DCTB + Allied Coop + MAN exciting updates


russian-nesting-dollsA lot has been happening in every level of our work. And the kind of work needed for each level of cooperative economic organizing is self-similar, which makes it a bit easier to grapple with it all.

First, Dane County TimeBank (DCTB) continues to undergo a beautiful transformation and DCTB annual meetingour new Board of Directors reflects that. We have some new young energy in people from diverse backgrounds. Our Annual Meeting on January 24 was a very hopeful and rich conversation. The overall direction of the DCTB for this year will be reflected in the materials from the Builders Workshop of Jan. 28, which I’ll write about in another post today or Monday. Check it out!


Cassandra Sonko, ACC Board President, testifies at City Council meeting

And Allied Community Coop, of which DCTB is one organizational member and has a seat on the Board, is   AlliedCoopTownHallMeeting1.17.15rolling along. We held another monthly Town Hall meeting on the neighborhood food access emergency, activated work groups focused on Transportation, Outreach, Advocacy, Food, and Resource Development (notes here), and then testified at the Jan. 21 Madison City Council meeting in favor of a resolution to release $15,000 in emergency funding to subsidize short-term transportation solutions, and to release $300,000 later in order to help bring in a full-service grocery. The resolution includes some great language about the coop. Although they didn’t take up our item until 10pm, requiring all the residents who came out to sit there for 4.5 hours, we were very happy that the resolution passed unanimously!!

And last but not least, Mutual Aid Network development is also rolling along splendidly. Read the blog post I’ll write shortly on Builders Workshop #20 for details, including DCTB’s plans going forward and how MANs may emerge from there.

On the Main MAN (the umbrella cooperative to support projects and infrastructure development) front:

The Social Working Group is hammering out language for the Memorandum of Understanding we’ll be signing between pilot sites (there are at least 14 potential pilot sites now!) and the Main MAN. This is after implementing a plan to test out Consent decision-making with the assistance of Sociocracy trainer James Priest.

The Communications and Tech Working Groups are designing a coherent web presence for us while also playing with our new MAN instance of Wezer(!), Sybille Saint Girons’ beautiful open source software that will serve as our Mutual Aid Platform (the MAP of the MAN). We love it already! You can learn more about Wezer here, and believe me we’ll gladly invite you into it once we’re done learning the basics and getting it ready.

The Financial Working Group is tackling fundraising and resource development for the creation of the initial Main MAN infrastructure and also exploring internal funding mechanisms. In Madison, we have pulled together some philanthropists to help co-produce the vision of new funding mechanisms that work better for everyone. We aim to work with a well-rounded team to create a vision that they’ll want to help test through making their own investments into MANs when the time is right.

The Legal Working Group will connect with the Social group and hammer out Main MAN member policies, shortly after our next working board meeting. We hope to figure that out very soon so we can start inviting you to join officially!

So, life is filled with work groups working. But even though it can be a bit overwhelming, it’s really mainly exciting and fun, not least because wonderful people have joined up to do the work. Also not least because we expect the work to result in a more beautiful world.

Speaking of a beautiful world – Madison is really beautiful in Summer, when we’ll encourage you to join us for a MAN Up summit here in August.We’ll host work sprints, training sessions, collaboration confabs, parties, and introduce a MAN Up simulation game to help get us started on MANning up for real! Matthew Slater and Sybille Saint Girons, our tech advisors/software programmers/ overall MAN developers will be here, plus Stephen Hinton from the JAK Bank in Sweden who will help us design our own savings/investment pools, James Priest from Exeter UK to help us with complex organizational development and governance, and more to be announced as we get it organized. We’ll have ways for you to share your ideas and offers of your own contributions.

Stay tuned for details!

MAN Outlook for 2015 – it’s going to be a great year!


It’s been awhile since I’ve written here. Happy 2015! It’s going to be a great one.

Despite a little lull/respite over winter holidays, there’s been a lot of action in MAN development. And now we’re full steam ahead.

We’re gearing up to offer more regular and in-depth communications so here I’ll just start with a guide to what’s coming up for 2015, and we’ll share the details later.

First – my previous blog post laid out some new grants received by Dane County TimeBank, and those and other developments have presented new opportunities to cohere and build the timebank’s work while connecting it with other MAN pilot sites and exploring more MAN possibilities here at home.

We’ll be diving into that in depth at our next Builders Workshop, Wednesday January 28, 4-6pm CDT followed by a reception 6-7. At Madison Central Library, with a web meeting set up so some of you can join from afar. Details here.

Second – there’s a lot to report on the Allied Community Coop, the first local iteration of a Mutual Aid Network. But it warrants its own post so look for that next week. But Tuesday we’ll go to our City Council to testify in favor of a resolution that will get us some money to help alleviate the neighborhood food crisis through cooperation. I’ll probably wait until after that to post, so I can include pictures!

Third – the whole year is shaping up nicely.

In February, Kathy Perlow, Health and Wellness MAN pilot steward in Pennsylvania and creator of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Team model of timebanking, will come to train us to create N2N Care Teams. This will be a central part of our strategy in Dane County TimeBank this year (see Builders Workshop #20 for more).

In March we (Dane County TimeBank) begin our big Restorative Justice project in South and Southwest Madison. This includes a focus on opportunity-building, including resource and project development in and around the Allied Community Coop.

In April I’ll go to Rome for Giftival, a repeat of the wonderful gathering I experienced in Istanbul last year. I’ll have a lot of time there to connect with wonderful MAN collaborators from around the world. I really hope and expect to flesh out the representation of more parts of the world, on our Board, in pilot sites, etc. Very exciting! With a possible detour to Berlin and Vienna beforehand…

And aiming to take a trip eastward through some MAN pilot sites – and hopefully a field trip with Allied Community Coop as part of it. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Could be great to go to Greensboro NC too, to visit a similar coop project there – one that has opened its grocery store!!

The rest of the spring and summer I will be working on developing the various local MAN and timebank projects here, plus working toward…

MAN Up Month!!

August will be MAN Up Month in Madison and it’ll be really cool. I hope you can come.

We’re inviting people to come for work sessions, collaboration opportunities, in-depth trainings, and celebrations. With a big MAN launch party, great entertainment, we’ll aim to get some of our awesome supporters and advisors here to enjoy each other’s company, get work done, make new connections. I’ll make a post with details as they emerge, and I expect a bunch to emerge in the next week so stay tuned…

Most of the events will be concentrated during a one-two week period toward the end of August, but we’ll have a month-long progression of work and learning.
The next couple months we’ll using the tools we create during MAN Up Month here in Madison, and reporting very thoroughly on all of this (if they’ll let me, which seems likely since I’ve presented at the first two) at — — the third International Conference on Complementary Currencies in Brazil, in October.And I think that’s thinking far enough ahead for now. Things are shaping up really nicely and I expect us all to learn a lot, and get some cool new systems functioning here and sharing them with people getting similar cool things going elsewhere.Thanks for reading about it! Thanks for participating!–Stephaniep.s. If you want to be notified of meetings and/or to participate in work groups, sign up for our email list here.

Brighter Futures!


I’m very pleased to report that the news is all good in this neck of the woods. Onward and upward for 2015!

Here at Dane County TimeBank (DCTB) we are a proud recipient of a Brighter Futures grant, which is state money coming through Dane County to several community partners (us, the YWCA, Briarpatch Youth Services) to build up restorative justice and opportunity-building resources in South and Southwest Madison while creating the communications and training resources to help law enforcement more effectively access those resources. And evaluating as we go and creating things with an eye toward replicability. This secures half of my job (it’s been pretty unclear where my job security would come from next year) and dovetails beautifully with work I need to do for MANs overall. I’m really hoping it also helps open some beautiful opportunities to partner with people in St. Louis, Detroit, and other communities ready to take positive action against our racist criminal system.

And things are going swimmingly toward launching MANs. Allied Community Coop (likely our first local version of a MAN – Allied Coop is up and running but I won’t call it a MAN until MAN membership is available and folks can make a formal decision about it) is cranking up, we have several other pilot sites working on the Memorandum of Agreement we’ll be signing with each other, and fantastic people lining up to participate.

You can learn more at a 3-hour web meeting being scheduled now, to be held sometime between now and Dec. 19.

Fill in this doodle poll if you’d like us to try to accommodate your schedule.

Sign up here if you’d like to receive MAN email updates and invitations. If you receive emails already sign up on our official e-list – I’ll soon stop sending to the random lists of people I’ve generated over time.

And last but not least – it’s our end-of-year fundraising push at Dane County TimeBank. Please help DCTB end the year well financially. While you’re at it feel free to support the next phase of MAN development – the launch!!!!


Mutual Aid Networks overview and engagement web meeting

Hello all!

This is a quick note to let you know that we’ll be hosting a 3-hour web meeting in order to launch some work groups to develop and implement Mutual Aid Networks. This is for people who want to know all about it and likely plug in to do some work. I’ll also make notes and recording available later.

To sign up on the Mutual Aid Network email notification list: http://eepurl.com/88Bv9

To participate in the web meeting scheduling poll: http://doodle.com/6qke8x74sph4mzpd

When it’s scheduled I’ll post another notice. And will post the link to the notes and recording afterward.

More news later this week,


Trip Report part IV – UK to Chicago

We left Manchester for a very brief visit with Leesa in Oxfordshire. Matthew introduced me to Leesa last time I was in the UK, when she offered her home to me never having met me in person. She’s wonderful! She met Matthew initially through a small business organizing and mutual credit effort she runs called Collaboraction.photo 4-11



photo 1-4   photo 4-19We had to leave the next morning in order to return the car at Milton Keynes. The fabulous Anna Peters picked us up from the rental place and took us to her amazing workplace, the buszy. The photo 3-8buszy is a renovated old bus station that is now home to lots of activities that support young photo 2-8people. There’s a coffeeshop, a thrift store, a dance/exercise studio with a sprung wood floor, a recording studio, an art gallery, some container gardens, a skate park, and a photo 4-10park-and-ride service that helps fund the whole thing. And photo 5-10now, after our little visit, they have a timebank! Matthew was able to set them up with a free and open-source timebank site from Community Forge. I’m looking forward to hearing how it works with the young people who use the center. What a cool place!Anna at her Olney house

I also had the extreme pleasure of going to Jade, Denise and AnnaAnna’s childhood home in Olney and hanging out with her friends from Olney and from work. What a great time! And fun ending to the UK portion of my trip…

I left for Heathrow early morning on November 10 to fly back to Chicago, where I stayed a few days for more MAN work

photo 2-4On the way home, though, I saw a sight I’ve always wanted to see: a round rainbow! it was over Greenland, and though the photos can’t do it justice I’m including one. It was much larger and brighter than this shows, with concentric rings of rainbow stretching out over the clouds. Breathtaking…


Back in Chicago, I caught up with Chris Petit, my co-coordinator on the MAN project. And then we prepared for a lunchtime gathering that happened November 14, with Bayo Akomolafe and Manish Jain of the newly formed International Alliance for Localization. I’d met Bayo and Manish last year in Turkey at Giftival. Bayo lives in Nigeria (en route to India) and Manish in India, and their visit was the reason I stayed in Chicago so long. They are wonderful people and their new initiative is really important. And there’s so much synergy with what we’re working on in Mutual Aid Networks. We are now planning to work together and will Skype more this week to figure out exactly what that will mean.

After the lunch gathering I took a detour to see the David Bowie exhibit at MCA (very exciting to see his handwritten lyrics, with changes and corrections among other things).

photo 3-11photo 4-15Then a lovely dinner gathering at the home of Lina Cramer and Dick Durning, two of the people who helped organize last year’s Giftival, with Bayo and Manish, plus Robin McKenna (Canadian documentary filmmaker working on a film adaptation of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift) whom I’d also met at Giftival, and many others including several people I’ve met through Art of Hosting trainings.

I came home immediately following the dinner in order to be back in time to help facilitate an Allied Coop gathering Nov. 15. Next post I’ll update you on all that.

but for now this concludes my reporting on my MAN-building trip. It was a good one!

UK trip part III – Exeter, Manchester

…after a wonderful stay in Bristol, and on Matthew’s suggestion, we headed down toward Exeter to meet James Priest, a Sociocracy trainer.

We were met at the bus station by Nuria and Yaciel, James’ photo 1-15partner and 3.5-year-old son respectively, plus surprise guest Peter – Matthew’s father. (argh!  I somehow failed to get any photos of Matthew with his father, or of his father at all). James was still on his way back from Sweden where he’d been leading a Sociocracy training.

exeter_pastoral_sunsetThey have a very beautiful place in the countryside a couple miles from Exeter.

We only had one day together but that was enough to establish that  yes, sociocracy can be an excellent tool for facilitating complex group processes and could really apply to Mutual Aid Networks. And James also walked me through some ideas he has on fractal organizations. We’ll be talking more to explore the possibility of working together. We could use a hand in creating optimal organizational structure and decision-making processes for our very complex work.

We left early morning on November 6 to get to the Timebanking UK conference in Manchester. Because trains were costing us an arm and a leg and it was uncertain if we’d be able to get to the conference on time, we ended up renting a car for the next few stops on the trip. It was an adventure to drive on the left side of the road for my first time!

photo 4-8The conference in Manchester was really wonderful. First and foremost, it was great to see lots of old friends there. Philippe, Robert and Richard from Rushey Green, Linda and Terry from hOurworld, Sarah and Martin from Timebanking UK, and on and on. And of course we met more great people.

I gave a short presentation about Dane County TimeBank and Mutual Aid Networks during the afternoon panel on Timebanking Around the World. Then I led a workshop on Mutual Aid Networks.

The participants in the workshop had a lot of diverse interests, which was perfect for the topic. We focused on applied timebanking and how connecting it with other cooperative tools could provide the comprehensive resource base that people and projects need in order to thrive.

Some of my biggest takeaways from the conference – the folks in Hull are interested in becoming a MAN pilot site! And there’s a lot of enthusiasm, energy and expertise available to take timebanking much farther in the UK. And a group who are doing the same kind of medical transportation for outpatient surgery that we’re about to start, and they have offered to help us with advice from their experience.

Leesa and GandalfAfter the conference was over we picked up aGandalf and Matthew life-sized cardboard Gandalf to take to Leesa Daymond in Oxfordshire. What luck! and this can also approximate what it would have been like had I gotten a photo of Matthew with his dad…

Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of this trip report – Milton Keynes to Chicago.


Allied Coop News…

Or… We interrupt our trip reportage to bring you timely news from the Allied Community Coop

I’ll get back to reporting on the rest of my UK (then Chicago!) trip very soon, but in the meantime…

Right when I returned home I went to help facilitate another Allied Community Coop discussion about how we can respond to the food crisis in the neighborhood by applying mutual aid principles and practices.

We made a great plan! First, we’ll pursue finding money to help pay for people’s cab rides and other transportation to grocery stores, and Aaron Perry of Neighborhood Intervention Program (NIP) will provide 2 bus rides per month to people who want to shop that way.

Meanwhile, we’ll work with Willy Street Coop to start a buying club. Ideally the City of Madison would provide space for a neighborhood center which could serve as a staging and delivery area for the buying club. And this will help us build capacity to create our own neighborhood-created -owned and -operated cooperative grocery store and pharmacy, our long-term goal.

Today we’ll testify at the City Council meeting, in support of Ald. Maurice Cheeks’ resolution directing city staff to work on the issue of a grocery store and economic development plan in Allied Drive. We’re ready to try our ideas for human-scaled community economic development!

Thursday we get together with Anne Reynolds of the UW Center for Cooperatives to start drafting our business plan.

Wish us luck! Better yet, give us your support!


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