Allied Coop ready to rock!


So much has happened/is happening with the Allied Community Coop that it’s hard to keep up with reports, but I’ll try…

Shortly after our Allied Coop kickoff at Taste of Allied we learned that the neighborhood pharmacy and store Walgreen’s would be leaving the neighborhood soon.

Unfortunately, Walgreen’s is the only place left there selling anything like food, and the food sold at Walgreen’s is not sufficiently nutritious or priced appropriately to meet people’s grocery needs.

So the food desert situation that was already urgent has become more of an emergency.

Allied Coop would like to help! Our mission is the overall health and wellness of the neighborhood and you can’t get closer to that than food.

So we’re taking a bit of a detour from our PowerTime energy project to focus on how we can cooperate to get fresh healthy affordable food into the neighborhood.

We’ve spoken with managers and staff at Willy Street Coop and they’d love to help us! Our dream is to partner with them and many others to create a neighborhood center/neighborhood-scale grocery, starting with a buying club and organized ride shares to help with people’s immediate needs while we build capacity for a store owned by and for the neighborhood.

There are a lot of things in the works, changing day by day. So we’ll need to be very agile and ready to roll with things. And we’re feeling pretty hopeful. On Monday Oct. 20 three of us from Allied Coop attended a meeting with Mayor Soglin, city staff, and other stakeholders and got a promising reception to our ideas for neighborhood community economic development. More on that later as we learn how it will play out…

photo 3-2 photo 4-2 photo 5-1We hosted a Town Hall meeting on Friday October 17 in order to learn what neighbors and potential partners would like to make happen. We used the training we received from Art of Hosting and formatted it as a Pro Action cafe. It was really well attended and really fruitful. Here are the notes in their entirety (please read them if you’re working on this project), and here are some highlights:

Participants were asked to introduce themselves and give brief comments on their  particular interests:

•    We need to improve pedestrian safety during the construction, especially before winter makes it worse.
•    Concern about the lack of a pharmacy and a grocery
•    Need access to food when we need it, not limited to certain days/hours
•    We may need to fight for a store
•    Second Harvest’s removal of the mobile pantry is a problem
•    The Fresh Market truck didn’t work out too well
•    If we own the store, and the community works at the store, it will help stop theft
•    We need a spokesperson, who can speak for everyone
•    We need to organize

Then we split into tables of 5 people apiece, and each group discussed the following questions, changing tables between questions so everyone was with a different group each time. The questions were:

What can we do right now?

What could we do in the long run?

What are you willing to do, or to ask someone you know to do?

The short-term and long-term goals and action steps that emerged were:

Short term

  • Create survey for the neighborhood, about shopping preferences and habits. Cassandra will create this and is starting it now.
  • Organize the neighborhood. We will host a monthly workshop/discussion to move this forward consistently. They will be the third Saturday of each month, 12-1:30pm, location TBA. The first will be November 15. In addition, Florenzo will be an active advocate and Alderperson Maurice Cheeks will advocate for us in city government.
  • Organize ride shares to stores. Katy will help as a driver
  • Secure subsidized cab rides for people needing them to shop
  • Work with NIP and Green Cab to get vehicles for shopping excursions
  • Work to get gas cards for ride sharing and buying club
  • Work to get surplus food from Epic and CAC gardens, others. Joe will help with this
  • Conduct outreach with pharmacies and residents to coordinate alternatives for obtaining medications
  • Get more people to help coordinate the free sandwich program currently offered, to add more capacity and serve more people
  • Secure donations from corporations and organizations to help fund these efforts. Laurie offered to help with this

Long term

  • Get policy makers to recognize food as a right
  • Create a Coop grocery store with a pharmacy!
  • Emulate Walnut Way in Milwaukee
  • City staff working to get discount grocer in Walgreen’s space
  • Work with Willy Street Coop to create neighborhood coop business incubator
  • Secure city policies and incentives to bring businesses to Allied
  • Tell a new story of the Allied Drive neighborhood

photo 1-5 photo 2-5Willy Street Co-op is willing to put “boots on the ground” to help start a grocery and Anne Reynolds of UW Center for Cooperatives will help with coop development, and will advocate for us on the Food Policy Council.
Cassandra will write a survey (more notes on the flip charts) and work with Ruth Rohlich to get it translated.  Stephanie asked people to volunteer to go door-to-door.

The issue should go before the Allied Task Force, and Barry will take it there.

Alice will help in any way possible, as will many of the participants.

November 15, Noon – 1:30, meet to develop a plan

Allied Coop Board meets first Thur. each month, 2-4pm. Whole group discussions/workshops 3rd Saturday each month, 12-1:30pm, location TBA.

Thanks for reading! We’re feeling hopeful, and alive with possibilities. We’ll be looking for your support and encouragement as we go.

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,



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