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

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

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

Please pass them on!

Madison MAN pilot brainstorming meeting – summary and notes


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

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

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

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

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

We began a few threads of discussion, including:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming week – Mutual Aid Network and TimeBank Care Team workshops


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to join us if you’re able!


MAN weeks in review – local + global


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading

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

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

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

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

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

photo 1













As always, thanks for reading.

Take care,


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.


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