Today Sina, Selena and I met with Madison Mayor Paul Soglin to talk about the Allied Coop and ask for his support.
It was a really friendly, fruitful, concise and constructive meeting. That’s nice!
The mayor offered to initiate a meeting with city staff who can help us learn to better navigate city systems, including funding systems. He also offered to help us in our search for space, including a grocery store. We are very happy with the results.
The meeting, along with our ongoing experience in applying for government funding, have prompted a lot of reflection on how much our entrenched systems are currently stacked against regular people working in their communities. The conundrum, which the mayor quickly identified – he said ‘Your greatest strength is also your weakness’ – that we’re not professionals, we’re people in our communities doing the work we know needs to be done. And in the current system our two options are to hire a professional to come in and do the work we’ve all been doing, or to build our own capacity to navigate those funding systems. That’s exactly what the Allied Coop, and MANs in general, are being designed to do – to create the formal, legal, social and personal capacity to generate and steward resources collectively… and the constrictions these systems create and our lack of savvy working with/around them are our #1 barrier to getting this work done as quickly and well as we know we could. Sina and Selena continue to put countless hours of excellent work into their neighborhood, and it’s really hard to find funding sources to pay them to be able to spend the bulk of their time doing it. They have to do it in addition to paid work, which is simply too much to ask. We’re lucky they are so giving, so energetic and talented.
So, as it’s been for the last few years, I continue to swim in the irony of the fact that my deeply-felt need to change these systems and their effects on my community causes me to constantly have to navigate these same systems… I can’t wait till we make the MANs work so I can be done with it!! ;)
Coming soon… report from Feb. 26 Builders Workshop #13 on software, notes from our last legal team meeting, updates on MAN design team progress and initial pilot project discussions… but first I’ll be taking the weekend off and visiting the ice caves on Lake Superior.
Enjoy your weekend and thanks for reading,
We just sent our Articles of Incorporation and it’s official! Preston Austin and I are the signers and we incorporated at the address of my coffeehouse, Mother Fool’s, where Preston and I first met and had the conversations that eventually led us to this point. In fact, Preston recently said ‘the MAN is a democratization of a conversation that we had at Mother Fool’s.’ And yes, it appears to be so.
Another fortuitous aspect of incorporating at this address is that many great cooperative efforts have their roots there, including my fabulous neighborhood grocery coop Willy St. Coop, one of the most successful coops in the country (incorporated 1973), Nature’s Bakery Coop, still plugging away down the street after 44 years, Madison Hours Cooperative, which has now folded into the MAN efforts after its 17-year run – not to mention (not coops but awesome nonetheless:) our parent Dane County TimeBank, and of course Mother Fool’s itself, my home away from home for almost 19 years. I’m a bit superstitious and like to line things up in my favor any way possible, especially with something so enormously important to me. Oh, and our lawyer David Sparer was around for and active in a few of those coop initiatives from years past, and also helped us purchase the building (1997) from another lovely neighborly guy Joe Kirch (some other time I’ll write up the story about how we got and kept Mother Fool’s mainly through the kindness of neighbors).
Next steps in MAN development are to write bylaws, confirm other pilot sites, send letters of request for participation, and get our own local MAN, the Allied Coop, incorporated and ready for action. Although the action there is already well underway, with fantastic people jumping in to make their neighborhood what they dream it can be.
Which reminds me to repeat our mission statement here, because I love it so:
To create means for everyone to discover and succeed in work they want to do, with the support of their community.
You should be getting a request for participation soon and if you don’t, let me know how you’d like to participate. Literally everyone is invited. But I won’t be sending a letter to literally everyone, and I might miss you even if I really want and intend to send you a letter, simply because I’m buried in more work than I can handle. Speaking of which, your participation might help with that too! ;)
And at least as exciting, we had our second PowerTime II peer energy consulting training and are really ready to rock with our own local incarnation of the MAN, the Allied Coop. And the PowerTime II trainees love our MAN mission statement! Next week we have our meeting to work out our own local incorporation. I’ll also be meeting with our mayor to get his support for the Allied Coop MAN. Yeehaw!
As always, thanks for reading. We’re ready to rock!
To create means for everyone to discover and succeed in work they want to do, with the support of their community.
Unless our lawyer says we need a few last-minute tweaks to our articles, we’ll incorporate Monday, Feb. 24. At which time I’ll fill you in on all the other details, link to notes, etc. Very exciting! We’ll be incorporating as the Wisconsin Mutual Aid Network Cooperative. This will provide the framework for infrastructure and support for ‘local’ MANs. (the WIMAN is the mother of them all! ;)
Enjoy your weekend!
Last week was full of activity. Not easy, but very rewarding in the end.
First, the very most exciting news – the great people of the Allied Drive neighborhood voted to create our first Mutual Aid Network right in Allied Drive, the Allied Coop. We established weekly office hours and a plan to move forward on incorporating. We started some need and asset mapping, working out how we can pool the money we save on energy and use it to insure and maintain a van for the neighborhood – we just need to get a van. Then Deacon Tony Williams told us he recently purchased a 14-seat van that he will agree to let us use on behalf of the coop! Tomorrow we meet to create an agreement. We plan to use the van to take young people on outings, provide medical and other needed transportation, and do food shopping trips. Fantastic!
This meeting was one of the most uplifting things that’s happened to me this year. You can read the notes here.
The next day the Legal issues work group of the MAN Design Team met to begin hammering out details about our structure and our process for implementation. Like I said, not easy! But very rewarding. Hopefully for everyone, ultimately.
That’s all for now. Still in progress on the Knit a Network effort to use the kinds of cooperation, sharing and exchange that we espouse to connect our various efforts into a more functional ecosystem. More updates to come!
Thanks for reading,
We’ve gotten off to a running start here in 2014.
Since I last wrote here we’ve held the first PowerTime II energy consulting training – GREAT! We’re training twice as many folks as we’d expected and enthusiasm is high. All kinds of surrounding opportunities are presenting themselves now — for example we can have coop members sewing door snakes and selling for timebank hours and/or money to support themselves and the coop, we’re starting a computer refurbishing class to begin stocking our TimeBank store with useful computers, etc. etc. On Feb. 6 we’ll have our official business meeting to revive the process of legally incorporating. Follow the project here.
And we held the Dane County TimeBank Annual Meeting and Board election. We gained five great new board members! Several with fundraising and organizational development experience, one with a big picture view on economy, cooperatives and complementary currencies, all really wonderful new energy. Notes are here. We also tried out a nice easy little game of making fill-in-the-blank timebank business cards. Everyone made a name tag with their offer and request and we gave our cards to people we could work with. We’ll be using these much more!
This afternoon I’ll be meeting with some folks who are working on building tiny houses for people who need them. We’re seriously focusing on being able to better meet food, wellness, energy, transportation and housing needs this year.
And on the meta-scale, we’re underway in the Knit a Network process. In case you’ve missed it, this is an effort to link cooperative economy (especially timebanking, but not exclusively) practitioners across boundaries of geography, affiliation, software preferences etc. in order to complement and share each other’s work, identify and work together to fill gaps in infrastructure and support. We’ve begun our work groups and participation is great. We’ll work until the beginning of April, at which time we wrap up the whole Knit a Network process. Each group will produce visible, shareable work OR – if that’s not possible – a report on what did happen in the group. The most exciting part for me is that we’ll be holding a leadership retreat on the east coast (most likely in a beach house!) at the end of July, at which time we’ll put a big shiny bow on the Knit a Network process by creating training materials to share, finalizing web pages and peer support infrastructure and the like. Then we’ll offer up our results to the world at the international timebanking/cooperative economy conference in Rhode Island July 31-August 3.
At that point we should have at least one, hopefully several, Mutual Aid Networks beginning to pilot. It’ll be fun to see where it all leads!
Thanks for reading,
If you read last week’s post you’ll know that we had a whirlwind of a week, with kickoffs for all kinds of projects at all kinds of scales – and in my mind, that’s what makes it manageable – that the work is very similar across different scales, and fits together like Russian nesting dolls.
First, on January 10, we held the Knit a Network 90-Day Wrap-Up Challenge revival meeting. People from around the country plus the UK joined us to plan for a 90-day process to wrap up work begun in Fall 2012, to pull together across affiliation, discipline, and geography in order to use the tools and philosophies we espouse to better support each other and steward our knowledge and resources.
Next, on Wednesday January 15 we held a kickoff for our new Neighborhood Care Team that we’re building in and around Sun Prairie (a smaller city inside Dane County and outside of Madison where much of our activity is based). This was lovely! We’ve been working with 23 families to create timebanking circuits and resources to meet the needs of the family members with different abilities. Katie Pajac, the person we hired to run this pilot, is doing a fantastic job and we’re blessed to have really sweet, fun and engaging families to work with. We talked about ways we can make more connections through the timebank, the needs participants would like to meet, and plans for future events where we invite the community more broadly. We’re off to a good start, building slowly through people’s existing networks. We have a cooking class going and will be focusing on generating more opportunities for social and recreational events, ongoing learning, transportation help, employment skill and opportunity building, art and music.
On Wednesday we also met with lawyer David Sparer to discuss how to incorporate our first Mutual Aid Network. Preston Austin, Michael Hernke, Lorrie Hurckes and I participated in the meeting and explored questions of: classes of membership, their rights and responsibilities, how securities exchange laws might apply and how to steer clear, how to connect the coop with the TimeBank’s existing non-profit organization, board structure, etc. etc. The next steps are to write up scenarios of likely activities and envision how each piece would function. The legal work group of the MAN Design Team will meet in the next couple weeks to dig in.
On Thursday January 16 I led a marathon Builders Workshop, Year in Review/Ring in the New. The first hour was a retrospective (of closer to 2 years, actually) to help lay the groundwork for where we are now. This segment was billed as optional, and there was a break in between this and the Ring in the New segment so new people could arrive comfortably. The next two hours went into the new projects and models we’re developing and plans for moving forward. You can see the slides, which include notes and lots of links to more information, here. And more thorough notes by the great notetaker Morris Sadicario, are here (Year in Review) and here (Ring in the New). And here are videos of the year-in-review presentation, part I and II.
Friday I hosted a small discussion with neighborhood women business owners. They’re excited to get engaged in the timebank and also excited to pursue ideas of business-to-business mutual credit, savings pools and more. It’ll be fun to explore the bigger picture with them as they get more involved.
And finally, last but not least – Saturday was the Allied Coop’s PowerTime II Kickoff party! On Saturday January 18 we held a party – on a cold and snowy day – with cake, awards for our original coop partners, an overview of our new PowerTime II energy project, and best of all, the premier of the energy conservation video we made in the neighborhood. Starring residents, shot and edited by residents, and looking smashing!!! Today we have our first training for PowerTime II energy consultants. They’ll be earning timebank hours going door-to-door and inviting people to participate in the coop, then offering energy consultations for those who want them. We’ll build toward eventually being able to weatherize buildings and assemble and install solar panels and water heaters. We’re excited!
So as you can see there’s a lot going on. It all fits together like Russian nesting dolls, which helps make it manageable. But we’re actively seeking help and will need a lot of it in order to work on the large trans-local scale we really want to work on! We hope you’ll join us. Either way we’ll be doing great stuff here and sharing it with the world. Your participation makes it more likely to spread far and wide and fast.
As always, thanks for paying attention
Happy New Year!
We’re beginning our year with the launch of several significant projects, which all fit into one another like Russian nesting dolls (and if we think of it this way it helps keep us from getting totally overwhelmed by it all! ;)
First, on January 10 I facilitated a call to revive the Knit a Network process with a final 90-day wrap-up challenge.
Knit a Network is an effort to join forces with as many of the various sharing/cooperative economy players as we can, to identify what each is working on, the direction they’re going, where we have gaps, and how we can come together to fill those gaps. Really, to make our work complementary and coherent by using the tools and processes we’re promoting. Our work areas include: training and peer support, exchange software, knowledge sharing and collaboration tools, alliances (interdisciplinary and international), resource/fund development, and travel/culture exchange. Participants joined from various timebanks using various software and support organizations, TimeBanks USA, Sharing Cities network, New Economics Foundation, and Palo Alto Research Council. There were 26 people on the call with many others signing up for work groups, and each work group has filled up nicely. I look forward to seeing what fruits this brings us.
Next, on Wednesday Jan. 15 we meet with an excellent lawyer with lots of experience in the world of cooperatives, in order to begin the process of incorporating Mutual Aid Networks.
Wednesday evening we kick off our first Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Team, emulating the work of the wonderful Kathy Perlow. Our own Katie Pajac has been building our capacity in Sun Prairie, a smaller city in Dane County (about 1/2 hour drive from Madison, where a lot of our activity tends to occur). Our Care Teams will revolve around about 25 families and individuals who have disabilities. We’ll be building teams of neighbors who will take responsibility for helping each other with transportation, home care, wellness-related activities, paperwork, social opportunities, food shopping and prep, etc. It will be based on the needs and desires of the core group of families. We’re really excited to try this model!
Thursday Jan. 16 is our first Builders Workshop of the year, Year in Review + Ring in the New! We’ll hold this at our beautiful new Central Library Community Room (201 W. Mifflin, 3rd floor, 3-6pm). From 3-4 I’ll present highlights from the last year (plus a little preceding it too) – how various workshops, conferences, visits from luminaries, and events on my 2013 Sharing Economy tour have contributed to the learning that has led us to all these kickoffs. Then from 4-6 I’ll present what’s happening now, where we’re headed, how the pieces fit together, what we see as our potential locally and globally – and most important, have a participatory brainstorming session about how we’ll proceed to make all this happen.
And, perhaps most exciting, Saturday Jan. 18 3-5pm is the kickoff for PowerTime II Energy Project in Allied Drive (Boys and Girls Club Community Room, 4619 Jenewein), as part of our work with Allied Community Coop (Allies). If all goes well this project will form the kernel of the first Mutual Aid Network, the design we’ve come to at this point on our learning journey. Mutual Aid Networks will connect timebanking, cooperative saving/lending/investment tools and more to provide the opportunity for people to do good work while being supported by their community. You can read more about Mutual Aid Networks here.
If you live nearby I hope to see you this week. If not keep reading this blog for the notes and ongoing progress.
2014 will be a great year!
Margrit was a great inspiration to me. In 2004, right after I had my brain blown by Bernard Lietaer’s The Future of Money, I attended the conference “Local Currencies in the 21st Century” and had my brain blown even more by my favorite speaker of the conference, Margrit Kennedy. I bought her book and gave my email address to her publisher to get notice whenever there was an English translation of the new book she had coming out with Bernard Lietaer.
Her influence in my life continued in a fortuitous way a few years later (2008). I was working the counter at my coffeehouse, Mother Fool’s, when a regular customer whom I’d never really talked with, Preston Austin, came up to the counter and said something to the effect of: “Banks shouldn’t be allowed to give mortgages.” and I said something like “No, the problem is interest. Let me go get you a book.” And I happened to have Margrit Kennedy’s Interest and Inflation-Free Money in the back office, and I loaned it to Preston. We then started a long and involved dialogue about complementary currencies that turned into our project Time For the World, which continues to unfold.
I got the chance to spent time with Margrit in February 2011 when I went to Europe for the International Conference on Community and Complementary Currencies in Lyon. I wrote to ask if she’d be willing to meet with me and she invited me to come to her ecovillage in Germany. She put me up in a lovely little guest apartment. I helped her make dinner (delicious, with a lot of food from the greenhouse surrounding their living space) and ate with her and her wonderful husband Declan. We met in her office and talked about the possibility of hosting a series of conferences in different parts of the world. We talked about all the synchronicity we’d each experienced and how we both felt that was a really good sign. She showed me around the permaculture garden they were creating there, and we shopped for food in the little ecovillage store where the cooperative economy happens the old fashioned way, with numbers in pencil in a ledger book. I did get the chance to let her know how her book had brought Preston and me together and how that had led to our Time For the World project, and the work that had brought me to Europe. A bit of synchronicity to enjoy.
The next bit of synchronicity that felt very lovely to me was when I got a call from John Rogers, while I was in New Orleans on my tour in 2011 – my first sharing economy + music tour after first having the notion during my New Orleans tour stop in 2009 on my way to speak at Economics of Peace. John was asking me if he could interview me for the new edition/English translation of Margrit Kennedy and Bernard Lietaer’s book, People Money, originally written in 2004. What an honor! And cool how things had looped around that way.
It’s hard to give words to how important Margrit Kennedy’s life and work were. She was a huge inspiration to many. She wrote really important analyses of money well before many others caught on, giving great clarity to the problems and, even better, the solutions – which she then helped pioneer.
I hope and trust that the legion of people inspired by Margrit Kennedy will do everything possible to bring her beautiful vision of the world to fruition. May she shine on in 2014 and beyond.
A lot is happening right here in Dane County, building on the successes and failures of our timebank and working to integrate the pieces of our local sharing economy and connect with others.
Madison Hours’ last Board meeting took place – the organization officially dissolves at the end of 2013. But it’s a beginning, not an end. Most of the Hours board members joined our Mutual Aid Network Design Team – and we’re off to a great start, which I’ll report here in a minute.
Progress continues on the Allied Community Coop and our PowerTime II energy project. If all goes well the coop could be our first local Mutual Aid Network. Coop participants have finished making an energy conservation video to share with neighborhood residents and landlords. The first training for our next generation of neighborhood in-home energy consultants is scheduled for January, a week after we premier the video at our PowerTime II kickoff event!
And now we’ve held our first Design Team meeting for Mutual Aid Networks!! We’ve broken into groups to work on legal, social, financial and technical questions. In early 2014 we’ll meet with the fantastic lawyer we’ve retained (with excellent experience in cooperative law and cooperative development) and start this in earnest. It’s all very exciting.
You can read our notes here.
In January we’ll ring in the new with a special Builders Workshop. We’ll resume our standard schedule, the third Thursday of each month. Now we’ll be at our brand new downtown public library! The first edition will have a special addition: a one-hour year-in-review, recapping big moments in Dane County TimeBank, my tour and its implications for our work here, and where we are today. Then we’ll Ring in the New with an overview of local, regional, national and global developments. I’ll send more details when we make them.
It’s going to be a momentous and exciting year!
So I’ve been reading Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein and there’s something he writes about that struck me and spurred some thoughts of my own, of course about work and the organization of human society since I seem to be somewhat obsessed with the topic…
his observation being somewhat like (read it directly please don’t rely on my bad paraphrasing) Darwinism kind of paints a picture of individual genetic happenstance mutations and natural selection through survival of the fittest, whereas a worldview of connection, of individuals as part of a living whole, shows a picture of all the rest of nature pulling on an organism to fill a needed role.
it’s as obvious as the nose on your face
which you can’t see because it’s part of you and too close to your eyes
And when I thought about how this applies to people in society, in community, in work, I started thinking about how my great old friend from college (whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years and got to see because I went to Louisville KY to help with timebanking training as part of the Dreamworld tour) was saying that in her job as a career counselor she often makes an observation that people choose careers or work that makes up for a lack they’ve had at some point. So in my case, my work fulfills a lack I’ve felt – in recognizing that the things I enjoy doing for work aren’t valued by our economy. So I fill that lack by working on changing the economy. See?
And in the business world, good businesspeople find the niche that needs filled in the community and fill it.
So I suppose this is another way we can look at playing with developing a more natural and healthy kind of human ecosystem in how we approach redefining work and sustenance. We can trust that people will be pulled toward the work that needs doing, and do it. We can stop thinking that people will only take care of needed functions under the duress of wage slavery. I really look forward to seeing what people choose to do with their time when they get a choice! I look forward to seeing how the needed functions get done, or unpleasant functions get eliminated because people problem-solve in order to avoid doing them. Like when we stop producing nuclear waste because of course noone should ever have to mine uranium, or go remove fuel rods from high up in a teetering building…
We need some money. We have a $10,000 challenge grant through the end of this year and we’re only about $100 away from qualifying for the match. But we need more money than that to start next year with a little cushion.
On my tour the last few months I did 67 separate cooperative-economy-focused gatherings. A few were 2 or 3 people, in-depth discussions about where they are and what’s going on, what we could learn from each other or do together going forward. But overall I directly interacted (not including the general attendees at big conference, just the ones at my own workshops and sessions) with over 1400 people. I raised about $3500 to support it, which did a little more than cover travel expenses. Some of the stops paid me, most didn’t and that was appropriate I think. This whole work is about sharing, distributing fairly and wisely, and differently allocating resources. Crowdfunding supported some of the stops where it wasn’t appropriate or feasible for people there to give. (I’m writing up a really detailed report on all of it, income, expenses, audiences, outcomes, future commitments, follow-up, digesting of learning – it’s just taking a little time of course)
Speaking of which, I’d much rather spend my time on building, designing, testing mutual aid networks and building peer support structures within the cooperative, regenerative economy movement than begging for money for our basic expenses. So if you just give (or ask others to give if you want to pass this link on) money now it gives us more time to really get our ducks in a row to build the mutual aid network structure and start testing it. And writing it up into a kickass proposal, that’s thorough and big and prepared to get enough money to make the whole thing move the way it should, once we have time to think and talk it through and write it up properly and line up the proper partners and do a proper crowdfund and other resource generating campaign. If we just raise some quick money now from friends and allies we can spend our time doing things we enjoy more, and that more directly serve our bigger goal.
Simply stated, if you can and want to, please give us some money! Have a friend who’s into building a new economy? Donate in their name as a gift and we’ll make a nice pretty card to send them, with some stuff inside to let them know how we’ll use it to build a more beautiful world.
OK, as always – thanks for reading
Enjoy your weekend