While much of Time For the World’s focus has broadened to be about redesigning work at human scale, and most of the public talks I’ve done over the last six months or so have emphasized this, I realize that I’ve posted very little about it so far. Paradoxically, that’s because work redesign has become so important to our efforts and thinking that it’s taking us a long time to write it all up how we want to. But I want to share some thoughts with you now as we move toward making good work a way of life.
There’s an infinite amount of work to do, to repair the destruction we’ve wrought and build new life-sustaining and regenerating systems and structures. There are not an infinite number of ‘jobs’ to be had, let alone an infinite number of jobs being offered that don’t contribute to the wholesale destruction of our planet and its living communities. Reducing unemployment by bolstering a cannibalist economy is not a worthy goal.
In our experience with economic redesign work we’ve realized that it’s very easy to become heavily tool-focused, obsessing about accounting and currency design while forgetting to evaluate the ends to which we’re designing. We’ve seen a need to continually, explicitly draw attention and design principles to human and community outcomes, and only think about boosting economies if they’re providing good work. Even more important, we see a need to use economic tools to pull parts of life out of the transactional economy and back into the commons.
We’ve recently figured out some ways we can combine various tools and approaches – namely, a cooperative ownership structure, principles of co-production and commons governance, project facilitation training and support combined with timebanking, price-based mutual credit and cooperative saving/lending/investment models – to build a system that pools and allocates resources as an engine for generating and rewarding good work.
Good work should be fun and creative. Good work should provide the opportunity for people to do what we’re passionate about, or simply enjoy, or enable us to take a slower pace if we choose. A good system will create incentives for people to contribute to their communities and commons in the ways that play to their strengths. Peer support in co-productive networks will provide guidance in making cooperative decisions and carrying out successful projects that help people to fulfill their goals, sharing successes and failures for mutual learning along the way.
We think we can design this by doing it. We’ve set up a bare-bones Mutual Aid Network so we can commission work from each other in building an infrastructure, offering each other time credit to start and working toward adding broader resource pooling and exchange mechanisms. And I’ll be meeting with people around the country, during my Sharing Economy Tour, to hammer out legal issues, financial structures, potential partnerships, and learn ways people would like to apply this thinking in the field. We’d love for you to help shape this if you’re interested. Start by signing up at the Mutual Aid Network and we’ll collectively take it from there.
Much more to come
We are pleased to announce that on Friday, March 29th at 7pm Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne will be in town to give a free, public talk as part of the tour for their new book, Rethinking Money. The talk, sponsored by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Dane County TimeBank, and Time For the World, will take place at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at 7pm.
Rethinking Money points out that there is a way, in fact a thousand ways, to stop our current juggernaut towards global self-destruction. There is a system of solutions already in place in localities throughout the world where terrible problems have existed. The changes came about, not through the redistribution of wealth, increased conventional taxation, bond measures or enlightened self-interest from corporate entities, but rather, by people simply rethinking the concept of money. With that restructuring, everything changed.
Leitaer and Dunn offer remedies for Government, Business and Entrepreneurship, NGOs and the Civil Society, and the private citizen. The book also presents clear validation, speaking plainly and directly to general interest readers. This work promises to strike a deep chord with audiences eager to find meaningful, thought-provoking answers.
The following day, Lietaer and Dunn will lead an in-depth workshop on how we can achieve local resilience by developing and expanding on current efforts. The workshop will be held in the US Bank Conference Room at 1 South Pinckney Street, from 10am to 4pm. To register for the workshop, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5351454344. Registration is free and optional, but it will help us plan appropriately.
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Bernard Lietaer is an international expert in the design and implementation of currency systems. He co-designed and implemented the convergence mechanism to the single European currency system (the Euro) and served as president of the Electronic Payment System at the National Bank of Belgium (the Belgian Central Bank). He co-founded and managed GaiaCorp, a top performing currency fund whose profits funded investments in environmental projects. A former professor of International Finance at the University of Louvain, he is currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resources of the University of California at Berkeley.
Jacqui Dunne is an award-winning journalist from Ireland, founder and CEO of Danu Resource, and an emerging leader in helping entrepreneurs develop technologies and initiatives that restore the earth’s equilibrium globally. The company serves as a fiscal agent for funding, and works as the interface between the donors and the projects. Danu’s unique value is its ability to work from a future reference point that draws out the greatness, and builds upon the strengths, of both the donor and the recipient, thus creating a flourishing paradigm shift for a quadruple bottom-line –people, planet, profits and power within.
Blog post #2: Oct. 3 – Oct. 17:: LA to Chicago
Well, a lot has happened since last I wrote!
The LA show was fun, at a cool venue called Lot 1. With good music all around that night.
The downside was a near-miss of an auto accident, with a semi truck careening directly into the cement barrier between its eastbound lane and our westbound lane, sending my life flashing before my eyes and chunks of concrete flying into the car. Miraculously, noone was hurt. The car was, though, and has so far cost more than $800 to fix with more to come. Oh well, we’re OK and the car is driveable.
From there, on to San Francisco where we met with Mira Luna and Rick Simon from Bay Area Community Exchange, Michele Magar whom we met at the TimeBanks USA conference back in August, Sheryl Walton of Sobrante Park Timebank and TimeBanks USA, and Natalie, a friend of Michele’s with great relevant experience in counseling and in running a program to improve acces to technology for seniors. We learned about the many exciting partnerships and projects being developed by BACE and discussed ways the other participants could help in starting new initiatives and outreach efforts to increase the robustness of resources, exchanges, and the ability of timebanking to improve upon service accessibility and fairness for diverse populations, especially those with physical or mental health challenges.
October 7 I met with Sheryl Walton to discuss how we can best work to develop training capacity among timebankers in each region. Sheryl’s a great trainer and has been taking the lead on TimeBanks USA training for several years, drawing upon her excellent experience with Oakland’s Sobrante Park TimeBank. She’ll be helping to train trainers and hone the curriculum. Exciting work. We met at BrainWash, a laundromat, cafe, bar and music venue in San Francisco – where I had a show that night. The show was a lot of fun even though the sound was a challenge. They give free laundry to performers, which was a major plus in the middle of such a long tour!
Left after the show to get closer to the redwoods so we’d be able to spend most of the day there on the way up to Seattle.
And of course the redwoods are spectacular!
On to Seattle: October 9 we pulled into Seattle to Cindy Jayne’s house, where we talked about ways to enhance the trainings provided by TimeBanks USA, and how we might proceed in training trainers. I had a sparsely attended show that night with GREAT sound in a lovely old fashioned cabaret-type space, with a good opening act Jeremy Serwer. I really enjoyed it even though there were only a handful of people there for the show. They were all really cool, attentive during the show and fun to hang out with after.
The morning of October 10 Cindy Jayne hosted a timebank organizers’ meeting at her house over breakfast. We discussed ways the Eastside Seattle TimeBank might approach expanding into new geographic areas and identifying and implementing more community projects through timebanking. They have a really solid leadership group there and there are lots of possibilities.
Then we drove to Portland OR where we enjoyed a nice meal with a friend before my Electrogals performance.
Electrogals was a great new experience for me. I integrated a timebanking/new economic thinking workshop with a music performance – the title was “Dragging the Economy into the 21st Century: It’s Women’s Work!”. I’ll post the video when I have a chance so you can see more what it was like. But I really enjoyed it. Since the theme of the festival was ‘gals gone wired’ I did a timebanking simulation game with wire. People had the assignment to make a figure that represents their dream for their community, however they want to define it. Later in the workshop we turned those into a lovely little mobilethat the festival will keep. As I talked I played songs that represented the ideas I was presenting. I totally forgot to play Oh No, though, which is totally related to the youth court/community justice parts of my talk.
Some GREAT old friends came to the show and out afterward, too, including a college friend I haven’t seen since 1992. Awesome. One of the very best parts of a tour like this…
Had to leave right after the short hang-out with Portland friends after the show in order to get to Boise by 2pm the next day. Boise’s 7 ½ hours from Portland and we also lose an hour in the time zone change. But the reason we needed to get there was great – Lacey, Courtney and Gina of TimeBank Idaho were hosting a meeting with human service professionals from around the state, including Richard Armstrong, Director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. They are exploring how timebanking and co-production can help improve the effectiveness of public services.
Next day we drove to Park City Utah where I appeared on Mountain Views, a show on Park City TV. This was cool. I played 3 songs and also talked about the tour, timebanking, economic self-sufficiency on live television. A good way to reach a new audience.
Afterward we drove to Dinosaur Monument National Park and camped on the soft sandy beach of the Green River, which sounds idyllic until you realize that it was in the ’30s and we woke up with ice on our sleeping bags. But what a beautiful place to wake up! And hike around before driving on to Boulder…
Where I played a show at the Laughing Goat which was a really good time, just as it was on my last tour.
Then on to Iowa City (with a stop in Des Moines to see my friend Becky which was great) for the best show of the tour, largely because I played with fabulous Iowa City bands – especially Utopia Park, my new favorite.
After that, Chicago for a day of seeing great friends and fixing the car for a lot of money. Then playing at Prop Theater with Stroller and Paleo, another good show. More audience members would have been nice but those who were there were wonderful, including more good friends who I don’t see enough.
Today we got up early and drove to Toledo Ohio where Leander and I both presented to a group of very engaged and interested Toledoans, from lots of organizations and communities that can really engage with timebanking. There were City Council members, County officials, Juvenile Justice professionals, United Way staff, a Green Party candidate, urban gardeners and project leaders, faculty and students from University of Toledo, and more. We talked about lots of complementary currency models and how they might be applied there and invited people to attend the upcoming trainings in Detroit. We expect to see at least a few there. And got the question I like best, “how do we start?” The meeting was followed by a lovely reception at a restaurant/bar called Mano’s, which was fun. After all that we drove 2 hours to my parents’ house in Akron, Ohio where I’m writing this now and am about to hit the sack. It’s been a long few days! Nice to be home with my wonderful parents.