Dreamworld Tour report from Massachusetts – tons of events!

Picking up where we left off, Oct. 1 – I took the scenic route from Northampton to Boston- great choice! – where my first stop was at a brown bag lunch discussion at the Institute for Policy Studies in Jamaica Plain. Chuck Collins, my housing host and a host of the gathering, has written several books on wealth inequality and is co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good. There were about 8 people at the lunch, a mix of IPS staff, including Sarah Byrnes and Carlos Espinoza-Toro of Jamaica Plain and Time Trade Circle members and organizers including Katherine Ellin and Carol Moses of Cambridge. We talked about big picture stuff (my fave!) including the theory and potential practice behind Mutual Aid Networks and how we can apply timebanking to reshaping how we live in our communities. We also delved into how the Time Trade Circle could foster more activity in individual neighborhood hubs with their own personalities, especially Jamaica Plain. A great group of people, good discussion. Here are the Notes.

That evening the Jamaica Plain Forum held a potluck/orientation that was attended by 55 people. Fabulous! I led the yarn game with IMG_20131001_195554_655everyone and spoke a bit about how we apply timebanking in Dane County. Then Carol Moses took over and did the TTC orientation. Lots of attendees turned in paper applications that evening, it’ll be a great boost of new energy in the TimeBank. The Time Trade Circle, with over 800 members, is the largest all-volunteer run timebank in the US. Way to go, TTC!

Next morning I got up bright and early to drive to Community Connections in Brockton MA where they’re just starting up a new hub of the Southeastern Massachusetts Time Exchange. They’re really just in beginning stages, with three members and a lot of great ideas about how to reach out for more. We just had an hour to talk. Seven or eight people attended so they should be able to double their membership pretty quickly! And they were preparing to table at a local festival so I just gave a few outreach and tabling tips – mainly to get out into the crowd and chat people up.

Then a mad rush to Fall River where Susan Jennings (Dartmouth College), Bob Bailey (VISTA Coordinator of Southeastern Massachusetts Time Exchange) and I recorded a TV show at Fall River Community Media. Wendy Garf-Lipp was the host and we had a lovely on-air discussion about the power of timebanking to effect change in our communities. You can watch the episode here.

We went on to our next big events at UMass Dartmouth, beginning with a two-hour presentation and discussion that I led with a group of IMG_20131002_144822_61130 students and community members. I presented my slide show on Cooperative Economy because I’d heard some people at lunch talking about complementary currencies such as BerkShares and decided this group was ready for a bigger picture that could show timebanking’s place in building a regenerative economy that includes other economic tools. These are theIMG_20131002_151547_571 Cooperative_economy slides I used.
And we had a big group discussion about how these tools could apply locally. Then Bob Bailey asked how we could support each other locally and regionally, and the various local timebanks who were represented shared the stories of where they were in their own progress and how they could help each other to achieve their goals.

Beginning at 3:30 more people came in for a brilliant keynote talk by Chuck Collins entitled “From Divestment to Reinvestment:  Unplugging from Fossil Fuels to Empower the New Economy”. Chuck inspired us with the story of Nelson Mandela’s visit to the US just after the fall of apartheid, where Mandela recognized the colleges and universities who began the South Africa divestment movement and the key role they played in the fall of apartheid. Chuck encouraged attendees to push for divestment from fossil fuel-based enterprises and reinvestment in projects that build ecological sustainability and community IMG_20131002_153506_672resilience.

Then Carlos Espinoza-Toro, Stacey Cordeiro, Bob Bailey and I spoke on a panel moderated by Rachel Kulick, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UMass Dartmouth. Stacey represented her work with cooperatives, Carlos talked about his community organizing work, I talked about how we can use timebanking to reshape our local economies and redesign work, and Bob shared how timebanking is impacting communities locally. It was really well-attended and IMG_20131002_184352_680well-received, with at least 80 people in the room including some Cameroonians who want to start timebanking there. They asked me to come help out and I’ll be more than happy to!

Afterward we had a little reception, then I went to the absolutely beautiful home of Susan Jennings and had a lovely chat.

The next day (October 3) I tagged along for a meeting with the District Court Judges in New Bedford MA, along with Lisa Conlan, Edgar Cahn, Bob Bailey some other Southeastern MA Time Exchange organizers, to discuss how a timebank youth court might be implemented there. The judge informed us that there is a youth court in the city which could likely use more capacity It was cool to reflect on the way timebankers offer to build the community capacity that’s needed to make programs more effective, and the way timebanking itself helps get at the root causes of so many social problems, just by building community connections. The judges provided a good road map for how to proceed in gauging interest and creating the partnerships that would build a timebank youth court in the area.

What a great time I had in Massachusetts!

On to Rhode Island with Lisa and Edgar! in the next post…

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