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.

 


Building locally, sharing globally

Hello

We’ve gotten off to a running start here in 2014.

photo 3Since I last wrote here we’ve held the first PowerTime II energy consulting training – GREAT! We’re photo 1training 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, dctb_biz_cardcooperatives 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,

Stephanie


First post from part 3 of the Dreamworld Tour – eastward ho!

Hello

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, just because I’ve been too busy living, working, driving, visiting…

IMG_20130926_133943_742It’s been FANTASTIC so far. Seeing some very beloved people (including my parents and my 99-year-old grandma), enjoying the working and learning parts, and being treated to some beautiful fall foliage as I’m getting out east (I’m writing this from Northampton MA where I’m staying with a great old college friend)

I’ll post about the first couple stops so this doesn’t get TOO unwieldy (or maybe it does but it could be worse), then pick up next time with Ohio onward.

drawing labyrinths

drawing labyrinths

I began this leg of the tour on Sept. 20 in Chicago at a SkillShare at Lara Oppenheimer’s (Chicago Time Exchange Coordinator) house. A great little event, one I’d like to try at home. They’d put out a call for timebank members to offer to teach a skill. We started with Qi Gong, then space organizing, then went on to Labyrinth Drawing. Then I spoke a bit about our timebank’s history and future and we discussed a number of issues from member engagement to leadership development to applied timebanking. It was a really good time, and we ended it with a potluck.

After a brief rest we headed over to the Trade School Evanston. This isn’t what you might think – I’d thought it might be a school that teaches trades. Instead it’s much cooler. It’s part of a global movement and the way it works is this: someone proposes a class they’d like to teach and says what they’d like to receive in return. The compensation might be massage, classes, transportation, food, whatever. The Trade School and the Time Exchange see their mutual benefits and are now launching a collaboration.

the kitchen at the trade school

the kitchen at the trade school

The evening was really really lovely. The space is cool – two of the founders live there and it’s clearly a hub of creative, collective activity. This evening they had a big spread of delicious food and a great singer-songwriter, Mindy, who played and sang beautifully, then brief talks about the Time Exchange and the Trade School, followed by a set of Stephanie Rearick Jr. People were really attentive and appreciative throughout, and it was also a really fun party.

A bonus for me: The lovely hosts gave me a little vintage electric organ they’d trash-picked earlier. It’s really cool! Sounds great. Someone pointed out I should play a Halloween show on it, it has that kind of sound.

Next day I got up ungodly early and drove 4 hours to East Lansing Michigan, where I gave a little presentation at the Greater Lansing TimeBank’s picnic. The drive was no fun at all but the picnic was! Edge Brussel (videographer from Builders Workshops 4 and 6) organized it and there were about 20 really engaging people in attendance. It was on a sunny day in a park with another nice spread of food. I shared stories of our timebank’s history, our project approach, some of the ways we’re connecting things we’ve learned in order to become more effective. I introduced them briefly to BuildFTW and the MAN. They asked a lot of good questions, with a lot of focus on our youth courts (very common aspect for people to be excited about, and with good reason!).

our friendly radio personalities

our friendly radio personalities

IMG_20130922_240005_036After a short nap I went on to Detroit, one of my favorite cities, where I played a benefit for their local community-supported radio station WHFR. This is in a really cool venue with a great reputation, Trinosophes (Pere Ubu played there the night before!). It was a really good time. The other bands were fantastic and the WHFR folks are a lot of fun.

Next day was our timebank training. Jennie Weakley, coordinator of Southwest Detroit TimeBank, hosted at her office. We were joined by about 10 people, including two teens who work with the timebank and help out Bridging Communities (a host organization). We focused on how to use timebanking to accomplish community goals and did the visioning exercise I like to do at these (I need a good name for it! used to call it ‘the messy game,’ a ridiculously nondescript title). This group’s mission was to create safer communities with engaged people, less isolation and more integration. Here are the flip charts we generated:  IMG_20130922_160847_717IMG_20130922_161802_475

And we focused the discussion a bit on what would help make this effort feel valuable to youth. It was great to have the two teenagers with us! They brought us some really helpful perspective.

On Monday I joined some Detroit-area timebank leaders at a luncheon with city managers, assistant city managers and a mayor representing five Detroit suburbs.
It was quite a fruitful meeting! These Detroit suburbs are part of a collaboration called the Woodward 5. Two of them already have timebanks, one has discussed it over the last couple years but hasn’t implemented it, and two have none. By the end of our discussion they were saying they want to create some kind of collaboration to make timebanking happen throughout the 5, and the next day we learned that the Ferndale timebank was awarded a small grant toward this end. Exciting!

On Tuesday I went to the new home of the now-forming New Work Collective, a collective household in Southeast Detroit. I met Ty, one of the organizers, at our Sunday training. That’s where we learned that we are both working on how to redesign work. I went to his house to talk with him and the rest of the collective members more in-depth. 5-8 (the number grew as we went) of us talked about the MAN. I mainly described it, the thinking behind it, how timebank can bootstrap it, etc. Then we had a discussion about how it can apply to what they’re doing and some of what we’re doing in Madison. There are a lot of exciting possibilities and I hope to explore it more with them, and try some stuff out. I wish I’d taken pictures here (and the Lansing potluck too!) but alas, I just forgot.

IMG_20130923_144901_530I did remember to take pictures at Trumbullplex, the anarchist housing and theater collective that’s one of my favIMG_20130923_144548_325orite spaces in Detroit. I went with Edge Brussel and Whitney Bembenek. Whitney was part of the Dane County TimeBank when she lived in Madison and has since moved to Detroit. She’s wonderful, and it was great to be able to introduce her to Edge and Trumbullplex at the same time.

I left Detroit Wed. morning and went 1/2 hour north to Pontiac Michigan for the launch of the Pontiac SUN TimeBank at its host site, Oakland Family Services. Kim Hodge (wonderful organizer of the Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks) is shepherding this project and has helped pull together a beautiful team! 10 people from the Steering Committee each did aIMG_20130925_140610_450 piece of the presentation, including some matching games and discussion. The energy in the room was amazing! The people were all so excited and so overflowing with warmth and joy. I kept thinking of the word ‘joyous’ throughout and I’ll say it was one of the most joyous occasions I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. I’m really excited for them and impressed with what they’ve done already.

From there I headed to Ohio, which I’ll write about in another post so this doesn’t sprawl even more…

Thanks for reading!


Updates – last tour, next tour, more progress on the MAN, money, life, etc

Hello

ecommonyThere’s a lot to write – but there’s a lot of everything to do, so as usual I’ll do what I can and go back and flesh things out later. There’s a lot of video and audio content from various presentations and gatherings to sort through and post, but it takes time and people to do it. You can see the ways I’m starting to flesh things out and seek help with them in the Time For the World 2013 proposal. We’ll soon be making the first informal Mutual Aid Network functional enough to seek contribution of skills and other resources on that platform.

And a lot of what I’m busy with is getting ready for the 3rd and last leg of my Dreamworld Sharing Economy tour, which starts this Thursday! I’m posting details here, but in a (long!) nutshell:

I start with a trip to Chicago, seeing the premier of Broken Fences, directed by my good friend Ann Filmer. Friday we do skill shares and a sharing economy discussion in Evanston, then Trade School Evanston/CTX Collaboration Launch Party where we celebrate the new collaboration between the Chicago Time Exchange and the Evanston Trade School, and I play some music along with other local artists.

The next day a timebank picnic in Lansing, Michigan and that night a show in Detroit at a great venue, Trinosophes, at a benefit for local radio station WHFR. Cool! The next day a timebank gathering, a potluck, that Monday a lunch meeting with Detroit city managers. Wed. I’ll attend the launch of the new Pontiac Michigan TimeBank! Thur. I play in Canton Ohio, Friday I have an evening event with the Kent Community TimeBank, Saturday a daytime training with Kent folks (with Abby Greer!) then a show in Akron that night.

On to Ithaca New York to meet with Scott Morris and other sharing economy, Ithaca hours, Ithaca timebankers folks. Then to Amherst to talk with Emily Kawano of Solidarity Economy Network.

Really exciting things in the northeast – Boston for 2 great events on Oct. 1, Dartmouth for 2 great events Oct. 2, Providence Rhode Island to see the amazing Lisa Conlan and New Hope Care Exchange, a show in Brooklyn Oct. 4, NYC current timebanking practitioners training Oct. 5, new timebank training in Media PA Oct. 6. Oct 7 + 8 I’ll work with the great Kathy Perlow (Lehigh Valley Care Exchange) on making training materials and video about Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams (which we’re making here in Dane County so I really need to know!). October 9 I’ll take a train to Newark and then fly to Istanbul Turkey for GIFTIVAL!

Upon my return I’ll work with Paul Glover (founder of Ithaca Hours and much more) to learn about and document his efforts and brainstorm about connections between cooperative economic models and practices (which I need to learn about as we’re doing this here in Dane County). Then gathering with timebank, Bnote, and other interested folks in Baltimore, doing some events with the legendary Edgar Cahn in Washington DC and nearby, and working with Edgar and other organizers to document community and racial justice initiatives happening there, and create learning materials on the topic.

I play a show in DC Oct. 25 then hightail it to Tampa Bay for timebank events on Oct. 27 and 28, then hightail it to New Orleans for a timebank gathering Oct. 29. Will stay through Halloween, then to St. Louis for a timebank gathering and show Nov. 2.

Then I’ll be happy to return home and buckle down to build our local MANs.

Yesterday I met with a fantastic lawyer specializing in cooperative law. He will help us build a great MAN, one that can easily spin off others at all different scales. We can make it work and he will help. I’ll be working on Articles of Incorporation over the next few weeks and get it going for real upon my return in November.

And all this is in addition to, in support of, and due to the beautiful developments within and around the Dane County TimeBank asIMG_20130908_132014_291 we embark on our PowerTime II energy project with the Allied Community Coop, build neighbor-to-neighbor Care Teams in Sun Prairie, build on our youth court successes by creating our first adult peer court!, connect with more economic tools to increase our impact and improve our sustainability, etc etc. We have a great staff, including Co-Director (promoted from Asst. Director last year) Lorrie Hurckes, who make it possible for me to travel so much this year and who along with our members make all the great stuff happen.

Speaking of making great stuff happen, we had a lovely anonymous donor come through with $10,000 for us, which unlocked $10,000 of our $20,000 challenge grant from Kailo Fund. Hooray! We’re looking for $11,500 more to fund the rest of our year. More gets us more possibilities to commission more work from more people so don’t be shy about giving HUGE amounts. You can donate here to support the tour, or donate to the general Time for the World fund here.

We have a lot of work to do and would love to have your feedback, moral support and/or contributions.

 

Thanks for reading!

–Stephanie


On Good Work

better_worldWhile 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.

Thanks!

Much more to come

–Stephanie

What are we waiting for?


Sharing Builders Workshop #7: Healthy Community Economy Part II

Hello!

Builders Workshop #7: Healthy Community Economy Part II was a great wrap-up of our explorations, from the Healthy Community Economy Part I workshop as well as the intervening Economic Democracy Conference, of how multiple currency/cooperative economic models could work in concert to achieve powerful community goals. In the Economic Democracy Conference open space Action Summit session we applied this thinking to the outcome of food security.

In Builders Workshop #7 we applied similar thinking and modeling to the goal of reduced fossil fuel consumption.

We had 14 people in attendance. While smaller in number than other Builders Workshops, this group proved to be a perfect size and makeup for the work that we needed to do. I was particularly excited that David Boetcher, an IBEW electrician who co-presented (with Justice Castaneda of MIT Colabs and Chris Meyer of Sector67 co-working space) the New Approaches to Science and Industry workshop at the Economic Democracy Conference, attended and contributed his knowledge of energy systems, surrounding economies and potential partners.

First we gave a slide presentation that recapped and expanded on pieces from Healthy Community Economy Part I.
It’s shared here.

Then we decided to use a case study of a hypothetical community goal in order to see how we might apply different cooperative economic tools to different pieces of the systems we’d need to affect to achieve our desired outcome. The group chose reduced fossil fuel consumption as the focus area. This is what we came up with, sort of a general map of where each piece would be employed to corral various types of resources, finishing with people taking on pieces to research/explore potential partnerships. In the rough maps in the first and second slides M$ stands for Madison Hours and/or price-based mutual credit; T$ stands for timebank hours. The first map was the brainstorm, the second was an attempt to show some chronological representation of how you would develop the project.

As you’ll see from the third photo, we were blessed with participants who offered to carry some work forward! So some of us will be researching existing renewable energy/efficiency efforts, some will research JAK-style bank community saving and lending possibilities, some will be meeting with local businesses to pursue price-based mutual credit and Madison Hours possibilities, and some will be meeting to explore a potential energy project here in Madison.

Stay tuned for further developments…

And follow it all on Build For the World (and post your own projects there – we need to learn from each other!), http://buildftw.org

Thanks for reading,
Stephanie


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