancies that make it a great time to revisit how we use the space.
Could be a great opportunity to MAN up in some interesting ways…

We began a few threads of discussion, including:

How we can change the space (even without any changes in ownership structure) to make it more publicly used

How we could create a MAN cooperative with savings/investment pools that can be used for collective reserves, admin costs, etc for the partner organizations of SJC

How we could engage the community in the development of new visions for the space

How we might partner with other Madison neighborhoods (Allied Community Coop as an obvious choice if they want to, possibly Darbo neighborhood which is nearby and looking into similar organizing efforts)..

The room was full of very interesting people – you can read the notes here to see who was represented and more detail about what we discussed.

Also, I’m attaching a picture of the whiteboard where I took notes (a mess as usual) – the green items are assets at our disposal, the red are needs. Like I said, a mess.SJC-MANwhiteboard

Today I’ll speak with the rest of the SJC Board to see what our next steps will be as an organization.

And right now is the lovely golden hour when all possibilities are open…

More on the rest of the week’s events in other posts.
Thanks for reading!

Upcoming week – Mutual Aid Network and TimeBank Care Team workshops


In my last post I mentioned we have a big week coming up.

That’s because Kathy Perlow is coming to visit us!

From Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania, Kathy is the developer of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor (N2N) Care Team model of timebanking. Kathy has recently retired from a 13-year career developing and running an award-winning hospital-based timebank that connects patients and their families with other community members who can reliably contribute to their network of informal support and care. Now she is beginning a project to develop a community-based timebank and wellness cooperative (MAN) to take that model even further.

Kathy will be in Madison to train DCTB staff and community members how to start and run Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams. We will also work together to explore how to take health and wellness-oriented timebanking to a new level of effectiveness.

On Tuesday we have two brainstorming sessions with potential pilot project organizers and supporters here in Madison.

Wednesday we’ll run a Builders Workshop on how to create Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care teams, and how to build more impactful systems with Mutual Aid Networks. This one you can join online if you like, on the web meeting we use for Mutual Aid Network gatherings. Email steph[at] if you’d like the access information to join.

Thursday Kathy will train the families in our Sun Prairie Capacity Building Initiative (engaging people with disabilities and their families in networks of community support), to create our first N2N Care Team in and for their community.

Looking forward to working with Kathy and other partners around the world to take all this to the next level.

Feel free to join us if you’re able!


MAN weeks in review – local + global


Things are cranking here with Mutual Aid Network development and Dane County TimeBank.

Over the last couple weeks we have held several Main MAN work group meetings and a board meeting and have created our road map toward opening for membership by mid-April. The Main MAN is the Mutual Aid Network Cooperative we have incorporated here in Wisconsin (so it’s officially the WI-MAN) to be the global umbrella coop for the various MAN projects and supporters. Stay tuned to learn how you can join this Spring…

The Allied Community Coop, first local Mutual Aid Network prototype (I’m a board member representing DCTB, with 9 neighborhood residents and organization reps) is also cranking up. Our first order of business is to respond to the food access emergency in the neighborhood. The city is awarding $15K for transportation relief and we’re applying for that and other funds. And we are receiving between $15 and $20K from a grant that the Capital Area Regional Plan Commission wrote us into, so we’re getting ready to move a little faster. Today is another of our monthly Town Hall meetings to organize all this work.

And we were graced here in Madison with a visit from the wonderful Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation. Michel Bauwens is now the newest esteemed member of the Main MAN Advisory Board! And he also helped us make some excellent new connections with other cooperative economy-builders, including Erik Olin Wright who’s right here at UW (it’s a big school, so although we work closely with a couple faculty there are big parts of the University we tend not to have contact with). One highlight for me was when Michel asked Preston Austin (my founding partner in Time For the World, now helping as a consultant) if he knew about Michel’s work, and Preston said something like “I consider you the curator of Western civilization.” (not sure if I got the quote totally accurate but that was the gist, and it made me smile)

And exciting stuff coming up next week! I’ll make a separate post so you don’t miss any of it…

Thanks for reading

Builders Workshop #20: Mutual Aid in Dane County and Beyond

photo 4We held a Builders Workshop, the 20th in our 2 year (nearly-) monthly work and learn series, last Wed. January 28. The title was “Mutual Aid in Dane County and Beyond” and the focus was on how work in and around Dane County TimeBank is coalescing in ways that make us ripe to go granular, with Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams helping to create more neighborhood-based systems of coordinated mutual aid, helping timebanking to fulfill its potential as part of a system of informal care and support. And the conditions in Dane County seem ripe for MANs to emerge out of several of these projects.

I began by presenting these slides to demonstrate the new developments here – including our partnership in the Brighter Futures, Early Intervention Program, and Homelessness Restorative Court Restorative Justice initiatives. Plus Allied Community Coop, our Capacity Building Care Team project in Sun Prairie, our medical transportation project, the time and talents of our wonderful DCTB members, and a host of current and potential partners. photo 5 We discussed examples of connections already being made and then brainstormed new connections. We saw how N2N Care Teams could help current systems to flow better and also how forming Mutual Aid Networks could help to boost a few projects into new levels of effectiveness. An example of the latter – a group of people using timebanking to provide preventive wellness services to one another may now choose to form a MAN, under which they could create a savings pool where the money they save together can be available to members for their health insurance deductibles, clinical care, and other expenses not covered by insurance. This is an example of how a MAN can increase the resources available to a group. The group would have template agreements and help with governance and decision-making processes from the Main MAN umbrella cooperative.

The next steps for workshop follow-up are: Stephanie is sending an email with these notes, plus an invitation to the February 25 Builders Workshop where Kathy Perlow will present N2N Care Teams and the possibilities for her own health-focused MAN project in Pennsylvania, and how we can learn from each other as we develop similar projects. We’ll also invite participants into DCTB, its Front Yard Garden Project, the MAN email list, and MAN working groups.

Notes are here. And you can see the rough ideas discussed on the white board notes below.

photo 1













As always, thanks for reading.

Take care,



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