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:
Today I mailed the Articles of Incorporation for the first mutual aid network, the Allied Community Coop!! And our 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.
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:
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,
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!
Our 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: http://www.buildftw.org/projects/maxines-timebank-store-dctb-allied-community-cooppowertime-ii-healthy-community-economy
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.
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.
One 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 DCTB 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.
Afterward 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. They’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.
The 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.
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.
Finally, 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!
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!
We invited people to this workshop largely through those coordinating our work in the various projects we work with that pertain to issues of homelessness. I didn’t send a press release as I usually do, and broadcasts only went out to TimeBank members and email lists of housing advocacy and activist groups. This was because we wanted to brainstorm about how to build on the strengths and possible connections in and between each of our current projects, and then figure out how to move forward from there.
The attendance was wonderful and a great representation of different segments in the community. And the ideas that were brought to and generated by the group are pretty exciting and actionable.
We started with introducing ourselves – the lower right of the whiteboard is the record of the organizations represented. Dane County Timebank, Bethel Lutheran Church, We Help You advocacy organization, Homeless Services Consortium, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Dane County Human Services, Joining Forces for Families, Allied Community Coop, Legal Action, Madison Apprenticeship Program, MEET Center, Briarpatch/ Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, Boys and Girls Club Allied Drive, and the Road Home.
I gave a brief overview of timebanking for the couple people who were new to it. Then we began listing the various projects currently connecting homeless people into the timebank. Bethel Lutheran Homeless Support Services is running a timebank store, engaging homeless people to help their and other organizations, and exchanging the hours earned for items such as tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, bus passes, and gift certificates. SHINE 608 also serves as a point of connection between the timebank and people who are homeless, and Maxine’s TimeBank Store on Allied Drive is a place where any timebank member can access donated goods.
Tiny Houses is a project of Occupy Madison that enables people to invest 500 hours of sweat equity in order to qualify for their own tiny house. 100 State is a co-working space on Madison’s State Street and is hosting a place-making project there, partnering with Dane County TimeBank to create a way for people to access the timebank from a publicly-accessible computer out on State Street. We expect to connect with many of the people living on the street and will host office hours at 100 State to sign them up as members and connect them with opportunities.
The Homeless Peer Court is a new effort in cooperation with Madison Municipal Judge Dan Koval and several homeless advocacy groups, which will begin by creating opportunities for homeless people to work of municipal fines through community service, and will build toward developing a full-fledged peer court modeled on Dane County TimeBank’s Youth Courts.
Once we gave the overviews of these projects and how they’re developing, we began to identify gaps and future avenues for further development.
Several participants identified a need to connect much more with the faith community. We planned to host a much larger meeting early this fall, with an emphasis on inviting faith organizations. We acknowledged that a focus on housing and homelessness would likely be more compelling to faith organizations than a simple timebanking focus has been in the past.
Participant Ron Burford, of Briarpatch/Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, suggested that we could create street clean-up teams to clean our streets in exchange for timebank hours, and that the only need we would have in order to make it happen would be to provide supervision. He offered to help coordinate this project.
Participant Christopher Daly suggested that we could create localized projects for turning unused yard space in neighborhood blocks into little gardens, a la Food Not Lawns. He agreed to coordinate a pilot effort.
Participant Garrett Lee suggested helping organize a coordinated transportation network for commonly-needed errands for people living on or near State Street. We realized it might make sense to pilot a Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Team for/in this community.
The discussion was rich and rewarding. We had so much connecting to do that we had to skimp on how to use all of these tools to work more comprehensively toward getting people into stable housing, and creating a housing economy that’s much less brutal. We will pick up on those discussions as we continue to move forward.
Stay tuned for a larger group gathering in early September.
Builders Workshop #16 – Building a MAN: How Mutual Aid Networks can redesign work and build a regenerative economyPosted: 10 Jul, 2014
On Wednesday June 25, 4-6pm we held Builders Workshop #16 on how Mutual Aid Networks can redesign work and build a regenerative economy. I had the pleasure of co-presenting with new Time For the World/Mutual Aid Networks Co-Coordinator Chris Petit, who wrote these notes:
Our June builder’s workshop was focused on Mutual Aid Networks and how mutual aid networks can redesign work and build a regenerative economy.
We had an excellent mixture of people in attendance in-person from Madison and via teleconference from across the country. Stephanie and I presented about the concept and the tools and processes within Mutual Aid Networks. While Timebanking is great at building our core economy of caregiving, creativity, civic engagement and community building, we engaged in the exploration of other tools of mutual aid – cooperative saving and investment pools, price-based mutual credit, and shared resources – synergistically working together under a cooperative ownership umbrella.
We discussed the possibility of using member dues and patronage rebates to fund projects and work for the betterment of our communities. We explained how patronage points based on local project outcomes could be utilized to distribute funds from the community savings and lending pool. We learned about this concept from Janelle Orsi from the Sustainable Economies Law Center at the CommonBound Conference in Boston.
The presentation can be viewed here.
The handouts can be viewed here.
After the presentation, we discussed different ways that the Mutual Aid Network structure could be utilized in our different communities. In Madison, there was interest in creating a healing center using the MAN framework. We also discussed possibilities for providing support for co-housing, students, renewable energy production, and health care.
Below you can see the different ideas that arose during our discussion.
We are continuing to move forward with pilot site selection and the momentum and enthusiasm for redesigning our work lives to serve our communities is ever increasing.
–Chris Petit, Co-Coordinator, Time For the World/Mutual Aid Networks
We did record this meeting, and connect with some far-flung people online for it, but the video file is enormous. I’ll shrink it and find a way to share a smaller version on request.
As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned, there’s a lot happening!
We had about a dozen people in attendance.
Kristin Sage began with this slide presentation about how transportation exchanges currently work within Dane County TimeBank.
Carmen Smith, visiting PhD student from Bath University in England, graciously took notes. I especially appreciate her overall reflections at the end of the notes, which you can read here.
This is a long-delayed and cursory post, because there has been a massive amount of work to do since then. but the workshop was great and you can see details in the slides and notes.
Thanks for reading,
Wow. This was great. It started really early the morning after we met the Yes Men in Brooklyn. That means we drove to Vermont after the Yes Fest ended at 10pm, and arrived at about 3am. Then up for Charles Eisenstein’s keynote at 8:30am. It was lovely, and accompanied by a great cellist, but I was a bit too tired to deal. So I had to take a nap during the first workshop session.
I came back just in time! My friend Marie Goodwin was eating lunch with Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life, and someone I’ve long wanted to meet. She’s fantastic! I sat with them at lunch and had a wonderful time. And talked with Vicki about Mutual Aid Networks, which she instantly really got the gist of and started envisioning how it could apply to her living well in her community whenever she finally ages. And she agreed to be on our Advisory Board! As did Charles Eisenstein when he showed up at lunch later. Hooray!
Later that afternoon the Brattleboro Time Traders, the local timebank, hosted a reception and featured Edgar Cahn, Gwen Hallsmith, Charles Eisenstein, and me as guests. It was really wonderful! A very special treat was that I met Eric Bachman, tech coordinator for TimeBanks USA and general great guy whom I’ve worked with off and on for 4 years but had never met in person. The whole event was really great, with some weighty conversation about community economics including timebanking, public banking, implications and promise of various approaches to economic and community life.
The next day I had the pleasure of attending Vicki Robin’s workshop on her new book and her work surrounding it, “Blessing the Hands that Feed Us” about her experiment with a 10-mile diet. Vicki is really funny and fun to listen to, and you learn a lot. It was really great.
Next session I was on the panel for “No More Throwaway People” with Edgar Cahn and Gwen Hallsmith. We focused on timebanking as part of a healthy community economy, plus ways we can connect with other community and economic approaches. It was well attended and there was some lively discussion. If I could remember all the details I’d share them here but alas, this was long ago and one of many conversations about the same topics, hot everywhere. Which is nice, but not always good for reporting on the details weeks later…
Immediately following our panel Chris and I sped off toward Boston to get to the CommonBound conference. This was huge. Sponsored by the New Economy Coalition, held at Northeastern University, there were about 600 people in attendance. The agenda was really meaty in a way that was exactly what I was looking for.
The first workshop I attended was the one I was most excited about, with Janelle Orsi from Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and Marjorie Kelly from Democracy Collaborative, titled Deep Social Enterprise: Maximizing Impact through Structure and Governance.
I had met Janelle last year on my tour when I went to a SELC workshop on mutual aid societies, akin to the savings/lending/investment pools we aim to create within MANs. She is an amazing resource! and human! She has already helped me through a lot of the difficult legal questions around how we structure and operate.
I arrived early to the workshop and had a chance to talk with her more in-depth about MAN developments and came away super excited. In particular, I’m exploring ways that we can use member dues and rebates within the Main MAN as a way to channel money and other resources to MAN projects that are meeting various agreed-upon goals such as contributing to our shared infrastructure, assisting other MANs, accomplishing local goals, etc. It can be our own playground for how we better identify needs and assets and help resources flow more effectively.
The workshop itself was excellent. I learned a lot about various governance approaches and the value of exploring to find the right one. I also learned a lot from my conversations with John Bloom, of RSF Social Finance, who was at my table.
There was a lot of other good stuff at workshops and in plenaries but I have too much to report on to detail it all here. Other highlights for me: the table I joined for the participatory plenary. Topic was ‘enterprise’ and I happened to join a table full of likeminded folks, including a woman from Romania who has developed a vision very similar to the MAN, and whom I hope to connect with much more! Plus Noemi from Data Commons (who I met at another fantastic workshop with the wonderful Pamela Boyce Simms of the transition movement), Crystal who does graphic design and communications work, and many more. And of course a great panel on timebanking and other complementary currencies, with Lisa Conlan-Lewis of New Hope Time Exchange, Linda Hogan of hOurworld, and Scott Morris of Ithacash (a MAN pilot site!)
The Saturday of the conference we stayed with Deborah Frieze, amazing activist and co-author of Walk Out Walk On, a book that’s been very influential to me. Her place is gorgeous, including the Old Oak Dojo, a building she’s created to comply with Living Building certification standards. And always great to connect with her, she’s brilliant. Here’s a photo of some of the gardens in her gorgeous space.
And finally, after an excellent plenary with Adrienne Maree Brown of Kresge Arts, Gar Alperovitz of Democracy Collaborative, and Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project, we pulled together a little discussion just focused on Mutual Aid Networks, in the grass outside the conference after its end. Attending this were John Bloom of RSF, Julia Ho of MORE in St. Louis, seeking to become a MAN pilot site, Jenny Ladd of PV Network in Northampton MA, Jennifer Ly and Aaron Tanaka of Center for Economic Democracy in Boston, and Edgar Cahn of TimeBanks USA, plus me and Chris Petit of Time For the World/Mutual Aid Networks. This was a great chance to go in-depth into what it means to be a pilot site, potential benefits and pitfalls to various facets of our work, and how we’ll move forward. A great way to end the CommonBound Conference!
From there we went to Akron to spend a few days at my parents’ house and get some work done. And got the chance to have a lovely visit with the hub leaders in the Crooked River Alliance of TimeBanks at the home of the wonderful Abby Greer! We learned what some of the local hubs are doing, how they’re organizing themselves as local hubs within a larger timebank, and talked about Mutual Aid Networks. Tom Phillips, hub leader of the Stark County TimeBank, is engaged in a lot of efforts around building local food systems. There are a lot of exciting synergies between his work and MANs, and among all of the efforts we heard about.
From there we headed to Detroit, where Chris caught a bus for home and I went on to a bonfire MAN discussion hosted by Ty Diggy. This was really cool. We had a great and wide-ranging conversation and ten really active and motivated Detroiters signed up to help build the MAN.
And the final stop on the tour was Lansing, Michigan, with the great Edge Brussel (who’s been responsible for some of the videos I’ve shared, that have helped motivate us to try Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams and a solar energy project). We had a MAN discussion and timebank orientation at this great venue, The Avenue Cafe and Bar, followed by a concert with me and two local groups. It was awesome and fun.
and phew! the work part of the tour was done. After that I went on my family vacation, a much needed break.
And now I’ll let you go, and thank you for reading this long long post!
Enjoy your summer days,
it’s been a whirlwind couple weeks! I just finished up the work part of my tour with some timebank stuff then a fun show, a MidMichigan TimeBank benefit, in Lansing. Now I’m about to start a family vacation so I want to post about as much of it as possible before freeing my brain for the rest of the week…
Yes, it would have been great if I’d written and posted about all these as they happened, but there was a lot going on. So I’m going to jam a bunch of stuff into one post and try to keep each thing brief for now.
Picked up Project Co-Coordinator Chris Petit in Oak Park IL, where he lives, to head out east. I’ll skip the parts that didn’t involve Mutual Aid Network work.
First work stop: Ithaca, NY where Scott Morris is organizing Ithacash, one of the potential MAN pilot sites. We caught up on the status of all our various projects and talked about ways to move forward in cooperation and collaboration. And saw the waterfall! It was cool and lovely how easy of a walk it is from downtown to the waterfall, and how many people just hang out there. Ithaca is beautiful! And has such great legacy in Ithaca HOURS (which is who we emulated in making Madison HOURs back in 1995/6) and all the other local efforts that make Ithaca so cool and livable.
Then on to Gardiner, Maine, another exploring MAN possibilities, where Stacey Jacobsohn of Time Initiative of Maine (T.I.M.E.) organized a potluck and talk on timebanking. The crowd was a mix of people who were newer to or wanted to focus on timebanking and some who were interested in other complementary currencies and more comprehensive community economy models, so I presented primarily on timebanking with a quick and incomplete mention of Mutual Aid Networks. Could have been more graceful, I’m sure, but it at least got the point across that there are some efforts to connect and take things in a new direction, for those who are interested. And there were a few, which was great. I already reconnected with one at the CommonBound conference and we collected a bunch of contacts for the future, both as observers as we progress and as active contributors.
After Gardiner we made a quick detour (well, 3.5 hours) to Brooklyn for a fundraiser for the Yes Men! They are heroes of mine, and if you don’t know their work you must do yourself and the world a favor and check it out. Funny and powerful, and educational in the best possible way!
The event was a lot of fun, with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a preview of the film they’re working to fund (The Yes Men are Revolting!), and a game of Pin the Tail on the Lobbyist.
Because we drove so far out of our way I knew I could force myself to talk to them (I’m just star-struck and intimidated, they’re plenty approachable) – and I wore a fancy, colorful outfit to help me along. Too bad I totally forgot to try to get a photo with them, or at all.. Both of them were enthusiastic about the MAN and both agreed to be on our advisory board. Huzzah! I’ll follow up more formally in a couple weeks and am excited to try to work with them in some way in the future.
Right after the fundraiser ended, at 10pm, we drove back up to Brattleboro Vermont for the Slow Living Summit. I’ll check back in later to write about that, the CommonBound conference, NYC, Kent Ohio, Detroit and Lansing. It might be a few days because now I’m about to check out for my family vacation. I’ll catch back up with you after some R+R.
Lots of exciting stuff, including more awesome advisory board members, people looking to pilot MAN sites and general overall good ideas, energy and action.
Thanks for reading,