It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, just because I’ve been too busy living, working, driving, visiting…
It’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.
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 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!).
After 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:
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.
I did remember to take pictures at Trumbullplex, the anarchist housing and theater collective that’s one of my favorite 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 a 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!
There’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 as 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!
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
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,
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.
I’m writing from Pasadena CA where we just finished the great CA Federation of TimeBanks Conference. The Federation did a wonderful job of organizing and we got to meet lots of CA-area timebankers and hear from Edgar Cahn, outgoing TimeBanks USA CEO Chris Gray Cahn, incoming TimeBanks USA CEO Lisa Conlan, and many more luminaries. I was on yesterday’s panel and did a 2-hour timebanking training with Sheryl Walton. Today I’ll do a Learning Facilitation training to help develop more training and support capacity in the area. Tomorrow Leander and I will do a Build for the World workshop and enlist some partner projects. We’ll be able to show our Build profile site, which Preston is busy finishing up now.
And New Orleans was fantastic! In addition to a great show and seeing lots of what makes New Orleans a truly unique and fascinating place, I had the honor of being part of the birth of the new NOLA Timebank!
About 35 people came to a potluck at the Himalayan Association community room and decided on the spot to get started on a timebank. By the next day they had a facebook page up with 60 friends and they’re moving fast on organizing. New Orleans is such a perfect place for this kind of organizing and I’m really impressed with how well people are doing and how thoughtful they’re being about how they move forward, focusing on being sure to pull in people from lots of different backgrounds and demographics.
A woman who learned of the timebank potluck at my show, Victoria, came and brought lots of organizing background and skills. The woman who spearheaded the organizing of the potluck, Marcela, is an old friend of Autumn Rooney from the Echo Park timebank and CA Federation. Autumn also referred a former Echo Park steering team member who’d recently moved to NOLA. We also had folks referred by Edgar Cahn, and Bev Bell and Lauren Elliot of Other Worlds are Possible. A great group to start with.
After LA we’ll be heading to San Francisco where we’ll meet with current and future timebankers and discuss in-depth how to approach timebanking as a way to improve life for elders and people with disabilities. Then Seattle, Portland, Boise and onward.. I’ll write as we go.
Thanks for reading!
Well the day has come – Stephanie and Marc are finally traveling to Lyon to present our paper at the Complementary Currencies conference, then to Tiocan to meet with other complementary currency folks to see what we can do together.
First, Our intention in going to Lyon is to learn all we can about what’s currently happening with complementary currencies, what’s happened in the past, and how we can use that knowledge to create a better future.
Second, and why we’re making the trip – we see an urgent need to ensure that timebanking and its values-based inclusive properties be included in our economic future. We’re big fans of lots of models of complementary currencies, but also recognize that most continue to focus on the kinds of exchanges that normally happen in the marketplace. That may continue to exclude or inadequately meet the needs of the core economic functions of caregiving, creativity and civic engagement. By joining forces with other complementary currency systems and actors, we can create something that is more effectively complementary – that makes room for all people in our economy and uses appropriate tools for appropriate exchanges.
For example, since caregiving is both abundant and widely needed, we want an abundant medium of exchange to facilitate needs being met. Timebanking is perfect for this. But storefront space in our downtown is scarce – so it stands to reason we would use a more competitive, price-based currency for conducting business activities in our cities to best allocate such a resource.
Third, we’re going to meet lots of people who have similar interests, with huge bases of knowledge that we haven’t yet learned of and lots of connections with others who share our goals.
After the main conference, there is a day for Complementary Currency actors and on this day we really expect to find some people to work with into the future, creating and maintaining an international learning community and identifying ways we can work together to create the systems and tools we need to succeed in creating a human-centered economy that values people and the planet.
Once the conference is over our work in Europe still continues…
Feb. 19 and 20 we’ll meet with more complementary currency actors near Geneva, in an action-oriented conference hosted by Matthew Slater of Community Forge. Once again we’ll have an even more in-depth opportunity to see what we have, what we need, and what we can do together to push our collective work out into the world.