Our Blog has moved!

Some say it was about time…

In 2015, the project that started as timeFTW has moved on to become The MAN (Mutual Aid Network) – and recently we have started to post updates on our new MAN website: http://www.mutualaidnetwork.org

If you had subcribed to our blog by email, you don’t have to do a thing, we migrated your subscription.

If however, you had previously followed us through your wordpress.com account, or do not know what any of this means, please enter your email again on our new website :)

This website will soon be discontinued altogether, so if you made bookmarks or links to it, please change them to our new website, too. All previous blogposts from the timeFTW site can now be found in the MAN archive.

See you on the MAN side/site, or if in doubt, just get in touch!


Builders Workshop #22: Making Front Yard Gardens

photo 3We had a great workshop Wednesday! Very informal and very fruitful.

The topic was Making Front Yard Gardens. TimeBank member Christopher Daly offered to create a Front Yard Garden project so we co-led yesterday’s workshop, along with Mary Girard (DCTB Board member) who had organized our previous Garden Projects.

We had around 20 participants representing a wide range of organizations and interest areas.

After introducing ourselves and why we were there, we established our common goals, then did some asset and need mapping. We identified needed roles and functions and made a timeline for the season.

I’ll summarize here:

We started by establishing goals. I’ll list a few highlights here and you can also see them on the whiteboard photo, written in green: Healthy food, sharing food, spreading the joy of gardening, let gardening-haters avoid the misery of gardening, smart food distribution, spaces to swap and share, container gardening, seed and plant exchange, and environmental restoration.

We created the expanded title “Front Yard Gardens: Gardens Everywhere for Everyone”

Then we established a timeline of activities.

First, photo 1we will meet as a small group to create our outreach materials. One to invite individuals to participate by offering land, gardening, other project help, and also to invite them to ShareFest in mid-May, which will be the kick-off of the project. Other materials we will create will be invitations for organizations to partner on the project.

We will spend April doing outreach and preparing, kick off the project publicly at ShareFest in mid-May, hold seed and plant swaps and have crews dig and plant in May and June, hold food swaps and dinners in July and August, host a canning workshop (or more) in September, and have a big harvest party as part of the Dane County TimeBank’s 10th birthday party in October! Whew! This will be a really cool project.

The next Builders Workshop, Wednesday April 22 from 4-6pm at Madison Central Library, will be the next big work and planning session for this. Please come if you’re interested in this! Front Yard Gardens part II.

Yes, Spring is really coming.

Thanks for reading,


Builders Workshop #21: Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams

photo 1On Wednesday Feb. 25 we hosted a Builders Workshop on creating Neighbor-to-Neighbor (N2N) Care Teams. We had a special guest – Kathy Perlow, creator and implementer of the Lehigh Valley Time Exchange, a hospital-based timebank in Pennsylvania. There Kathy piloted N2N Care Teams around hospital patients who needed a hand. Kathy has recently retired and will be creating an even more robust model, based in a health center and in the form of a Mutual Aid Network. She came to Madison to share what she learned and help us create our own system tailored to our local needs.

What is a N2N Care Team?

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams are simply a more structured, neighborhood-based way to coordinate timebank services. A local N2N Care Team might choose to focus on a few basic services, like transportation,photo 2 home chores, companionship, and food/medicine pick-up. The Care Team Coordinator/s (it can be one person per neighborhood or a whole team, with one person per service type) is responsible for paying attention to who offers a certain service and who needs that service, and helps to connect people appropriately. The Coordinator also takes responsibility for identifying gaps and recruiting people to fill them. In addition, the Coordinator may provide back-up when no other timebank service provider is available.

We decided to form at least three N2N Care Teams, based around people or groups who have interest and need. Ryan suggested his apartment complex in South Madison, where we happen to have another member who could use a hand after breaking a bone. We’re forming another care photo 3team in Sun Prairie, where we have our Capacity Building Initiative working with families and community members with and without disabilities to create more networks of mutual support and engagement. And another around our efforts in central Madison, working to support people who are homeless.

You can read details in the notes from the workshop here.

photo 5The next evening Kathy joined me as we introduced our next steps in building N2N Care Teams in Sunphoto 2-1 Prairie. We have a follow-up next week and will share the steps we take to get started, just in case you’d like to make one in your own community.

Thanks for reading,


Builders Workshop #20: Mutual Aid in Dane County and Beyond

photo 4We held a Builders Workshop, the 20th in our 2 year (nearly-) monthly work and learn series, last Wed. January 28. The title was “Mutual Aid in Dane County and Beyond” and the focus was on how work in and around Dane County TimeBank is coalescing in ways that make us ripe to go granular, with Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams helping to create more neighborhood-based systems of coordinated mutual aid, helping timebanking to fulfill its potential as part of a system of informal care and support. And the conditions in Dane County seem ripe for MANs to emerge out of several of these projects.

I began by presenting these slides to demonstrate the new developments here – including our partnership in the Brighter Futures, Early Intervention Program, and Homelessness Restorative Court Restorative Justice initiatives. Plus Allied Community Coop, our Capacity Building Care Team project in Sun Prairie, our medical transportation project, the time and talents of our wonderful DCTB members, and a host of current and potential partners. photo 5 We discussed examples of connections already being made and then brainstormed new connections. We saw how N2N Care Teams could help current systems to flow better and also how forming Mutual Aid Networks could help to boost a few projects into new levels of effectiveness. An example of the latter – a group of people using timebanking to provide preventive wellness services to one another may now choose to form a MAN, under which they could create a savings pool where the money they save together can be available to members for their health insurance deductibles, clinical care, and other expenses not covered by insurance. This is an example of how a MAN can increase the resources available to a group. The group would have template agreements and help with governance and decision-making processes from the Main MAN umbrella cooperative.

The next steps for workshop follow-up are: Stephanie is sending an email with these notes, plus an invitation to the February 25 Builders Workshop where Kathy Perlow will present N2N Care Teams and the possibilities for her own health-focused MAN project in Pennsylvania, and how we can learn from each other as we develop similar projects. We’ll also invite participants into DCTB, its Front Yard Garden Project, the MAN email list, and MAN working groups.

Notes are here. And you can see the rough ideas discussed on the white board notes below.

photo 1













As always, thanks for reading.

Take care,


Builders Workshops #18 and 19: Cooperating on issues of housing and homelessness



This post is a bit overdue, simply because there’s so much exciting yet time-consuming work to do on the ground that I’m having a hard time getting to the reporting-about-it part.

So… the last two Builders’ Workshops:

BW #18 was about project facilitation, and we just kept it low-key, only promoting it to people who have expressed interest in using Game_Boardtimebanking to help create and facilitate projects. We played our Build a Better World Board Game to see if it would be helpful in conceiving of how to connect people, assets and needs in order to work toward a common goal, and also to see how we can improve the game.

Chris Daly, who is starting a Front Yard Garden project here (yeehaw! we’ve wanted that for a long time), Garrett Lee who’s working on a lot of homelessness issues in a variety of ways, including as DCTB board member and founder of his own organization WHY, Chris Petit, MAN Co-Coordinator, Kristin Sage, Wellness + Transportation Coordinator, and I played the game and talked about it after.

It’s easy to see ways to improve upon this game and we identified some more at our session, but it’ll be awhile before we have capacity to focus on that. So if you want to check it out and improve it yourself, have at it! Just share it back with us please. All the files are here.

We did learn about each other, gain some perspectives on assets and needs, work through some problem-solving questions. And some of the changes we want to make are: add a little more complexity or depth to some of the activities that we over-simplified in earlier revisions, revise the formatting to make it easy on the print shop, make some different activities, roles, or barriers, adapt it to different types of circumstances, make clearer instructions, create different sets of instructions for different purposes, etc. In case you feel inspired to do a little improving, or pass it on to someone who might… :)

Builders Workshop #19 was part II of Cooperating to better address housing and homelessness issues (I guess we never did give it a proper catchy title) and it was really rich.

We had a good variety of participants, some new and some repeat customers photo 1 from Part I. Wonderful variety of viewpoints, with people from Briarpatch Youth Services, Operation Welcome Home, Occupy Madison/Tiny Homes, Freedom Inc., Dane County Department of Human Services, Homeless Services Consortium, WHY, Road Home, 100 State, 100 Friends of the State Street Family, Front Yard Gardens, Homeless Services, Dane County TimeBank (as usual), and some people currently or recently experiencing homelessness.

We began by recapping the ideas that surfaced at Part I. Then we accepted new ideas, and mapped assets and needs for carrying them out – many of which overlapped among the action priorities.

These action step ideas are:

  1. Homelessness Peer Court. Madison Judge Dan Koval is working with DCTB, YWCA, Freedom Inc, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Bethel Lutheran Church and many others to create a pilot project in which people who have accrued a lot of municipal ordinance violation tickets can pay them off through carrying out agreements made in peer restorative justice circles. These agreements can include performing community service (ideally tailored to the person’s interests or needs) and/or engaging in programs that can alleviate root causes of the person’s homelessness (AODA support, mental health support, informal peer support, skill-building, etc). Ron and Marcus offered to participate in peer restorative justice circles.
  2. Street clean-up teams. With some supervision coordination, we could create street clean-up teams of people who would be paid timebank hours for street clean-up and could use the hours for transportation help, to pay off municipal ordinance tickets, obtain other timebank services. Ron of Briarpatch Youth Services offered this idea.
  3. Front Yard Gardens. Christopher Daly is spearheading a project to organize a neighborhood to plant and harvest gardens in unused yard space, in a collaborative way. There are many ways we can engage people with and without homes in this project.
  4. Transportation Team for State St. area and homelessness services. Transportation needs are high when you don’t have a place to live, with needed services often scattered around the county, overall lack of public transportation and cost of public transportation all serving as barriers. We aim to create some coordinated transportation to help people get to their destinations. People will earn timebank hours to drive and we can coordinate a pool of qualified, careful drivers. William and Eric offered to help coordinate or find coordinating capacity.

Rather than describe the asset and need mapping we did I’ll just include a photo of the whiteboard where we did it. You can see how we wrote the photo 3action item’s number by the various assets and needs, since many tended to overlap.

We’ll follow up with each project on its own until people next feel a need to convene everyone. Next builders’ workshop will move on to…

Builders Workshop #20: MANs in Madison. What’s the potential?

Date and Time 3rd week of November, TBD (scheduling poll here – don’t be shy about filling it in if you want to attend and this is the first you’ve heard of it – you’re very welcome)

This will be an in-depth discussion of Mutual Aid Networks, geared toward leaders of projects that may be ripe to become mutual aid networks here in town. I’ll be reporting back from my upcoming trip to Mallorca, Spain and the UK, where I’ll learn a lot more about cooperative banking/savings pools, will connect with some new partners in building MAN infrastructure, and spend time with more MAN potential pilot sites and members. Very exciting!

More to come soon….

Thanks for reading,


Builders Workshop #17: On timebanking, housing and homelessness

HousingBWpanoramaThe topic of the July 23 Builders Workshop #17 was: How can we build a cooperative economy that better addresses issues of housing and homelessness?

We invited people to this workshop largely through those coordinating our work in the various projects we work with that pertain to issues of homelessness. I didn’t send a press release as I usually do, and broadcasts only went out to TimeBank members and email lists of housing advocacy and activist groups. This was because we wanted to brainstorm about how to build on the strengths and possible connections in and between each of our current projects, and then figure out how to move forward from there.

The attendance was wonderful and a great representation of different segments in the community. And the ideas that were brought to and generated by the group are pretty exciting and actionable.

HousingBW_whiteboardWe started with introducing ourselves – the lower right of the whiteboard is the record of the organizations represented. Dane County Timebank, Bethel Lutheran Church, We Help You advocacy organization, Homeless Services Consortium, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Dane County Human Services, Joining Forces for Families, Allied Community Coop, Legal Action, Madison Apprenticeship Program, MEET Center, Briarpatch/ Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, Boys and Girls Club Allied Drive, and the Road Home.

I gave a brief overview of timebanking for the couple people who were new to it. Then we began listing the various projects currently connecting homeless people into the timebank. Bethel Lutheran Homeless Support Services is running a timebank store, engaging homeless people to help their and other organizations, and exchanging the hours earned for items such as tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, bus passes, and gift certificates. SHINE 608 also serves as a point of connection between the timebank and people who are homeless, and Maxine’s TimeBank Store on Allied Drive is a place where any timebank member can access donated goods.

Tiny Houses is a project of Occupy Madison that enables people to invest 500 hours of sweat equity in order to qualify for their own tiny house. 100 State is a co-working space on Madison’s State Street and is hosting a place-making project there, partnering with Dane County TimeBank to create a way for people to access the timebank from a publicly-accessible computer out on State Street. We expect to connect with many of the people living on the street and will host office hours at 100 State to sign them up as members and connect them with opportunities.

The Homeless Peer Court is a new effort in cooperation with Madison Municipal Judge Dan Koval and several homeless advocacy groups, which will begin by creating opportunities for homeless people to work of municipal fines through community service, and will build toward developing a full-fledged peer court modeled on Dane County TimeBank’s Youth Courts.

Once we gave the overviews of these projects and how they’re developing, we began to identify gaps and future avenues for further development.

Several participants identified a need to connect much more with the faith community. We planned to host a much larger meeting early this fall, with an emphasis on inviting faith organizations. We acknowledged that a focus on housing and homelessness would likely be more compelling to faith organizations than a simple timebanking focus has been in the past.

Participant Ron Burford, of Briarpatch/Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, suggested that we could create street clean-up teams to clean our streets in exchange for timebank hours, and that the only need we would have in order to make it happen would be to provide supervision. He offered to help coordinate this project.

Participant Christopher Daly suggested that we could create localized projects for turning unused yard space in neighborhood blocks into little gardens, a la Food Not Lawns. He agreed to coordinate a pilot effort.

Participant Garrett Lee suggested helping organize a coordinated transportation network for commonly-needed errands for people living on or near State Street. We realized it might make sense to pilot a Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Team for/in this community.

The discussion was rich and rewarding. We had so much connecting to do that we had to skimp on how to use all of these tools to work more comprehensively toward getting people into stable housing, and creating a housing economy that’s much less brutal. We will pick up on those discussions as we continue to move forward.

Stay tuned for a larger group gathering in early September.

Builders Workshop #16 – Building a MAN: How Mutual Aid Networks can redesign work and build a regenerative economy


On Wednesday June 25, 4-6pm we held Builders Workshop #16 on how Mutual Aid Networks can redesign work and build a regenerative economy. I had the pleasure of co-presenting with new Time For the World/Mutual Aid Networks Co-Coordinator Chris Petit, who wrote these notes:

Our June builder’s workshop was focused on Mutual Aid Networks and how mutual aid networks can redesign work and build a regenerative economy.

We had an excellent mixture of people in attendance in-person from Madison and via teleconference from across the country. Stephanie and I presented about the concept and the tools and processes within Mutual Aid Networks. While Timebanking is great at building our core economy of caregiving, creativity, civic engagement and community building, we engaged in the exploration of other tools of mutual aid – cooperative saving and investment pools, price-based mutual credit, and shared resources – synergistically working together under a cooperative ownership umbrella.

We discussed the possibility of using member dues and patronage rebates to fund projects and work for the betterment of our communities. We explained how patronage points based on local project outcomes could be utilized to distribute funds from the community savings and lending pool. We learned about this concept from Janelle Orsi from the Sustainable Economies Law Center at the CommonBound Conference in Boston.

The presentation can be viewed here.

The handouts can be viewed here.

After the presentation, we discussed different ways that the Mutual Aid Network structure could be utilized in our different communities. In Madison, there was interest in creating a healing center using the MAN framework. We also discussed possibilities for providing support for co-housing, students, renewable energy production, and health care.

Below you can see the different ideas that arose during our discussion.

photo 1-2

We are continuing to move forward with pilot site selection and the momentum and enthusiasm for redesigning our work lives to serve our communities is ever increasing.

–Chris Petit, Co-Coordinator, Time For the World/Mutual Aid Networks

We did record this meeting, and connect with some far-flung people online for it, but the video file is enormous. I’ll shrink it and find a way to share a smaller version on request.

As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned, there’s a lot happening!

Take care,