New Economy Week MAN presentation/discussion online

Hello again NEW

This is a quick one, just to share the link to the lovely conversation I had with Stella Strega-Scoz yesterday as part of New Economy Week.

Here’s the video.

Here’s a little more background on the session, and links to more context and more sessions.

That’s all on this topic. Now I’ll be writing updates on the Allied Community Coop – getting really fun and exciting – and then prepare for my trip to Mallorca and UK, where I’ll learn more and make more progress on Mutual Aid Netoworks.

Please stay tuned…

Thanks for paying attention,


Tomorrow! MANs web discussion for New Economy Week

hi again

this is just a quick one to let you know that the wonderful Stella Strega-Scoz (Integral Permaculture teacher from the Canary Islands) has asked me to be her guest for New Economy Week, as part of a series. It happens on google+ hangout, and you can find more information here:

I’ll be telling my personal story of the journey that led to MANs, how and why. So hopefully you’ll learn what they are all about, but in the context of the needs and experiences that led me there.

Tune in!

Builders Workshops #18 and 19: Cooperating on issues of housing and homelessness



This post is a bit overdue, simply because there’s so much exciting yet time-consuming work to do on the ground that I’m having a hard time getting to the reporting-about-it part.

So… the last two Builders’ Workshops:

BW #18 was about project facilitation, and we just kept it low-key, only promoting it to people who have expressed interest in using Game_Boardtimebanking to help create and facilitate projects. We played our Build a Better World Board Game to see if it would be helpful in conceiving of how to connect people, assets and needs in order to work toward a common goal, and also to see how we can improve the game.

Chris Daly, who is starting a Front Yard Garden project here (yeehaw! we’ve wanted that for a long time), Garrett Lee who’s working on a lot of homelessness issues in a variety of ways, including as DCTB board member and founder of his own organization WHY, Chris Petit, MAN Co-Coordinator, Kristin Sage, Wellness + Transportation Coordinator, and I played the game and talked about it after.

It’s easy to see ways to improve upon this game and we identified some more at our session, but it’ll be awhile before we have capacity to focus on that. So if you want to check it out and improve it yourself, have at it! Just share it back with us please. All the files are here.

We did learn about each other, gain some perspectives on assets and needs, work through some problem-solving questions. And some of the changes we want to make are: add a little more complexity or depth to some of the activities that we over-simplified in earlier revisions, revise the formatting to make it easy on the print shop, make some different activities, roles, or barriers, adapt it to different types of circumstances, make clearer instructions, create different sets of instructions for different purposes, etc. In case you feel inspired to do a little improving, or pass it on to someone who might… :)

Builders Workshop #19 was part II of Cooperating to better address housing and homelessness issues (I guess we never did give it a proper catchy title) and it was really rich.

We had a good variety of participants, some new and some repeat customers photo 1 from Part I. Wonderful variety of viewpoints, with people from Briarpatch Youth Services, Operation Welcome Home, Occupy Madison/Tiny Homes, Freedom Inc., Dane County Department of Human Services, Homeless Services Consortium, WHY, Road Home, 100 State, 100 Friends of the State Street Family, Front Yard Gardens, Homeless Services, Dane County TimeBank (as usual), and some people currently or recently experiencing homelessness.

We began by recapping the ideas that surfaced at Part I. Then we accepted new ideas, and mapped assets and needs for carrying them out – many of which overlapped among the action priorities.

These action step ideas are:

  1. Homelessness Peer Court. Madison Judge Dan Koval is working with DCTB, YWCA, Freedom Inc, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Bethel Lutheran Church and many others to create a pilot project in which people who have accrued a lot of municipal ordinance violation tickets can pay them off through carrying out agreements made in peer restorative justice circles. These agreements can include performing community service (ideally tailored to the person’s interests or needs) and/or engaging in programs that can alleviate root causes of the person’s homelessness (AODA support, mental health support, informal peer support, skill-building, etc). Ron and Marcus offered to participate in peer restorative justice circles.
  2. Street clean-up teams. With some supervision coordination, we could create street clean-up teams of people who would be paid timebank hours for street clean-up and could use the hours for transportation help, to pay off municipal ordinance tickets, obtain other timebank services. Ron of Briarpatch Youth Services offered this idea.
  3. Front Yard Gardens. Christopher Daly is spearheading a project to organize a neighborhood to plant and harvest gardens in unused yard space, in a collaborative way. There are many ways we can engage people with and without homes in this project.
  4. Transportation Team for State St. area and homelessness services. Transportation needs are high when you don’t have a place to live, with needed services often scattered around the county, overall lack of public transportation and cost of public transportation all serving as barriers. We aim to create some coordinated transportation to help people get to their destinations. People will earn timebank hours to drive and we can coordinate a pool of qualified, careful drivers. William and Eric offered to help coordinate or find coordinating capacity.

Rather than describe the asset and need mapping we did I’ll just include a photo of the whiteboard where we did it. You can see how we wrote the photo 3action item’s number by the various assets and needs, since many tended to overlap.

We’ll follow up with each project on its own until people next feel a need to convene everyone. Next builders’ workshop will move on to…

Builders Workshop #20: MANs in Madison. What’s the potential?

Date and Time 3rd week of November, TBD (scheduling poll here – don’t be shy about filling it in if you want to attend and this is the first you’ve heard of it – you’re very welcome)

This will be an in-depth discussion of Mutual Aid Networks, geared toward leaders of projects that may be ripe to become mutual aid networks here in town. I’ll be reporting back from my upcoming trip to Mallorca, Spain and the UK, where I’ll learn a lot more about cooperative banking/savings pools, will connect with some new partners in building MAN infrastructure, and spend time with more MAN potential pilot sites and members. Very exciting!

More to come soon….

Thanks for reading,


The Allied Coop is real!


a man is born

photo 3The Allied Community Coop is now official! We filed our Articles of photo 1-11Incorporation and appointed an interim Board in August. August 23 we held our kickoff Taste of Allied event, wearing and distributing our brand new t-shirts that we were able to design together and purchase through a city Placemaking grant. The party was really fun! We pulled through some adverse circumstances, including pouring rain, to have a really cool day together. In the morning people helped paint a mural on the street, we grilled out, signed up Coop members, tried on shirts. When the rain came down we moved into the Boys and Girls Club aphoto 2-1nd photo 4-1Juanita and photo 4her family and friends served everyonephoto 1-1 amazing tacos! Deacon Tony from Second Baptist Church gave backpacks with school photo 3-1supplies to the kids. It was super sweet.

photo 1-1photo 2-1

On September 13 we brought Christina Foster, and Art of Hosting practitioner, to present at the Mayor’s Neighborhood Conference and then to do a workshop with Allied Coop leaders. That was very rich and very helpful. We had 10 people learning how to host circles and world cafe, and focused on the 12 Principles to Support a Healthy Community. This will prepare us for developing capacity and leadership to facilitate problem-solving and project facilitation in the Coop and the neighborhood.

photo 5 photo 4Yesterday we had our first Coop membership meeting, where we formally adopted our bylaws and elected our Board. I’m one of 11 members, as a representative of the Dane County TimeBank. Our bylaws require matching numbers of residents and organization reps, numbering 3-5 of each, plus one at-large member. I’m one of three Board members who don’t live in the neighborhood. The other organization reps are Sina Davis (Mothers in the Neighborhood), Selena Pettigrew (Allied-Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association), Gloria Menadier-Farr (Nehemiah), and WillieMae Conklin (Allied Wellness Center). The residents are Cassandra Sonko, Minnie Rogers, John Murphy, Alice Howard and Janie Tompkins. The nominated in absentia member at-large is Juanita Bushert (the wonderful person who brought tacos to the party!), who has been very helpful in connecting the Coop more into the Latino community.

First order of business – respond to the fact that the neighborhood has had no grocery store for five years, plus now the Walgreen’s where people get their food (yes, not a good source of healthy food) and medicine is set to close in December. We’ll host a town hall meeting October 17 and also get out to City Council meetings to advocate for city support of coop activities, including exploration of a neighborhood Coop grocery and neighborhood center. Wish us luck! Better yet, support us with time, energy or money!

Oh, and I did mention ‘a man is born’ – because the Allied Community Coop (ACC) is the first iteration of a mutual aid network as I conceive of it. Because we (ACC) haven’t officially decided to become a member of the Main MAN (and membership in it doesn’t yet exist but will soon!) it’s a lower-case man — designed in a way to connect savings pools, timebanking, and other forms of sharing and exchange to build community wealth, interdependence, and self-sufficiency.

So that’s where we are. I’m slowly posting meeting notes and bylaws on the project page at build.

Exciting times! Help us see what we can do.

A Fruitful and Magical Trip: Leadership Retreat, Global Exchange Gathering

photo 2 From July 27 – August 3 I had the immense pleasure of going to the east coast to be with people who have been working on cooperative economy stuff, especially timebanking, in order to pull together to become more effective at building a caring economy. It was wonderful! Hard to express the deep nourishment I got from these gatherings, but I’ll try…

There is a lot to report here! So I’ll try to point to detailed notes in other places, so the casual reader doesn’t need to plough through them but the more curious or work-oriented reader can find them.

In order to have context for the leadership retreat, you need to know a little bit about the Knit a Network project. There are some meeting notes and initial overview here, but in a nutshell –

Knit a Network is/was an informally- and voluntarily- loosely-affiliated group of people who wish to build a sharing economy and do good work. We have come together across affiliations and other boundaries to use the tools and principles we espouse in order to build more sustainability and interdependence within and among our own efforts.

Knit a Network began in September 2012 with a 90-day challenge to identify and take responsibility for the functions necessary to sustain timebanks and other similar systems. Our network began mostly with timebanks in the United States but has also included people from other countries and other parts of the cooperative economy movement.

Work continued well beyond the 90 days, as we had expected it would. After a break where work continued slowly and in spurts (mostly collecting and sorting documents for our Knowledge Commons), we launched another 90 day challenge to wrap up the work that began in September 2012 and create visible, publicly accessible results of our work.

During the 90-day Wrap-up challenge we decided to hold a leadership retreat where we could be together in person to wrap things up and create longer-term plans and structures for ongoing stewardship of the work we’d created and 3

photo 5Kathy Perlow (leader of Lehigh Valley Time Exchange in PA) generously offered the use of her beach house in Westbrook Connecticut, which was the perfect setting! Here’s the video the wonderful Edge Brussel created in advance of the retreat.

And we had amazing wonderful people from all over, together for 3 whole days: Kathy Perlow (and Pete too!), Chris Petit, Matthew Slater, Greg Bloom, Tim Dalton, Marie Goodwin, Martin Simon, Becky Booth, Edgar Cahn, Abby Greer, Eric Bachman, Chris Gray, Stacey Jacobsohn, Edge Brussel, Christian Smith, and Scott Morris.

The first day of our leadership retreat, 7.28, we focused on the Knowledge Commons/ Timebanking Toolkit. Some background: Over the decades timebank leaders, creators, thinkers, organizers, etc have been creating materials, proposals, articles – all of which can be veryphoto 1-1 helpful for new timebanks or people looking to develop or strengthen their own initiatives. Assembling this vast quantity of useful stuff and finding a good home for it are harder than you might think! But the Knit a Network team was able to make a lot of progress.

We found a good starter home for what we now call the Timebanking Toolkit – at the Community Currency Knowledge Gateway (to go live later this September) created by Community Currencies in Action, a project of the European Union. Here is where we will post and summarize what we currently have. We will also work to link to these resources from every group who’s interested, including TimeBanks USA and hOurworld who have already agreed to do so.

For the longer term we have a small team of forward-thinking techies and information management people who will build a database to house all these 4-1

On 7.29 we held a meeting to discuss: Legal, financial, social, educational relationships between and among local timebanks, regional support groups, national and international umbrellas.

This was a fruitful conversation, and detailed notes are here.

That evening we convened another group to learn about Savings Pools. We were joined by Phil Stevens and Peter Luiten from New Zealand, where their local economy groups are connecting timebanking and savings pools to great effect. We were also joined by Autumn Rooney, who helped start the revolving loan fund of the Arroyo SECO Timebanks. Notes from that meeting are here.

The third day of the leadership retreat we focused on creating short video skillshares. Edge Brussel and Christian Smith photo 5of MidMichigan TimeBank joined us to do the filming – thanks! We completed 9 shorts on the following topics: Learn from our mistakes! Plus – Facilitating effective meetings, engaging organizations, facilitating the yarn game, give and receive, member engagement, fundraising, software, and governance. The format was simple: several timebanking leaders with experience in the given area held a short conversation about it. These will be edited into ~ 5 minute videos to be shared on the Timebanking Toolkit and anywhere else they may be wanted and useful.

From the leadership retreat we headed to the Global Exchange Gathering in Providence, Rhode Island. The highlights here were too numerous, and my participation in them too partial, for me to detail them here. So I’ll include a link to the schedule, a couple of my personal highlights, and a few photos.

conference audience during panelThe panorama on the left is my view from the panel on which I sat. With awesome keynote from Scott Morris (video here), and great presentations by other panelists Linda Hogan, Len Krimerman, and Chuck Collins. And thanks again to the fantastic Edge Brussel we have video of my presentation. She’s responsible for all the other videos posted here, too.

The picture of the circle of people is our workshop on Mutual Aid Networks. It was really cool. Chris Petit and I presented this slide photo 5-1show. The discussion about possibilities was wildly exciting, and we met some people who want to start Mutual Aid Networks in Zambia. One is from Zambia and the other is the new coordinator of the Phoenixville PA TimeBank. They live in Phoenixville and have a business in Zambia too, and spend time there regularly. Simon Watts of TimeBanking Australia was there too, and Edgar Cahn of TimeBanks USA (and MAN Advisory Board member!). I don’t have detailed notes from this session because I was leading it and didn’t ask anyone to take notes. But left feeling really excited and energized by the great ideas from participants, and the likelihood that we’ll work together to make a lot of them reality!

And a big highlight of the conference, for me, was Matthew Slater’s Bright Spot segment where he completely spelled out the software landscape in timebanking in the USA, how it still needs a robust open source set of tools and community of informed contributors and users, and how we might get there. He made a lot of tough concepts clear to an audience not generally tech-oriented, and showed a way forward and a spirit of cooperation and collaboration that fit well with ongoing efforts to bring our different software worlds together. He actually got a bit of a standing ovation! And well-deserved. You can see the video 2-2

I had to leave before he spoke, but the wonderful Charles Eisenstein gave this keynote on the last day.

That concludes  my report on the Global Exchange Gathering. I’m sure you can find other comments by other participants if you look.

Thanks for reading!


Go Big and Go Home!




I have been recovering from a most splendid time at our leadership retreat, then global exchange gathering. These events mark an important milestone for me – the end of the Knit a Network project, which will be the last timebanking-only project I’ll be focusing on. Its end gives me an opportunity to transition into working toward Mutual Aid Network-style integration of various tools and platforms.

As I returned home from that trip I realized that it’s time to buckle down and get this MAN model really working here at home, while sharing with everyone I’ve been meeting who wants to try it where they are. I had the very pleasant realization that the choice isn’t “Go Big or Go Home” as I’d said before. It’s really Go Big and Go Home, and that makes me happy.

Very shortly (next post) I’ll report on what happened at the retreat and conference, but first I’ll give a couple quick important MAN updates, or the

In ‘Go Home’ news:

ACCmailToday I mailed the Articles of Incorporation for the first mutual aid network, the Allied Community Coop!! And AlliedCoop_t-shirtour kick-off party is next Saturday, August 23, 12-6 at Revival Ridge, Allied Dr. We’ll have t-shirts for the first 130 coop members. And we’ll custom screen-print the backs to say each person’s talent or potential contribution to the neighborhood and coop.

Here are some pictures of our interim board signing the Articles of Incorporation, and the notary from Summit Credit Union giving her stamp.

photo 4-9   photo 3-11photo 2-10

In ‘Go Big’ news,

We’ve also been inviting some wonderful people to join the Mutual Aid Network Advisory Board. Here’s the list of confirmations so far, because I find it so wildly exciting:

The Yes Men, Charles Eisenstein, Deborah Frieze, Vicki Robin, Edgar Cahn, and John Bloom.

We’ll be asking and adding more as we get a chance to talk with MAN pilot sites about their ideas. Stay tuned!

Enjoy your weekend,


MAN news from Madison, Chicago and St. Louis


There’s a lot of news on the Mutual Aid Network front (and in Dane County TimeBank, too, see these reports and Builders Workshops segment for more) these days… It’s hard for me to keep up with writing reports but so far, so good. Right now it’s helping that my flight to the Knit a Network leadership retreat is delayed, so I can catch up on other writing…

We’ll begin with news from Allied Community Coop – our first local MAN!

pwIIallied pwIIOur last couple Allied Community Coop meetings have been great and very productive. We appointed our interim Board of Directors, finalized our bylaws, and started planning for our August 23 kick-off event, Taste of Allied. We’ll file our Articles of Incorporation right after the conference in Providence. We’ll sign up Coop members at our kick-off event and invite them to our first official general membership meeting, sometime in September, where they’ll vote in the Board and bylaws and make it all official. Very exciting!

Notes from meetings, plus bylaws:

In the midst of all the cool Madison happenings, we continue to hit the road to visit other potential pilot sites. We hit two great ones the weekend of July 11-13.

First stop was Chicago where Chris Petit and Jami Becka had organized a meeting hosted at/by the Chicago Institute of Cultural Affairs.ICA_seva_graphic

This meeting was  very well attended and very well received. I left feeling like Chicago is very ripe to be a MAN pilot site! Participants included people from Chicago Time Exchange, Green Community Connections, and Interfaith organizations, coop and affordable housing activism, youth and sustainability, music and arts communities, and Institute of Cultural Affairs.

chicago_panoOne of my favorite reactions happened at this meeting. After we gave this presentation on the basics of Mutual Aid Networks, one of the people in attendance raised his hand and said ‘This seems kind of brilliant.” I love it! Even better if you could hear his actual inflection. Maybe I’ll ask him to make a video testimonial!

We’ll follow up with a larger meeting in late August or September. Exciting!

On the morning of June 12 we left bright and early (7:30am) to get to St. Louis in time for our first scheduled event, presenting about photo 2-8DCTB Youth Court at a meeting of the Coalition to Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex.This is a very dynamic group of people representing faith-based organizations, prison reform advocacy, community organizations and more. Or I should say MORE, Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment is a big player in this group and in timebanking and cooperative economy efforts in general.

It was great to hear what this group is doing, and to share our Youth Court model with them. And I need to mention how much I love the name of the coalition, very to-the-point.

Christ, Julia, and Montague

Chris, Julia, and Montague

photo 5-8Afterward we headed out to a block party hosted by the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS). Another really cool event, great group of   people. The block party was held outside the Rowan House, a historic venue that’s been host to activists since 1973, and to the OBS since the 1980s when they stepped in to fill the void left after COINTELPRO decimated the Black Panthers and others who had been working from the center.

A couple of the many cool aspects of this block party – organizers had gone door-to-door in the neighborhood to invite other residents from the ward, and many showed up with interest. This is part of a shift in focus from national/international issues to working right in their own neighborhood. photo 3-8They’re making a great start there. Also, the space itself is a great venue for meetings and shows, which they hold frequently. And there were lots of community groups represented.

That night we stayed with the fabulous Renee Betty Marver, former director of the Grace Hill Settlement House’s TimeBank, the Member Organized Resource Exchange. You could say that Renee is really a primary founder of timebanking in the modern world, having created the first recognized one in the early ’80s. You could also say that timebanking goes back way way farther than that, in a lot of traditional networks of mutual help and support… But I digress.

photo 5-7The next afternoon we participated in an orientation for the Cowry Collective TimeBank. It was great! They’ve developed really nice A/V materials and a great presentation. And it was in one of the many cool spaces we saw in St. Louis, a women’s art collective.

Chinyere, Stephanie, (Betty) Renee

Chinyere, Stephanie, (Betty) Renee

One very special event during the orientation: the first participant to arrive was a woman named Shirley. We chatted quite awhile about why she was coming to the orientation and getting involved, and she was a really interesting woman.

During the slide presentation, when Chinyere and Derek (the Cowry organizers) got to the part about timebanking’s history at Grace Hill, Shirley raised her hand and told us she’d been a member of Grace Hill timebank for 20 years, and had served on a Board for one of their projects. I got really excited because I knew Betty Renee would be showing up soon and I was hoping they’d know each other.



After the slide show I saw Betty Renee show up at the front door and went to open it for her. Shirley said “is that someone you know?” and I replied “Yes. Is it someone you know?” She said no, not recognizing Betty Renee. So I brought her over to introduce them, neither recognizing the other because it’s been over 20 years since they’ve seen each other. As soon as I started saying Betty Renee’s name, though, they instantly re-connected. It was great! What amazing history there.

photo 3-6Finally, after the Cowry orientation we headed to a Solidarity Economy Network and Sistahs Talking Back event. This was big and fun, with about 60 people in attendance. I gave a presentation about youth court and also about Mutual Aid Networks. With all the energy in the room and all the many social and economic justice groups in the room, we’ll make a great MAN pilot in St. Louis!photo 1-4

And upon our return I began a huge week of intensive meeting facilitation, including another MAN Design Team Meeting.

I hadn’t finished getting all our new contacts entered into the computer, plus realized it would be helpful to gather the original group to hammer out a little more detail before expanding.

7.25.14 MAN Design Team meeting notes (in more detail here):

This meeting was attended by me, Chris Petit, Morris Sadicario, and Kristin Sage in Madison, and joined by Tom Greco (mutual credit thinker/author/guru), Scott Morris (Ithacash leader), and a crew from the Lansing TimeBank MAN pilot site, Edge Brussel, Scott Murto and Krista.

We touched on some new developments, including the idea of holding a longer-duration online summit in order to give enough comprehensive background on and understanding of the project; the Advisory Board members who have confirmed, and strong new pilot site candidates. We identified a communications work group, which includes most of the meeting’s participants.

We discussed who should be represented on our Working Board. We decided it should include a representative from each pilot site, plus members with strong background in legal, financial, currency software, business networking, and organizational development areas.

Next steps are: Lansing group will wordsmith core values. I will gather a larger group meeting for sometime during or after the week of August 17.

So…. that’s all for now. Happy to have this written up and off my plate now that I’m about to embark on the Knit a Network leadership retreat and Global Exchange Gathering in Providence. Thanks for reading!



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