From August 22-28 Mutual Aid Networks will be hosting people from around the world in Madison Wisconsin for a Skillshare summit. We will design the week to create opportunities for many people doing many amazing projects to share what they do in ways that are replicable.
Here is an invitation to the summit overall.
Here is an invitation to contribute skillshare ideas. We’ll be working through that process over time, this will provide the initial link to throw your hat in the ring.
I hope you can join us!!
And now to start to bring us up to date on my tour reports…
I drove from Dayton straight to the lovely home of lovely humans Edgar Cahn and Chris Gray. It was great to catch up with them! Edgar gave me an article he’s been working on, on the Midas Monoculture. We spent a little time talking, much of the next day catching up on work, and then they hosted a lovely gathering with the DC TimeBank. They also go by DCTB (like the Dane County TimeBank). We had a meal, learned what’s going on in their timebank and the timebank at Bread for the City, which Deborah has been working hard on in the couple years since I’ve had the pleasure to meet her. Then I presented about our DCTB and Mutual Aid Networks. And had some great conversation with the people there. Especially interested in Emma’s ideas and contributions to child education.
After the timebank gathering I went with my friends Natalie and Sandra – both wonderful poets! – to an author event with Mitchell Jackson and Leslie Jamison at a very fancy new coffeehouse. After that Natalie and I had a nice meal at an also-very-fancy Thai restaurant across the street. All a little upscale for my own personal tastes. Then walking back across the street I noticed that the fancy new coffeehouse is directly next door to Bread for the City, the cool organization that houses Deborah’s timebank, and last I was here had been right in the middle of the neighborhood it was serving. They had just been talking about its gentrification at the (other) DCTB gathering, and how we can expect that to push people out of the neighborhood. This cycle will always repeat until we make an economy that doesn’t naturally push that direction. Super sad to see.
From DC I drove to Bethlehem PA to work with Kathy Perlow and the team at Neighborhood Health Centers of Lehigh Valley (NHCLV) on exploring more partnerships for their MAN pilot site – first meeting with organizers of their fledgling (stage 2b! – learned that at the Up & Coming Food Coop Conference), Bethlehem Food Coop, then with Martin with Alliance For Sustainable Communities.
Both of those meetings were enjoyable and promising. We will invite Coop partners to our next gathering and hope to make some solid connections that can get good food to people while expanding the support available to coop development. Martin offered to list the Lehigh Valley MAN in the Alliance’s directory of local sustainability-oriented organizations, and we will explore further partnerships as we develop action on the ground.
The next day we spent at NHCLV, first meeting with Hasshan Batts, who’s one of the main staff working on developing the MAN, and Melissa Craig, NHCLV Executive Director. After that we headed to the clinic to meet with Abby Letcher, the Chief Medical Officer, an MSW intern named Stevie, and Gloria Velazquez, Social Services Director. Hasshan and Janelle Zalenko, the person who has been working with the local hospital-based timebank, developed a beautiful vision and plan of action they presented the last time I was here. They’ve made a lot of progress toward implementing it and we were able to get down to the nitty gritty of what we need to take the next steps. Exciting stuff!
After that I drove to Philadelphia to meet up with the awesome Paul Glover, founder of Ithaca HOURS and about a million other cool projects. He’s been living and making great things happen in Philly for several years now. The small yet powerful gathering was hosted by Weavers Way Coop, a lovely food coop that has several locations and is looking to expand its reach into the community through timebanking. Betsy Wallace of Philadelphia’s Time4Time Exchange is helping them toward that vision, and Bettina of Weavers Way is a total powerhouse. And we had the great fortune of being joined by Eric Chisler, who I met when he came to last August’s MAN Up Summit and how is now living in Harrisburg and ready to help start and pollinate projects around PA.
After the gathering we ate at an amazing vegan soul food restaurant called The Nile Cafe. Delicious! It’s been around for 21 years.
Then Eric and I drove to Media to stay with Marie Goodwin, the great timebanker/transitioner/activist/generally awesome person doing awesome things and among them working as Charles Eisenstein’s assistant (for lack of a better term). She and her family (husband Chris helped with making TimeBanks USA’s Community Weaver 3 software look good) had some people over, some of whom I’ve met on other visits, and we had a nice backyard fire and fun time. Just a little break for fun and company.
And I went on the next morning to a bigger break for fun and company, in NYC where I had ZERO obligations other than to see some friends. One of those friends was Mashi Blech who ran the ElderPlan timebank, then the timebank of Visiting Nurses Service of NY, and now ArchCare, the timebank housed in the Arch Diocese. She’s always doing amazing things and it’s always lovely to catch up with her. We ate some good food at Wild Ginger and walked around Brooklyn, crossing from Williamsburg to Bushwick so I could get some vegan donuts. Yum! and fun!
I had a wonderful time with my friend Sabrina, who’s a doctor at the VA Hospital and who has great ideas for connecting homeless veterans with more consistent medical care. I stayed with my old friend from Madison, Tracy, and her husband from Argentina, which was great fun (and they have their own ideas of cool things they want to do in the community, and lots of skills to bring to the table along with fluency in Spanish).
So next time I go to NYC we’ll have a gathering about how we might support each other. Maybe some MAN possibilities, maybe simply timebanking connections. Seems like there’s a lot of synergy.
And that’s the big thing I’m learning on this trip. We’re ready in all these locations to take some solid steps into action. I’ve decided it makes tons of sense to do this same circuit in July, pulling people together to spring into action. By then we at the Main MAN will have some concrete tools to make it all much easier than it would be today, and we’ll also have time to plan larger gatherings with more specific agendas. Lots of leadership development, communications skillshares, learning to use the budgeting and project development and exchange tools we will have gotten into much better shape by then. Very exciting!
— OK, that’s waaay more than long enough. Stay tuned for the next leg of the trip – New Jersey, Providence, and Detroit Part I – coming soon —
And tomorrow in Providence Rhode Island we’ll hold a MAN collaboration brainstorming meal and meeting, gathering beginning at 7pmEST and discussion at 8pmEST. If you’re in or around Providence and want to join in person, please email email@example.com. If you want to join virtually we’ll begin a web meeting (at gotomeeting, with our standard call-in information available here, at 8pmEST.
After Providence, next tour stops are Detroit then Lansing then Detroit again, for the NASSE forum.
In the meantime I’ll be working to finish my reports for the last few stops of the tour, underway but needing more time for writing. Plus news about how things are shaping up on the MAN front overall, which is excellently!
I just wanted to get this out to you in case you or people you know are in or near W. Milford New Jersey or Providence Rhode Island.
Thanks for reading
I’m pleased to report that there’s a big article on Mutual Aid Networks, timebanking, and the super cool projects working in both, on the front page of today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch. Hooray!
Featuring the Cowry Collective, Solidarity Economy Network, Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment, Grace Hill Settlement House, Dane County TimeBank and DCTB Youth Courts, and much much more. Check it out!!
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
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.