From Providence I drove to see my parents in Ohio and on the way received the first big clue that my car was about to shuffle off this mortal coil…
But that’s a different story. Next MAN stop was Detroit.
I got to Kim Hodge’s house the evening of April 1. Kim is a dynamo organizer, founder of the Lathrup Village TimeBank and the Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks (MATB), and coordinator of the Pontiac SUN TimeBank. It was great to see her! And as usual she had organized several timebank events, which I was very happy to be in town for.
First was the April 2 MATB coordinators roundtable. We focused on organizational partnerships and I shared how my experience has played out at DCTB, and heard about the experience of the Michigan organizers. We have a lot in common in our approaches. I think the most useful thing I seemed to share was the notion that you don’t need to spend a bunch of time trying to recruit a partner who isn’t enthusiastic because it isn’t worth it. Sometimes it’s nice for us just to help each other take some pressure off ourselves…
The next day I caught up on writing and other work and checked out some cool things around Detroit.
Then April 4 Kim took me to lunch with the wonderful Jennie Dennison-Budak, Tony Budak’s (Mahoning Valley TimeBank founder and lovely guy in his own right) wife whom I’d somehow never met before. I learned a ton from her! She’s been involved in really related work for a long time.
The evening of April 4 MATB hosted a big potluck dinner with special guest speaker Philippe Granger from Rushey Green (London UK) TimeBanks. It was great to see Philippe as usual. the potluck was really well attended by people who were excited to learn from Philippe’s presentation, about how his timebank builds natural health and wellness supports.
April 5-7 I spent in Lansing, in a variety of activities in support of their fledgling MAN pilot site with MAN pilot steward and board member extraordinaire, Scott Murto. And the always-wonderful Edge Brussel, who also happened to come rescue me when my car gasped its final breath, conveniently just a couple blocks from my Lansing destination.
First was the MidMichigan TimeBank’s potluck. This was a lovely gathering of folks, really geared toward how to get more participation in their timebank events. We had a little discussion about how to find activities that would be fun for different audiences, and rotate through them so we reach lots of different kinds of people in our outreach. I also shared with the group the basic overview of MANs.
During the days I was there we also held a strategy discussion and a mapping exercise, which yielded this (one of my typical messy whiteboard pix, but contains some helpful notes) –
And hosted a timebank orientation for the staff at Clean Water Action, where a number of people have become inspired to participate in the timebank and MAN development having been inspired by Scott.
I left my car with a sweet mechanic in Lansing who had pronounced it dead on arrival after it stopped completely (only 2 blocks from my destination, at the end of the tour when I had other people to ride with, so there’s that..)
April 8 Scott and I headed to Detroit for the NASSE Forum. It was incredible.
First, this was by far the most diverse – age, race, background – group I’ve seen at an economic conference. And the programming was excellent.
The first panel included Laura Flanders and Gar Alperovitz, two heroes of mine. I accosted Gar at the end to ask him to serve on the MAN Advisory Board. I feel his message dovetails completely with what we’re doing. We’ll keep you posted when we get an answer. Either way, his work is awesome and I encourage you to listen to him whenever you have a chance.
Julia Ho (our St. Louis pilot site steward) brought a crew of 30 people(!) from St. Louis. Including from HOSCO food coop, Roots housing coop, Citizen Carpentry coop, and much more. I attended HOSCO’s workshop which was extremely inspiring. I look forward to their coming to Madison to share their skills with us.
I also went to a workshop on savings pools hosted by a group that creates them, Philanthropiece, one on building networks and coalitions, building investment through selling non-voting cooperative shares (presented by Equal Exchange), and especially exciting was a workshop on New Culture, New Work by Frithjof Bergmann. I’ve wanted to connect with him for a long time! Very inspiring.
After that last workshop of the day, Blair Evans gave a tour of the Fab Lab on site, called Incite Focus. It’s amazing. And I was excited to learn that Blair really likes the police-referred timebank-supported youth court model, at least as much as he was able to learn about it from the brief time we had together. He works a lot with court-referred youth now. We hope to connect in the future around creating more opportunities and less detention for young people.
And I gave a workshop on Mutual Aid Networks. It was great! Well-attended, a very engaged audience. I made some connections that are very special to me, and which I expect to be quite fruitful.
The last night of the Forum Reggie Flowers hosted a wonderful party in this super cool house that he’s refurbishing, called Alt Space. Really incredible – him, the space, the people there.
And between my workshop and mingling during the Forum and meeting people at the party, we have now developed exactly the lovely connections with wonderful people with a variety of talents and focal points in order to develop a MAN pilot site there, and – near and dear to me – explore a partnership with Madison and St. Louis on community justice issues. Like the one laid out here, perhaps.
We’ll be kicking off the July Interdependence Day Tour with a retreat/workshops/house concert at Alt Space on July 4 or 5. But that will be in my next post, about the exciting events upcoming…
For now, I conclude the final report on MAN UP 2016 Tour #1. As usual I came home feeling the world is bursting with possibility. Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks and make it all work. Stay tuned for how we move forward with that.
And thanks for paying attention!
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,
In February we gave a presentation at the International Conference on Community and Complementary Currencies in Lyon, France. Here is video and our slideshow from that presentation. Let us know what you think! We continue to build on and advance on this work as part of the project.
It is best viewed full screen.
We are currently in Lyon for the International Conference on Community and Complementary Currencies. Here is our presentation. Let us know what you think. Please note, this is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Thank you.